How our family of six lives on $550 a month! ~ Our Cozy Den

Six People. $550 a month. How we do it!

Last year I wrote a post about how we live on $650 a month. I got a lot of feedback from it — both incredibly positive as well as harshly negative. I’m a sensitive person, so negative comments are really hard on me. For that reason, I was hesitant to even post today’s budget update. However, I’ve had a few readers ask if our budget has changed since that time — and it has. So here I am to share our new 2016 budget! Our new total budget is $550 a month. Here’s now it breaks down: Groceries = $175/month I’ve been blogging my weekly menus for Read More


5 Creative Ways to Save: Utilities

Today is the last post in our 5 Creative Ways to Save series! So far, we’ve covered some ways to save money on Christmas, dinner, and entertainment. Today, let’s talk about utilities! When I first posted about my $650 budget — I got tons of questions about HOW we live on so little. Here on the blog, you can find tons of tips on how to save, like my weekly menus, money saving recipes, and more! For utilities, it’s common for our electric bill to be $60, our gas (heating) bill to be about $50, and water is about $40. These are just some of Read More


9 Ways to Save on Garbage!

Did you know that the average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash per day? For my family of 6, that would be 189 pounds every week! That’s crazy!! Producing a lot of garbage is expensive, not to mention the fact that it just feels wasteful. I feel like a bad human being if we have a big pile of trash. It’s bad for the environment and my pocket. Here are some ways to save money on your garbage pile, and help the planet in the process! 1. Stop trash before it starts. Buying things isn’t just expensive at the cash register. You also spend money transporting Read More


Envelope System Giveaway Winner!!!

Last week, Thrifty Zippers sponsored a giveaway to win an Envelope System Wallet!  Isn’t it pretty?! I just love my wallet, and I loved seeing all of your comments about which wallets you loved as well! Well, I’m happy to announce that a winner has been chosen! Congratulations to… Aliyana!!! Aliyana, I sent you an email with information on how to claim your prize. As for the rest of you, I have a special surprise for you too! If you didn’t win, and you’d like to order a wallet from Thrifty Zippers, you can use the coupon code cozyden15 and get 15% off your purchase!!! Read More


How To Use The Envelope System (& WIN an Envelope System Wallet!!!)

I’m a HUGE fan of the Envelope System. You may have heard of it – Dave Ramsey has been touting its benefits for years, and frugal housewives have been using it for decades. It can seem overwhelming at first, but here’s a quick tutorial on how to get started using it to save your family BIG money. First, let’s talk about WHY. To put things simply, people spend more when they swipe a card over using cash. It’s all about the way your brain registers the money as a tangible resource leaving your possession. When you swipe a card, it’s an abstract thing – you Read More


How to Save on Cell Phones

When I posted last week about how we live on $650, I got TONS of questions about my budget. I’m going to go into each category a little further, and give you more info and tips on how to save in that area. So today, let’s talk about cell phones. It’s a necessary tool in today’s world, isn’t it? It seems like everyone out and about is glued to their phone. And most of those people are paying huge cell phone bills for the pleasure. Before we went to Europe, we lived in Tennessee, and we had AT&T for our cell phones. We had no Read More


How We Live On $650 a month

{See our most up-to-date budget here, which is now $550/month!}    We have 6 people in our family – including 4 crazy kids! And we manage to live on $650 a month. This is how we do it! Groceries = $250/month I am very careful with my meal planning. I buy in bulk, cook from scratch, and we do not buy pre-packaged or convenience foods. I do one week a month where I cook from the pantry, and we don’t get groceries at all. I stretch the meat in my recipes to make it go farther. I check store ads to I can price-match and Read More


Save Money on Gas!

The single greatest thing that we have done to save gas is called hypermiling. It’s a relatively new concept, but one that is gaining in popularity. It basically means, increasing the expected miles-per-gallon of your vehicle by altering your driving habits. It can be done in any vehicle, not just hybrids or compact cars. In fact, we drive a minivan and get much better than expected fuel efficiency. There are many steps to hypermiling, but the basic concept is: avoid the brake pedal like the plague. When you hit the brake, you’re basically wasting all the gas you used to get up to that speed. Read More


Saving water

I don’t do quite as many things here as I do to save electricity, but here are a few of my favorite tips: install low-flow showerheads (I got these for free from Energy Right. They sent me a gift pack when I did an online home energy audit.) put a half gallon (the whole jug) of water in your toilet tanks to use less water with each flush. I’ve also heard of people using a brick; it does the same thing. when I wash dishes in the dishwasher, I use the water saver option. when I wash dishes in the sink, I only put 1-2″ Read More


Saving money on power

There are countless ways to save energy. I’m sure you’ve probably heard most of them, but just in case, I’m listing many here. All of these are things that I do in my own home (unless I state otherwise), so they are definitely achievable by the average family. replace your old incandescent light bulbs with CFLs set the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees or lower set your heater to as low as you can stand it in the winter and wear sweaters for extra warmth set your AC to 78 degrees or higher in the summer (when my husband is gone, I don’t use Read More