How We’re Cutting Expenses in 2015

by Julie on March 25, 2015 · 2 comments

a-pair-of-scissors-686727_1280 Have you ever looked at a year’s worth of your spending in one place? It’s an eye-opening thing.

If you have a system for tracking your money (I use Quicken), you can use the report feature to see what I mean. Or sometimes credit cards will send you an annual statement by category, so if you put a lot of your spending on your card, that’s a good snapshot too.

In January I pulled up a Quicken category report to see how we had spent our money in 2014. Having this bird’s-eye view helped me quickly see areas where I thought we could do better, and I found four of them to focus on this year.


To put it bluntly, our food expenses had gotten out of control. With Grant going off to college (and even during his senior year) we’d fallen into the habit of eating out and ordering takeout way too often.

Since the first of the year we’ve been making a point to eat at home more, and earlier this month I put together a super simple meal plan that we’ve been following with a lot of success.

The effect on our finances has been dramatic. In the last month we’ve easily cut our food costs (grocery store + eating out) in half and I expect this to be the area where we save the most this year.


Toward the end of last year I decided to try my hand at travel hacking. Generally speaking, travel hacking means acquiring as many points or miles as you can in order to travel more cheaply. One of the most common ways to do this is to take advantage of signup bonuses from travel credit cards.

We opened two Southwest Airlines Visas (the Premier and the Plus), and met the minimum spending requirements on each in order to earn 100,000 Southwest miles for me. Earning that many miles also qualified me for a free Southwest companion pass, so that anytime I fly on Southwest in 2015, someone goes with me for free.

We have four trips planned for this year, all to places that Southwest flies, and I’ll be flying on my points with Tom flying on my companion pass. The only cost we’ll have for those flights are the required government fees and taxes, about $11 per ticket.

Home Decor & Improvements

I’m a house person. Luckily Tom and I are on the same page about that. We both get a lot of satisfaction from our home and maintaining and improving it are important to us.

Last year was an especially expensive year for us, house-wise: We had a new patio built and bought some furniture for it. We replaced our family room couch and loveseat. I bought some chairs at an estate sale and had them recovered. We replaced the floor and bought a new desk for my office. And we replaced our 29-year-old bedroom set with Craigslist finds.

That’s a lot, even for me, so we’ll be taking a bit of a breather this year. We have some painting and ceiling work planned, and I’m sure I’ll do a little decorating (I’d love some new artwork), but we’ll be spending significantly less.


Admittedly, medical costs are mostly out of our control. But we expect to spend a lot less this year because I don’t plan to break my wrist and need two surgeries and physical therapy again. Then again, I didn’t plan on that last year either, but here’s hoping.

Do you have a plan to save money this year? What are you focused on?


3 Kitchen Shortcuts to Make Your Life Easier

by Julie March 23, 2015
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We’ve been doing a lot more eating at home this year, especially in the last month, so I’ve been falling back on the shortcuts that have stood the test of time in our kitchen. Here are three of my favorites, and I’ve been using them so long that I don’t remember where I first heard about them. […]

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Talking College on the Couple Money Podcast

by Julie March 17, 2015
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Did you know that podcasts are big now? Like really big. Well, my blogging friend, Elle from Couple Money, started a podcast last year and I completely forgot to tell you all about it. That’s an especially bad oversight since Elle had me on as a guest on episode #4 way back in October. We talked about paying for […]

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Motivation for the Journey and a Few Words about Facebook

by Julie March 11, 2015

In January I began posting some of my favorite quotes paired with pictures on the Family CEO Facebook page and you guys really responded! Apparently you like quotes as much as I do. Because not everyone sees the Facebook posts, I’m sharing the five most popular quotes here. That’s #5 up above, and #4 through #1 […]

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The One Simple Way We Overhauled Our Finances

by Julie March 9, 2015
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Nine years ago this month I hired myself to make the most of our family’s finances. What does that mean, exactly? Although I couldn’t have articulated it this way at the time, I had hired myself to stop using our income to qualify for payments, and start using it to build wealth for our future. We’ve had a […]

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4 Ways to Simplify Your Finances

by Julie March 5, 2015
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  Note: On posts like these I like to restate my disclosure that The Family CEO is for general information or entertainment purposes only and does not constitute professional financial advice. For information regarding your specific situation, contact your financial advisor. Many of us are looking to simplify in different areas of our lives. Emptier calendars […]

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One Thing You Must Do if You’re a Family CEO

by Julie February 26, 2015
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Dave Ramsey calls it a Legacy Drawer. My husband, Tom, calls it a Doomsday Sheet. Whatever you decide to call yours, you must have one. I’m talking about a summary of financial info that your family would need if anything were to happen to you. I know you don’t want to think about this. No […]

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Reader Success Story: $10,000 in Found Money in 7 Months

by Julie February 9, 2015
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I love getting comments and emails from you guys about the things we talk about on the blog, and last week I got an email from a reader named Elise, who gave me permission to share her story. Here is what she wrote: I just read your updated found money post and wanted to leave a comment. […]

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7 Simple Things You Can Do This Week to Improve Your Finances

by Julie February 3, 2015
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This post started out as things you could do today to improve your finances. And you could do all of these things today, so if you’re a real go-getter, have at it. But when the number of items turned out to be seven, it seemed like a no brainer to make these things you could do […]

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The Nitty Gritty of Being a Family CEO

by Julie January 24, 2015
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Almost nine years ago I hired myself to make the most of our family’s finances. In that time I’ve tried lots of different strategies, some of which have stuck and some of which have fallen by the wayside. This week, however, I found myself doing some of the things that have become more or less routine in my […]

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The Benefits of Working with a Local Insurance Agent

by Julie March 17, 2015

The following is a guest post. As vehicle owners shop for auto insurance, many choose to work with a national name. This often means that contacting the company for assistance leaves policy holders waiting on hold or not getting the answers needed regarding policies or claims. You can still have insurance coverage through a national […]

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The Pros and Cons of Selling a Structured Settlement

by Julie March 16, 2015

The following is a guest post. People usually get structured settlements because bad things have happened in their lives. They have become plaintiffs in a lawsuit for one of many reasons. If this sounds like you, you likely are finding yourself more financially strapped than you ever have been before. Many people involved in lawsuits […]

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The Hidden Costs of Funerals

by Julie March 2, 2015

This post was contributed by Jeff Cartwright. Planning for your funeral or anyone else’s is a saddening time. The truth is though, with funeral costs over $6,000, you need to accurately plan for it now. This includes having accurate coverage via life insurance and burial insurance. Funerals are not cut and dry. There are many […]

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