If you are anything like me, you find yourself never quite content with your budget. You always want to find and squeeze out any extra pennies you can to apply them towards savings or paying off loans. I want to be debt free someday soon so badly and the more I can pay towards loans per month now, the more money I will have down the road. Here are 10 little ways to cut back on your spending:
1. For groceries, have one week each month where you clear out the pantry build-up. Instead of putting together a full list of groceries for the week, only buy the essentials: milk, eggs, and bread (if you don’t bake your own, which is so easy and you should). Then, get really creative with the items you already have in your pantry. Sometimes, LD and I will compete to figure out who can come up with more meal options without needing the grocery store.
2. For a date night, instead of going to a movie and dinner, gather up random items from around your house and have a “Whose Line is it Anyway?” style date night. Bring Your Own Improv has a ton of game ideas for you and you can see the list here.
3. For gifts, make your own to give to family and friends. There are tons of ideas online and some don’t really take that much time. We have already started putting together a Christmas list so that we can make sure we have time to make gifts for everyone on our list. Around the holidays, many people enjoy getting winter-time sweets and making several different varieties isn’t very difficult when you will have to make multiple batches to have enough for everyone anyway.
4. For insurance, shop around at least once a year and every time you will be adding or removing an insurance item. For example, one company might give a better discount on car insurance if you also have renter’s insurance, but the combined total might be better at another company if you buy a house. Also, analyze what coverage you actually need. Many people’s home insurance policies cover the land in rebuild costs. The land shouldn’t be going anywhere.
5. For meeting up with friends, take a walk around a local park instead of doing coffee or lunch. It gets you both some exercise and will help keep the conversation moving instead of trying to talk in between bites of food. (Or, is it just me that always seems to take a giant bite of food right before someone asks me a question?). If you have a dog, feel free to bring them along too.
6. For clothing for a special occasion, check out Ebay. You can often find some expensive designer dresses that have never been worn for about 70% or more off. Make sure you know how to protect yourself with online transactions though and read the reviews of the sellers if they are available.
7. For big purchases, police yourself. Make sure that you are 100% positive on your purchase before buying. That means that you might wait a week or so before buying. We never buy anything over about $10 on impulse. I know that $10 isn’t a “big purchase”, but stopping to think can save a lot of money per year.
8. For yourself, give yourself a set amount of money you are allowed to be reckless with a month (We do about $20). Being able to buy little things that you want just because you want them can prevent a bigger splurge later on. However, if you spend it, it is gone. No more impulse buys that month, and if you don’t feel the need to a little money spending freedom that month, you have some extra cash on hand to apply to loans or savings.
9. For shopping online, always look for promotional codes. There are so many sites that keep track of the offers for you, so take the 2 minutes or so to type in the store name and the words “promo code” into Google. Sometimes there won’t be anything, but most of the time you will save a minimum of 10%. How’s that for 2 minutes of work?
10. For general spending, always keep track of where your money is going and update your budget frequently. Make goals every month and stick to them. Short term goals are a lot easier to police yourself on than long term goals, so you feel more successful and keep hitting the next goals. Cutting spending and budgeting wisely is more about mindset than anything else. If you get your head in the right place to do it without feeling trapped, the easier it will be to cut spending without even thinking about it.