Top Ten Ways I Save Money
On Monday, I shared with you the things that I would never do to save money, and I really don’t like to “never say never”, but in the instance of those money saving solutions, I am going to stick with never. I guarantee you, that you will never see my saving my cat’s hair for any purpose, although, he certainly sheds a lot of it and I am sure there are plenty of uses for it other than throwing it out.
There are certainly extreme ways to save money, and I seriously tip my hat off to those that follow them. However, I think for the larger population, there are easy ways to save money that are not quite so extreme, and I believe that anyone can do them. I believe this because I have been able to employ them myself, and if a previous non-frugalie can do it, anyone can. So here are the top ten ways I save money.
1) Grocery Challenge
Food and grocery spending are typically the highest monthly expenses for households after rent or mortgage, and they are the easiest to fix. Okay, they are not really easy, but if you focus on it and make it a challenge, it could be easy. We used to spend $200 – $300 a week at the food store. What did we buy? I have no idea. Where did it go? Most of it in the trash because we had a habit of mindless spending and getting things that were on sale. If you are not going to use the item within a week, then don’t buy it. It does not matter how much of a sale it is, if you end up throwing it away, it is just money wasted. I imagine that we have thrown out $1,000s of dollars over the years by just mismanaging our grocery spending.
Now, I have our family of 3 down below $100 a week because I challenged myself to see if I could do it. I am writing a post next week on exactly how I grocery shop, but I usually get us under $100 and have had a few weeks where we were under $50 for the week. This is an almost 200% reduction in costs for my family.
2) Cutting Cable
I shared about how we did this on the blog not too long ago, and the process of cutting cable is saving us a little over $1,000 a year. We have been going for four months without cable now, and I can tell you that it is fabulous, so fabulous, I blogged about that as well. It will take some time to get used to if you have never done it, but the cost savings make it a compelling option.
My advice is to start by adding one of the streaming channels into your tv watching like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus. See how you feel after just using that source and determine if cable is still right for you. One episode of Orange is the New Black or House of Cards, and I am guessing you will wonder why you have cable at all.
3) Changed Cell-Phone Plans
I have read a lot of bloggers talk about plans like Republic Wireless or Wal-Mart’s Phone Plan or switching to providers like Net10 Wireless that uses other provider’s cellular coverage. We knew that our cell phone bill was high (at least for us), so we have been researching every solution possible. We ended up re-evaluating our plans, including our data plan as well as ask for a deal from Verizon, and I am happy to report that our monthly bills are just as much as Republic or Net10 and we didn’t have to leave Verizon. Sometimes the best way you can save money is to just call your provider directly and tell them the budget you need to hit, and it’s amazing how helpful they can be.
4) Switched Soaps
This is one of those little changes that is going to add up over time. For the longest time I have used body wash and FB Hubby has used his own body wash. For some reason, I just never thought anything of the two body washes, it was just what we used. However, one day I was going to buy my replacement body wash, and I was shocked at the price. I know for a lot of people $7 is not much money, but if you included hubby’s soap, we are at $14 a month for soap, and we could get 2 bars that last us for two months for $1.99. So, I put the wash down, picked up the bar soap, and my skin is just as happy. Over a year, this is $240 saved.
5) DIY Beauty Tricks
I have become a big fan of Pinterest and finding new and cheap beauty tricks. I was going to try to make my own wax to wax my eyebrows, when my friend told me about a kit she uses. I have never waxed from home, and it always frightened me; however, by switching to this I could save hundreds of dollars a year, so I decided to give it a try, and I was pleasantly surprised. The wax worked great, and I save lots of money too. Before you give your money to a professional, think about trying it yourself at home.
6) Reduced Clothing Expenses
I am one of those women who does not like to shop, but I have been in the habit in the past of buying items I don’t need like shoes and dresses. This year I have challenged myself to spend as little as possible on clothes for me. In the past, I would say that I spent on average $1,000 a year on clothes and shoes. This year to date, I have spent $60, and I don’t feel deprived. It also helps that I try to wear yoga pants as much as possible when I work from home.
7) Dating Differently
I am a big believer in dating my hubby. After 12 years together, we need to always find ways to stay connected and going out on dates is a big component of that. In the past, we would go out at night and usually get a babysitter. Even if we didn’t go anywhere spectacular, between the sitter and the food, it was always over $100 for an evening out.
This past year, FB Hubby and I have learned to date differently. We look for happy hours as much as possible, and we have more date nights in. Again, thanks to Pinterest, we get to try so many different meals that are inexpensive and then we hang out in bed and watch a movie that’s free via Amazon Prime. Our dates now, average around $20.
8) DIY Home Projects
I am fortunate that my hubby is a DIY guy and he has written about it here, but we have had a few projects over the last year that could have been handled by a contractor that we did ourselves. We had a situation with our downstairs toilet and it needed to be replaced and our garage door opener (which was 25 years old) also needed to be replaced. Both of these projects would have cost us over $700 if we used a professional. Instead, my hubby watched some YouTube videos, spent some time at Home Depot, and tackled everything for under $300. Don’t be afraid to try things yourself before bringing in the experts.
9) Making Myself Uncomfortable at Home
This winter was an extremely cold one here in New York, but we didn’t want to run our utility bills too high. So we kept our home heated to about 58 degrees on average. It was cold, but not painfully and we just made sure to wear sweaters. My son actually loves the cold (like me) and walked around with just his underwear on. We still had high utility bills, but it would have been worse if we didn’t keep it so cool. Also, we waited until the last possible minute to turn on our A/C and still keep it warmer than I would like, but it saves us at least $100 a month in the summer.
10) Changed My Gifting Strategy
This past Christmas, FB Hubby and I decided to cut back on our gifts to each other. I love giving gifts, and I have had a problem in the past of overspending around the holidays and birthdays. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as it is part of your plan, but for us, we would rather save that money for something bigger down the road rather than a gift now. So we set a low limit on Christmas gifts and an even lower one on birthday gifts. Did I have a crappy holiday and birthday? No way! I still enjoyed them as much and our household saved hundreds of dollars to use elsewhere.
Having a budget around gifting is a great way for saving money because typically gifting is filled with lots of emotion and when you are emotional, you tend to overspend. When you set a budget, you know what your limits are. My son even knew that Santa had a budget. We told him that Santa didn’t want to give to anyone who was spoiled so he gives a budget of what he kids should expect.
The changes that I have made may not be extreme; however, they are saving my family $1,000s of dollars a year.
What are some of the ways you have saved money this year? Did you try anything new or crazy?