I hope you all enjoyed the income report yesterday. It was really a last minute decision to post it and put myself out there like that, but it’s been on my mind for a few weeks, plus it’s the perfect way to be accountable for my goal of increasing my income and giving myself a raise.
While it’s great to focus on increasing your income, it’s also important to continue to make an effort to save what money you do have. The two go hand in hand.
Since I vowed to never give up on saving and living well on less, I’ve comprised a list of actionable ways to save money in each area of your life. These tips don’t require a ton of effort or time on your behalf and they don’t involve pinching pennies. These are REAL ways to save money and a lot of the techniques I use.
Everyone knows I’m all about affordable housing. I agree wholeheartedly with financial experts who say you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your income on housing. I understand that sometimes that’s hard depending on where you live. The bottom line is, you can control where you live to a certain extent. Don’t try to live in a home that you can’t afford.
Get a roommate, live with friends or family until you get on your feet and pay them what you can, rent or buy a smaller more manageable home. Basically, do whatever you can to avoid becoming house poor.
If you like the city more than the suburbs or rural areas, you are probably going to pay more for housing. Be prepared to pay for parking, nearby amenities and extra taxes and fees just for the hell of it. A relative of mine who lives in Chicago told me you can’t even get a grocery bag for free anymore when you go shopping out there. Bummer.
You may not even like the city that much but just need to live closeby for work. If that’s the case, do all of the above and work on securing a modest place to live while increasing your income and saving in every other area of your budget.
How to Cut Back on Expenses While Living in a Big City
Non-Traditional Housing Alternatives to Consider
When Moving to Save Money Becomes a Habit
Ready to Buy a House? Here are 5 Financial Questions You Need to Answer First
Just because food is a necessity, doesn’t mean you have to overspend on it each month. I know this is an area where a lot of people struggle (self included) at times, but here are a few simple hacks that I learned that help me save more money in the grocery store without sacrificing delicious and filling food.
- Shop less, around two or three times per month
- Don’t buy any processed foods
- Cook with fresh, whole ingredients
- Learn to love rice and beans, stews and soups and other meals that you can prepare in batches with a large crock pot
- Try out the $5 Meal Plan so you can get better at meal prep and cooking food at home instead of ordering out
- Bake your own desserts instead of buying them. Let box cake mixes become your BFF.
- Shop at discount stores like Aldi and check the sales papers every week to plan which deals you will take advantage of
- Try your hand at price matching your meat
What is your entertainment budget like? I’ve seen everything, from $500/month to the $0/month that Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods impressively pull off each month. Mine is about $50/month. I combine it with my $60/month dining out budget for a total of around $110 to spend on paid fun and restaurant meals each month.
Once you stop associating entertainment and fun with having to spend money, you’ll start to see move savings. Frugal entertainment requires some creativity on your part because sometimes you’ll need to create your own fun or search for free or cheap events to attend.
Try having a no spend weekend but still attempt to get out and do something fun with your family.
- Look up nearby events to attend
- Take your kids to the park or library
- Host a game night at your house for family and friends
- Go hiking at a state park and bring food to picnic there afterward
The list can go on and on. If you want to save money on entertainment and do more free or low cost things with family, it’s crucial that you research what you need to do and plan/call ahead. You can also download coupons online and take advantage of other weekly specials, discounts and offers to lower the out-of-pocket costs for your entertainment.
Kids cost money. We get it. Becoming a parent doesn’t have to be a death sentence to your finances though. It’s best to start teaching your kids gratitude at a young age and place an emphasis on experiences and quality time together as opposed to things. Teach them how to work for what they want and how they shouldn’t compare themselves to friends or worry about money as a child.
Say ‘no’ when necessary, use hand-me-downs and buy used, utilize coupons for baby formula and their other favorite foods and snacks, don’t spend money on fancy items, and buy their clothes and shoes during the sale season.
While it’s not advised to skip out on insurance completely, you can cut back on your premiums instead of dishing out hundreds or thousands of extra dollars per year that could be best spent elsewhere. Try to bundle your insurance to receive a discount, If you have auto insurance and renter’s homeowner’s or life insurance, see if you can get everything under one roof and get some money taken off the premium.
With life insurance, it’s best to lock in a rate when you’re younger, but with auto insurance, younger people face higher rates. You can lower your auto insurance by having a great driving record, driving less, and having a car that has special features like anti-theft protection.
When you are signing up with an insurance company, it’s important to compare rates and coverage offerings among a few different carriers, then ask about their discounts and try to qualify for as many as you can. Also, ask about their rewards or benefits over time to see if they intend to lower your premiums each year or not.
Additional ways to save on insurance include signing up for auto-pay and paying your premiums every 12 or 6 months because most companies will give you a discount for having less payments.
I’m no where near a travel expert, but I’ve learned a thing or two from seeing how other personal finance bloggers roll when they go on vacation or travel abroad to view the world. The most important thing I’ve learned, is that traveling can be nearly free. SAY WHAT?!
If you have good credit and know how to churn credit cards, or utilize certain credit cards for rewards and points to redeem for travel, you can wind up with a few free flights or hotel stays after a few months of regular spending.
The most expensive part of traveling is booking the actual flight and reserving where you will stay. For your flight, join loyalty programs and look for flash sales that airlines have several times per year. For lodging, skip the pricey hotel and try Airbnb to save big on your stay and enjoy more of the local area. Once you knock those two major expenses down, you can save even more money on your overall trip by choosing off-seasons to travel, packing light and avoiding tourist traps.
Shopping online has become the norm in our society. It’s convenient and often costs less than heading out to a retail store to make a purchase. You can still save on your online purchases by signing up for a loyalty rewards or cashback rewards program to do your shopping through like Ebates or Swagbucks.
You can also shop exclusively on Amazon and enjoy their weekly sales and free 2-day shipping when you sign up for Amazon Prime. Cyber Monday is another good day to save on online shopping. It occurs the Monday following Black Friday in November as an extended sale for thousands of online retailers.
Ahh utilities…You can pay up all your debt, stop using credit cards and even pay off your mortgage. After everything is said and done, you’ll still have utility bills to take care of in order to live comfortably. Heating and electric bills can be the worst, especially if everything in your house is electric.
My biggest savings tip is to try to avoid turning on your air or heat for as long as you can during off seasons. In the spring we use fans or get fresh air by opening the windows as long as we will be comfortable and in the fall we wear socks and sweaters around the house and save our heat for the heavy winter months. If you have a programmable thermostat, set the temperature in your home and turn it off when you leave for the day. Invest in energy efficient light bulbs and power down your computers and electronics at night and unplug several items around your home. You can also check your water heater and replace your shower head to something more efficient so you don’t have to run extra water while you wait for it to heat up.
These may seem like small insignificant ways to save, but they add up and make a different when you receive your bill at the end of each month.
Have you tried any of these saving techniques before? What areas of your budget do you have trouble saving money in?
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