I personally can not wait for the two week break I get during the holidays as a public education teacher. One of the huge benefits about teaching – lots of holiday time!
My plans include visiting family, writing, working out and enjoying some leisure time. On a personal note, things are going well with the website and I plan on rolling out some awesome features in 2018, with more guest posts, inspirational stories and resources!!
Stay tuned for 2018 and thanks for reading as always. If you are someone who would like to guest post OR if you have a great topic idea just let me know. I am all in for what readers want to read.
Christmas spending in the winter months is expected to exceed 1 trillion this holiday season. I actually wrote a really cool post on how to save on Christmas spending in 9 steps here. Extra spending during the holiday season can make or break financial goals for 2018.
A Gallop Poll from 2009 looked at when American’s spend the most money. In summary, adults spend more on the weekends, more on pay day and on average men spend more than women (So all the shopping rumors are apparently false).
So with all the talk about spending, how does someone start to save? Read the 11 simple steps to save more each month here!
11 Easy Ways to Save Monthly
1 Cell Phone Expenses
Cell phone companies really, really want your business. So go get the best deal for your needs. Consider bundling with families to save on bill expenses. See if your work offers a discount, most companies do! Here is a link to the best cell phone plans for the year: 8 Best Cell Phone Plans.
Along with cell phone plans, consider actual cell phone expenses. The iPhone 10 is cool, but the 7+ isn’t bad either. With cell phone technology changing so rapidly, saving might be more important than keeping up with the latest gadget.
Netflix, Hulu, Firestick and online streaming is making the need for cable pretty much obsolete. Not to mention, you can save on average, $1200 annually by just eliminating your TV subscription. This is one of the simplest ways to cut monthly expenses.
Super Transparent Side Note: If you have consumer or student loan debt, TV subscriptions are not a necessity, they are a luxury. Read about what being Debt Free is like here if you need more convincing to get rid of your cable bill.
Big house, big car, lots of gas, you guessed the theme. I had a big truck, and it was costing me about $800 a month. In other words, my desire to keep up was costing me roughly $10,000 a year without maintenance. After taxes, this was 25% of my salary.
Now I drive a Kia Rio that I bought cash, my fuel and insurance combined are $160 a month. See the difference?
Consider riding a bike to work (Like my friend Cube at Abandon Cubicle does) if applicable, carpooling, or being resourceful. If you have a huge payment, I actually wrote about how liberating getting rid of my truck was here :).
4 Have a Plan & Budget
When you do need to buy – groceries, cars, cell phones, clothes, or whatever – have a plan ahead of time. Use this simple mindset with buying anything: All large expenses should be budgeted for months in advance. Small purchases should meet monthly expenditures.
I have what I call the GOOD Sheet (Get Out of Debt) here, which is a step by step budgeting system made simple. Check it out if your not on a budget, don’t worry, well over half of adults are not on some sort of budget!
5 Grocery Expenses
If you haven’t already read my meal prep and grocery saving post, check that out here – it is a great place to start. Quick tips in the meantime:
Try to keep meals all meals under $1.50 a person (so as a couple that would be $9 a day). At $9 a day for a couple, you can meet all your caloric needs, eat healthy and only spend $270 a month.
Make sure you have a cashback card for groceries and you set a personal limit. Always refer to #4, have a plan before you EVER step foot in a grocery store!
6 Eating Out
In 2015, the average adult was spending over $3,000 on restaurants and take out. In fact, the restaurant industry made more than the grocery industry from 2015 to 2016 . Simply put – stop wasting so much money eating out! If you are not in a desired financial spot, eating out too often can have alarming consequences.
I also know this easier said than done. Without prior proper planning, sometimes when you are on the go or in a bind, the eating out costs can quickly add up. Eliminating wasted spending on eating out can save you hundreds every month.
Try meal planning, using Pinterest for copycat recipes of your favorite restaurants, and use bargain shopping when you do decide to eat out. We use our credit card reward points on gift cards to treat ourselves every so often.
7 Shop Smarter
Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack? Macies or TJ Maxx? New or Used? You catch my trend right?
I personally have never had someone ask me if my dress shirt was from the designer retailer or a Tj Maxx type store. Much like having a plan before you shop, consider going to overstock type stores.
Got a dress up type event and need a suite? Consider checking out thrift stores. You can find some super original stuff from thrift stores. Just be conscious and know when to shop for the necessary clothes.
With regards to kids, realize they grow out of everything very quickly. Keep that in mind before you buy a toddler designer sneakers!
Insurance, whether it’s auto, home, or health, is a necessary…. but costly expense. Consider shopping around every so often to see if you can significantly lower your auto or home rates. We bundled our coverage and got a nice savings for being married.
If you are 25, now is the time to look into auto coverage! Also, if you are married, sometimes it’s cheaper to stay on individual health plans instead of combining, we saved $150 a month by NOT combining our coverage.
9 Cancel Emails & Throw Away Junk Mail
Do not be tempted by the junk mail and the “You can save so much money if you just shop at my store in the next two days,” emails that pile up in your inbox. This is exactly why consumer debt has reached an all time high.
Consumerism is all around us, making it easier to say YES then it is NO. When you check your mail, throw away the Express magazine your wife gets every week, don’t even bring it in. If you’re a lady and reading this, go through your inbox and mark any retail store email as spam.
BOOM – I may have just saved you lots!
10 Gym Membership
If you a gym rat (like myself for a long time) this might come as a shock: Consider canceling your overpriced luxury gym membership.
Much like the internet crushing retail stores, the internet is also full of daily workout videos, meal planning resources and just about everything in between. Gyms sell the most memberships in January (of course they do) and within 5 months most have quit going.
Only 50% of gym members are active users. Be resourceful, find leisure activities, and see if you can use a HOA gym nearby if you don’t have one!
11 Evaluate Utilities & Usage
Utilities are interesting. You cut your cable bill, reduced your internet, now you are stuck with water, gas and electric, or at least two of the three. Consider getting on a budgeting plan, that way you don’t have peaks in the winter and summer months.
Additionally, see if you can improve your efficiency and usage. Turn off lights, take quicker showers, don’t water your lawn daily. Seems silly, but over the long run you could save huge!
I can write about this because we did all of these 11 steps and some. Seriously… all of them. While at first it might seem extreme, I mean no cable TV and gym membership, how could someone possible survive. But trust me when I say this – it is actually super liberating.
People ask all the time how we paid off so much of our student loans. Well when you are putting 60%+ of your cash flow towards your debt, it really isn’t that hard. Once you get on a budget, cut back on spending, and realize how much money you have at the end of the month, you can really do some damage to that debt or save for the future.
If you have don’t most of these and are looking to leg up on savings or debt, read this older but super unique post about how you can wash debt with debt and create your own bank here: HELOC & Equity