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I, like many people, have a list of New Year’s resolutions written down and one of my resolutions this year (and every year) is to save more money. I think saving more money is one of the easiest resolutions to stick with over harder resolutions like dieting and exercise.
Saving money will look a bit different for everyone, but I put together this list to give you some ideas on things you can cut out from your budget in order to save more money this year.
Not everyone will have these things in their budget to cut, but I’m sure at least one or two can definitely benefit you and help you reach your goal of more money saved in 2019.
1. Say Goodbye to Cable
I gave up cable in 2010 and haven’t missed it since. In the beginning I was pretty unhappy about missing my weekly episode of The Walking Dead, but after a while, the need to catch every new episode lost its appeal and I was okay with catching reruns when I could.
Cable is a luxury for sure, but I’ve found that my need for TV has been easily satisfied with Netflix, especially now that Netflix is constantly producing new, original shows and movies, that you can watch at any time on your own schedule for a minimum of $8.99 a month. For newbies they offer a free, 30 day trial period.
If you don’t like Netflix, there’s always Hulu, which will not only gives you access to original shows but it will let you catch up on the shows airing on cable that you may be interested in watching. Hulu is a great deal, because it’s only $7.99 a month.
Okay, in any relationship, having a date night is pretty much essential in keeping the “spark” alive so to speak. It’s your way as a couple to get out, hang out and share in some quality time.
But, date night doesn’t have to mean expensive dinners out or even drinks during happy hour (though if you must have a date night, take advantage of those happy hour deals). A great date night can very well be staying in and enjoying your time together.
Opt to cook a fancy meal together, which will cost you a lot less than a restaurant. You can even throw in a nice bottle of wine and dessert.
You can follow up with a walk under the moonlight or snuggle together on the couch and watch a movie….or even opt to play a board game.
Date night is all about bolstering your companionship and you don’t need to spend tons of money to do that. And if you have kids, set them up with their own meal and a movie in another part of the house while you and your partner enjoy a quieter dinner of just the two of you.
I didn’t realize how much going out for drinks was costing me until I got pregnant and couldn’t drink anymore. Suddenly I was saving a lot more money because I didn’t really get much enjoyment out of joining friends for happy hour.
I’m not saying you have to give up drinking completely, but that you should limit how often you find yourself going out for drinks. Not many of us can say we go out for a drink and just stick with one beverage for the night. Before you realize it, you’re three cocktails in and looking at a bill of $20 or more.
When I did start drinking again, I found that it was much cheaper to buy a bottle of wine or a case of beer and invite friends over for a hosted happy hour. Have your friends bring a beverage of their choice and everyone will be happy and still enjoy the time to socialize.
I know this is something everyone suggests when it comes to saving more money, but that’s probably because it’s been proven as a real money saver.
Grabbing a cup of coffee out every day gets expensive, especially if you are one that likes a fancy $4 latte or specialty beverage. I love a good latte, but couldn’t afford one every day once I realized just how much money I was wasting.
I opted to start making my own coffee and while it’s no Pumpkin Spice Latte, it still gives me the caffeine kick that I crave. To keep in the habit of making your own cup of coffee, I highly recommend purchasing a coffee maker that you can pre-program.
I like to program my coffee in the evening so that when I wake up in the morning it is already brewed and ready to be consumed. Doing it this way meant definitely got in my morning cup of joe and didn’t run the risk of stopping by a coffee shop during my commute to work.
Since college I’ve been under the impression that I needed to eat organic produce in order to be healthier when in reality this isn’t true. While I don’t doubt the benefits of organic produce being better than non-organic, in the end eating healthy should just mean getting in your recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, organic or not.
I’m currently challenging myself to not buy any organic produce so that I can compare my grocery bill to the ones where I do buy organic produce. So far I’m seeing a pretty big savings in money without compromising the healthy meals I make.
If you are opting out of purchasing organic fruits and vegetables, just make sure to thoroughly wash everything before you cook or consume them.
6. No More Meat
Another experiment I’m currently doing to save more at the grocery store is cutting back on meat. Meat is the one area I can’t quite give up eating organically and that can get really pricey when you prefer to eat meat at every meal.
To change this I’,m working on cooking more vegetarian meals and offering meat options only once or twice a week. So far this has helped lower my weekly grocery bill by about $20 and I don’t feel starved or like I’m missing out when I don’t have meat with my meal.
As a result of consuming less meat, you’ll automatically end up eating more vegetables, which are loaded with essential nutrients and vitamins. If you need an optional source for protein, consider eating legumes, like black beans and lentils, and whole grains like quinoa and brown rice.
If you can’t give up meat but want to save more money, try “stretching” the meat that you do buy. Take that one pound of chicken and stretch it between a few meals.
One way to do this, particularly with chicken breast, is to slice along the chicken length, dividing the chicken in half. Now you have two pieces of chicken, one for the meal you are making and another for the next time you eat.
If you go grocery shopping without a list of what you need to get, you may often find yourself throwing in random snacks and well, junk, when you are shopping.
I’m a chip lover…and a candy lover and if I didn’t stick to my shopping list, my cart would be overrun by a lot of crappy food. Even now it takes a lot of effort not to throw in a few snacks when I go shopping, simply because they look (and taste) good.
Limiting the amount of junk food you eat can actually lead to some great savings. Bags of chips, chocolate bars, fruit snacks and even crackers can quickly cause your grocery bill to go up. And while everything tastes yummy, there is no nutritional value in any of them.
Instead I’ve opted to turn to fruit and vegetables for my snacking needs. A cucumber for $.59 is a lot cheaper than a bag of chips that cost $1.50. And I can get a pound of strawberries for $2.50 when on sale, versus a pack of fruit snacks for $4.
It’s all about finding a balance and when you give up junk food, you’ll find yourself naturally craving the healthier stuff after a while.
Guys may not have to worry about this one as much, but ladies, if you like getting your nails or hair done regularly and are looking to save more this year, than considering giving up your routine beauty rituals.
Personally, this was never a big splurge for me, but for my sister, she has saved a lot of money since she gave up her bi-weekly visit to the nail salon and monthly visit to the hair salon. For her, that meant an extra $75 in her bank account a month!
You don’t need to give up your beauty salons forever, but consider stretching the length of time between visits, or opt to maintain your manicure at home by purchasing your favorite shade of polish and covering up chipped nails as they happen.
Or, to really boost your savings, see if you can make it the rest of the year without a single nail or salon visit. Trust me, your savings account will thank you and you may find that you don’t miss the services after a while.
9. Fancy Clothes
A few years ago, I made the conscious decision to shop only for neutral colors. This means that my wardrobe is pretty basic and filled with lots of white, black, gray and navy blue.
Neutral colors have gone a long way to helping me save, as I can get away with wearing the same thing more than once a week. This has also helped with keeping my clothes budget fairly low, as I don’t feel the need to shop for fancier items.
Plus, having a simpler wardrobe means you keep your style, well, simple. A t-shirt and jeans will never go out of style.
10. Name Brand Items
In addition to adopting a more neutral wardrobe, I gave up shopping for name brand items as well. Knock off brands are surprisingly just as good in quality as name brand items. Sometimes, name brand items are simply expensive because of the name on the item only.
If you can’t resist name brand items when you shop, then I recommend shopping at local thrift stores and consignment shops. You can definitely find brands like JCrew, Michael Kors, Kenneth Cole and so many others at a thrift store and in pretty great condition.
I know the last two tips focused on indulging in some shopping habits, but if I had to be completely honest, I think hands down the main thing to cut from your budget this year if you’re looking to save would be shopping.
Yes, I totally think it’s possible and smart to go on a year long shopping ban. This means no new shoes, clothes, or anything that isn’t considered an essential. And yes, this means avoiding those buy one get one free sales that you’ll see at department stores.
Instead of shopping, make a wish list of the things you find yourself wanting to buy. I like to maintain a wish list and at the end of the year see if there’s anything on there that I feel like I really want or need, and then decide to splurge on only one or two items.
By switching to this kind of shopping mindset, you’ll find yourself buying random items less frequently and you’ll enjoy the things you already own without feeling the need to add in more stuff.
Credit cards can put people on a slippery slope with their finances. On the one hand, having a credit card is a great way to well, build your credit and to earn things like points or cash back on your purchases.
On the other hand, some people misuse credit cards and treat them like a debit card, forgetting that they’ll need to pay that credit card off at some point.
I used to be really bad with credit cards and had multiple cards just to cover all of my expenses and then was left with a lot of credit card debt. I’ve since pared down to just two credit cards, as they offer different cash back benefits and having only two means I can pay them off right on time.
If you don’t have a credit card then kudos to you, though I do think having at least one is beneficial, even if you only keep it on hand for emergencies. Check out this article for tips on how to safely use credit cards and avoid accruing a large amount of debt.
13. Gym Memberships
Years ago I signed up for a gym and paid $10 a month, not realizing this was a promotional deal at the time. Flash forward a year later and suddenly I was paying $25 a month and not even going to the gym very often.
It took me a while to give up a gym membership because I was convinced that if I kept it, I would be motivated to go workout…but that never happened. When I cancelled, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed saving the extra $300 a year!
If you want to save more money this year, then I encourage you to give up the gym membership and instead, find alternative forms of exercise that you can do instead. I personally work out at home just by watching YouTube videos.
You can also take up jogging, which is completely free, or see if there are free activities in your area like a yoga class in the park or even a free fitness camp. I live in an area that offers free outdoor workouts in the summer, which has given me the vibes of working out in a gym without paying the gym fees.
14. Amazon Prime
As much as I love Amazon, I also feel like having Amazon has roped me into some online purchases I probably wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t have Amazon Prime.
Some of the perks of Amazon Prime include free, two day shipping or the option for one day shipping at $3.99. Your Amazon Prime also gives you access to several shows, movies and music available on Amazon and your membership gives you a discount on the items that you buy as well.
That being said, there is an annual fee. It’s $99 when you first sign up but jumps to $119 annually after that. And that’s on top of all the purchases you’ll make throughout the year. I’ve found that I’ve saved more money by not shopping with Amazon.
Not only will you avoid an annual fee, you’ll be required to go to an actual store when you want something and more often than not, you’ll opt to forgo the item simply because you don’t feel like going out.
But if you still can’t shake your Amazon Prime subscription, check out this article for some benefits of Amazon Prime that you may not be aware of and this article which discusses ways Amazon helps shoppers save more money.
15. Loaning Money to Family and Friends
Not all of us may be guilty of this, but I’m sure a lot of us step in to help family and friends with their money troubles, even when your own finances aren’t that solid.
The main thing to remember is that you can say no when friends or family come to you for money. Be honest and let them know that you aren’t in the best place financially to help them out. And if you are able to help them out, you can do so with the caveat that they pay you back when they next get paid.
Make This Year Work For You
These are just a few things you can cut out this year to save more money. There are likely a lot of other things you can cut out that will go a long way toward helping you meet your financial goals. What that means will vary for each individual.
If you need some more money saving ideas, check out these FFL articles for other ways you can cut back on your expenses this year: