Cutting cost to save money without cutting out the things you love is possible and should be the goal of every budget. In this article, we will cover ten ways for you to save money and pay off your debt in no time.
Here at Empty Nestin’, we firmly believe that a budget is a reward system that helps us to:
- appreciate all the small things
- realize that when we go off track, we can recover
- and encourages us to think big!
It allows us to set bigger and bigger goals because we have documented the successes of our decisions.
If your current goal is to reduce debt, increase your savings, or save up for a dream you have, here are 10 ways to help you find money that will help you to accomplish those goals that we used on our debt free journey.
10 ways you can save money and get a little more out of your budget:
Below is the way that we cut over $2,000 worth of monthly expenses. These small changes account for roughly 24% of our debt pay off.
These small changes are perfect examples of how the seemingly small things really add up and make a big impact on your budget.
If you are ready to start getting your finances in order, please use the list below to inspire you to make small changes that make a big difference.
When we were in the process of paying off our debt, our primary focus was to make sustainable financial decisions. We sought out ways that we could reduce costs without reducing our quality of life. Our focus was not solely on paying off the debt.
Our focus was to adopt money habits that healed our money mindset. Our focus was to improve our relationship with money. Paying off our debt was just the byproduct of being engaged in our money decisions.
For us, we viewed the debt pay off process as a lifestyle change rather than a diet.
|Shop around for insurance||$115|
|Refinanced our mortgage||$93|
|Cancel Unused Monthly and Annual Subscriptions||$55|
|Internet Service Plan Evaluation||$50|
|Cell Phone Plan Evaluation||$150|
|Electric Bill Rate Review||$10|
|Start Buying Groceries (or at least more groceries)||$200|
|Quit Habits That Hurt||$400|
|Review Payroll Withholdings||$1,024|
1. Shop Around for Insurance
Insurance is a necessary expense that can be quite costly. Just remember that insurance is a business of competition. The cost difference from one insurer to another can be drastic.
When we were evaluating our budget, our focus was on reducing costs without giving up everything.
The question was: How can we get the same thing for less?
Insurance is a great place to start.
We received a mailer that said if we switched insurance providers, we could save ONE MILLION DOLLARS. (Okay, that may be an exaggeration).
Sometimes these savings are too good to be true, but if you want to save money, a call is a time investment with a significant opportunity for reward. Our call to Liberty Mutual really paid off.
We purchased the same amount of coverage with the same deductibles that we had with State Farm and saved $1,380 a year. One twenty-minute phone call paid enormous dividends.
Monthly Savings: $115
2. Refinance Your Mortgage
A mortgage refinance is a process that costs money and has so many requirements for savings. Finding a cost-benefit is sometimes challenging. When successful, it can make a substantial difference in your monthly financial health.
It took us years to be in the right location to refinance. We purchased our home during the housing bubble. When it popped, our equity disappeared. For years we owed thousands more than its current value.
In early 2018 we decided to revisit the refinancing option. Interest rates were still low, but on the rise, and home values were increasing steadily. Sometimes timing is indeed everything.
Our refinance helped us cut $90 from our monthly budget without increasing the term of the loan. We were able to reduce our interest rate by 1.47%.
Monthly Savings: $93
3. Cancel Unused Monthly and Annual Subscriptions
Subscriptions can really get out of control. Sometimes we end up with so many subscriptions, we do not have the time available to enjoy them, or we make a purchase and forget that it comes with an annual fee.
We reviewed our subscriptions and found that Hulu was only used a few times a month, we had an airline miles card that had “benefits” we were not using, and Ancestry.com was a costly subscription that we were no longer using since I hit a roadblock in my research.
Monthly Savings: $55
4. Internet Service Plan Evaluation
My obsession with streaming TV anytime I am at home was really costing us. It is the noise! For some reason, I cannot stand silence and having the TV nonstop streaming Netflix or YouTube is “my thing.” Well, “my thing” was costing us $150 a month.
A phone call to our internet service provider quickly revealed that we were overpaying. Apparently “my thing” was costing us $50 a month more than we needed to pay. This downgrade in our plan has been a time stealer that I honestly don’t even notice.
Our internet now takes 10.8 seconds to download a 45-minute iTunes show where our old plan only took 7.8 seconds. Bummer!
Monthly Savings: $50
5. Cell Phone Plan Evaluation
Complacency is a killer!
The moment that you realize that the theft of your time, your money, is complacency, is the moment in which a fire starts within you.
It is that moment that you dig deep and find out that you are paying more for services than you should.
The beauty of capitalism is that it requires businesses to compete for your business. Competition holds true in the cell phone industry. They are always coming out with a bigger and better plan to retain customers and attract new customers.
Remember when you would pay roaming fees? Overage fees for minutes? Go back further – – – LONG DISTANCE?
Times change, and the cell phone industry is ever changing. Take a few minutes to reach out to your provider or log into your account online and make sure you are on the best plan for your cell phone needs.
Within minutes we reduced our monthly bill by enrolling in the latest unlimited plan. Changing our plan not only saved us money, but it also eliminated the intrusive warning and overage messages we were ignoring.
We also followed up with our adult daughter and let her know that the time had come that she needed to pay her phone bill and for her iPhone.
Monthly Savings: $150
6. Electric Bill Rate Review
You may be able to save money on your monthly electric bill without conserving energy.
Although the electric utility industry is non-competitive in most states, and you cannot shop around, you may be surprised to find out that many electric companies offer various rate schedules that can save you money.
Depending on your energy needs, you may be paying too much money for the power you use. The best way to find out what pricing options are available to you is to call your electric provider.
We found that as our energy consumption went down due to our children moving out, the plan that we participated no longer worked for us. The plan’s design is for energy consumers that consumed a considerable amount of energy.
We called our electric company, and they recommended that we unenroll in their time of use program and switch to their standard rate. A quick change provided us with the freedom to dry our clothes when we wanted to and saved us about $10 a month.
Estimated Monthly Savings: $10
7. Start Buying Groceries (or at least more groceries)
Groceries are cheaper than eating out. Period! With the excessive amounts of “Value Meal” advertising out there, it is easy to fall into the trap that fast food doesn’t really cost that much, and the convenience is priceless.
When time is money, the faster, the better – – right?
This is a hard one for us to calculate the impact on our budget. In our infinite wisdom, we had gradually worked our way into a lifestyle that was fed by fast food.
When we totaled up all of our expenses for a three-month period when we started the budgeting process, we had the ah-ha moment that we were averaging $700 a month on eating out.
When we were knocking out our debt we set a $500 a month consumable budget which covers our groceries, paper goods, personal care, etc.
Minimum Monthly Savings: $200
8. Quit Habits That Hurt You
This one goes so far beyond your financial health. This one is your emotional health and possibly your physical health too. Unfortunately, we all have vices. A habit that we develop that starts out providing gratification.
Some are addicted to clothes shopping while others have habits that cause pain.
One of the unexpected realities of getting your financial house in order is that it the “wins” provide courage to face other obstacles that you have created in your life.
The outcome that we experienced in our home was our desire to live increased and our desire to rebel against the world with our smoking decreased. That’s right. It was time to kick the habit that we started as kids. We became non-smokers!
It is something that we still think of every day. The thought of smoking is always there, yet the desire to live makes the cravings undesirable.
Monthly Savings: $400
9. Review Payroll Withholdings
Payroll withholdings are often an overlooked expense since it is one that we often overlook. Automatic deposits reduce our visibility to what is taking place before you have a dime to spend. One of the unnecessary expenses is having too much withheld for income taxes.
So, if you’re getting a sizable refund just about every year, you may be having too much held out of your paycheck. This is a perfect topic for you to discuss with your tax advisor.
That is why they make the big bucks!
If you are focusing on paying on debt, you may wish to reevaluate your 401k contribution. When we were in the throes of paying off our debt, we reduced our withholdings to match our employer’s match.
Reducing our 401k contribution was one of the hardest changes that we had to make to pay our off our debt quickly since it was the ONLY financial habit we had that made us feel responsible. Making this change solidified our commitment to our decision to pay off our debt.
At times of doubt, our reduction in our contribution was the voice that kept us focused. We had the goal in mind that as soon as the debt was gone, we would be able to increase our 401k contributions.
Monthly “Savings”: $1,024
10. Canceled Amazon Auto Ship Subscriptions
Say goodbye to Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” program. “Subscribe and Save” is a super convenient program that allows you to shop for your “necessities” blindly. For us, I found myself drowning in “necessities.” Before I knew it, I was storing a year supply of toilet paper, dog treats, and Lysol wipes, to name a few.
In my “frugality” to save 15% on my purchases, I ended up purchasing in excess at prices that changed regularly. There was a time that we ended up with so many packages of Tide Booster Packs, that they became a door prize at our house.
“Have you tried Tide’s Booster Packs? No. Well here’s a pack. I messed up my Amazon order, and I have way more than we will ever be able to use.”
Monthly Savings: We started only buying things we need!