The Skinny On Cutting Costs
Are you looking to pay less on your bills each month? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
There are two ways to do this.
1 – Pay the least amount possible for your product/service.
2 – Cut out unnecessary expenses.
After you discover how much you’re spending each month, you’ll be able to identify which categories you’d like to spend less in and cut your expenses down dramatically. Today, I’m sharing 85+ ways to do this in all expense categories.
Let’s get to it.
Cut Costs on Food (Groceries and Restaurants):
Food can be the largest variable expense for some people when adding up their outgoing money at the end of the month. (When I say some people, that includes me!)
After several months of going over budget on food (both groceries and eating out), I had to figure out what I could do to cut back. Here’s what I’ve found works best to save money on both groceries and eating out.
Save Money on Groceries:
- Stick to what’s on your grocery list
- Meal plan so you’re not buying more than you need (I use the Budget Bytes meal plan and LOVE it!)
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry
- Stock up on sales
- Use Ibotta for cash back on groceries
- Shop generic brands
- Find a discount grocery store like Grocery Outlet (my #1 place to grocery shop first because it saves me so much money)
- Buy in season
I share all these tips and more in my detailed blog post here – Eat Healthy on a Budget with These 15 Proven Tips
Save Money Eating Out:
First, let me start by saying the best way to save money on food is to skip eating out, or at least cut back on how often. However, when I do occasionally eat out with family or friends, I always check Groupon first. I may not always find a good deal, but often times I do. Groupon has coupons or deals for many restaurants in your city, no matter where you are. It’s completely free to use and you have nothing to lose, except cash if you don’t try it.
If Groupon doesn’t have a restaurant you’d like to eat out at, there are other ways to save money on meals. For example, you could:
- split a meal
- order during happy hour
- order a few cheaper sides instead of an entree
- eat during the lunch hour instead of dinner, as it’s typically cheaper
- eat at a restaurant you have a gift card for
- check for coupons online
While it’s wise to save money eating out whenever you can, it’s okay to eat at a nice restaurant once in awhile. Living frugally doesn’t mean being CHEAP, but it does mean being wise with your money. Decide for you and your family what is best financially regarding how often and where you eat out.
Cost Costs on Auto:
Save Money on Insurance:
My rule of thumb when it comes to auto insurance (and many other services) is never settle without a good bargain.
It might look something like this:
Hello friendly agent. I’m not happy with the price of my insurance. I’m thinking of switching to XYZ company. Is there any way you could lower my premium or give me a deal?
If the agent says yes, great. If not, go shopping for insurance!
I personally have Geico for my renter’s insurance and car insurance. Because I use them for both car and renter’s insurance and I have a great driving record, they continue to give me good deals and lower my insurance periodically. However, if they were to raise my price to something I felt was unreasonable and were not willing to lower it, I would go insurance shopping.
Save Money on Car Payment:
I recently finished reading the book “The Next Millionaire Next Door“. I highly recommend it if you’d like to learn how to manage your money and invest in your future.
In the book, it has mentioned several times how the majority of self-made millionaires drive a car they bought 3+ years old. The reason being, the second your drive your shiny brand new car off the lot, it depreciates in value big time.
With that said, I highly recommend never buying a brand new car with a car payment you can’t afford. Honestly, I can’t recommend buying a car that requires a car payment at all. I’ve never had a car payment and never will. If you can help it, don’t buy a car until you can afford to pay it off the day you purchase it. If you must purchase a car with a car payment, find a reliable car within your price range that won’t put you into debt.
Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, and Kia’s are all car brands that have served me and my family substantially well over the years with minimum repairs. You may not agree with me, but in my opinion, Japanese cars are the most reliable with the minimum amount of breakdowns.
Cut Costs on Rent/Mortgage:
Location plays a huge role in how expensive your rent or mortgage will be.
For example, I live about 45 minutes outside of a major city in Washington. My rent for a 750 square foot apartment is $970, not including utilities (as of 2019).
If I was to move into the city, the average rent for the same size apartment would be $1,907, also not including utitilites.
That adds up to $11,244 more spent by the end of a year for the exact same square footage.
If possible, it might be a good idea to go house hunting or apartment searching in a more affordable location.
If you must stay in the same location, decide whether you need the amount of square footage you’re paying for. Obviously, the bigger the place the higher the cost.
Cut Costs on Cell Phone Bill:
Cell phone bills can be outrageously expensive. While it’d be pretty difficult to go without a cell phone in this day and age, you may be able to cut costs drastically using these tips:
- shop around for different providers/plans (check out mint mobile) or remind your current provider of your loyalty for the past X amount of years and bargain a discounted plan
- add lines to a family plan to reduce the cost of each line
- use wifi instead of data whenever possible so you can pay for a lower data plan
- know what works best in your area so you won’t be paying for crappy service
Cut Costs on Subscriptions:
I recommend going through your monthly credit card statement or debit card statement and highlighting any expense you are unclear on, especially if it’s a reoccurring expense. Then, find out what it is and cancel it if it’s a cost you don’t desire to continue spending money on. You might be surprised by what you’re spending money on without even realizing it.
Cancel all unnecessary subscriptions that you aren’t actively using or check for a free version of an app you’re currently using that costs money.
For example, audible is a popular app among people who love to listen to books. Unfortunately, it has a monthly fee.
May I introduce you to Libby?
Libby is a free app for library ebooks and audiobooks. All you need is your library card information for your local branch and you have free access to all the books and audiobooks your branch has to offer. You also could log in to multiple libraries if you have multiple cards.
I have a card for both the Spokane public library from when I lived there, as well as the county I currently live in. Double the books for me 🙂
Check out Libby here, it’s FREE!
Cut Costs on Utilities:
I wrote an entire detailed post on how to reduce your utilities here, but in case you don’t want to read that, I’ll wrap up all my tips in a nutshell below:
- control the thermostat (68 degrees is the sweet spot to make sure your heating bill doesn’t skyrocket in the winter. In the summer, limit the AC if possible. Fans in open windows in the evening is a great way to cool down your home before going to bed.)
- use energy saving light bulbs
- use energy efficient appliances
- turn off lights in unoccupied rooms
- wash full loads of laundry and dishes
- clean your dryer’s lint screen to optimize the full potential of your dryer
- unplug electronics when not using them
- limit use of hot water
Cut Costs on Clothing:
If you know me, you KNOW I am a bargain shopper. Especially when it comes to clothing.
The excitement that courses through my veins when my husband tells me we can go thrift shopping together is comparable to a $1,000 dollar shopping spree for other more “normal” people. If you’re a thrifter who doesn’t spend money often, you can relate.
Before I dive in to where I thrift shop, I think it’s important to make one thing clear.
Just because I enjoy thrift store shopping does not give me the go ahead to buy tons of clothing (or other items) I don’t need them just because “it’s a good deal”.
If you plan to live below your means for the long run so you can invest your money, you have to get ahold of your spending.
Okay, I’m off my soap box. Back to clothing.
My favorite in-store thrift gold mines for clothing include Goodwill, Value Village, and Plato’s Closet. However, I will say location and time of day/day of the week you go shopping truly does affect the quality and quantity of awesome finds.
Do your research! It can be helpful to figure out what day and time each store puts out it’s new items.
Cut Costs on the Gym:
If you are currently spending more than $30/month on a gym membership, I recommend you look for something cheaper or create a home gym that will pay itself off within a year.
That adds up to $360 by the end of the year.
If you invest that $360 with an 8% return rate and contribute absolutely nothing to it, it will have grown to $3,623 by the end of 30 years.
It’s time to start looking at those “little expenses” differently.
My husband and I pay $10 each for our gym membership at Planet Fitness. It’s great. We love it!
We’ve also gone years without having a gym membership. I’ve done home workouts for many, many years and they work great.
Decide what’s most important for you. A home gym/workout space or paying for a gym membership. I’ve done both and am not bashing either one! It all just depends on your money saving goals and how many expenses you need to slash to live below your means enough to reach your saving/investing goals.
Cut Costs on Gifts:
Clearance, re-gifting unopened high quality products, and DIY gifts are all in my arsenal of tricks when it comes to not paying loads of money on gifts.
However, let me say this, living below your means does not mean being a stingy, cheap friend/sibling/daughter/son/spouse.
There are definitely ways you can give a meaningful, quality gift that is inexpensive.
But there is nothing wrong with giving an expensive gift to someone who means a lot to you. The key is to manage your money well in all other categories and know what each particular gift will do to your monthly budget.
Cut Costs on Entertainment:
Groupon is my second favorite way to save money on entertainment. Groupon is a free app and online website that provides deals and coupons for local activities, restaurants, products, services, and even vacation deals.
My #1 favorite way to save is finding something to do for FREE!
My favorite free activities include:
- hiking (there could be a pass fee depending on where you hike)
- biking (after you buy the bikes this activity is free)
- walking on a nice day
- swimming in a lake
- tennis (one time purchase of rackets – buy gently used! and of course tennis balls which are cheap.)
- game night with spouse, friends, or family
- bonfire on the beach or in a backyard
- explore a new city
- peruse through a bookstore
- couple or friend workout in a park, outdoor trail, or in your backyard
- picnic on a blanket in a beautiful location
Cut Costs on Beauty:
Want to save money on salon services for your nails, brows, hair, and more?
Check out this post on how I do all those, and more, for a fraction of the cost at HOME! I also have a playlist on YouTube showcasing some of my favorite budget beauty hacks.
Cut Costs on Makeup:
Once again, I have a blog post for that!
I wrote a full detailed post sharing 13 ways to save money on makeup, but if you’d like the skinny, here it is:
- Receive free makeup products through Influenster, Loreal, and PinchMe (links to these companies are in the detailed post linked above)
- Find dupes for high end makeup (there’s a full list of all the awesome dupes out there in my blog post linked above)
- Use Ibotta to get cash back on makeup from stores including Target, Walmart, and Ulta.
- Learn about makeup products from makeup gurus on YouTube before purchasing the products for yourself to ensure you’ll love them
- Test makeup in stores (at Sephora or stores like it)
- Take home samples from Sephora
- Make your own makeup (details found on the full-detailed post linked above
- Fix broken makeup (tutorial on full-detailed post linked above)
- Ditch the beauty blender (absorbs makeup, therefore wasting extra product)
- Trade in empty pots for free product (lush and MAC)
- Make your own makeup removing cleanser
- Shop online for free samples from ULTA and Sephora
- Consider not wearing makeup anymore or as much makeup. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL WITHOUT IT! 🙂
And That’s a Wrap!
Now the most important step is to not just READ this post, but actually DO something with the knowledge you’ve acquired. Go cut those costs people! It’s about time. 😉
Still have a cost I haven’t addressed that’s too high and need a few tips on how to reduce it? Drop me a comment below and I’d be happy to help! Here’s the first day to the rest of your life of living below your means, saving money, investing money, and achieving financial security. I’m genuinely happy for you. You’re going to love it.
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Save Money with My Favorite FREE Apps and Resources:
Ibotta is my favorite cash back app that I use on my phone to earn cash back whenever I go shopping.
It includes my favorite stores, like Amazon, Target, Costco, Fred Meyer, and Walmart. All you have to do is add items from your recent shopping trip on the app, scan your receipt, and earn instant cash back!
Ebates is my favorite whenever I’m online shopping because I earn cash back from online purchases.
For example, if Ebates is offering 10% cash back for shopping at Target and my order total is $100, I’ll get $10 cash back. Amazing right?!
The easiest way to use Ebates is by downloading their cash back button (after you sign up for free with Ebates and earn your first $10 just for using my link.) Simply click the Ebates cash back button that will pop up on the store website, make your purchase, and Ebates will deposit your cash back into your Ebates account! It would be crazy NOT to use it and earn money back on all your online shopping.
MyPoints is my favorite way to earn Amazon gift cards and AMC movie theater gift cards in my spare time while watching a show or movie. MyPoints is an online rewards program that gives you points for taking surveys, reading e-mails, shopping, doing web searches, and more.
Once you earn a certain amount of points, you can redeem them for a gift card of your choice to over 75 merchants. They also offer free access to coupons to hundreds of different merchants daily.
I’ve already earned 3 $25 AMC gift cards and a $50 Amazon gift card just by using MyPoints while watching Netflix. Sign up and start earning free gift cards here.