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Wish you had more money in your budget?
The answer is probably and enthusiastic YES! Unless you’re on a budget, that can be really hard to do. So first and foremost, create a budget and you’ll be amazed at how much money is laying around.
The other amazing thing about a budget is that it allows you to see how much money you spend, and what you spend it on. When you know how much you spend on EVERYTHING, it allows you to see what you actually WANT to spend money on and make the necessary changes.
It’s time to stop spending money on things that drain your budget, and find more frugal ways to enjoy the things you love.
If you want to save more money in your budget, make some of these changes as soon as possible!
1. Get Rid of Cable: Netflix is Better Anyway
I don’t know very many people who still pay for cable. I get a “sweet offer” in the mail every few weeks to bundle my internet with cable to “save” all kinds of money. However, cable has about a bajillion channels I don’t want or need. Of course I can use DVR, but why do I need to record when I can just watch Netflix or Hulu.
Netflix and Hulu have everything I “need” when it comes to tv shows and movies. I can pause, stop, rewind, and watch over and over again. Plus it’s crazy cheap! Even with the price increase, it’s only $10 a month. And if you split it with a friend and share the same account, it’s even cheaper.
The only thing I really miss out on is sports, but I can track everything I need on my phone.
2. Pay Off Your Vehicle ASAP!
I love not having a car payment. It frees up a couple hundred dollars in our budget for each vehicle. I know people who have a $500 truck payment. That’s $6,000 a year for a truck, not to mention any repairs or maintenance costs that might pop up.
You will always need to invest in repairs and maintenance, so why would you want to make a car payment on top of that? I know it’s not always possible to buy a used car and pay cash. You might already have a newish car with a big payment and feel trapped. It’s okay, I know someone who can help.
Millennial Money Man, Bobby Hoyt created an Ultimate Guide to Get Rid of Your Car Payment. I love his writing style because he’s upfront, honest, and gives you hope and a solution to help you improve your finances. And in this case, he can show you how to get rid of your car payment.
3. Stop Going Out to Eat, Or at Least Limit Yourself
Every time I go out to eat, I’m shocked at how expensive it is. Even splitting entrees and getting cheap meals, it’s tough to get out the door without spending $30 for me and my wife.
How many times do you go out to eat every month? How about every week?
If it’s more than a few times per month, you’re sitting on a jackpot of extra money in your budget! Cooking from home can be a pain, but it saves so much money. When my wife and I started aggressively paying off our student loan debt, we stopped going out to eat completely!
It was extreme, but it made so much extra room in our budget. We also started meal prepping and learned how to survive on $60 a week for food.
4. Switch to a Less Mainstream Cell Phone Carrier
I didn’t even realize there were other options for cell phone providers. Maybe you don’t either. Most everyone I know is part of the big three: Sprint, Verizon, or T-Mobile. However, you don’t have to be stuck paying for their expensive services.
Nerdwallet wrote a great article to compare different carriers and different types of plans. Every family’s situation is different so it’s important to shop around and find what fits your needs the best.
Don’t be afraid to be unconventional if it makes sense for your family, and saves you money in the process.
5. Brew Your Own Coffee at Home
I used to hate coffee. However, in the last year I’ve switched to the dark side, roast that is. 😉 It all started with the classic Pumpkin Spice Latte, and then very slowly, I branched out and tried other sweet, sugary coffees from either Caribou or Starbucks.
No matter which fancy coffees you get from these stores, you’re forking over big time cash. Yeah, $5 doesn’t seem like much, but it sure adds up. Especially if you AND your spouse get a beverage.
Twice a week turns into $40 a month easily! Compare that to brewing your own coffee at home, and it’s not even a contest. We generally only make coffee on Saturday mornings, and stretch a pound of beans to last for a couple months. That’s $10 over two months, we’re talking about pennies per cup.
You can even get your Caribou or Starbucks flavors, just by a pound of ground beans at the store and brew it at home.
6. Only Buy New Clothes to Replace Old Clothes
My wife is a big clothes shopper, but she doesn’t buy just to buy. She’s a very practical person and she typically only buys clothes if she wants to replace an older item, or something she never wears anymore.
It’s a great system to prevent yourself from just buying clothes for the sake of buying them. Your spending becomes intentional and purposeful. If you haven’t tried this, it’s a great way to evaluate the clothes you wear and minimize both your wardrobe and your shopping bill.
7. Buy Clothes from Second Hand Stores
Goodwill and Savers are stock full of clothes begging to be worn. Not everything is great, but you can definitely find awesome shirts at crazy cheap prices. You’ll need patience and perseverance to sort through each rack of clothes to find a diamond in the rough, but it can be worth it to save the money.
If you’re not willing to buy used clothes, stores like Kohl’s run sales all the time. You’d be amazed what you can find in the 50-75% off racks. I can think of 5 shirts off the top of my head that I LOVE that I’ve gotten for less than $10.
8. Buy House Decorations at Antique Stores
Rustic is a huge trend in house decorations, especially if you watch enough episodes of Fixer Uppers. If you buy any rustic furniture, tables, or wall hangings new from a store, the prices are OUTRAGEOUS!
A sweet trick to get the same look for a fraction of a cost is antique stores. 95% of the decorations in our house came from antique stores. They give our house a nice rustic touch and we only paid $10 here or $25 there.
If there aren’t antique stores where you live, garage sales are another great resource for cheap decor. It’s definitely hit or miss, but patience usually pays off.
We didn’t go out and buy all of our decorations at once, and I think that helped too. When we saw something we liked, we snatched it up and found a place for it to fit. Plus one of our favorite free dates is to wander around antique stores just to see what’s there and goof around. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. 🙂
9. Get Really Good at Home Improvement
If you own your house, it’s only a matter of time before something breaks. When that happens, the biggest expense is the labor costs. I hate paying someone hundreds of dollars to do something I can learn to do myself.
This last year, our oven started on fire, our thermostat broke and nearly froze our house, our kitchen faucet needed to be replaced, a section of shingles came loose, and our hot water heater needed maintenance. We found a way to do most of these repairs ourselves, with help from friends.
Thankfully we have amazing friends that love teaching others how to fix stuff. My buddy Kyle is a home improvement guru, but he didn’t start out that way.
He took one project at a time and learned how to fix it himself. That’s something anybody can do, even a level zero handyman like me! If you don’t feel super confident, find a friend who is and ask them to help you learn. Then you’ll slowly build your own set of skills and become more self-reliant.
The more projects you learn to do yourself, the more money you can keep in your pocket! It’s also good to have an emergency fund in your back pocket to help cover up front costs of repairs.
10. Stop Buying Bottled Water
I get really annoyed everytime I buy bottled water. It’s totally unnecessary if you plan ahead. I also live on a huge lake that has the best water in the world. All I need to do is remember to fill up a water bottle when I leave the house.
Not only is bottled water overly expensive, it’s terrible for the environment. Plastic never decomposes, so every piece of plastic that’s ever been made is still around. Most of it ends up in land fills or floating in the ocean, destroying ecosystems.
Buy a water bottle and save money on bottled water and save your environment. I have a few Nalgene bottles I love! Yeti is another great brand. Heck, one of my students fills up a gallon jug and carries it around school. Find one you like and bring it everywhere!
11. Rent a Movie Instead of Going to the Theatre
This is a no brainer. Redbox is $1.62 or so for a movie. The theatre is easily $10 a ticket. Even if you go to a matinee it’s still at least 600% more expensive for a movie date. Then if you’re bringing kids, yowza!
I really love going to the theatre, but I refuse to pay full price. If you really love the theatre, save your date night out for the cheap movie nights or find a matinee of a “must see” film.
And yes, I like to write “theatre” instead of “theater”. It just looks cooler. 🙂
12. Utilize Your Local Library
The local public library is so underrated! I love to read, but I hate buying new books. Public library to the rescue!
Yeah it’s a pain to be pinned to a due date, and to renew books, but if you’re really concerned about finding more money in your budget, check out the library. 🙂
These days the library isn’t just for books either. If you have a library card, you can check out movies, tv series, cds, books on tape, and magazines. If these are items you usually buy new, you just put a lot of money back in your pocket each month.
Your bookshelf might be sparse, but your bank account will thank you for it!
13. If You’re Brave, You Can Cut Your Own Hair
I only recommend this for the brave and bold. A decent set of hair clippers cost about $50-75, so there’s an initial cost up front. It costs me $21 for a haircut with a tip so it’ll only take three haircuts to cover the costs of going to the barber.
I only need a haircut every two months or so, so this doesn’t completely break the bank. I also tend to let my hair grow out a little past my comfort zone to the border line afro stage before I cut it, so maybe you shouldn’t follow my example. 🙂
If you’re a normal person and get your hair cut every month, that’s $20 a month, or $240 a year. Clippers generally last at least a few years, so you’re saving boat loads in the long run if it doesn’t stress your partner out too much to cut your hair. For us it was way to stressful.
Also, I don’t recommend clippers for long hair. Only cut long hair if you really know what you’re doing. Otherwise you’ll pay someone just to fix the disaster.
14. Buy Off Brand Products at the Store
Companies would have you think that the brand name item is the best quality on the planet. It’s also way more expensive compared to the generic brand. Most consumers however, can’t tell the difference between Coke and RC Cola when doing a blind taste test.
If your taste buds can’t tell the difference, it’s not worth the extra money. We buy a lot of off-brand foods and ingredients. It doesn’t diminish the flavors or the experience of eating, but we notice that our dollars stretch farther.
This extends beyond just food too. Household products run cheaper if you buy the generic brand. Everything from laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and dish soap to toilet paper and paper towels.
15. Go on Cheap or Free Dates in Your Town
I’m a firm believer that not all dates need to take place at fancy, expensive restaurants. The magic of dates is often in the time you spend together, and that doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.
Here are a few great date ideas to spark your imagination:
- Pack a picnic and go for a hike in a scenic or favorite place
- Wander around antique stores
- Have a game night
- Act like a tourist in your own town. Bring a big camera and take silly pictures
- Go for a walk. Getting out of the house and moving can create great conversations
- Sit in a coffee shop and play cards, or cribbage
- Go to the beach with books and floaties
- Garage sale together and dream of your future house
- Dream and make goals together. What do you want your life to look like in 5, 10, 25 years?
- Go to the animal shelter and pet puppies or hold kitties on a rainy day
- Wake up early, make breakfast, and watch the sun rise
These are just a few of the things we like to do. Most of them are free, but all of them are cheap. If you want a few more ideas, check out this more extensive list.
If you really love going out to eat, learn how to do it frugally. Split appetizers and entrees. You still get the experience, but it only costs half as much.
If you have kids, try creating family date nights once a month. You all get to spend quality time together being intentional, and you don’t have to spend money on a baby sitter. Build a fort and watch a movie, go to the park and play, hit up the beach, or have a nerf gun war in your back yard.
Get creative and have fun!
16. Go on a Stay-Cation Instead of a Vacation
Everyone loves to get out of town and go on vacation. It’s fun to leave work and worries behind and create amazing memories with people you love. It can also be really fun to do the same thing but stay close to home.
One of my favorite memories with my wife was our one year anniversary “stay-cation”. At the time, we were saving our big trip to Ireland for our five year anniversary, but still wanted to celebrate one amazing year together as husband and wife.
So we decided to take a couple days off of work and rent a hotel right in town. It was the off season, so it was much cheaper, and we had an “in” because we used to work at this hotel.
We got a suite, ordered pizza to be delivered, and munched on fancy cheeses and fruit. We talked for hours, reflecting on our marriage and played cards. The best part was spending quality time together, which happened to be both of our love languages. It was amazing and so much cheaper than flying somewhere extravagant. I wouldn’t change a thing.
What Changes Can You Make Today?
It takes a certain mindset to change your lifestyle and make changes to really save money. It also takes defined goals and dreams to motivate you to sustain the changes. I know first hand.
Find something on this list that you think you can do, and get to work. Start changing your lifestyle one habit at a time and start saving money. Your future self will be happy you did.
Let Me Know in the Comments
What do you think? What have you cut out of your budget to save money? Was it worth it?
Tap the giant picture of my face to get your budget spreadsheet and debt log today. Our budget and goals changed our lives. I hope it can change yours too.