The following tips are ways that we trimmed nearly $500/month from our monthly budget. This extra room in our budget allowed us to pay-off debt and build our savings much-much quicker. The figures are conservative and just by implementing a few (like getting on a meal plan & stop eating out) you could potentially see even more savings!
When paying off our debt we found that the budget is key and the deeper we cut into our comfy lifestyle and the more we gave up the more intensity (and progress) we had. Most of these tips are pretty hardcore — but they work. Some of these tips we stopped doing once we meet some of our financial goals (like eating out) but others we continue to do to this day (like making our own deodorant).
If you are serious about saving money and paying-off debt you cannot mess around! Here are the 10 tips in order of potential savings.
1. STOP OVERPAYING YOUR TAXES
Getting a tax refund at the end of the year is not a bonus! it is an interest free loan to the government. Adjust your tax withholdings to maximize your monthly cash flow. When we did this with our checks we got an extra $250 per month!
Checkout this tool to calculate your withholdings to minimize end of the year refund.
Potential Savings: $100+/month
2. STOP PAYING RENT (or play less…)
Get a roommate, stay with family or house sit. For a short period of time staying with a friend or loved one is a great option. Whatever the arrangement just make sure the situation is a win:win. If staying with a friend or family is not an option you can explore roommates or renting out a room to a college kid. There are many different options to save on housing cost. Even downsizing to a smaller more affordable space is a good option.
These are not permanent solutions but a great temporary option to accelerate you to your financial goals.
We made arrangements with our landlord to trade my labor on house repairs for a portion of our rent. This lowered our rent by $50 per month for a year. (I continued to do repairs/maintenance the 4yrs we lived there and we only paid full rent several times.)
Potential Savings: $50+/month
3. STOP EATING OUT
The average cost of a fast food meal is around $5 and double or even triple this for a sit down restaurant. A few of these meals per month can really add up – especially if you have a family! Instead of eating out plan your meals and make some fun dishes at home like: Homemade Pizza (awesome pizza crust recipe).
Get on a meal plan! Intentionally planning your meals then shopping for ingredients can dramatically cut your food spending! One technique that has really helped us stick to a set number per month is to divide our budget by the number of weeks in the month then stick to that number for the week.In the grocery store we add up each food item we get so we know exactly what the total is when we check out. This way we know if we have a deficit or surplus. (our food budget ranges from $250 frugal – $400 all organic)
Potential Savings: $80+/month
(Eating out once per week @ $20ea x 4 = $80)
4. STOP PAYING FOR GYM MEMBERSHIPS
Stay fit and active for free. It was tough to let the gym memberships go! But there are plenty of free ways to stay healthy and fit!
- At Home Fitness Videos
- Online Workout Videos
- Pull-up Bar & Push-ups
Potential Savings: $60/month
5. STOP ENTERTAINING YOURSELF
Find creative, free entertainment. Ditch going out to movies, bowling, shopping and other forms of entertainment that cost money. Instead get involved in some free community activities in your area, go for a hike, have a game night with some friends. The list of free entertainment is endless.
Here are a few ideas.
Potential Savings: $50+/month
6. STOP DRIVING YOUR CAR
Walk, ride your bike or take public transportation. You already know what the cost of Gasoline is so I won’t mention how expensive it is… Our truck costs about .25 per mile not including insurance & maintenance. You could potentially cut your monthly fuel spending in half by participating in the following:
- Ride your bike
- Ride the bus
When Shae was teaching and we were saving every penny we could scrounge we dusted off the bikes and pedaled to work each day. Since I worked at home with Paisley I had the flexibility of taking Paisley into the school so Shae could nurse her during her morning break. This meant several trips throughout the day. We figured the several mile commute saved us about $1.50 per round trip. This added up over the months and the morning and afternoon rides were enjoyable!
Many of you may have car payments…there is HUGE potential savings here.
Potential Savings: $50/month
7. STOP BUYING DISPOSABLE DIAPERS
Use Cloth Diapers & make your own wipes. If you have multiple kids the savings are significant. Not to mention the cost to the environment from disposables. Heres a good summary of cloth vs disposable diapers: http://manvsdebt.com/cloth-diapers/
Potential Savings: $50/month
8. STOP BUYING SOAP / DETERGENTS
Make your own Cosmetics & Cleaners. I was skeptical about this. While I wanted to save money I didn’t want me or my clothes to stink! Shae led this charge and I reluctantly followed. Now I’m converted! We make the majority of our cleaners to this day and love it.
TOSS THE SHAMPOO
We stopped using shampoo in leu of a natural hair care method called nopoo. Basically you use baking soda & vinegar to wash & condition your hair.
MAKE YOUR OWN DEODORANT
Shae brews up monthly batches of D.O. made of coconut oil, baking soda & essential oils. It works as good, if not better, than any other product I’ve used and it won’t give me Alzheimer’s!
MAKE YOUR OWN DETERGENTS
Shae makes a simple detergent recipe of baking soda, borax & bar soap shavings that works great for laundry! She has a slightly different recipe for the dishwasher. For each load we only use 1TBSP of detergent then we throw in a downy ball with vinegar for the rinse. It’s super cheap to make a large batch that lasts months.
MAKE YOUR OWN CLEANERS
After Paisley was born we stopped buying commercial cleaners. They are harsh, chemical layden and unneeded. Shae can clean anything with baking soda & vinegar + essential oils
Side Note: Please regularly bathe with soap! We like Dr. Bronners!
Potential Savings: $20/month
9. STOP BUYING TAMPONS & PADS
Shae has been using the Diva Cup for several years now and loves it! http://divacup.com/
Potential Savings: $5/month
10. STOP PAYING RETAIL
If you absolutely need to purchase something – don’t pay retail! Checkout thrift stores, Pawnshops, Craigslist or if you must by new search for the best bargain online.
Chances are there is a little fat in your budget that could be trimmed to help you pay-off debt or save even faster. While we didn’t enjoy giving up many of our little luxuries like entertainment, gym memberships and eating out it helped us clean up our debt, save and take control of our financial future.
Have your participated in any of these money saving tips? Or maybe you have a golden nugget that we missed? Please comment with your thoughts below! Now go get on a budget, cut your expenses and pay-off your debt!