Top o’ the mornin’ to ya! (Or afternoon… Or whatever!) So, you want to cut back your spending to keep that bank account in the positive!
Or maybe you’re saving up for a fun new toy, or a vacation!
Perhaps you’ve incurred and unexpected expense, and just need to cut back for a while to get back on top.
Whatever the reason may be, I’ve got some simple solutions!
I’ve included six categories, as follows:
If you haven’t checked out my FREE budgeting worksheet yet, find it here!
1. Make Your Own Coffee/Breakfast Sandwich
Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts is expensive! If you spend 5 dollars each morning on coffee or a breakfast sandwich on your way to work, you’re spending $100 dollars a month!
If you buy your own bagels or bag of coffee, you could slash that number down up to 75%!
2. Make Your Own Lunch
Similarly, eating lunch out every day can add up quick!
If you go cheap at $5 a day, you’re looking at $100 dollars a month!
Add in the drink, or if you go somewhere fancier, and you could be looking at upwards of $300 a month!
3. Skip Eating Out
For a family of 4, you’re probably looking at 60-75 dollars for a meal out of the house (including the tip!).
Doing this once a week could cost you $300 a month!
4. Switch to Water
If you DO decide to eat out, swap those cokes for waters! Most restaurants don’t charge for a cup of water, saving you $10 (or more!) on a meal out for a family of four!
5. Cut Out Alcohol
A nice glass of wine at the end of a long day is a treat for sure, but it could be costing you.
Depending on what you drink, if you had one beverage every night, you could be spending $20-$100 a month.
Even if you don’t cut it out entirely, maybe cut back to once in a while to save yourself a few dollars!
6. Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Good MEAL PLAN!
Ever been to the grocery store with a couple things in mind, and walked out spending $100??
Then you get home and wonder how you even spent that much!
Meal planning is one of the most effective ways to cut back spending, because you already know what you are going to cook and what you need to buy for those meals.
This prevents impulse spending at the grocery store as well (if it ain’t on the list, ya don’t buy it!).
Additionally, with meal planning, you are able to stick to a more strict budget because you don’t wake up Tuesday morning thinking, “Oh, crap, we have nothing for dinner.”
Then you’re rushing to the grocery store after work for a last minute meal that you rush home to make, which costs you both time and extra money.
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail!
7. Buy Food in Bulk
If you don’t have a CostCo/Sam’s Club/BJ’s/whatever-store-you-have-where-you-live membership, it’s worth considering, especially if you have kids or a big family.
Pro-Tip: I’m not sure if they still run this promotion or not, but CostCo used to advertise that if you purchased their Gold Membership (it used to be $120 a year), and you didn’t save the amount you paid for your membership, they would refund you the difference.
I don’t know about you, but doesn’t sound like you have much to lose there!
More food for less money. Can’t beat that!
8. Travel Farther to Get the Same Products Cheaper
I used to live right across the street from a Target. About another half mile away was an Aldi, but it was across traffic and you had to go through like 3 lights to get there. (Cities, amiright?)
But every time I went grocery shopping, I went to Aldi first. I bought EVERYTHING I could on my list from Aldi, then I went to Target to finish off the few things that I couldn’t find.
I never calculated how much money I saved doing this, but it had to be A LOT!
Bananas were $0.30/lb cheaper. Pineapples were up to $3.50 cheaper. Cans were up to $2.50 cheaper. Meat was usually half the price. I could buy a box of pasta for $0.75 that cost $2.50 at Target.
In one shopping trip at Aldi I spent $15 that would’ve easily cost me $40 at Target!
Spending a little extra time or gas can be worth it when you’re trying to save and scrape up dollars.
9. Buy whole foods vs. pre-prepped
It is very tempting to buy frozen or prepackaged food for the sake of convenience.
However, when you’re trying to save those dollars, remember…
Price > Convenience!
Take a smoothie for instance.
Buying a frozen bag of fruit blend will cost you $10-$15!
I always buy my fruits separately. During off season, I buy strawberries in bulk (you can get a 2lb package for around $4!), bananas and blueberries in bulk, and I freeze them individually to make my own frozen smoothie packs. Much cheaper this way!
Bonus question! What’s your favorite homemade meal?
10. Grow Your Own Food!
Gardening is a great way to save money on your favorite fruits, veggies, and herbs.
If you don’t have a green thumb, that’s okay. (I once killed a cactus…)
There are lots of herbs that require VERY little maintenance, such as basil, rosemary, cilantro, and parsley.
They grow large rather quickly, and even when you use them, they keep growing! Sustainable living at it’s finest.
11. Cut Down on Waste—Only Make What You’ll Eat!
It’s been said that Americans are some of the most wasteful people on the planet.
I don’t know how true that is, but I know I’ve thrown away my fair share of rotten food in the fridge.
Don’t even get me started on the time I had a whole onion plant growing in the drawer!
I find that it’s best to put a piece of masking tape on my food containers with the date that I refrigerated them. Once 3 days goes by, if I still haven’t eaten it all, I portion it out into meals and freeze it.
The great thing about doing this (besides saving money!) is you don’t have to eat the SAME leftovers for 5 days on end.
If you eat it for two days and get sick of it, you can just go ahead and freeze it, then when you get a hankering for it again, BAM, already ready to go!
12. Don’t Take Toll Roads
This could be a huge money saver for you.
I commuted 45 miles one way to work for a short period of time (yeah, that didn’t last long… 75 minutes on the road morning and night wasn’t my cup of tea!).
I spent anywhere from $40-$60 a month just in tolls. Of course, there was a way I could go that did not require tolls, but that added 15-30 minutes to my commute every day, especially if traffic was bad or there was a wreck.
This may not be possible for you, depending on where you live.
I lived off of a tollway once, and I could take backroads to where I needed to go, but it added thirty minutes to wherever I was going. At times, spending two or five dollars can be worth it.
But if you’re able to find an alternate route that doesn’t add too much time, avoiding toll roads can save you a lot of money.
13. Consider Alternate Ways to Get to Work
Carpooling is great way to save a few dollars. It saves on both gas and wear and tear on your car (less oil changes and tire rotations anyone?)!
If you live close enough to your work, and weather permits, you could also consider biking or walking to work.
It’s a great way to get outside, get some sunshine, get some exercise, and save money all at once!
14. Consider Trading your Car in
I once totaled a car in the rain (whomp), so I had to go out looking for a new car. When I bought the car I wrecked, it was the first car I had bought totally on my own, so I was very proud of it. But after four years of driving it, I wanted something a little more my style…. Less… grandma-ish?
So I started looking at some pretty sporty cars, and really diving into what I could afford. I didn’t want to go too far above what I was already paying monthly for my other car, but I knew I wanted something nicer.
Lo and behold, I found a Lexus online that I absolutely loved, that was right at the threshold of my highest price I could afford. I went to go check it out and test drive it.
It captivated me and I fell in love… It was exactly what I wanted.
I sat down at the desk and told the salesperson that I was sold! He said, “great, I’ll go grab the paperwork!”
A few minutes later he came back with a price that was almost $10,000 more than what I had seen online!
I failed to factor in taxes, registration and licensing fees, and all the other… silly fees they add in at the dealership!
I was very disappointed, but it was for the better.
In the end, I found a car that I loved just as much, for $12,000 less out the door; and my payments were actually less than I had been paying for my last car, for something that was 4 years newer!
(This was because when I bought my first car, I had little credit, so my interest charge was higher. With four extra years of good credit and on time payments under my belt, my rate lowered quite a bit.)
As you can see, getting a different car can be a game changer.
Now, I’m not saying you have to go out and get a piece of junk for 1500 bucks!
But it may be worth looking around for an older model of your car, or something less expensive.
If you’re looking to save a few extra dollars a month, this could be a great option for you! It may even lower your auto insurance!
15. Cut Out Duplicate Subscriptions
Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO Now, YouTube TV, Sling…
Spotify, Pandora, YouTube Red…
So many to choose from!
But do you need them all?
Having multiple subscriptions can add up quick! I personally don’t watch tv, so I don’t have a tv subscription.
I do have a Pandora subscription because I got tired of the ads…
So, if you are looking to cut back on your subscriptions, take a look into which ones you use the least, and cut those out first. You can always pare back more later if you want to save even more money!
But, if you barely use a service, it’s time to cut it out!
16. Cut Out Cable TV
With subscription service television becoming more popular than ever, there is really not much need for cable TV anymore.
700 channels of which you only watch 13? Doesn’t sound like my definition of a good deal!
For the sports lover in your family, there are several subscription services that feature sports, and I’d be willing to bet it’s much cheaper than your cable service.
Bonus question! Have you cut out cable? Did you miss it, or were you glad you did?
17. Change Internet Plan/Provider
If you decide to cut out cable, you may want to look into a different internet provider.
Lots of companies offer bundles to make it seem like you’re getting a lot for a cheap price, but if you cut out cable and keep their internet service, they may only drop your monthly price by a few dollars.
Even if you decide to stay with your current provider, call them and see what other plans are available. Do lots of research!
These companies train salespeople to keep you with the highest monthly payment that they can squeeze out of you.
It’s a pain in the ass to talk them down, but if they’re afraid of losing you as a customer altogether, they’ll often work with you.
18. Do Your Own Landscaping
Landscaping services can drain your wallet.
If you have the physical ability to cut your own grass, weed and mulch your own garden, and do your own trimming, you will save yourself a lot of money.
Not to mention, similar to walking or biking to work, you’ll get some of that precious sunshine!
19. Clean Your Own House
Another good way to save money is to cancel that house cleaning service.
Cleaning your own toilet may not be fun, but on the bright side, you may pay a little more attention to your cleanliness habits when you’re the one who has to clean them up! 😉
20. Switch Your Pet’s Food & Buy in Bulk
Pet food is a huge industry. Grain-free, organic, grass-fed, or plain old Kibble? The prices range from $15-$80 or more a bag.
My dog is 100 pounds! He eats A LOT! I buy a 40-pound bag of food for him every month.
This tip is really the most useful for big pet owners.
The more they eat, the more you can see the savings pile up if you use a cheaper food; or, if you buy in bulk, you often can get a discounted price.
The food I buy my bird is $22 dollars for a one pound bag at the pet store. Luckily, I found a wholesale bird supply store close by that sold the same food by weight, “fill-your-own-bag” style! The same amount of food that I paid $22 for at the pet store now cost me only $10.
Do some research and find alternatives!
21. Reusable Diapers/Wipes
Since I’m not a mom, I can’t say too much about this, but I do know from my babysitting experience that diapers are expensive!
I once read that a family can spend up to $2500 in diapers PER CHILD!
That’s crazy! That’s almost $100 a month, if your child wears diapers for 2.5 years.
Reusable diapers may not be for everyone, but it’s worth looking into.
Plus, cloth diapers don’t end up in landfills OR cause diaper rash!
22. DIY Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent can get expensive, especially if you have babies or kids. Between spit up, playing in the mud, sports, and spilling food, maybe you’re doing a load every day or every other day!
Learning a method of making your own detergent could save you a lot of money (and trips to the store!). It’s also a great way to recycle old milk jugs!
Bonus question! Have you tried making your own laundry detergent before? Yea or nay?
23. Energy Conservation
Turning lights off, taking shorter showers, and turning down the heat and A/C can also save you money.
If you have solar panels or use a well for your water, more power to you!
But for all of us on city water and running that electric meter up on the daily, we could probably save a few extra bucks by being conservative with our usage!
24. Learn How to Sew
In my opinion, everyone should have some basic mending skills.
Sewing by hand is pretty simple, and it will save you a lot of money especially if you have kids. Rather than buying new clothes every time they rip a hole in the knee, some patchwork could save you hundreds over the years!
25. Recycle Grocery Bags
One of my favorite ways to save money and recycle is to reuse plastic grocery bags! They make perfect poop bags (especially for my horse of a dog!) and also great little bathroom garbage bags.
Bonus question! Do you recycle your plastic grocery bags? What’s your favorite way to use them?
26. Make Old Outfits Trendy Again
Buying new clothes is fun for most people, but it can quickly drain your bank account.
One of the best ways I’ve learned about how to save money over the years is simply re-accessorizing my clothes to make them look fresh and new!
Necklaces, scarves, or even just a simple belt can totally revamp an outfit!
27. Keep New Clothes Classic
When you do buy new clothes, try to keep it classic so you can update inexpensively with accessories throughout the years.
Keep some good dark jeans, a good business casual neutral colored shirt or two, and a nice conservative black dress.
Try to stay away from trendy frills, cutouts, patterns, colors, and graphics. These things may look cute, but it will date your purchase within a short time.
28. Consider Thrift Shopping
I LOVE thrift stores! You can find really awesome trendy clothes for cheap! If you just can’t bear to part with looking on-point 24/7, thrift stores may be the way to go!
I’ve put whole outfits together (I’m talking top, bottom, shoes, AND accessories!) for less than $15!
There is something so exhilarating about trying to find hidden treasures from someone else’s donation pile!
It’s also a great place to look for formalwear. It can be hit or miss, but if you start early, you can find beautiful dresses that have only been worn once!
29. Consider at Home Nail/Wax Kits
Everybody loves a nice relaxing pedicure!
Getting a manicure and pedicure will probably cost you anywhere from $35-$100 depending where you live, where you go, and the upgrades you get.
There are some great at home products you can do yourself for much cheaper.
I like to buy the 100-count acrylic glue on nails from Walmart, because you can cut or file them into any shape, paint them any color, and change them as often as you want for just one $10 purchase!
Sure, you don’t get the massage or the lotion, but if your main goal is saving a few dollars per month, it is totally worth it.
In my experience, no one can even tell!
I don’t wax, so I’ve never tried at-home waxing, but it’s something to consider!
Bonus question! Have you tried at-home waxing? Do you have any products you’d recommend?
30. Save Hair Product by Washing Your Hair Less Frequently
I have crazy thick curly hair. Washing my hair takes me like 10 minutes alone!
I didn’t originally stop washing my hair every day for financial reasons, but I quickly saw how much less frequently I was buying shampoo. I have to use A LOT to wash my hair, so I was going through a huge 32 oz. bottle a month! Now, one of those bottles will last me 3-5 months.
It depends on what kind of hair you have, but maybe it’s worth trying! If you do have hair that tends to get greasy or stringy quicker, try dry shampoo!
31. Consider Changing Insurance Companies
Even if you don’t end up trading out cars, changing your auto policy could save you a lot of money.
Companies are always looking to gain new customers, especially if they’re switching from a competitor, so it’s worth looking into.
If you call a company, ask specifically what deals or promotions they will give you for switching from the company you’re with.
Another great way to save is to bundle different policies.
32. Change Phone Plans or Carriers
Like TV subscription companies, there are many different cell phone companies to choose from.
When I originally switched from Verizon to MetroPCS, I saved $120 a month, AND got unlimited data on top of that, AND it came with Amazon Prime!
Some people have mixed reviews about companies like MetroPCS, Cricket, BoostMobile, and others, but it really depends on where you live.
In my experience, if you live in the middle of nowhere, Verizon will give you the best reliability. However, you will pay a pretty penny for this reliability!
If it makes sense for you and your family, if you live in one of these areas with notoriously spotty service, consider options like a landline, connecting to WiFi when at home, or a cell booster in your car for your commute, if you absolutely need your phone while driving. These options can help lower your monthly phone bill.
Additionally, if you own an iPhone, I recommend NOT updating it. There are many articles and studies out there that prove this point I’m about to tell you.
Apple kills phones over time to force you to buy a new one. With every update they release, your phone gets slower and slower till it doesn’t work anymore, or apps crash as soon as you open them.
I have an iPod Touch from 2008 (that’s 12 years old ya’ll!) that STILL works because I quit updating it.
You can make your iPhone last a lot longer and save a lot of money if you don’t update it and keep using it!
33. Consider Refinancing Loans or Mortgages
Last, but certainly not least, refinancing.
I refinanced my car a few years ago, and my interest rate went from 7.5% down to 6.1%. That may not seem like much, but over the course of 5 years, that is a lot of money saved! And it did knock my monthly payments down by about $25 a month.
If you had low credit when you first got a loan, if the economy has dropped since you took out your loan, or if you’re just curious, it could be a good idea to check if refinancing can save you money each month.
Hopefully this post gave you some great ideas as to ways you can cut back your monthly outgoing costs!
If you’re reading this and are feeling lost on what to do next, check out my FREE Budget Worksheet!
You will learn exactly what you need to do to ease your financial strain!
What items on the list have you tried or are your favorite?
I want to hear from you!
Oh, by the way… If you have exhausted all possible options on this list, and are still struggling with your budget being in the negative, check out my post 15 Easy Ways to Boost Your Income!