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Inside: How to save money each month — 10 clever ways (even if you have no money and it feels impossible).
“To many people spend money they earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.” ~ Will Rogers
Just take a second to imagine the feeling of finding extra money in your wallet at the end of each month!
Could you finally afford to take the kids to Disney? Or, replenish your savings account? Could you finally feel like you could breathe again?
This feels pretty darn nice, doesn’t it?
Well here’s the good news:
This guide will help you learn how to save money each month on monthly and everyday expenses.
How to Save Money Each Month – A Personal Confession
Before we get to the tips below, I want to take a moment and tell you a personal story:
A number of years ago now my personal life took a huge hit – my husband (now ex-husband) lost his job.
We learned to live with less by making a few small changes that added up to BIG results.
And I’ve never forgotten what I learned through that experience. Not only did we continue living normally, but we actually saved $7,000 during that period.
And I’m going to share exactly what exactly we did and how you can do it too.
Are you ready to put some money back into your pockets?
Great, let’s look at 10 ways we can save money each month!
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How to Save Money Each Month Even If It Feels Impossible – 10 Easy Tips
1. Use your credit card for everything
If you have an issue with using your credit card and not paying it back immediately then this is not for you!
This step is only and I repeat only for those who can use their credit cards daily and pay it back right away.
But why not reap the benefits of the cashback on your VISA? For every dollar I spend I earn one reward dollar, and at the end of the year this adds up to big bucks!
Each year I gain approximately $750.
2. Use a Money Saving App – Like Ibotta
Because I’m an accountant by day I loooovvveee saving people money.
I’ll admit, couponing has never been my thing, I’m just too busy, and it seems like alot of work. But on the advice of a friend I gave this Ibotta thing a try.
This is a FREE app that lets you get cash rebates (no points, no coupons — nothing like that) at your favorite stores.
I apologize if I sound like I’m shouting at you, but I get so excited about free stuff.
Ibotta works in over 300 retail chains, restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores, home improvement centers, pet stores, and pharmacies.
You get cash rebates (like real cash) on things like milk, apples, cheese, bread. And over time this can add up to a good chunk of money.
So why not grab free money for doing what you already must do each week! Shop!
3. Examine your insurance (and walk or bike more)
Chances are with a few phone calls you may get a better-combined house and vehicle insurance rate.
Furthermore, if you are a two-car household, consider and I’ll use that word carefully, pulling one car off the road.
We parked our SUV and not only did we save enormously on gas but on insurance as well. Monthly it amounted to hundreds of dollars.
If you’re a single-car household it might not be realistic, but you can still consider biking and walking more. Save the environment, save gas, feel good.
Note: You could take this one step further and consolidate your debt or refinance your mortgage.
You can save hundreds per month here folks!
Enjoy some ‘staycations,’ instead of thinking you need an exotic destination for excitement and relaxation.
Try to rediscover your hometown with new eyes.
Check-out some awesome ideas for staycations here.
There are likely many activities of interest that you just haven’t considered.
5. Watch High Electricity & Water Times
This may sound petty but you can shave up to $50 from your utilities.
Shorten your showers, hang your clothes to dry and don’t use energy in the high times.
Every dollar counts right?
6. Cut Down your Cable/Internet/Phone Services
The thought of my old monthly Rogers bill still causes slight hyperventilation, consistently over $400 per month!
This needed to change and fast.
I phoned Rogers (our cable provider) and began chopping away at services.
We said goodbye to HD boxes, premium cable and reduced our internet.
Shave off more dollars still by purchasing a TV/movie online subscription such as Netflix and cancel your cable altogether. And those $6 movies add up, with Netflix you have access to tons of free movies. You can also discuss bundling your current package at a reduced rate.
If you want to get really brave, cancel the cell phones, or switch to a pay as you go plan. But if you’re anything like me and not willing to part with your trusty sidekick then consider canceling the home phone.
If your drinking water isn’t safe, instead of spending oodles of money on bottled water, buy a water filtering system or even just a Brita Wager Jug.
7. Pack a Lunch and a Thermos
Brown bagging lunch is a huge saving. Add up all the $10 dollar debits card transactions throughout the month.
I’m sorry Tim Horton’s coffee addicts but bring a thermos. At $1.50 per day that adds up to $45 per month or $540 per year.
Take a list when grocery shopping to avoid impulse spending, and consider switching grocery stores.
If you want to spice up your kiddo’s lunches, see our epic guide The Best of the Best Lunch Box Supplies and Boxes for Kids
Don’t Eat Out.
Along with packing lunch, avoid restaurants. When you do splurge and go out for dinner it will feel extra special and you’ll likely appreciate the experience much more.
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8. Get a Library Card
This might not be a make it or break it for most people, but my Amazon bill was starting to add up. I now love the sophisticated feeling of browsing through the local library.
There are also lots of fun programs for kids too. There is always something going on at our local library.
9. Cut the Gym Membership & Make Changes to Your Hobbies
If your hobbies involve going shopping, golfing, or passions that require obscene amounts of money, consider hiking, picnicking, running or reading (with your new library card), these are all free. Get creative.
Consider cutting the gym membership, there are so many apps you can use at home for next to nothing.
Another quick tip is to make your birthday or holiday cards and/or gifts. Homemade is from the heart, after all.
10. Create a Budget
Check out this awesome article from Nerd Wallet to use the 50/30/20 rule to create a budget.
Now that you’ve made all the positive changes above, here’s what you can do next:
Write down your total monthly income followed by your new total fixed expenses. Next, determine how much is left over for extra’s (spending and miscellaneous).
Create two jars- Spending (entertainment and hobbies) and miscellaneous. Fill your jars with the allotted monthly cash flow you designated per your budget. See till debt do us part to help create your budget. When the cash is gone, the spending spree is over till next month.
Of all the changes we made, this one was most significant. After using the jar system we reduced our miscellaneous spending from over $1,500 per month to $200. We now have complete control over all our non-fixed expenses. I can breathe again.
Living Beyond Our Means
Let’s take a quick look at why we overspend.
While some might point out life could have dealt a worse hand than learning to live on one income…believe me…I am more than aware of this (and this is far from the most challenging experience life has dealt me, it is just an experience, one that I learned from, that I wanted to share).
Still, this experience was devastating at the time, and this is why…
…from the outside, we were like everyone else on the block: two nice cars, a decent house, and all the latest gadgets, but like the other cookie-cutter houses if you looked beyond the white picket fence and peeked inside you would discover a caving foundation.
I was living beyond my means…
…and living beyond our means has become the norm.
If you are honest, are you too, perhaps living beyond your means?
We don’t think much of financing our lifestyles and the days of living on cash only are long gone.
My partner recently defended his impulse purchase of a random tool, “It’s fine. I put it on don’t pay for a year.” Resisting the urge to smack him, I muddled over the notion that this has become our way of life, instant gratification, clean up the mess later.
Social Pressures Lead to OverSpending
In addition to the acceptance of living on financing and contributing to our financial crisis is also an enormous social pressure to meet certain living standards.
The Smith’s just bought a 600 thousand dollar home, wouldn’t that be nice?
Have a closer look at their foundation; chances are it’s cracked too.
“Money can’t buy happiness.”
In fact, living beyond our means does not lead to happiness, it causes suffering.
When you live beyond your means, you are trying to find happiness in external objects.
I’ll admit one of my guilty pleasures:
I’m at the mall; I pass a beautiful shirt, knowing I don’t need it, with self-control I walk away.
Then I start thinking about that shirt. Envisioning the colors, the ensembles I could create – until I give in and go buy the shirt.
It now hangs in my closet, maybe worn, maybe not. I didn’t need that shirt, and it certainly didn’t make me happy the way my mind promised it would.
The entire concept of living beyond our means plays out this way. We have an impulse or a notion (delusion) that something external will make us happy. The fixation is short-lived before we are on to the next object of desire.
In turn, the debt piles up, causing stress and anxiety.
I’m an accountant by day, (parenting blogger by night) so I’ve got some experience with money, if you have any questions, just ask!
Since being stripped of my previous lifestyle a refreshing realization has fallen on me. What a nice house I live in, why did I feel such an urgency to move into a nicer house? I began to feel a newfound sense of appreciation and gratitude that I had long forgotten. It was an A HA moment for me. This was a lesson more valuable than anything I could have ever bought.
Regardless of your circumstances, income, education or social status, you CAN get there. We all have the ability to put these simple practices in motion. Take control of your life your piggy bank will thank you.
“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.” ~ Helen Gurley Brown