If you've been around here for awhile, you know that my husband and I are on a journey to financial freedom. It's hard, and it's long, and some days it seems like there's no end in sight. But we ARE making progress, little by little, and I know it's going to be worth it in the end!
I was inspired by this post to make a list of things we skip to save some money. I hope it inspires you to take a look at your own lifestyle and where you might be able to trim, if you too are trying to get out of debt or save for something big!
- Cable: we use an antenna to get all the local channels, Netflix for binge watching and movies, and my parents' Comcast login to watch live TV on AppleTV :) We used to have Amazon Prime and could watch Prime Instant Video, but we decided to not renew it. So far, we don't miss it! Except that one time I REALLY wanted to watch Zorro, and was sad to see that it was on Amazon Instant Video. But lo and behold, it was also at the library, for free! I had to wait a few days for my hold to come in, but still - free! Patience pays off :)
- Bottled water: I did a research report in college that showed how similar bottled water is to tap water (spoiler alert: there is really NO difference), and I've always preferred the taste of tap over bottled anyway. Bonus: less waste!
- Mani/pedis: I just paint my nails at home!
- Haircuts/color: I get my hair cut once or twice a year, and don't color it - which usually needs to be refreshed often.
- Cleaning supplies: don't get me wrong - I DO clean my house! It's just that the cleaning supply companies are reallllly good at convincing us we need 18 different products to clean our house. Dusting spray! Glass cleaner! Shower cleaner! Countertop cleaner! Door knob cleaner! It's all so unnecessary. I'm still using up some various old products that we have left, but for the most part we use a cleaning solution of vinegar and water. Vinegar is $2 for a gallon at the grocery store - CHEAP! And it does everything I need it to do. For wood, I made up a solution of water, olive oil and lemon essential oil. The olive oil seals the wood - no Pledge necessary!
- Perfume/cologne: I've just never worn it! Essential oils rubbed behind my ears do in a pinch.
- Disposable diapers: I did a whole post about how we cloth diaper, and suffice it to say it has saved us SO much money!
- Carwashes/detailing: other than one wash after the winter to rinse all the salt off, we skip carwashes and car detailing. We'll vacuum the cars out in the driveway of our house and hope the rain rinses the dirt away. And since we don't buy new cars (see #21) we don't really care!
- Fabric softener: This might seem silly, but we don't use fabric softener. You can't use it on cloth diapers, and it's really unnecessary overall.
- Separate toiletries: this might seem weird, but Matt and I use all the same brands of products, for the most part. I mean we have separate deodorant and toothbrushes obviously, but we use the same of everything else. We share a tube of toothpaste. We both use the same shampoo + bodywash, which is actually the one we use for Xavier as well (three cheers for The Honest Company!) It helps a ton to not have to buy 8 different products that all do essentially the same thing.
- Books + movies: use the library! We typically don't buy books or DVDs. Sometimes we'll rent a movie on Amazon for a cheap date night (although we just remembered RedBox, which has a kiosk RIGHT by our house, and is only $1.61!), and we get books from the library fo' free.
- Subscriptions: no Birchbox, Rocksbox, Hulu, Dollar Shave Club, PrimePantry, Stitchfix or things like that. We share our Netflix account with my parents, who pay for it (thanks, mom and dad!) We do pay for a Spotify subscription, that is the only exception. Okay, and we also get a monthly bundle of products from The Honest Company - like our shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, laundry detergent and other essentials. You save a bunch of money by doing a monthly bundle, and when I priced it out ordering from there vs. getting everything at the grocery store, it was much cheaper. Other than that, we don't do any of those subscription services. We just buy what we need, when we need it and don't have things sent automatically to us.
- Highest speed internet: we have the lowest speed internet, and it works perfectly fine. I work from home on the internet all day, and when Matt is home we often have both our phones, an iPad and AppleTV streaming all at once. Totally doable!
- Landscaping: we mow our own lawn, plant our own flowers, rake our own leaves, shovel our own snow.
- Individually packaged food: it's true what they say - bulk food is WAY cheaper. A big jar of applesauce is way cheaper than the 6-pack of individually packaged ones. "But what about taking it to work for lunch?" you say? Buy a set of Gladware and you're good to go :) You are literally paying for stuff you throw away when you buy individually packaged things, and the extra five minutes to put it into a container myself isn't worth the cost!
- Fanciest/newest cell phone: okay I feel phony saying this since I JUST bought a new iPhone (mine broke), but for the most part we only upgrade our phones when they die. We don't rush out for a new phone the minute a new one is released. We also buy the smallest data size. I don't keep music on my phone, only have the apps I need + use, and clear out my camera roll once a week, so the smallest gb size works just fine!
- Alcohol when dining out: although we enjoy a glass of wine or a good beer, we rarely order alcohol when dining out. It racks up the bill fast!
- Disposable kitchen stuff: We don't get paper plates or any of that. We use our actual, ceramic dishware for all our meals and wash it. We're in the process of cutting down on our paper towel usage as well, and I'd like to cut out plastic bags (like ziploc bags) down the road, too. Reuse, reuse, reuse! Better for the environment and your wallet.
- Hiring out services: we pretty much do all the things around our house ourselves. We don't have a housekeeper, and we recently decided to spray for pests each season ourselves, too. When possible, we fix things on our cars ourself (YouTube is a wealth of information) and when things need fixing around the house, we try to do them ourselves. Case in point: our washing machine was recently pausing mid-cycle. We had a repairman come, who fixed it for $75 and told us it was pausing because sediment from our broken water softener was building up. Matt watched him fix it, and the next time the washer started pausing mid-cycle, he was able to replicate what the repair guy did and save the $75.
- Shopping: this might seem obvious, but when you're trying to save money, that last thing you should be doing is shopping for fun. We go to the store when we need something. I go to Amazon when I need something. I don't go to Target or Hobby Lobby or Meijer when I'm bored, because that's a recipe for a blown budget.
- New cars: this might not work for everyone, but we don't buy new cars. Cars depreciate the minute you drive off the lot. As long as it can safely + reliably get me from point a to point b, that's all I need. I don't need bluetooth or built-in GPS or heated seats. Last summer, when both our cars needed replacing, we bought a used Ford Focus and a Honda CR-V. We spent a little over $10,000 combined for both. The Focus had like 80,000 miles on it and the CR-V had 160,000. But both were in good shape, were good on gas and had good consumer reviews for the year, make and model. Bonus? If something happens to your new-to-you-car, you're less upset. One week after buying my car, and minutes after picking it up from the mechanic where it had a few minor things fixed, I was rear-ended. I was totally fine, but my back rear bumper was totally crunched. Thankfully, the damage didn't affect the driving - it was all cosmetic. But since it wasn't my fault, my insurance was going to pay to get it fixed. However, my insurance does a cash out - meaning I pay to fix the damage, then they send me a check to reimburse me for the amount. Since it was a used car and I don't care about looks (and because we were having a baby in two months!) we just deposited the $1800 check from insurance into our savings account, and my back bumper is still crunched. Had it been a brand-spankin'-new CR-V that had been hit, I most likely would have paid to fix it.
HERE ARE SOME OTHER MONEY-SAVING TIPS + TRICKS:
- Use grocery points for gas | if your grocery store has a loyalty card where you earn points that translate into cents off gas, USE IT! We shop at Kroger and share a loyalty card with my mother-in-law, and we often get 90 cents or even a dollar off gas! Pro tip: take both your cars to fill up at once when you have cents off. You can usually only use the discount for one single transaction, meaning as long as you don't put the handle back down between cars, you can fill both :) It takes a little coordination - someone has to hold the pump while the other moves the cars - but it's worth the hassle + weird looks from strangers to fill up two tanks for $25!
- Amazon Prime | things are often MUCH cheaper on Amazon Prime than in stores, even WalMart! And you can't beat the free two-day shipping. I typically hop on Amazon to price check anything we're thinking about purchasing to see if it's cheapest there or not.
- Check the per unit price | my mama taught me this trick when I was younger. At the grocery store, on the label advertising the price, there is often, in very tiny print, a "per unit" price listed. So a small size bag of chips might be $3.99, but the per unit price is $0.59 vs. $0.42 for a bigger bag. The key is to not get sucked into buying things you won't actually use just because it has a cheaper per unit price. But if it's something you know you'll use and not waste, it might be worth it to buy the bigger size, since you're actually spending less per unit. Which brings me to my next point..
- Buy in bulk | again, buying in bulk might not be the best option for some things. To be honest, we haven't gone to Costco in months. But we plan to get back to it, and only buy things we KNOW we will use and won't go bad. For example, on our next Costco trip, we plan to buy toilet paper, paper towels, bulk nuts, almond butter, olive oil, frozen veggies and fruit, dry goods (like rice, flour, etc.)
- Save your change | We add all of our change to a jar, and cash it in whenever the jar is full. We put all that money towards "adventures", so we can go hiking or take a day trip or even an overnight trip, without adjusting our regular budget! Those nickels and dimes add up FAST. Plus, it will never get old to take the jar to the bank and watch it turn into dollar bills. It makes me feel like a little kid again!
What are your other tips and tricks? Besides extreme couponing, haha. Is there anything you do or skip to save? I'm all ears!!