How We’ve Cut Our Budget

While we haven’t found many new ways to cut some expenses out of our lives, there are many things that we have done. Every little bit adds up.

One thing that I don’t like when people talk about budgets is when they say “cut out the Starbucks everyday”, while I’m not a major Starbucks drinker (I get migraines from coffee and too much caffeine), if someone could do this, then they would’ve done this already (hopefully). I don’t think I have too many daily habits, so cutting something out everyday like Starbucks won’t work anymore.  The things that I have done are realistic for me.

Ways that we have lowered our budget:

  1. Stop Eating out as much- We have significantly lowered our eating out budget. We used to spend more than $1,000 on food every month. It was ridiculous. I am extremely ashamed by this number, and that’s the reason that I haven’t listed this number too many times on my blog. You can find the exact number that we used to spend by searching blog posts, but I feel stupid sharing it directly. We would eat out everyday (breakfast, lunch and dinner). I hardly ever cooked.
    • We used to have exact opposite schedules (whereas now are schedules are still off, but before, he would start work when I was going to bed) so this made it harder for us to eat meals because we were so busy that we would always eat on the go.
    • Now we find time to cook and have fun with it!
    • I’m going to guess that we’re saving around $800 per month now.
    • When we do go out, we try and use a Restaurant.com, even though we tend to go to a lot of Mexican restaurants, but hey they’re cheap!
  2. Meal Plan -This has helped us save money by having less food spoilage, and has also helped us save time. We are also more aware of what we already have at the house, and then we can plan meals more easily around what we already have. This coupled with above has saved us a lot of money.
  3. Cut our entertainment expense - Long gone are the days when we would spend tons on entertainment. We still spend some, but we are saving a lot.
  4. Lower Cell phone Plan -I recently lowered our cell phone by around $10 a month. Not a significant savings, but at $120 a year, it adds up. Also, we haven’t limited our phone usage by doing this. We had almost 6,000 rollover minutes, so obviously we weren’t calling people enough. And, I just checked our usage, and our plan is still too high for us, but now we are on the lowest plan, so there’s no more cutting in this area.
  5. Stop buying new cars -After I pay off my car loan in the next couple of days, I will have around $400 extra per month. What a great feeling!
  6. Unplug and watch electricity usage - We have greatly watched our electricity usage, and it used to be around $100 a month, but now it’s less than $50 nearly every month (except in the summer time). I’m going to guess our savings are around $300 per year.
  7. Lower Cable package -  We lowed our package. I can’t remember exactly how much this saved us, but I think it was $24 a month. We ordered HBO back because we were sad without TrueBlood, Boardwalk Empire, etc, so this added an extra $15 to our bill every month. Savings of $108 per year.
  8. We canceled Blockbuster Express – while it was only around $15 a month, we weren’t using it. Waiting for a movie to get to our door was too long.
  9. Car Insurance – I increased our deductible and save a couple hundred every year. Our car insurance rates are already extremely low (Less than $400 every 6 months for my fully-covered 2008 car) and I’ve never been in an at-fault accident, so I lowered it.
By doing these things, we have cut out approximately:
$15,308 per year or $1,276 per month

All of the things above are going to sound materialistic, but it’s true.  We were definitely wasting money before, but thankfully that did not go on for too long.  The majority of our budget killers were food and my car. I’m so happy that’s over with!

And another thing to add to this! When I got home last night, I noticed a bunch of letters from our mortgage lender and it turns out that they over charged us $270 last year (they sent us a letter last year saying that they were undercharging us, but it turned out that they were wrong), and we got another letter saying that our mortgage payment is being lowered by $64 a month! WHOO HOO

Even with all of these ways that we cut our budget, we are still living the exact same lives. We aren’t any less happy, more sad, or anything else. We are also much healthier now that we have been eating at home.

Since we have all of these savings every month, I am able to pay down my student loan debt faster, whereas before I barely even touched it.

In the next couple of days I plan on posting ways that we could possibly continue to cut, so watch out for that!

What could you cut out?

Comments

  1. Lekker Leven Met Min says

    The easiest way to save is on groceries. If we go out, we would pay more for one evening than we would for an entire week's worth of groceries. I think $1276 per month in savings is incredible, keep up the good work!

  2. Lekker Leven Met Min says

    O, and I just try to focus on the necessities. So no readymade meals, no extreme amount of candy and chocolate, no stuff I don't need. That saves a lot already.

  3. Live Simply- Live We says

    Way to go that's awesome! We could do so much better on the food side, I know that. I really need to menu plan to prevent over buying and waste. You inspired me, I am going to do it this week.

  4. Stephanie says

    Wow, good job!! We've definitely managed to cut back in some areas, but not $15k/year!! We cut back our satellite package when we realized we were paying an extra $15/month to watch 13 episodes of Doctor Who and 13 episodes of Mad Men (assuming there wasn't a contract dispute that year!) each year. We FINALLY sent in the paperwork for a 15% discount on our cell phone plan that my husband is eligible for through his job. We switched from DSL to cable internet and ditched our land line, for a savings of about $10/month. All little numbers, but we don't even have to sacrifice anything lifestyle-wise and it adds up!

  5. Maldivian Finance Bl says

    Since we started our final year, it is really hard to keep up with our food budget. Working 8 hours + 4 hour classes is really exhausting and you have no will power to cook.But I know that I have to work on my food spending before we completely get washed our budget.This post inspired me to look back and stick with the limits.

  6. Emmalee says

    Great tips!! Thanks for sharing them. My husband and I have had to cut out the Sbux drinks, and we have it in our budget to only eat out 4 times a month. Those little costs add up so fast!

  7. Lauren says

    Food is a huge thing for us too! Eating in has saved us hundreds every month, and is better for our child who is now eating table food with us. We've also cancelled Netflix that we weren't using which was $26/mo and lowered our gym membership costs from $50/mo to $20/mo… It def adds up! We are able to pay the $700/mo in daycare without it affecting anything else in our household just by making those simple changes.

  8. Alex M says

    We started out just the same way as you did — and we learned just like you have. Good Job!We have cut most of what can be cut and I haven't belonged to a gym in years (my dog sees to that need). Hubby is a spinning instructor so he gets a free gym membership — and his 50 buck pay there each week goes directly to savings. One big thing is paying our bills the day they come in. No more juggling payments and no more mystery. Once you get your spending under control this isn't very hard to do.One place we could be doing better, is our water consumption. I would like to see our water bill lowered by $100. It means following hubby around and turning off faucets.

  9. McVal says

    Good deal on that mortgage thing!!!If I could cut something out, it would be probably a few kids and a mother-in-law. They're draining us. But since that's out… I guess I'd fix the drippy faucets and start saving a little bit.Then try to cut some on groceries, but that's going to be a challenge.

  10. Brittany says

    Thanks for sharing this! I know we defintely eat out way too mcuh, probably as much as you mentioned. We always thought it was earier just to go through a fast food than take the time to cook, but we recently have been cooking more. Now I just need to come up with a menu plan to stay on schedule!

  11. AaReAn says

    oh my gosh it is amazing how things add up! What a great post…I think it was totally meant to be that I read this b/c josh and I were just talking about "cleaning up our budget" which in his terms means cut things out haha. I will agree eating out is a huge one! So I have been trying extra hard to make a list and grocery shop so that I have food to cook for dinner rather then resort to going out! It really has saved a lot! Such a great post!

  12. working.for.money says

    Wow, that's some good cost savings. Nice job. A few months ago we reviewed our auto/home insurance and ended up getting new policies and save almost $1000 year with almost the same coverage. I couldn't believe how much we were overpaying!

  13. Becky R says

    Continue to make a car payment, if you still pay the $400 a month in a savings account you will always have money for car repairs and maintanance (which you need.) Or you can replace your car. If you do this every month that will be $4,800 a year. Minus $1,800 for repairs and maintanance, you will have $3,000 left each year. After 5 years you can buy another car for $15,000 without paying a penny in interest!!!Every time you drive your car you are using it up, so this needs to be in the budget.

  14. Meagan Murtagh says

    thank god i found your blog! everyone needs finance help once in a while and all of these things are brilliant. i find that i spend most of my money on going out to eat and cocktails, my wallet and waist-line could both use a break!

  15. Amanda says

    Amazing tips! I think that the eating out think definitely ups the amount of money we spend per month. But even just this past weekend we made breakfast and lunch instead of going out to eat. Also, you mentioned you took surveys for extra cash? How do you sign up to do stuff like that?

  16. Michelle says

    I feel like I've been looking for this blog since I've started blogging. I need money-saving tips so bad. You'll see me creeping everyday!!

  17. Kris @ Simple Island says

    I'm feeling you on the food budget. My husband and I had opposite schedules too – so our grocery budget was $400, our restaurant budget was a $400 and hi swine budget was $400 (he's a sommelier and is studying for exams – which means he needs to taste wines twice a week. It's very expensive.) Needless to say, $1200 on food and alcohol every month is a money suck! Obviously with our current situation we've had to reevaluate…a lot. le sigh.

  18. House of Sykes says

    We are living about as frugal as we possibly can, BUT – my husband was offered a job with a new company yesterday. This will give him CONSIDERABLY more than what he makes now, so our lives are about to take a MAJOR turn. We are now on track to be debt free by June, instead of December. We will have to reevaluate our finances after that and start figuring out what to do with the extra income. Super exciting stuff!

  19. Amanda says

    These tips are great. My biggest problem is eating out for lunch a lot! I really need to start planning lunches to bring to work. Going out is just so convenient!

  20. Mrs. Jennifer Lynn says

    I can never seem to plan our meals. I just go by what we are all craving that day and a lot does go to waste..

  21. Jamie says

    Thank you for these great tips! We meal plan and noticed how much money we have saved versus eating out. We also cancelled our cable and just have Hulu plus now, which is only $14 a month compared to $50. If you don't mind me asking, how much money per week to you spend on groceries. Because we don't eat out that much I have seen our grocery bill go up.

    • Michelle P says

      Right now we spend around $50-75 a week on groceries. We still eat out (the BF gets fast food everyday, but it's cheap). We spend around $500 on food altogether (this is kind of meshed in with our entertainment budget).

  22. anexactinglife says

    I definitely find that groceries, restaurant meals and utilities are the best places to cut, and it's good for the environment, too. My weaknesses are magazines, music and concert tickets!

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