What We Spend Money On, Or Should We?

Between going out to eat, cutting and coloring our hair, purchasing expensive makeup and buying the latest technology craze - we can really rack up the dollars each year. Eating out alone can cost thousands of dollars. Take a small to normal sized family of four. If they go out to eat for a 'inexpensive' dinner, it would cost them about $65. Now if they do that two times a week that is $130 a week. That doesn't seem like much but considering that for an entire year equals $6760.

That's a NICE vacation somewhere! Now, I don't claim to not eat out, because we do. But being aware of the overall cost to eat out is important! I cook mainly from scratch but certainly not everything. We, as a country are so fortunate- so fortunate that 'convenience' items have moved into the necessity category because we would be lost without them and "we just don't have time." However, a little planning goes a LONG way. And your body will thank you!
Let's look at the money you could save by cooking at home (with eating dinner out two times a month): 65 x 2= 130 per month x 12= $1560. Cost of food (excellent quality) for two weeks of food for a family of four =$250. $250 x 26 weeks = 6500.

Therefore, it would cost 6500+1560=$8060 per year to eat great, healthy, quality home cooked food with eating out 2 times a month for dinner. 
Now let's figure it with eating out two times a week: if we spend 250 per two weeks on groceries 250/14=$17.85 per day to cook at home. 17.85 X 5 nights a week STAY WITH ME... = $90. 52 (weeks in a year) x 90 = $4680 + 6760 (eating out 2 times a week per year)= $11,440. Saving you roughly $3400 a year. By not changing much, you can save quite a bit.

Many people wonder where their money goes or why it goes so quickly, it's because we spend so much of it on convenience, and yes, it's worth it every now and again, or 2 times a month but its certainly worth it to scale back for other endeavors like retirement, college funds, travel etc. Take that $3400 a year and stash it into a ROTH IRA and you'll be saving tons and gaining for a cush-ier tax free retirement.
Take a look at your personal areas where you cut costs. Are you cutting them in the right areas? "Oh, I'll just grab this cheap bottle of lotion full of chemicals (enter your poison here), that I cover my SKIN in" instead of finding  something that lasts twice as long and all natural.

All while rushing through the checkout so we can make it to the hair appointment that will cost us $130 every 6-8 weeks.  Why is it we scrimp on some items that should mean so much while splurging in other areas that mean nothing or do not last very long? Sure, it's instant gratification and that is certainly how we have been programmed or more appropriately, conditioned to be like. Look at every commercial you have been exposed to (or worse, your children). You need it, it's the coolest, it tastes the best (mind you, no fast food commercial says its the best for you), and now you want it.

It's almost a sickness, a sickness I am not above by any means, but am trying to be cognizant of.
In my quest to become more self-reliant, I have established some items now that I consider luxury items. They include: paper towels, paper plates (anything paper that you just throw away), 4 different types of shampoos and conditioners (GUILTY!), nail polishes in 20 different shades of red (guilty again), pre-made food/snack items, GMO cold cereals (yep, said it), pre-packaged fruits and anything that comes in pre-packaged little dishes that get thrown out.
Things I've been working on over the years to reduce costs and improve my family's health.

This isn't a new concept for me and been in motion for awhile. I add new things every year: less paper items, budget/meal plan for dinners and lunches, plant a garden, start raising meat, thrift shop (SO FREAKIN FUN), and highlight my own hair (yes, at first this was disastrous but I've finally got it down. My husband still thinks its funny to remind me of looking like Denise the Menace), make some of my own body prodcuts, craigslist for any items extra I would like- for example beer fridge, arts and craft table etc.

There are so many things I am incorporating into my life to save money for the future and honestly, since I've started it's been so worth it in the financial aspect but also because it give me a sense of accomplishment and it's fun. I must say as well, sometimes we try something and it doesn't quite work out to what we thought it might. And saving a few pennies or dollars isn't worth the extra trouble on some items. But trying it is part of the journey and you can pick and chose what works for you and your family. If you can impact one area, that's huge!
Got questions on how or areas that you think you could save? Leave a comment!