When families begin the daunting process of gathering the $30 - $40K needed to fund an adoption, many immediately begin looking at fundraisers (check out 25 family-tested fundraisers HERE), extra jobs and additional sources of income as ways to collect that massive amount of money.
But we found that we were able to save hundreds of dollars per month simply by purging our own budget, renegotiating our bills and making a few sacrifices.
Pennies make dollars and dollars make hundreds and pretty soon, leaning down the budget can be just as productive as holding a monthly fundraiser.
Although in a mind-blowing miracle, God provided EVERY DIME of our adoption expenses to bring home Superhero 4, our family is still saving for travel expenses so that our whole team can hopefully travel to China later this year.
Here are some ways our still-learning team trims expenses during adoption-raising seasons.
1. Instead of paying a trash collection service, we take our trash and recycling to the dump ourselves weekly. Savings: $36+/month
2. When we began the adoption process, I called our cable provider and let them know that we were going to cancel our service unless they could reduce our payment, because a sweet superhero in China was more valuable than watching their superheroes on our flat screen. The company not only cut our bill in HALF, but they locked us in at this price as long as we remain with them for the next 12 months. Savings: $50+/month
3. Our internet, something I can’t cut as a work-from-home professional, had been slowly increasing in price throughout the year. I called the company and asked them to be locked at the introductory rate if they wanted to keep my business. After speaking to three customer service representatives for more than an hour, they gave me my price. Savings: $20/month
4. Supersoldier and all three boys take a packed breakfast and lunch to work every day. Savings: who-knows-how-much as Supersoldier stays in the office for lunch instead of eating the much-tastier-than-Michelle-can-make-food offered by a variety of local restaurants
5. When we first moved to our current duty station, I spent a full day pricing out our list of 100 most purchased grocery and cleaning items at the commissary (military grocery store), Costco (my happy place), Aldi (discount grocer that now offers tons of organic and GMO-free options) and one local grocery store. I priced each item per unit, and I factored in the food tax of our state at the non-military grocery stores and the commissary surcharge and tip at the commissary store. And then I made a list of where each item was the cheapest. Although I don’t coupon as heavily as I should, simply by shopping only for the items we need where they are the cheapest (sometimes by 30 or 40 PERCENT!), we maximize our grocery budget and feed our family of five-going-on-six as healthy as possible on the fewest dollars. Savings: $60+/month WITHOUT coupons, simply by shopping intentionally
6. We minimize gas by shopping at the commissary once a month, shopping at Costco once a month and utilizing a large stand-up freezer and our local grocer and farmers’ markets in the in-between. Savings: $10/extra trip in my SUV, or $20 - $40/month if we visited each store weekly or semi-monthly
7. We cancelled all subscriptions, even small $2 monthly ones, that were extraneous or unnecessary. Savings: $10/month (this could be HUGE for families with gym memberships or Audible subscriptions that never get used)
That’s a MINIMUM savings per month of $196. We generally save much more by using these methods.
Other areas you could look to cut:
1. Your cell phone bill. Are you actually using all the minutes you pay for? If not, consider reducing your plan or changing your provider to save big in this area.
2. Investments. Would you be willing to reduce the amount of money you place in savings accounts or investments for a season to not accrue debt throughout the adoption process?
3. Professional services in your home. Do you have professionals who clean your house or take care of your yard? Could you perform those services yourself for a year in order to save for your future superhero? Or could you pay your child or a neighbor to perform those services at a severely discounted rate?
4. Insurance. Have you renegotiated your costs or shopped around to compare what other companies can offer for your home or auto?
5. Home energy use. Are you conserving energy (and money) by turning out the lights when you exit a room, keeping the house at a reasonable temperature, utilizing energy-efficient bulbs and taking advantage of any tips and tricks your utility provider offers for using less energy and reducing your monthly bill?
We know other families who’ve completely cut cable or internet, and we have friends who chose to eat on half their original grocery budget for a year. During our first adoption (we've made other sacrifices to forego this rule this time around), we chose not to eat out (unless someone else was generously treating us for a special occasion or we received a gift card — those were the BEST gifts during that adoption process) or purchase any clothes for anyone but Superman for the entire 10 months we were raising funds to bring our youngest little guy home.
Ultimately, those small changes add up to big dollars. And in the end, what looks now like “sacrifice” feels more like PRIVILEGE when an orphan-no-more sits in your arms.
Got ideas about shaving expenses to "hunt the good stuff"? Please comment below! We'd love to glean your wisdom!