The start of 2016 has had me thinking a lot about personal finance and how I want to find some new ways to save money this year. It also has me thinking about how it’s been two years since I’ve started my personal finance journey to get rid of my debt and build up a substantial emergency fund. I’ve come a long way in two years, and one of the ways I’ve grown in particular is how avid I am about saving money now: I am always trying to save money in big or small ways! I thought I’d share some of my top money-saving tips today in case saving money is one of your goals in 2016 and you need a few ideas on how to get started!
1 – I brew my own coffee at home: This is one of my top money-savers. I still can’t believe I used to buy Starbucks everyday. And I wasn’t just buying drip coffee at Starbucks, I was buying white mochas and vanilla lattes, sometimes even with a pastry. One day I worked up the courage to calculate how much I was spending at Starbucks every month and realized it came out to around $100/mo! Once I realized how much money I was spending, I bought a Keurig and started brewing my own coffee at home before I leave for work. Having a Keurig has been awesome because it’s quick and easy to use during those crazy mornings throughout the week. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Starbucks, I just save it as a treat once or twice during the weekend.
2 – I bring my lunch to work: Another huge money-saver for me! Along with buying Starbucks all the time, I used to buy lunch all the time. Panera Bread and Chipotle were my go-tos when I had a break between my two jobs. I don’t blame myself too much for this because my schedule was all over the place back then and I was constantly on-the-go, but now that I have a normal 9-5, I brown bag it everyday. This probably saves me around $150/mo.
3 – We cook dinner at home and rarely eat out: Ever since Chris and I did Whole30 for the first time back in June, I’ve gotten a lot better about cooking dinner for us at home because cooking at home is always cheaper than eating out, even if you’re eating all organic. We rarely go out to dinner unless it’s for a special occasion, date night, or we have a gift card. If we do go out to eat for dinner, we go somewhere super cheap like Chipotle or In-n-Out.
4 – I don’t have an expensive gym membership: I used to have a yoga studio membership that cost me $99/mo. Once we moved from our apartment to our house, I knew I’d have to give up my membership because we’d be paying more in rent. Luckily, I found a much cheaper alternative: the office building I work at has a fitness center and they only charge a one-time fee of $75 to use it! So I signed myself up and now I have unlimited access to a gym when I don’t feel like running outside during these cold winter months.
5 – I drive a low-maintenence, fuel-efficient car: I drive a 2011 Toyota Corolla and I’m damn proud of it. First of all, I swear by Toyotas. They are known for being one of the most reliable cars next to Hondas, but don’t get broken into or stolen as much as Hondas do. I will probably always own a Toyota for this reason. Second, Corollas are known as inexpensive commuter cars, so you know they’re good on gas. It costs me $30 to fill up my tank. Times that by three and the amount I spend on gas a month is barely $100. A car that needs very little maintenence, is good on gas, and has a low monthly payment? YES, PLEASE.
Those are the big ways I save money every month. Here are a few small ones:
6 – I use coupons: This is definitely an every-little-bit-helps way of saving. I mostly use coupons at Target and their coupons typically only get you 50 cents to a couple dollars off, but hey, those couple bucks you save will add up over time, especially if you shop at Target a lot. And I shop at Target A LOT.
7 – I got rid of monthly subscriptions: I used to have monthly subscriptions to Cosmopolitan magazine, Pandora One, and a stationary service. The costs to have these subscriptions weren’t a lot a month ($5-$15), but if you add that up over the course of the year, it ended up being $60-$180 total.
8 – We don’t have cable: I am lucky that I have a husband who knows the ways of the internet. Instead of paying $50+ a month for cable, Chris is able to download our favorite TV shows and movies for free.
9 – I think before I buy: Instead of letting myself buy something I want right away, I put the item on a list of things I want to buy on my phone and wait a few weeks or a month. Doing this gives me time to really think about the purchase and decide if it’s really something I can live without. More often than not, the urge to buy that item passes or I realize I don’t actually need it and delete the item from the list in my phone.
10 – I save my savings: The most important thing to remember about saving money is to actually SAVE it rather than spend it on something else. If I buy something on sale, I make sure to transfer the money I saved from the sale into my savings. Otherwise, what’s the point?
What are some of the ways you save money?