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Tired of feeling like every penny of your paycheck is gone before you even get it? Are you over barely getting by, living paycheck to paycheck? If so, you need to cut monthly expenses.
As much as I wish I could say there was a silver bullet that could magically fix your problem, there isn’t.
Getting out of the paycheck to paycheck rut takes hard work, discipline, and dedication to your goals. But thankfully, you can cut monthly expenses by making some easy changes! If you’re wanting to start saving, check out these creative strategies.
Creative Ways to Cut Monthly Expenses
1. Write out your expenses
There’s something about seeing your expenses all in one place that gets you into gear. When you write out all of your expenses, you get an overview of where your money is going, and you can decide what expenses to cut, and where you might be able to save some money.
2. Brew your own coffee
Are you guilty of going on a morning coffee run every day before work? If so, let’s just do some quick math. Say your average purchase costs around $5/day and you do this five days a week. That means you spend $100/month (at minimum) on coffee! #Yikes!
Instead, buy $10 worth of ground coffee for the month and put your coffee maker to use for once!
3. Walk more
When you ditch your car and opt-in to walking more, you can save on transportation costs. So, if you need to make a quick run anywhere within walking distance, get some cardio in and leave your car keys at home.
Not only will it save you money, but it’ll burn some calories, too.
Got a bike? Even better! Ride that thing even farther and take a stroll down memory lane (riding a bike = childhood staple).
4. Shop second-hand
How about going and poppin’ some tags at second-hand shops? You’ll be amazed at the fun things you can find.
From dishes, to dish towels, to your winter sweater. If you’re lucky, you may even live next to a specialized second-hand store, so you can find high quality items for cheap!
It’s estimated that in 2017 shoppers saved (collectively) $7 BILLION on their purchases by thrift shopping!
5. Buy generic
Dave Ramsey gives some great examples in his article, How Much Can Buying Generic Brands Save You at the Grocery Store? and concludes that you can save upwards of $1,000/month by shopping generic!
Just imagine what you could do with that extra cash!
6. Make your own food
It’s a scary thought to think about how much money my family has spent on eating out over the years.
Think about how often you eat out. For lunch? For dinner? On average how much do you spend? Now times that by how many times you tend to eat out every week/month.
Save lots of money by making your own food!
7. Meal prep
Meal prepping takes lots of planning, but when you do it right you can remove the temptation to eat out. Many times the reason we eat out is because we’re too lazy to cook something up from the scraps in our kitchen. So, we opt-in for take out.
When you prep your meals ahead of time there is always a meal ready to eat when you want it. While this will still require a decent amount of discipline from you (especially if you hate “left overs”) it can save you some serious cash!
8. Collect loose change
For a few years my husband and I would throw all of our loose change into a jar that calculated the total for us. After about six months we had almost $100 stored!
Rather than letting your loose change make a home at the bottom of your purse or your car’s center console, stash it in a jar and once it’s full count and deposit it!
9. Get a roomie
Do you live in a home alone? Rent an apartment solo? Get a roommate and save hundreds of dollars each month!
I understand that if you’re living alone it’s probably because you prefer it that way. But when your goal is to save money, you have to make sacrifices — and it can be temporary.
Even if you were to rent out your spare room (or share your room) with a roomie for six months, you can potentially save thousands of dollars!
If you have to commute to work, see if you have any coworkers who might be interested in starting a carpool.
When you carpool you’re able to share on transportation costs, rotate cars (less wear and tear on your car = less costs on maintenance), and rest a few days a week. Imagine if some Monday mornings you didn’t have to worry about driving to work? Instead you get to sit back, rest, and even sleep if you want to.
Got more than one coworker interested in carpooling? Your savings can even double that!
11. Re-evaluate your insurance costs
While you may have gotten the best deal for your home or auto insurance when you signed up, you may be getting the short end of the stick today.
Every year consider reviewing your insurance options to see if there is any other companies offering comparable coverage for a cheaper price!
12. Become a coupon queen
You know those pesky paper ads that get tossed on your driveway every Sunday morning? Yeah, those. Don’t be so quick to toss them out! You could be literally throwing away thousands of dollars in savings each year!
Shoppers who use consumer packaged goods coupons can save an average of $1,560 to $2,600+ each year!
Now that lady in front of you in the grocery line with a purse full of coupons doesn’t seem so crazy after all. #MoneySaver
13. Ditch the cable
The average cable company offers their services for about $85/month. That means you’re spending about $1,000/year on a bunch of channels you probably never watch.
If you’re a TV binger and you can’t imagine life without your TV, then consider opting out of your cable bill and getting a cheaper service.
If you’re interested in getting a service that still offers some live TV options, and DVR-like features, consider YouTube TV.
Into mainstream TV shows? Check out Hulu.
Want to binge on new, exclusive series and some old school classics? Switch to Netflix!
14. Buy used stuff
Whether you’re buying a car, furniture, or clothes, buying used can potentially save you thousands of dollars every year!
Wanting to buy a car? Go to your local used car lot and turn someone else’s old news into your new hot rod. Itching to redecorate your place? Shop on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and find some solid furniture pieces.
As stated before, thrift shop for your new wardrobe and save money!
15. Cancel unused memberships and subscriptions
Why pay for something you’re not using? It’s time to go through your bills and find all of the memberships and subscription services that you’re not using.
From gym memberships, to Amazon Prime, to Netflix — cut the cord if you haven’t used it in the last three months!
By doing this you can potentially save yourself $500+ each year!
16. Have fun… for free
Did you know there are tons of fun things to do for free all around you? From city-sponsored events, to live bands at your local coffee shop, to a picnic in the park.
All it takes is a bit of searching and some creativity. Foregoing paid events can save you countless dollars every year. Check out Do Stuff’s list of cities to find FREE events near you!
17. Downsize your living space
Perhaps you’re living in a home or apartment that is more than you really need. Consider looking into downsizing your living space and save a considerable amount of money each month.
Not only will you save on rent, but you can save on water and utilities, too.
18. Make gifts
Is it just me or does it feel like you’re celebrating someone’s birthday almost every weekend?
Whether you’ve got tons of friends, a huge family, or both, the cost of birthday gifts can become a huge expense throughout the year. If you’ve got a knack for crafts, make gifts instead of buying them and save money throughout the year!
19. Make your own cleaning products
You can save a decent chunk of change every year when you take the time to make your own cleaning products.
The other amazing perk with making your own household products is that you can skip out on all those toxic, harmful chemicals store-bought products contain. You can create your own scents with essential oils or live herbs.
So, get creative and clean cheaper and cleaner!
20. Get an accountability partner
Have a friend who’s in the weeds too and wants to save on costs? Recruit them as your personal accountability partner (AP). Research has shown that openly admitting your goals to a specific AP can give you a 95% chance of actually achieving them!
Do daily check-ins and have them ask you what you spent your money on that day. Any non-essentials? Spontaneous shopping sprees? Etc.
The healthy pressure an AP brings can help keep you on course.
21. Unplug your stuff
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, by simply unplugging your unused appliances you can save around 10% on your electricity bill each month!
I put this into practice, particularly unplugging our AC unit when we weren’t using it, and we saw a $10 decrease on our monthly bill!
22. Sell your car
Now this is a pretty extreme option, but if you aren’t in need of your car, why have it?
Cars don’t only require gas to get around, but there’s also monthly car insurance dues and occasional maintenance fees (which can be in the thousands). You could pocket the money you earned selling your car and save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars each year!
23. Unsubscribe from newsletters
Do you tend to wake up in the morning, roll over, and check your emails on your phone? Let me guess, 9 out of 10 of those emails are trying to get you to buy something.Right?
The reason you get so many emails begging for your money is because it’s one of the most effective strategies to getting you to do just that. So, rather than leaving yourself to the wolves, unsubscribe from those newsletters and remove the temptation.
Though some companies quite frankly suck at removing you from their email list when you unsubscribe, it’s worth a shot. If the idea of going through all your subscriptions and unsubscribing sounds overwhelming, consider creating a new email address and removing your overloaded one from your phone (or deleting it altogether).
24. Consolidate your debts
This is a trick my husband and I have done on a few occasions in our get-out-of-debt journey. We took all of our credit card debt and consolidated it to one credit card with zero interest for 15 or 18 months!
That means for over a year every payment we made went straight to the principle and therefore we were able to pay them off so much faster!
By consolidating your debt you’ll also have less payments to manage, and possibly a cheaper payout over time. Take advantage of the perks that can come with consolidating your debt!
25. Sell your stuff
Have things laying around your house taking up space? Let them make some money for you.
Rather than letting your house become a storage unit, put your unused, unneeded pieces up for sale on EBay, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace!
Some people do this as a side gig and literally make thousands of dollars every year! Look around your house and see what you can get rid of today!
26. Lower the temp on your hot water heater
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, turning your water heater down to 120 degrees can save 6 to 10% on your water heating costs each year.
Turning down your hot water heater doesn’t mean you’ll be without a warm shower when you need it, it just means a lower bill!
27. Grow an edible garden
Do you have a green thumb? Turn that finger into a money-saving machine!
Instead of buying your produce, grow it! Start a garden in your backyard and save some cash. There are plenty of vegetables that are easy to grow all year round and you can save up to $600/year on grocery costs!
28. Stop shopping so much
Are you addicted to shopping? Do you find yourself at the store every weekend purchasing a new shirt for your evening outings?
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2017 the average American household spent $60,060 with an average income of $73,573 before taxes. That definitely leaves no room for saving, and sounds like the perfect scenario for getting (or staying) in debt!
This is probably one of the easiest ways to save money — just stop shopping so much. If there isn’t a real need to be shopping, don’t do it. Reuse what you have, borrow what you don’t have, and get creative with everything else!
29. Cut your own hair
My husband used to spend $30 per hair cut (including tip) two to four times per month. So, one Christmas I bought him his own pair of trimmers.
The trimmers cost me about $75, and he’s cut his own hair (with my help) ever since. This simple act has saved us up to $120/month!
Rather than going to the salon or barbershop to get your next trim, consider trying out your skills and doing it yourself. You might just save yourself a whole lot of money!
30. Do your own nails
This one’s for all you fancy ladies out there (and men who like a good pedi). Do your own nails!
There are so many fun DIY nail tools out there today that going to the nail salon is really not necessary anymore. Whether you want to create your own designs or use stick on nails that last, do it yaself!
31. Cut your own grass
The average lawn care service costs between $100 and $200 per month in America. Rather than forking out the big bucks, get on your tank top and flip flops, and cut the grass yourself!
You can save anywhere from $1,200 to $2,400 every year!
32. Clean your own pool
The average monthly pool service fee in America is $80 to $150 or about $960 to $1,800 yearly. Once again, DIY this service and save yourself the money!
33. Shop with a list
Far too often do I wander into grocery stores without a list in-hand to guide me. What results? I spend way more money than I ever intended to.
When you make a list you also are able to orchestrate it so you won’t waste any of your groceries by week’s end. Use recipes with crossover ingredients to develop your grocery list to ensure you’ll actually use what you buy.
The simple act of making a grocery list and following it can save you money and time.
34. Remove stored credit cards
According to a poll done by creditcards.com, about 94 MILLION Americans store their credit or debit card information online.
While this feature definitely is convenient (it’s saved me many times from needing to scrummage through my black hole of a purse), it can make online spending a little too easy.
After just a few screen taps you suddenly got yourself another few hundred dollars in debt — not what we want to do. So, if you’ve got stored credit card information online, remove them to keep yourself from spending a little too freely.
35. Buy the cheapest gas
Have you ever been at a gas station and glanced across the street to only realize you’re spending an extra $0.15/gallon?
Don’t be that guy anymore. Download an app like GasBuddy to help steer you to the cheapest gas station near you every time. This will save you money on transportation costs throughout the year!
36. Lyft your way to work
Why waste your commute when you can make money on your way to work?
As a driver for Lyft or Uber you can make extra money which can go toward your commute costs. What’s even better is now you can choose your destination and Lyft will pin you with riders who are going where you’re going. So you won’t have to worry about being late to work!
37. Buy in bulk
While buying in bulk might have a large upfront cost, over the long-term it can actually save you quite a bit of money.
Some experts say that buying in bulk can save you anywhere from 20% to 83% on your purchases! So, through the course of a year, buying in bulk can reduce your overall monthly spending substantially!
38. Use refillable water bottles
Go green and skip the plastic water bottle.
The average 24 pack of plastic water bottles costs about $4 to $7. Just imagine how much money you could save by making this simple change!
Plus, there are so many cute and functional refillable water bottles that keep your water cool, are easy to carry, and aren’t loud and crunchy like plastic.
39. Switch banks
My personal checking account was free when I was in college, but once I finished school I was required to start paying a monthly fee just to have it.
Why pay for a checking account when there are plenty of other options that give you the same service for free?
You can save anywhere from $70 to $240 each year by switching banks!
40. Designate “no-spend” days
If you’re having a hard time with getting your expenses down, consider designating a “no spend” day (or multiple days) each week. During these days you’re literally not allowed to spend any money.
Before implementing this challenge, you can observe your spending habits throughout the week and see which days you tend to spend more. Make one or all of those days “no spend” days.
NOTE: Just because you don’t spend on those particular days does not mean it’s okay to spend whatever you want the other days. The point is to reduce your spending, not increase or maintain your spending.
41. Check your fridge before shopping
Have you ever come home from grocery shopping only to find out you already had three cans of beans — yet you just bought two more cans?
Before you head out to grocery shop, don’t just make a list, but also check your refrigerator for what’s currently in stock.
You’ll save yourself money on unnecessary items and put to use what you already have.
42. Rent from the library
The public library is a not-so-hidden gem that gets overlooked far too often. Did you know the average city library has not just books for free rental, but have anything from movies to equipment to rent, too?
Check out your local libraries and see what secret goodies they might have for free rental! #MoneySaver
43. Make a budget
This may be the last thing you want to do, but making a budget is actually one of the best strategies you can use to cut your expenses.
When you create a budget you go over all of your expenses, your goals, and your wants, and you create a purpose for your income. You can give yourself specific amounts to spend each month (which helps you from overspending) and you get to see the short and long-term gains — like paying off your debts.
Creating a budget will help you get your money in order, so you can start managing your money, rather than letting it manage you.
44. Stop using credit cards
When I first started on my money management journey I was a serial credit card swiper. So, when my husband told me I needed to stop using them and rely solely on my debit card (meaning I had to have the cash available in order to make a purchase), I honestly freaked out a bit.
As scary or impossible as it might seem to go credit card free, it’s probably one of the best decisions you can make for your money.
When you ditch the credit cards and stick to cash or debit, you remove the opportunity to get further in debt, or spend on items you don’t need. It causes you to really start to thinking through every purchase you make and you begin to make smarter money decisions.
Give yourself the healthy challenge of going credit card free today!
45. Delay before purchasing
This is a tactic I highly recommend. Simply delay making purchases, giving yourself a few hours, or preferably for a few days to sit on it before you do. If those hours and days pass and you still think the purchase is a good idea — and you have the money for it — then go ahead.
More often than not you probably won’t make the purchase because you’ll realize you either don’t like it as much as you initially did, you’ll admit you don’t really need it, or you’ll discover you simply can’t afford it right now,
In the end, delaying purchases can save you from making poor money choices.
46. Don’t shop when you’re hungry
Probably one of the worst things you can do when it comes to grocery shopping is shop when you’re hungry. You’re almost guaranteeing that you’ll shop with your stomach and not your wallet. #NoBueno
Save yourself a good chunk of change by eating up before you head out for your next grocery run.
While this list is in no way exhaustive of all the creative ways to cut your expenses, it is a great launching pad.
I encourage you to take a look at your life, your spending habits and review your financial goals. If there is a will, there is a way, you just have to make the effort to change whatever’s necessary to get there.
What are creative ways you’ve cut your monthly expenses?