I don’t budget. Instead, I am acutely aware of my spending every single day. Whether I’m grocery shopping, out with my family or hanging out at home, I try my best to make choices that will save money. And by doing that every single day, you absolutely will see your bank account grow. Here are 15 ways to save money in everyday life.
Make Cheap Dinners
My goal is to feed my family of five dinner for less than $8 a night. For some, $8 may seem like a lot; for others it may seem like a little. The number doesn’t matter – decide what works for you and go from there.
Lately, I’ve made protein pancakes with scrambled eggs ($4 or less), a pasta bake ($11 but it made two meals), superfood salad with chicken ($8), chicken and cabbage ($12 but it made two meals), frozen pizza ($5), and a few random nights where the kids get pb&j sandwiches with fruit and my husband and I snack on whatever.
Use Discipline When Grocery Shopping
I used to grocery shop by throwing anything that looked good into the cart. Now, I am way more strategic. Do I need Cheez-It’s AND Goldfish for my kids, knowing full well I’ll end up eating half of that? Is ice cream a must? Do I need two sides with our dinner? Is OJ a necessity? (Nope, it’s loaded with sugar. Stick to water!)
I’m on this new kick where I buy food and don’t buy more of it until we’re out. I also am eating a very low refined sugar diet. We’re saving money, eating better (and less) and feeling great.
Always Get Money Back
I use two cash-back programs – Ebates (when shopping online) and Ibotta (when shopping in the store). You’ll receive $10 for free just for signing up for both programs. They’re super easy to use and the savings add up!
When Going Out to Eat, Split a Meal
Notice how I didn’t say, “Avoid going out to eat at all costs.” We all know it’s cheaper to cook at home. But, eating out is fun and social and we all do it. Heck, my husband and I are guilty of eating out multiple times per week sometimes!
The key is to split meals, drink water, skip the apps (or order an app as your meal), and be aware of how much you’re spending. On average, we spend $25 when we go out to eat on our family of five (though, one is a baby, ha). My girls split a kids meal (yes, I know we won’t be able to do this forever), I order something small or split with my husband, and we all drink water.
Turn Your Thermostat Up in the Summer and Down in the Winter
It’s summertime here in North Carolina and the past few weeks have been hot and humid. We keep our thermostat set to 77 degrees and are fine. Again, to some that may seem too cold and to others it may seem too hot. Find your comfortable temperature and turn in up one or two degrees.
It can be tricky when you live with others, so compromise. My husband would prefer we set the thermostat to 75 degrees and I would prefer it be set to 79, so we both agreed on 77.
Same is true for the winter. It’s ok to be a little chilly. Put on a cozy sweatshirt and socks and wrap yourself up in a blanket!
Take a Close Look at Your Car Insurance
We recently purchased a new vehicle but kept the old one as opposed to trading it in. Since we don’t drive the older vehicle as much, we lowered our coverage and are saving $40/month on that vehicle. It’s always a good idea to review your policy every six months to make sure it’s meeting your needs and you aren’t paying for coverage you don’t need.
Also, once a year you should compare car insurance quotes from different companies. Shopping around – whether for auto insurance or your mortgage – is so important and it will save you money.
Cancel Subscriptions You Are Not Using
Most people nowadays don’t have cable. Instead, people rely on Netflix, Sling, Hulu, Amazon Prime and more. Which of these services do you have? Which could you cut out?
We have Netflix, Sling and Hulu. Netflix is watched daily; Sling monthly and Hulu never. Hulu is getting cancelled. Even though the subscription is cheap, $7.99/month adds up.
Run All Errands at Once to Save on Gas
If you have little kids (ahem, me), this can be tricky as kids don’t really prefer to spend an entire morning out and about. But if not, try to plan your errands strategically so you can save on gas. If you normally fill up your tank once a week, see if you can stretch that to once every nine days. Make it a challenge!
Visit the Library Instead of the Bookstore
Both bookstores and libraries have play areas for kids, and you can read books at both places. Lately, we’ve been frequenting our local library instead of the local Barnes and Noble because then we’re not tempted to spend money. If you have a Kindle, you can check out books via that and read for free!
Don’t Separate Laundry
Confession: I have never once separated my laundry and other than one instance where a red shirt turned my whites pink, I’ve been fine. Whites are washed with colors; sheets are washed with clothes; clothes are washed with towels. I do one large load of laundry every 2-3 days to save on water.
Refinance Student Loans or Mortgage
If refinancing your student loans or your mortgage will save you money, do it. A warning though: If your monthly payment goes down but your term (or length of loan) goes up, you might not be saving money in the long run. I recommend doing your research and making sure you will save money over the remainder of the loan.
SoFi offers extremely low, competitive rates on refinancing student loans. Sign up here and receive a $100 welcome bonus once approved!
Earn More Money
The more you earn, the more you can save. I am a HUGE proponent of working side jobs in order to make a little extra cash. You can then pay off debt and save more. Once you’ve reached those goals, you can loosen your budget a bit more, take a fun family vacation, go out to eat more, etc.
I currently make money through this blog, but it did take a solid 1 1/2 years to start earning reliable income. If you want to start a blog, head over to my tutorial.
I also just applied for a freelance writing position. I search freelancewritinggigs.com every few days along with job postings on Indeed.
Buy in Bulk
I never used to stock up on items – I always bought the bare minimum to get by for the next week or so. Now, I’ve totally changed my tune.
Costco is great for paper towels and toilet paper. Each $15, they last a good two months in our house. At the grocery store, I always buy items that are on sale (that I normally buy – such as toothpaste or frozen pizza) in bulk.
Keep a Simple Wardrobe
I’m a big fan of capsule wardrobes – where you own a few key pieces that you can mix and match and wear again and again. I started doing this about six months ago and haven’t looked back! I do the same for my kids, too 🙂 If you do laundry every other day or so (which for our family of five is a must), you always have clean clothes and there’s really no reason to own 10 pairs of shorts, 20 tops, etc. If you love it, keep it; if not, throw it out!
Only Drink Water…and Coffee 🙂
How much do you spend per week on beverages? This can really add up quick if you’re not careful: A morning latte ($4), a coke with lunch ($1), a few drinks for happy hour ($10), Le Croix sparkling waters or Snapple teas on weekends ($5), etc. Challenge yourself to water only (ok, and maybe coffee) for the next week and see if you save!
What are your tips for saving money on everyday life?