I’m on a quest to save money. Why? Because I accumulated some credit card debt and I’m just done carrying it around! I recently made some small adjustments and I’m already getting some big savings. I wanted to share what I did with you so you can do it too!
- Change to a cheaper dry cleaner – I have always gone to the dry cleaner next to the grocery store by my house. I liked chatting with the owner and the convenience of their location. But when my husband found a coupon in a flyer for a different dry cleaner on the other side of town, I decided to give it a try. Not only am I saving because of the regular coupons this dry cleaner offers in flyers on regular basis, but I’m also saving because their normal costs are 25% of what I was paying at my previous dry cleaner! Yes, you read that right: I am saving 75% of what I paid before. Morale of the story: it really pays to shop around for your dry cleaning.
- Dog boarding – Dog boarding was actually what first made me more conscious about my spending because it is very expensive! I had always just boarded with the vet, but when the cost increased to $45 a night (!!) I started paying attention. I happened to catch a Facebook ad for a different boarder that was affiliated with a different vet (they offered a visit to a farm and I knew my dog would love that). So I called them. Now I pay about $32 a night. Pet care is a significant expense for us because so much of our family lives out-of-state. Saving $13 a night adds up quickly!
- Stop buying Starbucks coffee – Don’t believe the marketing: Starbucks is not a time-saver! It’s much easier to microwave a mug of hot water at home, put a tea bag in it, and pour it into a travel mug than to wait in that long drive-thru line — even if you use their app to “pre-order.” But because Starbucks is everywhere, I need a strategy: I have told myself that I cannot go to Starbucks until I’ve depleted my entire inventory of tea at home. I’m easily saving myself six dollars per visit (based upon what I like to order there: peppermint mochas, fyi). If I were to go to Starbucks a lot, I’d be looking at a rather large chunk fo change over the course of a month or school year.
- Cancel cable – I went ahead and took the plunge and canceled our cable. This is not an entirely foreign notion to my family because we went 10 years without cable. We had only gotten the most basic offering as part of a bundle with our high-speed Internet (which I need for my work as a teletherapist). When we looked at what we watched on cable, we realized that we could get most of the shows already through our Hulu membership. And we decided to join Netflix. By choosing those internet-based option, it will save at least $30 a month to not have cable. And we weren’t even really using it!
- Change cell phone carriers – I’ve been getting extra charges due to data overages on my cell phone plan. So annoying! So I started shopping around and realized I could get more data at half the cost of my current monthly bill. However, I do still have an active contract and I will have a termination fee if I decide to switch carriers. But many promotional offers from different cell phone providers advertise that they will pay off your termination fee and that would make it extremely beneficial for me to switch carriers. Even if I switch carriers and they don’t pay the termination fee, over the course of the year I would save enough to make it worthwhile after just six months on the new plan! So take a closer look at what you’re paying on your cell phone bills and check out what other offers might apply to you.
- Join a new gym – There are so many small gyms offering fantastic rates to join. Now is the time to find a new gym! There’s no reason you should pay $50 a month for a gym. I pay $10 a month for life and I only had $40 initial fee at the beginning. Places like Planet Fitness, Workout Anytime, 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, etc., offer extremely competitive memberships that you should investigate. Downgrade from a fancy gym to more affordable gym. And if you actually don’t have a gym membership, I actually think you should consider spending the $10 a month to join a gym. Make a commitment to your health because that will save you money in the long term!
- Use the make up and lotions you already have – The average American woman spends $8 per day on makeup and skin care products according to retailer SkinStore. I find that number to be totally outrageous because I don’t use makeup; however, I do have friends that have a lot of makeup, lotions, nail polish, shampoos, soaps, etc. Also friends who go to Bath and Body Works during sales and stock up. And friends who regularly purchase cosmetics at department stores or Walgreens. I mean, it’s easy to accumulate too much. Use what you have and use it up before you buy any more.
- Cancel your AAA Roadside Assistance – If you pay extra for AAA Roadside Assistance, you don’t need to! The reason is that many insurance companies offer this as a courtesy as part of your car insurance plan. My insurance offers free roadside assistance so I do not need to pay the $45 a month to a AAA-like provider.
- Go to the grocery store with a list and stick to it or get delivery – One place where I always let myself go crazy is at the grocery store. We all need to eat and I like to eat real food. But it’s really easy for me to impulse-buy and get lots of different things that I don’t need! I’m vowing to make a list and to go to the grocery store committed to staying on budget and sticking to that list. I’m also investigating getting our groceries delivered because even though there’s a delivery fee, I’m convinced I’ll spend less because I won’t be able to buy impulsively!
- Stop shopping department store sales – For me it’s just too easy to get a $10 off coupon in the mail and take it to the store. I can take that to the store and walk away spending $30 at least. I’m vowing to ignore the sales and instead focus on things I really need to buy. For example, last year I really needed to buy boots and I was on a mission. I bought them when I needed them instead of just perusing the store.
- Cancel Amazon Prime – I never joined Amazon Prime and as much as I know so many people love Amazon, it’s too easy to click and have something sent to you “because shipping is free.” I realize I said to get Netflix and I know Prime offers video streaming benefits, but if you cancel Prime then you have to start paying shipping costs. Paying shipping costs will stop you from making impulse buys like cookbooks, clothes, or crap for my kids: all things that you really don’t need. Save yourself some money and get off Amazon!
- Change your car insurance provider – We changed our car insurance provider and we are saving at least 35-40% of what we paid before. Why? Our previous insurer was based on the East Coast with a limited presence in the Midwest. We switched to Allstate and the savings were truly shocking. Even though it’s a hassle to go through the process of switching car insurers, it’s so worth it.
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs – Choose compact-flourescent bulbs or LED lights to join the rest of us. They may cost more initially, but they last way, way longer. We did this more than five years ago and we NEVER have to change a light bulb. And you are helping save the environment!
- Transfer a balance to a 0% promotional rate – Take advantage of an offer mailed to you to transfer a balance. But only do this if you know you can be aggressive about paying it off, because your rate will be higher if you don’t pay it off before the term is up.
- Sell on Amazon or Ebay – I have a cookbook problem. So last year I decided to go through my collection and sell 20% of my cookbooks. I listed them on Amazon and made $60. Not too shabby!
I hope my suggestions give you something to think about when you are thinking about cutting costs. If you have any additional tips for me, please let me know! Thank you!