You can save money by decreasing the amount of energy you use in your house, remembering to turn off lights, using less water, increasing your premiums on your home or car insurance, but the little things can certainly add up. If you take a look at your budget, even if you think you don’t indulge in everyday luxuries, there are still things that you can cut to keep a little bit more money in your pocket.
One of the big money wasters is the bulk phone, internet, and cable special. I never thought we could live without it until we had to for three weeks. After a mistake in the billing and no special rate given, I ended up cancelling the service. My husband set it up in his name and we were able to get the biggest TV package and spend $5 less than what we had paid for two years prior (and $25 less from the price increase they were trying to inflict on me). If you need to cut more, consider cutting your cable to watch movies that you already have in your house or stream free over the internet. It might just mean you have to wait to watch your favorite shows, but this is a sacrifice that can be made.
If you have a daily coffee habit, this can certainly go. Some people get 1-3 cups of Starbucks coffee a day, which really adds up. If you absolutely have to have the flavor, purchase the Starbucks coffee to have at home. Otherwise even going all out and getting the individual coffee pouches is 75% cheaper than purchasing it at Starbucks everyday. If you have to indulge with work events, you could always see if they are up to getting Dunkin Donuts coffee instead or trying to move the event to inside the workplace so fresh coffee can be brewed.
The biggest part of my expenditures was frivolous spending, despite the fact that I didn’t think I was actually guilty of it. However, changing to Great Value and other generic foods started to result in some savings. I broke down and finally took coupons with me but only bought what I needed. You don’t really save money if you have to buy multiple items of something to save 55 cents, especially when those items aren’t even on sale that week! But steering away from the toy and entertainment aisles really helped keep that Walmart bill down. What you have to ask yourself is do you really need that? The latest movies and games can be rented instead of purchased. The toys even on sale or clearance still cost a lot more than if you could buy it used online or at a yard sale.
How much do you really spend out for dinner? What about fast food? If you look at your credit card bills at the end of each month, you might just be astounded at how much you ate out. My once a week habit turned into a two to three times a week habit so we realized we had to scale it back down. We also found that instead of ordering multiple pizzas to be delivered to our home that we saved $7 from delivery and tip as well as got a bigger pizza at our local pizza parlor.
In order to make sacrifices, you have to know what you spend your money on. If credit card bills don’t help you figure out where to cut expenses, hang onto your receipts so you can look at the spending. Walmart and Target are great places because you can get it all in one place, but you also might buy a lot more than what you expected to. Take an inventory of the items in your pantry and fridge before going shopping. I bought so much laundry detergent and dish washer soap that it will last me a year to actually go through it all. This was because I always thought we needed more everytime I went to the store and just wanted to kick myself when I found where I had put the reserves from the last shopping trip!
The biggest challenge I can set is to make it a goal to clear out your pantry completely. Go through everything in your freezer, fridge, and shelves until every last piece of food is gone. It is amazing how much money we waste for food that expires or gets freezer burned. It’s also actually fun to get creative with the ingredients in your home to make new dishes. By emptying everything inside the freezers and pantry, we actually went a full two weeks longer than usual with the food we already had before having to go back to the store to restock. It’s also nice that we don’t have to go through and throw away expired or gone bad product because we didn’t eat it.
Take a step back and look at your budget and spending habits. If you take a close enough look, you are sure to find ways to cut back. Whether it is going out less, scaling it back to a night on the town once every other week, or spending money more wisely during grocery shopping, you are sure to be able to save money that begins to amount up. Many people don’t think it’s worth it to make a phone call to save money on their insurance or to cut out coupons, but it does start to add up. By doing our clear our cabinets and freezer challenge, we ended up saving $200 this month from cutting out a shopping trip and not seeing money down the drain by tossing any food in the trash. Get creative and get saving today!