With back to school, summer vacations ending, and the realization that the holidays are just around the corner, we understand the need to cut back in a few areas. We’ve been sharing tips among family and friends on where exactly the best places to cut back on and decided we had better share! It may not save you enough money to make up for everything you have coming your way as the holidays approach (what?! They come so quick once school starts!) but every little bit helps!
1: Set a Budget: This is the most important thing to start with during your month of saving money. Budget out how much you need to spend on food, mortgage/rent, car payments, and every other expense you will have during the month. Set some limits, and try as hard as you can to stay within those limits. Make sure to give yourself a little “fun” money as we like to call it for those extra events that come up, or the much needed and almost necessary ice cream run. If you find that you are not good at sticking to a budget, we absolutely love the Envelope System.
2: Make a Shopping List: You will be surprised at how much extra money you can save by making a shopping list. Keep a note pad on the fridge, use an app, or scribble down a quick list on a sticky note and come home with only those things on the list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the store for eggs and milk and come home with a few packages of cookies, some new beauty products, and a pizza. We have found that making a shopping list actually saves you a few trips to the store. Try getting all of your food and other necessities one time during the week. This will save you time and money!
3: Stop Eating Out: This one is a lot easier said than done. We know school has started up again and that means sports and just about every other extra curricular activity is going again too. Save the money (and calories) by fixing dinner at home rather than the drive-thru. Even though the dollar menu may seem super appealing, the money spent eating out can add up fast. We know this can be intimidating, but we have a solution! We offer an awesome Menu Plan on our website that comes complete with your main dish, side dish options, and even a few desserts. The best part? A shopping list is also included to save you that much more time.
4: Eliminate Monthly Subscriptions: How many “free trials” have you let extend past the 30 days without realizing? Make sure to go through your accounts and see which companies are pulling money from your accounts each month. Elminating some of the things you are not using enough can make a big difference. Some examples we found were Netflix, Hulu, gym memberships, SAM’s Club or Costco memberships, or automatic payments set up on certain websites with subscriptions.
5: Carpool/Combine Trips: If you have to take the kids to soccer practice and you are passing the grocery store anyways, use that time to do your weekly shopping and save yourself a trip, or gas. The weather might be getting a little cooler, but walking your kids to school can be a great way to bond while you save some money. Set up a carpool with other parents in the neighborhood for other extra curricular activities or for school.
6: Set the Thermostat, and Leave It: The weather is cooling down a little and your air conditioning does not need to be on full blast all day long. Set your thermostat at a nice medium level, and leave it. Turning the air off and on repeatedly, causing the house to warm up and cool down, is actually worse than just leaving it at one constant temperature Open the windows, use some fans, and you will be extremely happy with your next electric bill. As the weather gets cooler, try and do the same with your heater.
7: Check Your Appliances: Did you know even when you are not using your appliances they are still using up energy? You can check out a list of appliances that are using energy HERE. Unplug a few of the ones you don’t use everyday, and cut back on some expenses.
8: Get Creative with Activities: There are so many free activities you can do both with kids and with your spouse. Get those creative juices flowing and have some fun at home. In case you need a little help we have a few awesome tips that will help you save money while having a great time. Check out these 101 Fun, Easy, and Cheap Indoor Activities for Kids or these 32 Stay-At-Home Date Ideas!
9: Set Your Water Heater Lower: After a few problems with our water scalding us during showers and doing the dishes, we decided to lower the temperature in our water heaters by about 20 degrees. We are still able to take hot showers but don’t have to worry about the water getting too hot, and we ended up saving a little on our bill. You can find more information and some tips on lowering the temperature HERE.
10: Take Advantage of Your Library: Did you know you can rent movies and video games from your city library and not just books? Visit your city library and see what fun movies or books you can find for the kids. It’s the only place we could find our favorite movie, Hocus Pocus last year for Halloween, and we’ve been going back ever since!
11: Cut Back on Water Consumption: This one is kind of a no brainer, but we all seem to struggle with it. Taking shorter showers, turning the water off while you do the dishes or brush your teeth, and lowering your water level on your laundry can lower your water bill significantly. Every little bit counts!
12: DIY: With the holidays coming up, decorating and gift giving can get a little expensive. Make your own DIY Halloween costumes, decorations for your house, or even your own Christmas cards! We love using Pinterest to get ideas for different DIY Home Decor and gift ideas!
13: Buy In Bulk: Some things are a lot cheaper when buying in bulk, and some things are not! Here’s a simple list of what we usually buy in bulk. We love shopping at Costco, or SAM’s Club!
-Meat (make sure to store in freezer bags or containers)
-Ziploc Bags, Containers, Saran Wrap, Foil
-Non Perishable Foods
You can also check out this awesome guide to buying bulk!
14: Stop Using or Pay Off Credit Cards as Quickly as Possible: Interest can build up fast if you let those credit card balances sit month to month. Try switching to debit or paying in cash to avoid those unnecessary fees and interest rates. Smart spending is the best spending! If credit cards work best for you, find one with good benefits and pay it off quickly.
15: Use Coupons: Couponing has gotten so much easier now that everything is online. I remember watching our mom each week as she sorted through her files of coupons finding deals on the things we needed that week. Using coupons now is so simple, even for beginners! The Krazy Coupon Lady has some awesome tips for couponing as a beginner! A lot of stores, like Smith’s or other Kroger stores, will over discounts when using their free memberships. We love Smith’s because the more you spend on groceries, the bigger the savings you get at their gas stations. Happy couponing!
How do you cut back on expenses during the month? Let us know in the comments below!!