The marriagemoneymayhem household has been hard at work trying to find ways to cut our budget down. After months of research and changes, we are FINALLY getting places. What kind of places? Well, our January budget was $10 over what we would have made that month. Our April budget was $400 under (which meant $400 more to throw toward those credit card bills). So how did we find an extra $410 in three months without bringing in extra income? Check out all these ways we found to cut our budget and save money!
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- We cut the cable cord. Not literally, but we did stop our cable subscription and instead bought an HDTV Antenna and an Amazon Fire Stick. I really thought we would miss cable, but was surprised we haven’t. We can get more than 20 channels with the antenna so my husband doesn’t miss a football game. I get to watch all my favorite shows through Hulu and Netflix. Money saved $52/month.
- Meal Plan. Grocery shopping always involved a list. A list of all the things we were out of or running out of. Dinner every night was always a question (What do you want? I don’t know, what do you want?). Basically we had all this extra food around that sat around. By making a menu, I can shop for EXACTLY what food we need for our meals. I don’t need to grab extra items. I was able to cut our grocery bill down to $120 month by using meal planning and coupons together. It has saved us more than $50/month. I also use Ibotta and Checkout51 to help earn money back from our grocery shopping.
- We started unplugging all of our unnecessary appliances. Items like refrigerators need to stay plugged in. But other items like hairdryers, toasters, and cell phone chargers don’t need to be. They will draw small amounts of electric continuously even when “not in use”. So we unplug them to help save a few dollars a month. Approx. money saved $5/month.
- We wrapped our windows. Window insulator kits can help keep cold air out and heated air in for the winter. They are generally easy to install and only require a hair dryer to shrink wrap them to the inside of your window. Help keep your heating bill lower by not allowing cold air in or your heat out. I am not sure the exact amount this saved us since we combined savings ideas that month. However, I was able to feel more comfortable at lower temperatures in our house.
- We lowered our thermostat. Speaking of saving on heating. We lowered our thermostat by two degrees this winter. This was a hard one for me since I am always cold, but wrapping our windows helped keep the temperature even. Total heating bill savings $35/month.
- We combined cell phone plans with family. Some people run from this idea. But if you have responsible family, go for it! We dropped our plan and joined with my mother and two siblings, evenly splitting the bill total. Our bill went from almost $180/month to $85/month with even more data than we had previously. Monthly savings $95.
- We stopped going out to eat for date nights. Instead we started eating at home and then going out for a free date instead. If we really want food from a restaurant, we do curbside pick-up since we seem to spend less money this way. You may be shocked at how many free date ideas there are. Check out my ultimate list here. Money saved each month: $50-$80/month.
- We went solar. Solar isn’t for everyone, so do your research first. In our case, we leased a system for a fixed payment each month. The payment ended up only being $10/month cheaper than our normal spring/fall electric bill. BUT it is about $100-$200 cheaper than our cold/hot months bill when our heat pump runs a lot. We also get credits back to use later if our solar makes more electric that we use in a day. It should average out to about $40/month in savings. The best part is there were no up front costs with the lease, not even for installation. Check out Solar City to see if solar might work for you.
- Change to energy efficient lightbulbs. When we bought our house it came with a closet full (I only wish I was exaggerating) of regular old school lightbulbs. We would never have to buy bulbs again! But these bulbs are not efficient, they suck electricity like little energy vampires. So we sucked it up and bought new LED bulbs. They are brighter and use less electric. Average electric saved $5/month.
- Change your own oil in your car. Really, it isn’t that hard. Every time I went to Jiffy Lube I ended up paying at least $70. Buy my own stuff from PepBoys and it cost about $20-$25 depending on which vehicle we are doing. We change our oil about 4 times a year with the amount of driving we do, so that equates to about $15/month savings. Plus it can be a fun hubby/wife activity.
- Utilize gas savings programs. Oh I am so bad at this! But I have had to learn not to be. Many convenience stores and some grocery stores offer points that will lower your cost per gallon on gas. These programs are often use them or lose them from month to month. So use them and save on gas. Average monthly savings using Giant’s Gas Points: $4.
- We stopped buying coffee. Ok, you have probably all heard this one before. But seriously do the math. I will even give you the benefit of the doubt and go cheap on this one and say $2/coffee 5 days a week will cost you $40/month. If you are a dunkin or Starbucks drinker than could even be DOUBLE. Make coffee at home, in a to go cup. Even lattes can be made with the same few minutes it takes to run to your favorite coffee shop. We spend about $25/month on buying coffee to make at home with all the trimmings. Unfortunately we were those $4/coffee drinkers, so average savings here: $55/month.
- We installed a low flow shower head. I was very worried about this one. With long hair, my concerns over being able to get the shampoo out of my hair were valid. I kept picturing myself standing in the shower fighting the soap suds for hours. But no worries, the water pressure didn’t change all that much, just the amount of water coming out. For those of us that take long showers, this shower head was great. Saving water = saving money. Our water bill dropped $10/month since we bought it.
- We dropped our big box store membership. Cotsco, BJs, Sam’s Club. They can be great for larger families and for some items. However the yearly memberships generally are not worth it for small newly wedded couples. Save your money instead. Use it to purchase store brand items or dollar store finds. You will save more money this route.
- Negotiate with your credit card companies. This really didn’t “save” us any money in the budget, but it did help us in paying down the principle faster. Some credit card companies are willing to work with you and give you a lower interest rate. You can then put the same amount of money each month toward the bill and know you are paying down more of the principle balance.
So there you have it, quick ways to shave some money off your monthly bills. Our journey isn’t over. We will continue to look for more ways to save each month. And of course share them with you! Join our email list and be the first to get them.