Isn’t it amazing how much little things add up? For example, this morning I took Lilly on a Mommy/ Daughter date. We had a 25% off coupon at Einstein’s and got a muffin, a coffee, and a bagel egg sandwich to share. It still added up to almost $8. Try doing that four times a month and it’s $32 bucks- just for us two! Add in the museum we head off to after (we have a membership thank heavens) and our monthly tally would be $80!
When I decided to stay home, we really needed to trim the fat. We would be missing out on a big chunk of income every year.
It is actually pretty simple to try and save money. We try not to stress out too much about it, because we can have a tendency to get too frugal and that just becomes a big bummer for everyone around us. Trimming out nonsensical, every day purchases were our best strategy for long term saving and still being able to enjoy life. Here was our plan:
1. Make our own coffee at home
Coffee can run $2-$5 bucks a cup. Multiply that five times a week and you are looking at $480 a year minimum, and that is just for one person. It is much cheaper in the long run to buy a nice french press or coffee maker at home and indulge in some good beans. Not only will the coffee taste better, but we have learned that we save a ton! (Except on coffee dates with friends- which I still enjoy time to time!)
2. Quit cable television
This has saved us over $840 for the year! At about $70/ month average, we decided instead to use Netflix. That only costs us about $8/ month, so about $100 per year. We also watch a lot of PBS when we feel like enjoying television as they have high quality programs. Hello Downton Abby fans! 🙂
3. Avoid the mall
Avoiding the mall means not making frivolous, unplanned purchases. Prior to Lillian, this was my downfall. I would peruse the mall and pick up a cute top or pair of shoes and spend $50 bucks that was not budgeted for, randomly! If you visit the mall and pick up a $10 item once a week (and that is cheap), you spend about $480 a year on unplanned purchases.
4. Buy a season pass and use it!
We love to do things on the weekend. Entertainment can add up. The average movie is around $10 bucks now without food or drinks. Museum passes are about $12 bucks for adults. And ski passes? Oh man, anywhere from $30-$100 bucks per day! We decided to get a season pass for $65/ year for our family to the Museum of Nature and Science. A one day admission is $12 per person. We use it, often. If you typically see a movie twice a month or visit a kid’s play place often, it might be prudent to invest in a season pass somewhere. The savings add up.
5. Exercise outdoors
Gym memberships are expensive. In the winter we use ours since it is cold in Colorado, but in the summer we often utilize the beautiful outdoors to work out. This can save us up to $70/ month and about $420 for six months.
6. Use generic brands
Generic brands can save you tons of money! We love the generics at our local grocery store. In fact, I prefer the generic Almond Milk and healthy cereals to the brand names. People who use generics tend to save about $500 per year, and that is a low estimate depending on how much you purchase. Give it a shot!
7. Make a list before you shop
Making a list can curb wasteful shopping. We all make the mistake of shopping when we are hungry- then over buying and wasting food. Making a list can cut about $20 off your grocery bill per trip. If you shop four times a month, that is almost $1000! Whoa!
8. Make a budget
This is every financial planner’s #1 bit of advice. Construct a budget, even if it is a rough one. Look at it once a month. Set goals. Evaluate progress. Knowing what is going in and out of our bank accounts help us tremendously and keep us from splurging on items we think we need. People who budget can save up to $1000-$3000 a year on unneeded purchases! Crazy!
9. Pack our lunch
A fast food lunch can cost $5 per day, and if you eat out five days a week that is $25 a week. For one person. Multiply that by a year. We are talking about $1200. The savings here are clear. And a packed lunch is almost always healthier!
10. Use the library
I love our library. They have amazing CD’s, books, magazines, and movies. You can order movies online that are current and checked out, and they put me on a wait list and deliver it to my closest library. I swear we save about $25 a month on books and movies we want to see.
Yearly Savings Total: About $6,680!
That is a lot of cash! We have seen significant savings since we started doing these things. Of course, there will be cost involved in packing your own lunches, buying a season pass, and making your own coffee which is why I really low-balled all the estimates.
Hope this helps you as it helped me!