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When we first started using our budget intentionally, our goal was paying off all of our debt, as quickly as we could. Every month that went by with us carrying balances on our debts meant more interest we were paying and more time when our money wasn’t working FOR us.
In budgeting, there are some areas where you have less control and some areas where you can make adjustments to make a big impact each month. I couldn’t reduce my mortgage payment or my property tax bill, but I sure could make cutbacks in our more flexible expense areas like entertainment and groceries!
Check out these ten easy ways you can cut back on your spending and use your money intentionally to reach your goals!
Lower utilities and cell phone bills
Dan made it his part-time job to get us the best deal on our tv, internet, and cell phones. This meant checking out all the companies in our area, doing some research to compare their info online, and making phone calls to see who could offer the best deal.
Ask about customer loyalty programs. Shaw felt pretty strongly about us not leaving, and we were able to cut our bill by $50 per month for a year, AND we got MORE services than before! Yes, the bill went back up at the end of that first year, but that extra fifty bucks each month helped us make a dent in our debts at the beginning and gain the traction we needed to get rid of them for good!
Give your service providers a call and see if there are different plans or rates you can get to cut back on your costs. If the answer is no, at least you asked!
Think about all the extra services you pay for each month and then ask yourself if they are truly necessary. There are SO many subscription services out there today, and the costs can add up quickly.
Media streaming – Netflix, Crave, Prime, Spotify, Apple Music, Audible, etc.
Box Subscriptions – FabFitFun and other similar companies that send you boxes of goodies or makeup or clothes
Food and Drink – You can basically have anything delivered to your door these days… wine, candy, beer, meat – I did a quick Google of this to see what subscriptions are out there and DON’T DO IT because the temptation is real!!
Magazines – Think about what is arriving in your mailbox each month and ask yourself if that’s something you want to keep spending money on.
I’m not saying DON’T subscribe. Just make sure what you are paying for aligns with your priorities and you are actually making use of it!
Find cheaper hobbies
We love snowboarding and beer-tasting. Not the most lavish hobbies out there, but certainly not cheap. A day in the mountains costs several hundred dollars, even if we pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in our backpacks!
Finding cheap (or FREE!!) things to do really helped us with our budget.
Instead of going to a movie, we watched a movie on the couch and made popcorn with our air popper.
Rather than hit up a pub for a beer, we bought singles and created our own flights at home. Our local craft beer market has a billion (ish) different beers and we can try six different ones for the cost of two pints in the pub.
Here are some more cheap entertainment ideas
checking out local parks and hikes
having friends over for a games night (potluck style!)
building jigsaw puzzles
cooking as a family
Life doesn’t have to be expensive to be filled with joy!
A great way to cut back on spending is to embrace the world of used goods. You can be barely-used (sometimes brand-new!) clothes for a fraction of the price. I bought all of Dex’s back to school clothes this way, and I saved a TON of money!
Same with toys, games, decor. I have a friend who buys the COOLEST toys for her daughter – and she gets them SO cheap because she uses Varage Sale to find them! So instead of breaking the bank at the mall, check and see what great finds you can snag at your local thrift store, or online.
Use the library
I LOVE owning books. Oh my goodness, SO MUCH. But how often do I read them again? Not very often, to be really honest. The library is an INCREDIBLE FREE resource – and not just for books! They have an amazing toy area for kids – the boys can spend an entire afternoon playing before they choose books. Most libraries have video games, CDs, and DVDs too. Very helpful, especially if you cut your cable and your Netflix subscription!
Use gift cards wisely
This is a great way to extend your budget. I have a little stock of Gift Cards that I have accumulated over the years, and they are a great way for us to have a date night or go on a family adventure without breaking the bank. They also are a great way to build some rewards into your life – plan your celebrations around your gift cards!
Maximize your benefits
I wish I could go back in time to when I first started teaching, and educate my 24-year-old self about using my benefits. I lost out on so many massages over the years because I wasn’t paying attention!
Dan’s benefits have an awesome Personal Spending Account that we can use for anything ‘health adjacent’. So new snowboard boots and bindings, our gym memberships, and a treadmill all fall under that category. We are able to buy things and do things that we otherwise wouldn’t spend money on – without paying a dime!
Everyone’s benefits packages are different, but I encourage you to do some research into yours and see what you have and what you can be using.
Check out your corporate rates
Speaking of using benefits, check and see if you get any corporate rates through your workplace. We get our gym memberships at a discounted rate through MY work, and Dan’s work provides us with cheaper rates on car rentals and hotels! Because I am in school right now, I also get the student rate for a lot of places around town – definitely worth maximizing these benefits!
Check and see what discounts YOU could be getting!
Find free events in your area
We are lucky to live near a big city, with lots of small communities within a half hour drive as well. With a quick google search, I’m sure we could find a FREE festival, event, concert, or farmers market for every weekend of the year.
Do a quick search to see what fun things you can get up to without spending a dime!
There are lots of ways to spend less and save more.