There are many ways to save money. We are currently working very hard to pay off our debt. By making a few short-term sacrifices we can make a huge impact quickly. Do you have a credit card or student loan that you want to pay off? Maybe some of these ideas that helped us will help you too.
1.) Cook your way into some extra cash – We had a problem with eating out way too often. We did a lot of the grabbing something on the run without ever thinking about it. I never thought twice about grabbing dinner on a weeknight just because I didn’t plan ahead or I was too lazy to cook. We bought lunch on work days and sometimes breakfast too. It is cheaper to make things from scratch but it won’t save you a dime if you don’t cook it. Be honest about who you are and plan your meals accordingly. Throwing in a couple frozen pizzas on a busy night is cheaper than ordering it.
2.) Shop the Pantry – We had many odd things hiding away in the pantry. I went through our pantry, freezer, fridge, and cabinets to come up with as many options for dinners as possible without buying anything. When I could come up with no more meal options than I looked for ways to make meals with the smallest amount of added items. This helped to cut down our grocery bill for a couple of weeks which gave us additional money to pay toward our debt.
3.) Leftovers are Your Friend – Use up your leftovers. Take leftovers for lunch. Use them in another dish or as part of another meal. We use the bottom of the cereal bag to top yogurt. Plan for leftovers sometimes. I will often make extra chicken to throw in a salad the next night. Whole chickens, turkeys, and hams can save you a ton if you use your leftovers appropriately. A whole chicken can easily feed our family of five for a few days. We made a large ham last month because they were so cheap per pound. That ham made us multiple lunches and dinners for two weeks. We had ham with potatoes and vegetables a couple of nights. We made sandwiches, casseroles, and even ham and cheese omelets.
4.) Use it all before buying more – Waiting to buy items until you are out or almost out can help you to save more money in the short-term. Depending on your habits you may save money in the long-term as well. You will not have money wrapped up in things just waiting to be used. If you are the type of person who begins using the new item before finishing the old one you will save quite a bit with this approach. Can you get another week or month out of your mascara? Do you want to buy another lipstick or eyeshadow but you have ten already? Can you squeeze a few more days out of your toothpaste or cleaning products? These little things can really add up.
5.) Delay, Delay, Delay – Anything that you want to buy should be delayed. Did you see an ad online and now you simply have to by a llama or whatever? Put that thought aside. Try to delay everything not necessary to basic living for the month. You may change your mind about the llama. Impulsive buying is not your friend.
6.) Get Back to Basics – Simply pay your bills, pay your transportation costs for work, and don’t starve. What is the bare minimum that you can get by with? Can you go without buying anything that you can live without?
7.) Break the Rules – This is extra fun if you have kids! The only rules about food are the rules that we have learned from society. Breakfast food is cheap and easy to make. Try having breakfast for dinner once a week to give your budget a break. Think pancakes, eggs, toast, and fruit. There are not many meals that are cheaper or easier than an omelet. They are also great for using up leftover meat, cheese, and vegetables. Vegetables and rice is a perfectly acceptable meal and so is PB&J. Do you want to eat only a banana for breakfast? That’s fine. We love peanut butter, banana, and cereal sandwiches. Really get inventive with low-cost options.
8.) Cancel subscriptions – Are there any subscriptions that you are paying for that you don’t need? Do you have multiple television options? Do you need cable? Netflix? Hulu? Amazon Prime? Could you just use one of them? Could you give one of them up for 6 months? We tend to cycle between them. Do you have a gym membership or anything that you don’t use? Anything that you have been meaning to cancel and haven’t yet? Even $10 a month helps. That’s $120 a year. If you are paying that on a credit card every month, you are also saving even more on the interest you would have paid.
9.) Tell Your Friends & Family – You will be surprised by how supportive people can be. You don’t want your friends to think that you are avoiding going out with them because you are upset with them instead of just trying to save some money on dinner. They may invite you over instead of out to dinner and be much more understanding when you suggest that they come to your house for a drink instead of going out to a bar. They may also help in unexpected ways. An amazing friend of mine gave us a ton of clothing for our youngest. A complete wardrobe, even for a toddler, is a small fortune.
10.) Be Boring – You can save money by being extremely boring for a month. Stay home. Watch Netflix or work your way through your DVD collection. We signed up for a free month of Netflix and binge watched a few shows. You could also watch YouTube or rent library movies for free. If you want to get together with friends, invite them over for a pot luck or coffee. Play free games on your phone. Read that stack of books you have been meaning to.
Try some or all of these to help make a difference in paying down your debt or building up your savings. By making these little sacrifices, we were able to pay off some of our smaller debts so that we could snowball the payments forward to the next debt. Every little bit counts when you’re on this journey.