How to Pop Some Tags with Only $20 in Your Pocket

When you marry your High School sweetheart, you’ve either married a really nice guy, a really hot guy, or the first guy who liked you. I know because I married mine. He was the hot kind. 

Maybe you hit a home run and got all three. Or maybe you are a psychic who was able to see into the future where your 25-year-old self revealed her “potential husband check list”. Among “a nice guy” and “a hot guy”, you saw things on said list like father material, good bone structure, financially stable, and no outstanding warrants for his arrest.

Unfortunately, I do not possess this fortune telling ability. Fortunately, however, my High School sweetheart turned husband grew into most of the things on my potential husband check list. Some traits took longer to check off, like financial stability. After all, we did get engaged at the ripe, young age of 20! And after the engagement, it seemed like a good idea to buy a house with every last penny we had. So, we did. This is called- stupidity and naiveness. Oops, I mean, child-like faith and confidence in your man (who is an embryo just like you).

Sometimes, I look back and think, “Thank God we got married when we did, because my 25 year-old self would be much too cautious and sensible to do any of the things my 20 year-old self thought were ingenious ideas.” 

My 25 year old self would not be able to live off mac and cheese, and my 25 year-old husband would not be able to not buy the new Apple watch. 

How did we do it back then? How did we live off of mac and cheese, love, and $5 to our name? This is how:

1) When grocery shopping, if you MUST buy meat, like if you are dying from meat deprivation, buy anything breaded. Breaded meats always come in boxes with double the amount of meat for half the price. If you MUST buy un-breaded meat, like if you are dying from un-breaded meat deprivation, buy chicken hot dogs. NOT beef hot dogs, those are double the price - chicken hot dogs.

2) Remember, all you need is love. You guys don’t need to prove your love to one another with frivolous gifts and date nights. Do you know how many chicken hot dogs you could buy with the money you are spending on one movie ticket, let alone two tickets! 

3) What is personal hygiene/maintenance? Letting your roots grow out is the newest thing- it’s called “ombre”, HELLO?? Oh, and being a hipster saves you from buying new clothes. You don’t need new pants, they are supposed to be that tight and too short. Also, you should consider the “shabby chic vintage” style for home decorating. Do I really have to tell you how many chicken hot dogs you could buy with the money you are spending on new furniture?

4)  Be adventurous! You don’t need to get on a plane or a hotel over 3 stars to have a good time! Go camping-’s $300/night to camp here…heck, you don’t need to leave your house to have a good time! Okay, so maybe wait until you are financially stable before going on any adventures.

THAT, my friends, is how 20 year olds afford a mortgage. Simple. 

However, if you are over 20 and this breaded meat, living room-camping standard of living is beneath you, have no fear, I have a money saving list for you as well! 

1) At the beginning of each month, make a meal plan/shopping list. This means grocery shopping only once a month because the grocery store is a dangerous place that should not be visited unless it is absolutely necessary! Sales are great to keep an eye out for, but nobody needs 28 boxes of Raisin Bran just because it's discounted by $0.25.

2) Plan a date night or family night once a month. Make sure you schedule it in advance and stick to the plan; this way you'll know when to expect it, what to expect, and how much you are expecting to spend. It's always fun to have something to look forward to and is a good way to prevent impromptu dates that may not be in the budget. 

3) Treat your household like a business by "paying" yourself and your "coworkers". Allowances are a great way to keep the spending under control without feeling as though you are depriving yourself. Not everyone in a company gets paid equal wages so be realistic with how much each member of the family should be allotted. Implement a system to award bonuses and raises. 

4) If you plan on traveling, be proactive! Set money aside each month so you have a small lump sum when you see a good sale. Unlike Raisin Bran, a good sale on a trip is worth snatching up if you have the money for a deposit. Book your vacations well in advance; especially if you can only take time off work during public holidays and/or any time children are out of school. Don't wait until it's too late and too expensive to book.

Our first year of marriage was full of chicken-hot dog spaghetti and staycations in our living room; but over the years, we've learned that being thrifty doesn't mean depriving yourself of the finer things in life. It's not about living off the cheapest items in the grocery store and sacrificing date nights and vacations in order to pay your bills, while trying to save for a day you can afford to buy real beef hotdogs. It is about knowing when and where to spend your money to get the best bang for your buck. It's about learning how to spoil yourself within your means and enjoying the journey at whatever stage you are at financially!

Until next time,


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