When we decided to start Zenerdgy, we knew we needed to live on one income. Although we have always lived as a 2 income household, we had decided Ben would leave his corporate job and salary to work full time on Zenerdgy.
Honestly, there have been unexpected benefits to living frugally. Before the "belt tightening," I very rarely took my lunch to work. This means I bought my lunch almost every day. The major downside of never planning lunch is waiting to eat until one is starving. Inevitably, this resulted in me eating a lot of fast food. A habit that is terrible for the budget, the waist line, and overall health. At times, I ate lunch with a colleague - a much more enjoyable, but expensive and still unhealthy option. With living frugally, I often "brown bag." Since I have food with me, I rarely wait until I am starving to eat. If I have meeting, I am able to grab a quick snack before the meeting or during a break. My packed lunches are also healthier. I usually pack fresh fruits/vegetables in my lunch, and I try to have a quick healthy snack, like almonds or yogurt, available. I am definitely eating healthier and feel better, and I am saving about $200/month. Once or twice/month, I still splurge and eat with a colleague. This is even more enjoyable. Since I am eating well most other days, I do not feel guilty having a meal and great conversation with a friend.
The other quick fix for "belt tightening" is controlling the Starbucks habit. Although I am not native to the Northwest, we have lived in the Seattle area for over 15 years. I have become a coffee fanatic/addict. Yes, I order drinks like "Grande Mocha, no whip, 1/2 the syrup, non-fat, extra hot." Yummy and 5 dollars. (In fairness to Starbucks, the Grande Mocha is less than $5. But once you break a $5 or larger bill, the change gets lost in the strange money black hole full of ones and loose coins.) I was not confident that I would be able to give up my Starbucks. I love it. But I had to try.
Breaking the Starbucks habit has not hurt...much. I have started brewing a pot of coffee (Starbucks) as part of my morning routine. Now, I usually enjoy a cup or 2 of joe before waking up the kids. This gives me a few minutes to collect my thoughts and prepare for the day. Our mornings are still hectic, but I am caffeinated and ready for the chaos. Beyond saving money, drinking brewed coffee also saves a ton of calories. Just recently, Ben and I have switched from flavored Coffee-Mate to just half and half. We appreciate the flavor of the coffee, and we have not missed the extra sweetness. Going from one Starbucks Mocha/day to 2-3 cups of home brew...$3 saved and 200 calories avoided.