Lately, I cannot seem to stop telling people how to save money — and fast! Recently, I added up the numbers and by using some of the following methods, our family was able to free up an additional $40,000 per year. Just by working to reduce our monthly bills, we were able to save more money all year long. I mean…big time! Now, hopefully you’re not wasting as much money as we had been, but hopefully, that’s enough proof to assure you that the following money-saving tips really work.
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Think small, big changes
Spoiler alert: I’m not going to dish out a ton of tips that are going to help you save $10 per month. Instead, I have laid this post out to start big. I mean, really big. If you are in desperate need of reducing your monthly household expenses, then I don’t want to waste your time with couponing hacks.
If you’re a think big kind of person, check out my course, The Bucket List Budget. By looking at the big picture and then focusing on big, fast, financial wins, our family was able to completely change the trajectory of our lives. I designed this course with the hope of helping fellow financial strugglers learn how to finally gain financial freedom in big, easy ways. Click here to learn more.
Find where you’re living above your means
A lot of times you’ll find typical cheapskate, money-saving tips that work for anyone. What I recommend is finding out exactly what is going to work for you.
No one’s finances look the same, so no one’s way of saving on monthly bills is going to look the exact same either. I believe this so strongly, I used it as part of my main teaching in The Bucket List Budget.
To get started figuring out if you have been living above your means or not, the following two steps will help you immensely!
Check your budget percentages
I love the basic budget known as the 50/30/20 budget. It is so simple, especially for people who aren’t natural math whizzes.
How to break down the 50/30/20 budget:
- 50% of your paycheck goes toward needs (shelter and food)
- 30% of your paycheck goes toward wants (entertainment, travel)
- 20% of your paycheck gets saved (401K, savings, investments)
I encourage you to go through your expenses and calculate your percentages to find out if you are living within your means.
Review your $10 spending habits
Another major budget ruiner is those tiny little purchases we all make without really thinking about it. They are those $10 (or so) purchases on things we don’t really need but we give into buying.
When we were struggling with the paycheck to paycheck life, time and time again I would add up my small purchases from coffee, fast food or Target’s dollar section and find that we had easily spent $500 on silly, little purchases without realizing it.
Reduce your home costs
If you’ve been following our journey for a while, you know that one of our biggest monthly money-savers was selling our house in order to reduce our mortgage by over $700 per month!
Sell your home
When your mortgage is crippling (and well over 25% of your take-home pay) it might be worth it to consider selling for a smaller and/or more affordable home. You can check Zillow to get an idea of what your house might sell for and get an idea of other homes available in your area.
Another option is to refinance your home. It’s important to remember that in doing this, you will probably incur additional fees. However, sometimes refinancing is the best option to help you reduce your monthly expenses and keep your head above water.
Move to a more affordable area
Another crazy option is to just branch out and consider moving to a different location. I know for us personally, we could easily move 10-20 minutes away and get our same sized home for significantly less money.
Ditch your car payment
Car payments are another major area where people are shelling out big bucks every month. Believe it or not, there are some great ways around this!
Sell a current vehicle
Consider your current vehicle. If you still have a loan out on it, you might be able to sell it for enough money to pay off your loan! Perhaps you would be comfortable having one less vehicle or you could purchase something else for a more affordable price.
New cars are the worst. I mean, they’re nice for a while and then they are just money-sucking life ruiners. Do your research and purchase a well-maintained used vehicle to save yourself a ton of money!
Get a cheaper phone plan
I don’t think anyone has a home phone line anymore. If you do, get rid of it and then find ways to cut back on your cell plan, too!
Find better rates
A great way to instantly reduce your phone rates is to shop around and get quotes from other phone companies. You can also look into phone plans that allow you to pay for what you use!
Tello is another phone company that instantly lets you build a phone plan that works for you. If you are not someone who needs anything fancy, you could be getting a phone plan for as little as $10 per month!
Ditch the payment plans
When you get tempted into the latest phone, chances are you set yourself up on a payment plan with your phone company. These plans are usually around $30 per month! Instead, try shopping for gently used phones that you can pay for in cash…or just stick with your current phone. I’m still rocking an iPhone6 over here and I’m doing just fine.
I know insurance can be tempting…but if the name of the game is to save as much money as possible, skip the insurance and save the money instead.
Get yourself a high-quality Otterbox to keep your phone safe and protected. It’s so much cheaper than paying monthly insurance costs.
Automate your bill
Did you know just by automating your bill each month you could be reducing your costs? It might not be a ton, but it’s a very simple step you can take to start saving more money. We did this recently and were able to save $5 per phone like…which meant saving an additional $15 per month.
Does anyone even have cable anymore? We haven’t had cable in years. I don’t even know what I would do with it. Instead, we opted for a digital antenna that we really only use for football season. Plus, it easily saves us over $1,000 per year!
Reduce subscription services
Chances are, if you are like most people you have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Disney+. If you are guilty of having all the streaming services, narrow it down to one! Or even alternate. I know we’ll be bringing Netflix back as soon as the new Stranger Things hits!
Reduce food costs
Paying attention to your food spending can have one of the biggest impacts on helping you reduce your costs each month. Here are some ideas on places to save and how to save more.
Plan simple meals
When you plan a meal with 8 different ingredients, your grocery list is going to add up fast! Instead try keeping dinners simple like chicken, broccoli, and potatoes. Then stick with spices for seasoning.
Meal planning may not come naturally, it’s all good. You can use pre-planned meals and grocery lists from the $5 Meal Plan that will help you stay healthy and on a budget!
Some helpful posts:
- 20 Fast Meals You Can Make with a Rotisserie Chicken
- 5 Minute Healthy Dinner Hacks
- 17 Healthy, Frugal Crockpot Meals
Eat at home more
If your family is into the habit of eating out, make a conscious effort to eat in more. As I said, it doesn’t have to be stressful or require a lot of cooking. Even a store-bought, frozen pizza can save you a ton of money compared to a local pizza place. Grab my FREE Shop Your Pantry Guide to learn how to plan your grocery spending smarter.
Walking the aisle of a grocery store can bring a lot of temptation which leads to extra purchases. Instead, try online shopping and picking up your items at the store! This allows you to slow down, review your total and make changes if necessary. Get $25 off your first Shipt!
Buy in bulk strategically
I am a big fan of shopping at Costco. In order to actually make bulk buying worth it, there are certain things we always buy in bulk.
- Non-perishable items like canned beans, rice, noodles
- Frozen foods like chicken breasts, berries, and broccoli
- Anything we will eat in a week like 5 dozen eggs, apples, strawberries
Get the full scoop on our $100 organic Costco grocery list.
Get cash-back on your purchases
Cash-back apps like Ibotta can be super helpful in getting a little money back in your wallet. My biggest tip is to have your list ready and then browse Ibotta to see if any rebates are available on items you know you want. Get $10 when you sign up for Ibotta.
Gym memberships have the potential to be one of the biggest money-suckers of all time. Let’s talk about ways to cut costs or reduce them significantly to help you save more money each month.
Cancel your membership
Be honest, if you are not using your membership, don’t let those automatic payments keep being taken from your account! Even if there is a fee included in canceling, it might be a bigger money-saver than continuing to pay for an un-used membership.
Search for cheaper memberships
Our family downgraded our membership a few years ago from over $120 per month to just $53! Now, we lost the pool, the sauna and the ability to take the kids with us. But, we have survived just fine and with that additional $70 per month, we can easily save for a fun weekend at a waterpark hotel!
Try day passes
When you want to keep your gym membership because you do use the equipment…just not as often as you’d like, try finding a gym that offers day passes. If your membership is $69 and a day pass is $10 you could go once a week and cut your costs per month by almost $20!
Start home workouts
You can actually get really amazing home workouts doing things you like to do. There are even apps like Aaptiv, that let you work with trainers for things like meditation, running and biking!
Another amazing app to try is the Sweat app. You can do workouts at the gym or choose the PWR at Home workouts!
Negotiate Your Costs
There is a great way to negotiate your bills and you don’t even have to know what to say! I created an awesome, totally free guide to Maximizing Your Negotiations with scripts included!
Learn how to talk to your current providers and try to negotiate your way to a more affordable monthly rate on their services.
Ditch your credit card debt
If you didn’t know it by now, I am a huge advocate for getting yourself out of debt in a fast and reasonable way. There are several ways to go about this and I’ve got a few of my favorites listed for you that will also help you reduce your monthly expenses.
Consolidate credit card debt
Companies like LendingTree offer great options for credit card debt consolidation that can lower your interest rate and your monthly payment! Click here for a free quote.
Pay off high-interest cards with a lower interest loan
Another option to consider (which we did) is to take out a lower-interest personal loan to pay off a credit card that has a high-interest rate. This may lower your monthly payment and can help prevent you get out of debt quicker. There are companies like The Loan Exchange and Payoff offer loans with great interest rates compared to most credit cards.
Do a balance transfer
Cards like CapitalOne ___ offer 0% APR for 18 months and they also allow balance transfers. That means you could transfer a higher credit card balance to the CapitalOne card and then set up a plan to pay off your balance interest-free! Apply for a CapitalOne ___ card online!
Negotiate lower interest rates
There are also ways to negotiate your debt without you having to do anything. Companies like CuraDebt will do the negotiating talk for you and can even help with some tax debt relief.
Lower student loans
Refinance student loans
Another great way to lighten the load of debt is by refinancing your student loans. You may be able to save money on interest and even lower your monthly payments. Click here to see if you qualify.
Automate debt payoff
While the idea of automating your debt payoff will not save you money instantly, like a lot of these other options, it can help you pay off your debt faster and free up more monthly income for yourself in the long run.
Save on insurance
Insurance is another great place to look when you are trying to cut back monthly costs. There are a few things you can do with your current insurance provider to help you save more money.
Bundle home and auto
One of the best insurance tips I have ever heard was to bundle your home and auto into an umbrella coverage plan. Not only can this protect you more in the event of an accident, but your insurance provider may give you a discount for it as well.
Stick with the same provider
When you have all of your insurance together with one provider, you stand to get a significant price reduction. So, if you have your home, auto, and life scattered across different insurance companies, a smart idea would be to get them all together with one company to see what your new rates might be.
Get a term life insurance
Term life insurance will keep you covered for around 20 years and cost you less each month. A lot of people feel the need to be covered beyond 20 years, but if you are working to make smart financial moves, there is no reason a 20-year term life insurance policy wouldn’t work for you. With insurance companies like Haven Life, you can get affordable life insurance up to $3,000,000. Get a quote online.
Up your deductibles
Build yourself a solid emergency fund and then up your deductibles. If you are willing to pay more out of pocket, you can cut your monthly costs instantly.
Save on gas
Gas is a real guzzler when it comes to your budget. Am I right? However, there are a few great options you can look into in order to reduce the cost and save yourself money every month.
Use public transportation
If you have public transportation available to you, take advantage of it as often as you can. You’d be surprised that paying for a yearly bus pass will end up being significantly cheaper than your monthly gas.
Work with someone you might be able to share a ride with or take turns driving with? This is such a smart way to instantly cut your gas expenses in half each month!
Walk or bike when you can
Not gonna lie, we have conditioned our kids to make the 12-mile round trip bike ride to Target and back in the summer. A lot of people think this is crazy far, in reality, it’s a lot more doable than you might think AND having to carry everything back in a backpack makes me spend less at Target too!
Slash your bills
Alright, we’re at the cheapskate section of the post. I’m not saying trying to lower your monthly utility bills isn’t a good idea, but it’s definitely my last recommendation. Go big or go home…that’s how I think about hacking more money into your budget.
Set the right temp
If you want to control the price on your heating and air conditioning expenses, try snagging yourself a Nest thermostat. It’s spendy, but it works with Alexa and makes it really easy for you to program your thermostat and actually tells you when you’re choosing energy-efficient temperatures!
People say to unplug everything when you are done using it. This can be a really tough thing to do when you leave almost everything plugged in, but here are some ideas to get you started.
- Unplug and sell that extra fridge or freezer in the garage
- Unplug and store your toaster, blender and/or coffee maker. It’s more energy-efficient and keeps your counters clean!
- Use power strips for clumps of electronics to make it easy to unplug them all instantly.
Want ideas for scaling back your water bill each month? Here are my top three biggest saving recommendations:
- Short showers – Try keeping your showers under 5 minutes. If you’re used to 20-minute showers, try cutting them to 10. Slash in half the amount of time you spend in the shower and you’ll slash the bill in half too!
- Fewer flushes – I’m a firm believer in, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Yeah, it might seem gross but I’m a big water drinker and if I flushed every single time our water bill would probably triple.
- Shower elsewhere if you can – We have a gym membership that includes bathrooms and showers! When you can, take advantage of these things so that you’re not wasting water on your precious water bill.
What to do with your savings
Alright, so we talked about 40 ways to save money on your monthly bills, but what is supposed to do with your savings?! NOT blow it on stupid stuff, friend!
Put money toward debt payoff
If you have debt that you are working to knock out, one of the smartest things you could do would be to start putting some of your monthly savings toward and automated debt payoff plan.
Automate a bigger savings
When your debt is free and clear, my biggest recommendation is to get automated savings set up. We automate savings to our CapitalOne savings accounts for our emergency and vacation savings every month.
The Savings Builder savings account is another great one that only requires $100 per month for you to start earning interest on anything you save!
Save for your kids
Want to build a better future for your kids? The U-Nest app is a tax-free account you can open for your kids that takes less than 5 minutes to open and requires only $25 per month.
Budget for what you want
The smartest money move you can ever make is to budget wisely. Grab my Fun Sized Budget Bundle to get all of my printouts, plus a video guide on how to use them to your advantage.
If you really want to take this budgeting thing seriously and start making money work for you to have more of the things you want in your life, check out my Bucket List Budget course.
Up your investments
Maybe you’ve been investing in a 401K or other retirement fund or maybe you haven’t started at all! If that’s the case, use your freed-up income to start making bigger strides in the world of investing.