Easy Ways To Save Money Every Month
As a young married couple and first-time homeowners, it’s all about budgeting your finances, a skill that doesn’t really come naturally to Blake and I. In an effort to build up a decent savings account and chip away at some lingering debt, we recently decided to really buckle down. Turns out, sitting down and actually dissecting everything that goes in and out of our bank accounts only brought on frustration and stress. After breaking down our monthly expenses, and freaking out a little bit, I wasn’t so sure there was anyway we could possibly save any more money.
It Pays To Stay Positive
I will admit that I am a pessimist and on top of that, I don’t always handle stress that well. My husband is the opposite. Well, not so much about the stress part, but he is the optimist to my negative nancy. So, when I failed to see a light at the end of the budgeting tunnel, he showed me that it pays to stay positive, literally. As I stood by with my glass half empty, I watched Blake pick up the phone to talk to a customer service representative from our gym. I had insisted that there was no way they were going to reduce our rate as I had just signed us up the month before. Ignoring my cynicism, he chit-chatted and made small talk with the rep. Fifteen minutes later he thanked the guy, hung up the phone, and turned to me with a shit eating grin on his face. His sweet talking landed us a $20 a month discount on our gym memberships. His next call was to the insurance company, after which we started saving $60 a month on insurance fees. I knew I married this man for a reason.
There Is Always A Way To Save
These two phone calls reminded me of two things. One, that my husband is freaking awesome. And two, that there is always a way to save some money somewhere in your budget. And I’m not referring to the kind of drastic saving that sucks the joy out of your life. I much prefer saving money in a way that doesn’t make your day to day stressful and depressing.
If you want to tighten that belt a little and add a few zeros to that number in your savings account, start with these five easy ways to help you save money every month.
Create a monthly budget.
Even if you aren’t in a financial rut, you should sit down and create a budget. It will allow you to really examine exactly where your money goes every month. Start by calculating your monthly household income after taxes. Next, list all of your bills including rent, utilities, credit card payments, car payments, etc. Don’t forget about food, clothing, and other expenses. Subtract your expenses from your income to determine your excess cash flow. Breaking down these numbers will allow you to better decide which purchases are unnecessary (like your daily $6 latte) and where you can afford to spend less (aren’t there enough clothes with the tags still on them hanging in your closet?). The goal is to set a monthly budget for each expense. To keep you on track, try using a budgeting app like Mint (oh, and it’s free!).
After calculating exactly how much money needs to be in your account for your checks and direct withdrawals to clear, pull out cash for all other expenditures. Using cash not only helps you stay aware of how much you are spending, but it also allows you to put a physical limit on it. Try a cash envelope system, like Dave Ramsey’s, in which budgeted cash for each expense is kept in envelopes. For example, when the cash in the “eating out” envelope runs out, it’s home-cooked meals for the rest of the month. Try leaving the credit and debit cards at home for extra motivation. If you stick to it, you’ll stay on or even under budget.
I’m not referring to those crazy coupon people who buy a case of deodorant to save a few measly bucks. Instead, use reasonable coupons and discounts that don’t require a storage unit to keep the pallets of toilet paper. Sign up for free rewards programs at the stores you frequent. I recently signed up for the Target Redcard Debit Card. It didn’t cost me a dime, and it’s not a credit card. I shop at Target either way, so I might as well be saving %5 on everything I buy. I also downloaded Cartwheel, a free Target app that allows me to accumulate coupons for a variety of products. Many department stores have similar programs, and most grocery stores have customer loyalty programs. Only sign up for free programs, and no matter how good the deal is, don’t buy crap you don’t need.
Look for discounts.
Much like the miracle work my husband preformed with our gym memberships and insurance premiums, there are ways you can save on your existing expenses. Call your bank to see if you are getting the best possible interest rate on your credit card. Look into refinancing your car to lower your monthly payment. See if you qualify for any discounts on your internet and phone services. You may even qualify for low income discounts on your utility bills. In the words of Blake, you don’t get if you don’t ask.
Ditch your cable.
You can do it, I believe in you! I know that ultimate sports package and those reality shows seem too good to pass up, but you don’t need them. I have, on more than one occasion, canceled my cable completely. That’s right, we don’t even have the most basic package. Instead, we subscribe to Netflix for $8 a month. If you need to stay up to date on your favorite shows, try Amazon Prime or Hulu, both are a hell of a lot cheaper than cable. We also don’t have a home phone. We did for a while, but found we literally NEVER used it. The only time it ever rang was when someone wanted to sell us something or ask poll questions. Canceling these two services alone can save you hundreds of dollars a month. Don’t be scared, it’s like ripping off a bandaid.
With the new year right around the corner, there’s never a better time to get your monthly budget on track. The sooner you start reining in that unnecessary spending, the better.
Do you have any money-saving tips? Share them in the comments section below!
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