Saving money every month is hard!
It is the small steps that can really make a difference in your savings. If you have been trying to get out of debt, get a little ahead, or just stop stressing over money every single month, start small.
My husband and I purposed to be out of debt during our first year of marriage. This meant paying off massive student loan debt, a car loan, renting instead of buying, and living below our means.
There are always sacrifices that can be made and once you start seeing your savings grow, it becomes addictive to find new ways to save even more each month.
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These 9 things helped us pay off our debt long before our first anniversary and have remained a major reason we are able to save money every month, even on one income with 3 kids.
9 things that are killing your monthly budget:
Spending too much on your cell phone bill
This is a big one! Most people are paying $50 or more…way more, on their cell phones each month. Add on each family member and you have a bill the size of a small car payment.
The simplest solution to this problem is to look into other cell phone companies. For us, this is Republic Wireless. We have saved nearly $5,000 in the last five years by switching to Republic Wireless and we did not sacrifice on service at all.
You can read more about Republic Wireless here to see if the switch would be right for your family.
Shopping without using ibotta and ebates-
It took me a really long time to hop on the ebates and ibotta bandwagon. I am always so skeptical about companies that promise cash back. These two are legit and so worth looking in to. They are both completely free to join and if you use my ebates link or ibotta link to get signed up, you will also receive a $10 bonus. You will be amazed with the amount of cash back you can earn without changing your shopping habits at all. Need more details to be convinced? Read this!
Going out to eat-
I will be the first to say that going out to eat can make life so much easier sometimes, but it can also completely break the bank. Even if you just go out to eat once per week and spend around $30, you are spending an extra $120 per month which could buy groceries for my family of 5 for two weeks. It may feel like a luxury to have someone else do the cooking and cleaning. I get that! But if you are serious about saving money, this is an easy thing to give up that will make a huge difference in your budget. Challenge yourself to spend an entire month without eating out. I bet you will find new, easy recipes to cook, see the financial benefits, and be inspired to continue eating at home instead of eating out. Why not give it a go this month?
Spending without pre-planning-
If you spend your money without pre-planning (budgeting) what you will spend your money on, then you are most likely spending money on items you do not need or even want. Impulse buys can cause major damage to your savings. One of the first things a financial planner would tell you is that you have to start budgeting if you want to get out of debt or be successful with building a savings. Setting up a zero based budget where you have a plan for every penny you bring in before you even get the money will help you focus on what is really necessary spending no what can be given up.
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Spending money on entertainment-
whether it is going to the movies, taking your kids to an amusement park or other paid venue, or just shopping, your savings will suffer. There are so many great family activities you can do that are completely free and will build lifelong family memories. If it is nice, spend time outside, camping, hiking, going to a lake, etc. You will be surprised how much fun kids have outside without any direction. It’s usually easier on you too because you don’t have to try to entertain. If it isn’t nice enough to be outside, go to the library, play at friend’s houses, bake, do an indoor photo shoot, read, do a craft, play board games, have a movie night…the list is really endless. Just like not going out to eat, challenge yourself to think of family activities that don’t cost any money and enjoy a month where you try each one and watch your savings grow.
Not making a plan for your meals ahead of time-
I used to think meal planning was something I didn’t have time for. I mean, making the meals takes enough time, how was I going to sit down and make a plan every single week. Then I realized that it doesn’t have to be a complicated process and it ended up saving me both time and money. Knowing what I am going to cook and the ingredients I need to make each meal, keeps me from buying unnecessary items or letting food go bad. Having a meal plan doesn’t mean you have to make all those great recipes you find on Pinterest. The simplest way to meal plan is to keep a list of easy meals your family loves and use those meals on a regular basis. Are you knew to Meal Planning? You may want to read, “How to Create a meal plan in less than 30 minutes per month”.
Driving too much-
Is there anywhere in your routine where you can drive a little less? Maybe you can carpool. Ride your bike a couple days per week, or drop a couple errands. Driving less will save you money on gas as well as miles on your car, which in turn saves money on car maintenance. It can be easy to feel like a taxi driver as a parent and thinking about driving less might seem impossible. You could choose just one day per week that you run your errands rather than running errands multiple times per day. This will help you minimize your driving time as well as simplify your busy life a little.
Paying for cable-
I was just talking to a friend that told me they pay almost $200 per month for cable and internet. Wow! If you are in the same boat, you could save a TON by dropping your cable service. Even if you are not paying this much, there are a lot of cheap options you should look into and see if you could save money. An Antenna, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, and so many other options may save you hundreds of dollars per year. We personally use Netflix which has been a great choice for our family and costs us under $10 per month.
Take a look at the subscriptions you currently have or memberships you are enrolled in. Are there any that you do not currently use or could go without? Magazines that you don’t read, a gym membership you don’t use enough, or an online subscription of some kind? If you are anything like me, you might have a subscription or membership you have forgotten about that could easily be let go of. Take a peek and see if you can add to your savings each month by letting something go.
Even if you are only able to change one of these habits, and put that money into savings, you will see a significant change in your savings every month. This will inspire you to try to make another change, then another change, and so on.
Learning to live simpler and practicing self-denial are huge confidence boosters. You will feel calmer, more capable, and be able to use this money for something of much greater value as your savings grows.
Start making small changes so you can stop living paycheck to paycheck, get out of debt, and think about money less. It’s time to enjoy your life more than the stuff that is in it and to take charge of your finances. Put yourself in control of your money instead of letting your money be in control of you.