Maybe it’s just me, but I am fascinated with budgeting. I like to know how people spend and save and sometimes if I’m lucky I’ll learn a thing or two along the way that I can incorporate into our budgeting plan. Dane and I love to travel, so saving resources to be able to travel as much and as often as we want has always been a priority for us. Today I’m sharing how we save over $550 per month just by making small changes in our day-to-day lifestyle. Let’s get right to it, so we can all start saving more cash, shall we?
How We Save Over $550 Per Month
1. Cut the cord on cable. Truthfully, Dane and I haven’t had cable since we moved to Hawaii nearly 6 years ago now. It’s too expensive and unnecessary for how little we turn on the television, so not having it was a really easy choice for us. We save $70/month by doing this! Weekly savings: $17.50
2. Joined my parent’s cell phone plan. After Dane and I got married, we realized we were paying two separate companies money every month for cell phones…what the heck?! It didn’t make sense and my parents offered to let us join their family plan so we could all minimize spending. We only save $20 by doing this, but $20/month adds up to $240/year! Weekly savings: $5
3. Canceled subscription to the newspaper. We LOVE getting the newspaper, but it got to the point where we were recycling it before we had even read it. So sad! We canceled our subscription and read online now. This alone was a savings of around $150/year. Weekly savings: $3.12
4. Meal planning. This was a big undertaking for us, because the amount of wasted food in our refrigerator made me absolutely nuts. I would go to the store and buy the same things over and over, yet want to eat different meals. It made no sense and I was constantly frustrated. Now when I go to the store with a list for specific recipes throughout the week, I’m able to plan more easily and buy less. I don’t have a monetary total for this one, but the amount of food waste is ZERO right now and that, to me, is huge. I’m still not the greatest at meal planning, but I always feel so much better going into the week when I know what I’m going to make and I get to plan for all the pinned recipes I have on Pinterest. Weekly savings: $0 (I don’t have a figure so we will just keep it at 0 to keep things fair!)
5. Buying generic labels. This one seems kind of obvious, but I wanted to share it, because it definitely has saved us some cash. Both of our dogs take Benadryl regularly for allergies (in addition to their Apoquel), so I typically go through a good amount. Instead of shelling out serious cash for the brand name, our veterinarian told us it’s absolutely okay to buy the Kirkland brand at Costco. A quick comparison told me I’m saving about $1.50 per bottle. But hey – every little bit helps! Weekly savings: $0.37
6. Packed lunches. It is amazing how much you can save with $10 worth of groceries from the store and about 30 minutes. I prep Dane’s lunch every week with 5 chicken breasts (or 1 rotisserie chicken), 1 bag of asparagus/broccoli/salad and 1 cup of quinoa. It doesn’t take me very long at all and I know that not only is he having a meal that’s probably healthier than what he might buy, but it’s also saving us money! These meal prep containers rock – I use them for everything and $11 for 15 containers makes them less than $1/each. If Dane spent $7 every day on lunch, that’s $35/week, so I can confidently say we are saving at least $25/week this way, because he would realistically spend way more than $7! Weekly savings: $25
7. Dry cleaning. I admit – I like having my nice clothes dry cleaned, especially dresses, because they come back so nicely ironed and ready to go. See also: I’m kind of lazy when it comes to ironing. It is really easy to put your dry cleaning in a bag and hit the dry cleaning drive through to drop it off. But! While looking over our finances, I realized we were spending way, way too much. See also: OVER $75/month! You guys – that is embarrassing. I have no excuses for not ironing our stuff or stopping to read a label about what can/cannot go in the dryer. Instead, we cap our dry cleaning to $25/month. Weekly savings: $12.50
8. Gym costs. There is a lot to be said about joining a gym or bootcamp or fitness studio (spinning, yoga, etc) that has an instructor who is there encouraging you to move faster, do more reps, keep going, etc. I know I personally love it. But! I also know that spending $20/month for us to go to kickboxing together ($40/month total), was something we could easily cut to save cash considering the weather here in Hawaii is always nice enough for running, walking, hiking, etc. Plus, we could encourage each other and the gyms on all military bases are free for us to use. Total weekly savings: $10.
9. Personal care. Hair, nails, waxing – all of it costs money! Personally, I don’t pay for haircuts that often (I got my first one in almost ten years last fall), so that is a pretty big savings for me. I also wax my eyebrows and everything else on my own, which I’ve been doing for years, so again – more savings. (A few of you have asked about which wax I use – I love this one for strips and this one for hard wax – both less than $20!) That said, my own guilty pleasure and “me treat” are manicures and pedicures. There was a time I was going every 2 weeks religiously. It’s a nice treat, but $35 every two weeks is $70/month! At the beginning of 2018, I decided I wanted to get serious about wants vs. needs and I don’t NEED two pedicures a month and I don’t NEED to always have my nails done. The compromise was cutting down to one mani/pedi per month, with a total savings of $35/month. Weekly savings: $8.75
10. Eating out. Holy moly – I saved this one for last, because when I looked at our bank statement I was kind of sick to my stomach looking at how much we spent on food out. Dane and I love, love, love to treat ourselves to good food and good food comes at a price. You guys, we were spending around $400/month on eating out. I’m kind of ashamed to admit it was that much, but we hit $100 every weekend pretty much regularly. It doesn’t take much to do that here in Hawaii, but damn – that had to stop! We cap ourselves at $150/month now, because the reality is that we know we are going to want to eat out or treat ourselves at least 1-2 times per month. With this plan, we save $225/month. Weekly savings: $56.25
Total weekly savings: $138.49
Total monthly savings: $553.96
Even if you aren’t ready to dive head first into any of these, take a look at an entire month’s worth of spending and see where you can save a few dollars. At first you might just be like – it’s only $2 but! Those dollars add up. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro at figuring out where you can save. So, let’s chat…What are you best budgeting tips? How do you save money? Do you have a specific budget plan in place?