If you’ve ever made a budget or even a makeshift budget (definitely what I do), it generally involves sitting down, opening your notepad, and adding up your monthly costs while crying. Most of the time, these are fixed costs– rent, utilities, cable/internet, transportation, insurance, and if you have them, student loans. But a bulk of what keeps us from saving what we want are spends we don’t expect or plan for– food, drinks (!!), clothes, Ubers, etc.
If this a New Years resolution of yours, or you have a trip to save up for like I do, looking at your spends can be a big eye-opener on where you can cut back. Here are some ways that I reduce my monthly spend.
1. Explore sharing accounts with friends and family
Start with music and television subscriptions. Spotify and Apple Music offer family plans for $15/month if you’re past the student price, and Netflix is the easiest subscription to “borrow” from a friend. Sorry, friend!
2. Take advantage of work or school benefits
Whether this means utilizing the campus/office gym or looking into wellness benefits through your work, many schools and companies offer ways to cut down on costs. For me, this also means attending various lunch and learns for a free sandwich or two (I’m learrrrning, ok?).
3. Reduce your Ubers and Lyfts
If you’re making monthly payments for a car or a transportation pass, use it when you can. I’ve made what I call the Double D rule for myself (I’ve never called it that): If it’s not dark and I’m not drunk I vow to take public transportation. Ha! Safety first! On another note, having a designated driver is always an option…
4. Pre-game (lol)
If you’re big into going out, try warming up the night with an old-fashioned house party! When drinks cost $10-$15 a pop in Chicago, you learn quickly that a night out is not complete without slamming a few back before you leave. Maybe this makes me cheap, maybe it makes me smart. Undecided.
5. Get rid of your stuff
Technically, this is a way to earn money, but anything helps. Learning to free yourself of your possessions is a BEAUTIFUL thing that can involve compensation. Go to a Plato’s Closet. Check out a consignment shop. Own less. It’s wonderful. If you need some inspiration, Netflix’ Tidying Up with Marie Kondo will have you throw away anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” which I’M INTO.
6. Balance your weekends
You know that feeling of waking up and you’re not hungover? This is kind of like that, but with money. Designate one day during the weekend to have a cost-free (or low-cost) day, then do your thing the next. For me, this usually means game/movie night on Friday night so I can do activities on Saturday.
7. Monitor your spending and subscriptions
Take the time once a month to look at your costs and see what’s worth it and what’s not. Do I ever actually use that Birchbox/FabFitFun box? Am I even listening to music? (I hope so), etc. Many of us are signed up for automatic payments that we aren’t even utilizing! Ridiculous!
8. Be conscious of food waste
Throwing away uneaten/spoiled food = wasting grocery money. Some ways I do this is by meal prepping (ugh, I know), eating similar dishes with the vegetables I opened (like opening a can of black beans and having a burrito bowl, tacos, and Huevos Rancheros, for example), and prioritizing spoilable foods to eat before pantry items. Besides, getting creative and CLEARING out your fridge is one of the most satisfying things, yes? Or is that just me? I think there will be a blog post to come on this because I can talk about it ALL DAY.
9. Calm down on clothes
Ladies, this is mostly for you, and honestly? I need this reminder myself. Practicing consciousness is not easy while shopping, especially in #TheInstagramEra! A few things to keep in mind while shopping:
1) Ask yourself how often you will/can wear the item. Does this work with multiple items I already own? Will I take one photo in it and never wear it again?
2) Save your money for staples, and purchase trendy items for cheap. I’m talking about you, wide leg pants, teddy coats, and snakeskin boots. While almost EVERYTHING I purchase is from Forever 21 (I’m not proud), I’m working on buying higher quality staples. Trendy things will obviously, and eventually, go out of style and you will wish you didn’t drop $150 on shoes you wore for one season.
10. Do free things
And in today’s most obvious advice ever… just stop spending money. For those of you who are BLESSED and live in warmer climates, take advantage of nature’s free activities and get outside! For those of you in Chicago, I’m sorry??? (I did make a post on how to be frugal here, though). Really, though– change up your weekend routine with some new and lower cost activities. Or just chase happy hour specials so you can carry on your business in a cheaper manner.
Questions for you– how do you save money when you look at your bank account after the weekend and CRINGE? What’s your method? Tell me in the comments on my Instagram post!