As you go through your week, how many items are you paying for needlessly? How many times have you eaten dinner out instead of cooking at home? How many subscriptions are you paying for that you never use? Chances are, there may be ways to save money that you haven’t thought of yet. Here are just a few ideas to get you started on reducing your monthly expenses:
1) Make Your Meals & Coffee at Home
We get it, everybody is busy these days. Sometimes the easiest solution when you’re hungry is to order in or just grab something from the drive-through, but imagine the money you’ll save by simply taking your lunch to work with you that you made from home! Eating out on a regular basis adds up quickly.
As far as your morning (or afternoon!) coffee is concerned, did you know the average cup of coffee is $2.99? That may seem low, but if you buy your coffee every day, you’re spending over $1,000 per year just on coffee. If you buy a big tub of coffee grounds and make your coffee at home, each cup will only cost you a few pennies.
2) Buy Generic Brands and Buy in Bulk
Labels are just labels. Whether it’s clothes or food at the grocery store, in most cases there are very small differences (if any) between the generic brand and the national well-known brand.
This is especially true for products like over-the-counter medicine. Did you know the bottle of generic Ibuprofen sold under the brand of your grocery store chain has the exact same active ingredients as Advil? It’s true, and it costs less.
On a similar note, you can often find discounts for buying in bulk. For example, one box of Puff’s tissues costs about $2.49 at the grocery store, while a pack of three boxes costs about $6. If you bought three boxes individually over the course of a few months, you’d spend $1.50 more than if you just bought the three-pack and stored it away until you needed it. That’s one small example, but imagine if you did that for everything!
3) Hit the Dollar Store
Speaking of generic labels that have the same or very similar quality – the Dollar Store and other discount grocery outlets have a lot of what you might find at Target or the grocery store at amazing prices. There’s always a good deal to be found at these stores, whether it’s cleaning supplies, home goods, and even food. In fact, they often sell the same brands as your local grocery store, but cheaper. One example is Dawn dish soap. We checked a grocery store’s website as well as a dollar store’s website and found that the same exact product is .29 cents more at the grocery store.
4) Change Phone & Cable Providers
With the rise of LTE and 5G, cell phone providers have gotten more competitive. Here’s a little pro-tip: smaller cell phone providers are often owned by the larger ones – so the networks are the same. Boost Mobile is owned by Sprint, and so on.
Similarly, cable/internet companies don’t want to lose you to their competitors, so they might be willing to offer you a discount if you’ve been with them for a while and are considering leaving. If they don’t offer you a discount, poke around and see what their competitors are offering in your area. The service is often highly comparable and it might be a great way to save a few dollars each month.
5) Limit Your Streaming Subscriptions
Streaming subscriptions were initially created to be an “a la carte” option for fed-up cable TV customers who’d like to just pick and choose the channels they wanted to watch. In theory, it was a great idea. But unfortunately, whereas in the early 2010s there were just a handful of companies like Netflix offering streaming services, currently there are dozens of streaming services available!
A lot of them are super affordable (about $10 per month), and that’s great – however, when you’re paying for half a dozen streaming services a month, the costs add up! So take stock of your current subscriptions and ask yourself, do I use this enough to justify the cost? Do I need Spotify AND Apple Music? Do I need Netflix AND Hulu? Pick the ones you use the most, and ditch the rest.
6) Carpool or Use Public Transportation
One of the easiest and most fun ways to cut back is to carpool with friends, family, and coworkers. Carpooling (or using public transportation) has many immediate benefits, such as less wear and tear on your vehicle, getting to use the carpool lane, and generally helping the environment. You’ll save money by filling your tank less often, getting fewer oil changes, and requiring less car maintenance – and if you take turns, you’ll help your friends do the same.
If public transportation is available in your area, even better! Bus passes can differ greatly depending on where you live, but chances are it may be cheaper than paying for your own transportation.
7) Exchange Your Gym Membership for Home Equipment
Gym memberships can be expensive. Just like eating out for dinner, you will always save money by doing it at home. You can find discounted gym equipment at dollar stores, on Amazon, or even by searching through local listings, like on Facebook Marketplace.
If you want to keep your gym membership, look around your area for discounts and cheaper gyms than the one you’ve been paying for, or see if you qualify for a discounted YMCA membership.
8) Unplug Unused Devices and Adjust Your Thermostat
Every device or appliance that you have plugged in draws a tiny bit of power even when it’s turned off – and if you have dozens of these devices plugged in at any time throughout your home, that can slowly add up to a much bigger electric bill than you’d realize! So our advice here is simple: unplug what you don’t use!
Need a smart way to save a few bucks this summer when it gets really hot out? Consider adjusting your thermostat to the 73-75 degree range in summer. Turn on the fans and dress for the weather. If you’re used to a temperature closer to 70 degrees, sure, your body will take a day or so to get used to the new indoor temperature, but the savings you’ll see on your electric bill will make you feel amazing!
9) Consolidate Your Debts
If you’re finding paying off multiple loans or credit cards, one of the smartest things you can do to save money and to get out of debt is to consolidate it with a debt consolidation loan or a 0% interest balance-transfer credit card.
If your consolidation loan’s interest rate is lower than your current credit card interest rates, not only will your overall debt shrink at a much faster rate, you also could be paying much less over time in interest! It’s similar in theory to refinancing your car loan – don’t be afraid to chase after great interest rates in these types of situations!
10) Exchange Overdraft Fees and Payday Loans for Early Wage Access
And finally, here’s a great option you may not have known about: earned wage access.
When you’re running short on cash between paydays, it can be tempting to take out a loan or to add to your credit card debt. If your employer offers Rain, you can access some of your paycheck a bit early, instead! This way, you’re not paying any interest and you don’t have to worry about paying it back – it’s your money, you’re just getting it a little bit earlier thanks to the Rain Instant Pay app.
If your employer hasn’t signed up for Rain yet and you’d like to start the process, have them go over to our website and fill out the contact form. We’ll reach out ASAP with instructions.
About the Author
Chris Phelan is a copywriter who has taken his own credit score from a 580 to an 850. With a mixture of personal experience and thorough research, Chris can help anyone achieve their financial goals.