We live our life on a budget. It has been a valuable tool in reducing our debt load and boosting our financial independence. We take it very seriously. So naturally when we had a major change in our life, it had to evolve with us into a layoff budget.
In early 2014, I got the dreaded call to come to the HR department of my cushy corporate job. At that moment it felt like the world was crashing down. That night we had to sit down and go through our seemly perfect budget to find ways to cut back.
Our pre-layoff budget floated around 2,300 per month, but we cut around $300 overnight! Here’s how:
Before the layoff, our grocery budget was around $360 a month. We were never crazy spenders, but we did treat ourselves to expensive treats. I think our biggest splurge was out of season produce and our obsession with Costco.
Like everyone else we are very busy people. We don’t want to shop at a thousand place to get a weeks worth of groceries. So we would load up at one store and call it good. Transitioning from Costco to Aldi made our layoff budget $60 less then before! And we we’re still eating the same things, maybe even a larger variety of things!
We are both vegetarians. Well Pierre eats chicken and I sometimes eat fish, but we never focus our meals on meat. Aldi has a great selection of fresh produce at unbeatable prices. They even offer organic apples, bananas and carrots! If you shop anywhere else you’re wasting your money. Bold statement, I know, (but I still stand by it).
Our buffer fund is a controversial topic. It’s basically a catch-all for all those odd expenses that no one can see coming (or mostly for when Pierre has to have a candy bar…). I like to call this our mini-emergency fund. This was an obvious target when aiming to reduce our monthly budget.
This went from $200 to $180. I know, not too dramatic. But we feel like it is a valuable tool in our budgeting plan, because if we don’t have some slack… We feel deprived and act naughty, about our spending anyway.
Restaurants are the worst. They are a black pit that sucks money… and they have always been our weakness. We were spending $80 a month on them. It doesn’t seem like much but when you consider that before got our life on track, we once spent $600 in just one month…black hole.
We were able to save $50 by reducing this to $30 a month. Restaurants are the worst, but oh so tempting, and we’re doing our best to stick to this one.
I believe that pets are the best investment you can make. We have two cats and a dog that we can’t live with out. The amount of joy and entertainment they provide more than makes up for their expense.
We had been spending $50 a month on our fur babies. Through some creative solutions we were able cut this in half.
Our pets are not spoiled. They live on a tight budget just like their daddies. Our biggest saving came from re-sourcing a few of our cat essentials. We use the pine litter that runs about $16 a bag from PetSmart, but it turns out they sell the same product as horse bedding at tractor supply for $5. $11 is huge savings!!
Tractor supply also won in the wet food department. We got a higher quality cat food for half the cost of my old brand. The brand is 4heath and our cats love it. At just .49 cents a can, it is a win win. (Wet food is definitely not the cheapest option but our little diva gurl gets urinary tract infections if she doesn’t get it.)
We had been spending $40 a month thrifting for things for our upcoming wedding. This was cut completely because ultimately we decided that we would rather be financially independent and not have a wedding (at least for now!) than work for the man an extra 5 years.
We both like to stay in good health and supplements are a big part of that. We see value in this because it makes us feel good and it cuts back on doctor visits. Before we were spending $60 a month on our supplements. Now we spend $40 and get the same stuff!
We did this by finding new sources for all of our favorite products and by being flexible on when we order them. We use Pharmaca.com for all of our supplement needs. We wait until they are running a 25% or 30% off deal. Like sheep, we had been ordering through Amazon.com — little did we know that we were wasting money. If you want to get even more savings I suggest that you should use Ebates! Pharmaca has a 6% cash back that you can stack with any other deal! I am new to Ebates but I like it!
Our Layoff Budget in Summary
Getting layoff sucked. But it forced us to grow so much, and financially it was the best thing that could have happened to us. It made us rethink our “perfect” budget, and saved us over $300 a month – money that is much better spent funding our early retirement (or trips to Disney!).
What would your Layoff Budget / Emergency Budget look like?