Cutting costs isn’t easy for everyone. It’s a whole new mentality that requires making difficult choices and rearranging your routines. But if you’re here, you must be ready and motivated to start taking control of your finances!
Or you’re sobbing into your bills and have turned to the internet for help…..
Either way, YOU’RE HERE!!!
Cut Costs: The 10 Ways I Save for Travel comes directly from the personal financial choices I made once I realized I wanted to travel more. It’s organized from “duh” to “dedicated” and includes my experience and thoughts on each point (some even have a bonus tip!)
I hope you’ll take something away from this post, whether you’re looking for an easy start, new ideas, or even just a little motivation.
(and if that intro didn’t do it for you, just know I used these to help me save over $25,000…. hook, line, and sinker. Read: How I saved $25,000 here!)
1. Cut back on expensive social outings
Unless it’s free to get in, free to do, or it’s my birthday and someone else is paying, I typically avoid expensive outings. Instead, I opt to hang out at someone’s place with a movie and some snacks.
However, I’m aware that there are some people who live for these social outings. If this is the case, try to stick to bars without a cover charge, and give yourself a budget for the night. $20 can cover a few drinks, or a drink and an appetizer.
Bonus Tip: Only take cash to eliminate the safety net credit/debit cards give you when you’re fighting the urge to have “just one more.” This way, you truly cannot spend more than what you’ve budgeted. cut costs
2. Cut back on/eliminate high-end coffee and alcohol
This was easy for me because I never enjoyed the taste of coffee or alcohol, but I still used to have a drink or two just to fit in when I was out with friends. Then I got tired of wasting money on something that I didn’t even like.
Of course, not liking something isn’t a real way to cut costs. That’s like saying “I saved money on brussels sprouts by not buying them!” I chose to include this because I know it’s a daily/weekly expense for a lot of people. Sure, it’s a small expense individually, but it adds up.
Based on some quick research, the average American spends over $1,000 a year on coffee. Yikes.
What are you spending?t costs
3. Stop buying high-end beauty products
Level: Moderately Dedicated
My make-up and hair obsession was costing me, big time. Every trip to Ulta would have me crossing my fingers, hoping that my total would be under $100.
From makeup and perfume, to hair care and beauty tools, I spent a couple of years obsessed with trying high-end products that drained my bank account. So I switched to drugstore brands that I actually liked better, cost me less, and lasted much longer.
Instead of spending $40 on a single bottle of foundation, I used that same amount to purchase my entire make-up and hair routine at the local CVS or Rite Aid.
Bonus Tip: Once you commit to drug stores brands as your new products, sign-up for each store’s savings card to take advantage of coupons and cash rewards. It’s free, and with regular spending, you’ll find yourself earning rewards and spending less!cut costs
4. Adopt healthier and cheaper eating habits
Level: Moderately Dedicated
While most of this blog focuses on being plus sized, I do try my best live a healthy life (at least most of the time.)
So when I decided to change my eating habits, it was mostly out of concern for my health, but it also came with a bonus for my bank account. Now when I shop for food, I enforce the following habits: cut costs
- Make a list
Buy what you need, nothing more. When you don’t use a list, it’s easier to make impulsive, and often unnecessary, purchases.
- Shop at a farmer’s market
I am a sucker for markets of any type. There’s something about wandering the aisles that makes me feel like I’m going to come across hidden treasures or specialty foods at any moment.
Along with feeling like I’m secretly L.A.R.P.ing in Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders, markets are also known to have better prices than the local grocery store.
If my love for markets doesn’t make you feel like exploring a whole new world (ok, I’m done with the Aladdin references..) check out this article on the 15 Benefits of Shopping at A Local Farmer’s Market
- Buy more produce
Fresh produce is not only better for you than processed foods, it’s cheaper. And before you go out and buy pre-chopped veggies to make life easier, consider buying them whole (psst…pre-chopped means you pay more for veggie-cutting labor.) cut costs
- Avoid good intention purchases
Again, make sure you only buy what you need. Impulse buys aren’t great for your wallet, but neither are “good intention” purchases.
If my good intentions could take a physical form, they would be the sad, floppy celery in my fridge that I continue to buy, but never use. Instead of a healthy snack, they’re a reminder of the money I’ve wasted on countless good intention purchases.
- Buy Generic cut costs
Ketchup is Ketchup, and brand name products are generally more expensive.
6. Meal Prep Lunches
Simply put: Meal prep lunches cost a fraction of fresh made deli sandwiches or gourmet salads. cut costs
Originally I wasn’t a fan because, well, I was lazy. I didn’t want to spend one of my 2 days off a week cooking for hours, I didn’t want to have to figure out the portions for each meal, and I didn’t want to waste my time being part of a fad I thought was going to die out soon.
Long story short, I gave in…and I’m glad I did.
You don’t have to go all out like others do on Pinterest or YouTube. They make money from those posts, so being a picturesque prepper is an incentive. I chose simple meals with short and sweet cooking instructions that made the process worth it. If I couldn’t put it on one pan in the oven or over the stove, it wasn’t happening.
Specific searches for “One Pan Meal Prep” and “Easy Meal Prep” will show you just how simple it can be, and you’ll no longer need to stop at the deli for an $8-a-day sandwich. cut costs
8. Be smart about utility use
Other than my childhood home, I’ve managed to live in 8 different locations all around New Jersey. Why so many? Well, that would be due to my life-long struggle with S.O.B.L.A.C.R. (strokes of bad luck and crazy roommates) disease. But, that’s a post for another day.
While escaping the crazies, and moving all over the garden state, I gained an in-depth understanding of what was really necessary when it came to utilities. By learning what I could and could not live without, I was able to keep the following utility payments at an all time low.
In the Spring and Summer, I opened the windows. In the winter, I used a heated blanket.
When you’re out of the house, the AC & heat should be off or turned down. Leave a post-it note for yourself on the door at eye level so you don’t forget!
- Cable TV
I refuse to pay the $100 monthly charge for a cable and internet bundle. Instead, I opt for just internet (as low as $52 a month.) Investing in a Roku or a SmartTV and a Netflix subscription has saved me hundreds over the last 3 years.
8. Cut back on clothing/Sell unused items
Level: Very Dedicated
I didn’t realize just how much apparel I had until my distaste for washing and putting away laundry grew into utter loathing when my entire wardrobe took 5+ loads to clean.
So I snapped and purged at least 50% of my items by selling the good stuff online, donating the unsellable, and trashing the un-wearable. Now, I no longer allow myself to buy new clothes or shoes unless they’re drastically on sale, I need to replace something, or they double for work and play.
To this day, I’m still able to find clothes and shoes I can part with. Overall, I’ve made close to $600 selling stuff online, and it feels better knowing that I have fewer material items to my name. Also, fewer loads of laundry to do.
9. Be “selfish”
Level: Extremely Dedicated
Instead of a wedding and kids, I want Antarctica and Petra. I couldn’t have these if I spent my money on someone else’s stand mixer, or baby shower. This is especially relevant now, in my mid-twenties, when someone announces their engagement or pregnancy every other month.
Society tells us that being a part of these moments is an honor that we should be willing to pay for. But I think that’s bullshit.
My priorities are different.
I’m ready to celebrate happy moments when I can, but I’m not willing to deprive my own dreams to help someone pay for theirs. If this makes me selfish, so be it.
10. Move in with family
Level: Extremely Dedicated
This is the biggest, and best, decision I made to help me cut costs.
I was paying $1,250 a month to live alone and be within 5 minutes of work. My income supported me enough to have this luxury and travel once a year. That is, until I lost my job.
I wanted to use my savings to travel instead of paying for rent, so I moved in with family. Even after I took a short-term position in a different part of the state, I continued to commute because it allowed me to utilize my income the way I wanted to.
If you’re lucky enough to have the option of living rent free, I highly suggest you consider it. It isn’t always easy, but the financial freedom is completely worth it for me.
We all have wasteful money habits. The first step is to be honest and challenge yourself to make better financial choices. Once you’re ready to start eliminating costs, use this list as a guide and resource to guarantee you’ll see improvement in your choices and your bank account.