Budget Hacking an Extra $3,000 per Month on One Full-Time​ Income

Budget hacking was not a term I had ever heard of before and to be honest, I’m still not sure if it’s actually a term or if I just made it up. Either way, it has completely changed our lives and our finances forever. After living on only my husband’s full time income for a decade, we decided we were tired of falling victim to financial struggles and living paycheck to paycheck. When we started this journey I had no idea we would be able to budget hack our way to over an additional $3,000 per month in our budget! Here’s the break down of how we made it happen.

*This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission on recommendations at no cost to you.

Ditching the paycheck to paycheck life

If we haven’t been introduced before, let me break it down for you.

We bought a big house, we decided that big house wasn’t worth the big payment or the money and time it took to maintain. So, we downsized.

This was the starting point for our budgeting hacking way of living. For the first time in a decade we were getting intentional about how we wanted to spend our time and money. What no one tells you is that this is usually the first step in successful money management.

Making a clear plan for the future

Before we could begin budget hacking our way to financial freedom we had to get clear about what we wanted in our lives. We already knew what we didn’t want.

What we didn’t want:

  • To constantly struggle
  • Live paycheck to paycheck
  • Spend our time maintaining a large home
  • To spend most days at home
  • Money fights to ruin our marriage

What we did want:

  • Secure savings for retirement
  • Emergency savings
  • To be debt-free
  • Travel with our kids
  • Have fun in our daily lives
  • Giving to others without worry
  • A great, thriving marriage

Planning your dreams together as a couple is one of the first steps in succeeding with budget hacking. Learn more about the Budget Hacking process.

Making a game plan for our lives was the first step in our budget hacking process!

A cheaper mortgage payment

Like I said, we were ready to ditch our big house lifestyle and start living a little more simply (and affordably).

Downsizing our house meant a savings of $700 per month on our mortgage payment alone.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: you CAN’T downsize or you don’t WANT to downsize — I know and that’s why I’m talking about this step first. Because it’s a drastic one and isn’t suitable for everyone!

Wanting to sell your home? Get connected with a realtor near you.

Consider refinancing

Sometimes refinancing is a great option to lowering your monthly payment expenses and your overall interest rate on the loan of your home.

There are however some things you need to know before you refinance.

Make sure you are working with a loan officer you know and trust, Lending Tree is a great place to get started and you can get a quote without leaving your house.

Get a quote now.

Becoming debt free

The day Tom and I became officially debt-free (except our mortgage) was a really weird day. For the first time in my entire life, I felt completely free to dream!

I no longer felt limited by money. My dreams all felt so much more possible and a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

How we paid off $6,000 of debt in 6 months.

Have you ever taken a moment to just figure out how much more money you would have each month if debt were no longer an issue? Go ahead, calculate it!

For us, paying off debt freed up an average of $1,030 per month! We paid off things like:

  • Car payment
  • Credit cards
  • Loan payments
  • Hospital bills
  • Student loans

How to pay less in credit card interest

There are 2 major ways I recommend not only reducing your monthly expenses but the overall interest you pay when it comes to things like credit cards.

  • Get a lower interest loan
  • Negotiate lower interest rates

Lower interest loan

When we started paying off our debt this is the route that we chose. Our credit card interest rate was a whopping 25% and we were able to lower it to 11% by taking out a loan. Get a FREE debt consolidation quote.

Negotiating your credit card interest rate

Negotiating is a scary word when you are a recovering people pleaser like I am! If it makes you nervous too, I’m here to tell you not to let that fear stop you from negotiating!

I have scoured the internet and found some of the best negation scripts (including credit card interest) and am giving them to you for free!

Get your FREE Maximize Your Negotiation Scripts!

This is the attitude I need to harness when I start negotiating 😂

Negotiating monthly payments

One of the most helpful sections in my Budget Hacking course is how to start finding your wasted monthly expenses and either ditching them or negotiating to a lower price.

Here’s a quick look at the bills we lowered and how you can too.

Gym memberships

We found that making one trip to our gym each day was taking up 45 minutes of our time — which is a lot when you’re also a homeschooling family! On top of that we were paying $130 per month for our entire family and were barely making it because of the time crunch!

Finding a cheaper gym – We were able to reduce our monthly costs by $70 when Tom and I took out individual memberships at a gym that did not have child care. Yes, we sacrificed some of the perks, but like I said, we weren’t really able to take full advantage of them either.

Workout at home – Some people, unfortunately, let their memberships come out every month and don’t even use them! Instead, try setting a goal to walk a few times per week or get download an app that lets you workout from home. Get 30 days free on the Aaptive Fitness app.

Try daily gym passes – If you aren’t totally ready to give up your gym membership, take a moment to calculate if a daily pass might be more affordable for you. For example, if you’re paying $69 for a membership per month, but are only making it 4 times per month, maybe the $10 daily pass ($40 per month) would be a better way to save money?

Phone bills

Phone bills can be one of the biggest budget drainers out there! Thankfully, I was recently able to reduce our monthly expenses by $40 per month on our plan with 3 phone lines!

Tips for lowering your phone bill:

  • Negotiate with your company for a lower rate
  • Eliminate some of your add ons
  • Opt for automatic payments (this reduced our cost by $15 per month)
  • Avoid phone payment plans (paying mine off saved $25 per month)
  • Try a pay as you go provider (starting at $10 per month)!

Want to cover all your bases?

One of the best budget hacking apps is called Trim.

Trim works by reviewing your spending habits each month to find different bill payments where you could be paying less each month.

Within 20 minutes of downloading Trim, they notified me that I could be saving over $20 per month on a lower internet bill!

Download Trim now.

Ditch subscriptions

Subscription memberships are all the rage. So much so that we tend to pile them on without realizing the wasted expense.

As obnoxious as it sounds, I realized I had been paying for an Audible monthly membership for 7 months!! I had signed up for a FREE trial and then never canceled it! At $15 per month, that’s a total of $105 I spent on absolutely nothing!

How to Save on Subscription Based Services

Creating passive income from home

The absolute best thing I did to help budget hack our way to more money each month was find ways to make passive income.

I did this in 3 ways:

$1,000 passive income blogging

Creating the blog has allowed me so many freedoms. Like making $500 I one week when I didn’t work at all! If you have ever wanted to learn how to make money through blogging, start with my Blogging Basics course that will take you through all of the beginning steps of starting a successful blog!

When I say I make $1,000 passive income per month that means money I really don’t have to work for through advertisements on the blog.

I also earn money through my own products, affiliate marketing and the occasional sponsored post.

How to Make Your First $1,000 Blogging

Where we spent more money

One other important topic I cover in Budget Hacking is the importance of insurance coverage.

When going through our budget, I see that insurance is the one area where we are actually spending more money than we used to.

We spend more on insurance because:

Watch my Insurance 101 video on YouTube

More budget hacking tips

In Budget Hacking I will walk you through the step by step of being successful with budget hacking. Some of the other things I didn’t cover here:

  • Doing a spending inventory
  • Planning for changing expenses
  • Learning about phantom costs
  • Trimming budget fat
  • The budget combo that works
  • Cash hacks
  • and more!

Preview the full Budget Hacking curriculum here.

What to do with your extra money

Once you have worked your tail off and taken the steps to get more money out of your budget, it’s so important that you make a budget that works and then stick to it!

Here is a quick breakdown of the financial moves you should be making every month to help improve your life.

  • Contribute to your 401K or retirement
  • Automate saving to an emergency fund (we use Capital One 360)
  • Save automatically for big events like vacation or a new car
  • Reduce the areas of your budget that don’t matter as much to you
  • Allow yourself fun money each month
  • Plan where your money will go and stick to it

These are areas I walk you through in Budget Hacking. If you feel like you need more guidance and tools, it’s something I highly recommend checking out because it could totally transform your financial life forever.

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Our family of 5 was able to successfully use budget hacking and create an additional $3,000 per month on one full time income! Here's how we did it!