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I recently worked on cutting our monthly expenses back by $1,000. It was surprisingly much easier than I thought it would be. This is how I did it!
Our “Uh-Oh” Moment
Last August, my husband, Adam, and I moved out of a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom rental condo into a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home that we mortgaged and that was triple the size of the condo. We knew our monthly housing payment was increasing substantially, and we were comfortable with that.
What we failed to really factor in was how much it actually costs to own a home once you’re in it! Along with our living space tripling, so did our heating bills, electric bills, maintenance bills… the list goes on. On top of this, we also had to put both boys in daycare – and anyone with kids in daycare knows that expense feels like having a second mortgage!
We quickly realized we needed to cut back on our expenses and we needed to do it fast. At the same time, we weren’t exactly ready to jump on the frugal living train. So, we had to figure out how to reduce our expenses in a way that didn’t make us feel like we were sacrificing too much and living a boring existence.
We researched online and found a gazillion ways that people have successfully reduced expenses. From there, we picked just a handful that we thought we could implement pretty immediately and that we knew we could stick with. The last thing we wanted to do was put some extreme measures into action, not be able to sustain them, fail, and get discouraged.
7 Painless Ways to Reduce Your Expenses
If you’re like us – wanting to reduce your monthly expenses without having to give up too much in return – then give these things a try. They worked wonders for us!
1. Replace Your Cable with a Streaming Service.
I was on board with this idea right from the start; Adam on the other hand, not so much. He was concerned about the quality that the streaming services offer because he had heard a few years ago that it wasn’t great. After some convincing, he finally agreed to give the streaming service DirectTV Now a try.
We’re a few months into it and so far we’re really happy with it! This switch saves us about $100 per month.
2. Do Your Food Shopping Online.
At first, this might seem counterintuitive. After all, there is a fee associated with having the grocery store doing your shopping for you. But this is why it will save you money, even with the fee: you will no longer fall prey to those strategically placed goodies around the store that really add up at the register. I also find it much easier to compare prices between brands online than in the actual store.
I set a goal of not going over $150 for each weekly food shopping bill (a pretty aggressive goal if you ask me – especially because historically, I was spending anywhere from $250 – 300 per week!). Not only am I able to more easily compare prices online, but I also see a running total of what I’m putting into my cart. Then at the very end, if I’m over the $150, I’ll review my cart and remove any items that we don’t truly need or replace items that we do need with a cheaper option.
When all is said and done, my total shopping bill isn’t usually above $160, including the online shopping fee. This switch saves us anywhere from $90 – $140 per WEEK, and $360 – 560 per month! The bonus? It also saves me time!
3. Kick Your Kuerig to the curb.
We got rid of our Kuerig and picked up a regular, old coffee maker. K-cups are pricey. According to the NY Times, a pound of K-Cup coffee will run you about 50 bucks! Now that I have a regular coffee maker, I buy a pound of Starbucks coffee or a pound of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee – both around the $9 price range. That’s a huge difference! And in my opinion, a freshly brewed pot of coffee tastes a hell of a lot better than K-Cup coffee.
This switch saves us about $30 – 40 per month. The bonus? You’re being green; K-Cups are horribly bad for the environment.
4. Bring Your Lunch to Work.
I started bringing my lunch to work instead of buying lunch at the cafeteria or picking something up from a local restaurant. Adam isn’t doing this yet, so it’s just me. But even so, this switch is saving us at least $100 per month. The bonus? It’s a lot healthier eating a homemade lunch than eating out.
Tip: I personally love bento style lunch containers. They’re leak proof, BPA free, freezer safe, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, and super durable (just ask my 4 year old!).
5. Cut Back on Cleaning Services.
We have a cleaning lady who comes every other week, and we just decided to ask her to come on a monthly basis instead. I set up a cleaning schedule and try to dedicate 15-30 minutes each day to checking things off of that schedule so that we don’t have to spend an entire Saturday cleaning. This change saves us $150 per month. The bonus? You’ll burn some extra calories! Click here to learn some easy tips on how to keep up with your house cleaning.
6. Stop Ordering Take-Out for Dinner.
I found that even though I would do a full order of food shopping every week, we would still order take-out a few times a week. So not only were we wasting food that we bought, but we were also spending a ton of money on take-out. I seriously think we were single handedly keeping our local pizzeria in business! Now when Adam says, “Don’t cook tonight, let’s just order something”, I stick to my guns and tell him that we are not ordering out, instead of enthusiastically grabbing a take-out menu.
This saves us around $240 per month easily. You’d be surprised how quickly this expense adds up. The bonus? Just like with taking lunch to work, cooking dinner at home is much healthier than take-out. Click here to check out my meal plans that have quick and easy dinners.
7. Install a programmable thermostat.
The programmable thermostat is a huge cost saver because you don’t have to remember to turn the heat or air down at night and we can have it kick on just before we wake up. Also, layer up in the winter and strip down in the summer! I used to keep our heat at a constant 71 degrees in the winter until I realized how quickly we were running through our oil.
Note: When my husband came home with the Nest and told me what he spent, there was fire in my eyes. However, it’s seriously so cool – we can change the thermostat from our phones wherever we are, it’s compatible with Alexa, and it’s sleek. Definitely worth the money! Now I ain’t mad at it.
This saves us about $100 per month. The bonus? It’s one less thing you have to remember to do!
Cut Your Expenses without Feeling It!
As you can see, these changes are simple to implement and have an immediate impact. And it has saved us quite a bit of money without really having to change some of our major habits and hobbies. Also, it kind of gets addicting once you see how easy it can be to reduce your expenses – we’re continuing to think of ways to further reduce expenses, because why not?!
The bottom line is that you work too hard for your money to spend more of it than you have to. I say give it a try – what have you got to lose!
What are some easy and painless ways that you have reduced your expenses?