10 Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Spend

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!

A Week In Workouts

You guys know how I feel about personal challenges (if you don’t, read here), so I’m thinking it’s time for a new one. If I haven’t made it obvious enough already, winter is my least favorite month for many reasons. The BIGGEST loss I have in the winter, though, is activity. I’m way less inclined to walk places, the trek to the gym in snow boots is just cruel, and getting home still working when it’s pitch dark outside does not motivate me to get a workout in. It just doesn’t!

So EVEN THOUGH this challenge is only going to be a week, getting myself out of the comfort of my bed/warm apartment will be an absolute feat! If you’re stuck in a similar situation, join me! It’s only a week 🙂

You don’t have to follow this exact formula– feel free to switch up the exercises as you need! But here’s an outline of the workouts I’ll be following this week:

Monday – HIIT interval running
Tuesday – Tabata
Wednesday – Quick legs + cardio
Thursday – At home workout (yoga, barre)
Friday – Tens + cardio
Saturday – Workout class / something new
Sunday – REST! Ha! Could never do 7 days in a row.

Follow along with me on Instagram here. Good luck, all, and happy workouts!

Girl’s Weekend Guide to Milwaukee

Milwaukee is underrated. I know Chicago gets all the Midwest city love, but Milwaukee, Wisconsin has truly stepped up its game since my 8th grade years driving up for pop-punk concerts at the Rave.

Now, if you don’t live in the Midwest or haven’t stepped foot in Wisconsin, know that it’s much better than it sounds (and hopefully I can prove that to you). And if you like beer and cheese, I won’t have to do much convincing, because that stereotype is absolutely true.

After spending an amazing ~girl’s weekend there, I’ve compiled a little itinerary modeled off our own. Thanks to Meghan for planning a perfect weekend and for helping me add more Milwaukee gems 🙂 Without further ado… the itinerary!

Friday:

We drove up to Milwaukee after work and had what I believe all weekends should start with– a night in. We cozied up with wine and cheese, put our phones down and caught up. Staying in on Fridays should be a given– first for the quality time, and second for that magical feeling waking up Saturday morning without a hangover.

Saturday:

8:30 am – Workout Class
Start your day with a morning group workout class. We went to Orangetheory in the Third Ward (must try if you haven’t– your first class is free!) and it absolutely killed us. Boutique fitness classes are a great way to try something new and get a sweat in early on, and besides, dying is always more fun when you have good company. Milwaukee is scattered with boutique fitness studios, see below.
Other options:
Spire – cycling, rowing, TRX | Hot Yoga Milwaukee | Yoga Squad

Bianca Bialk

10:00 am – Breakfast
Time to treat YO SELF! We opted to go for breakfast right after Orange Theory so we could beat the crowds and also so we could ruin everyone else’s dining experience 🙂 We headed to Sweetdiner, a trendy and bright cafe with delicious food. If you decide to visit, spend some time walking around Milwaukee’s super cute Third Ward area. Then go home and shower, jeez!
Other options:
Cafe at the Plaza | Honeypie Cafe | Toast | Café Benelux | Urban Beets Cafe (vegan) | Merriment Social

12:00 pm – Milwaukee Public Market
One of Milwaukee’s biggest tourist and local attractions is the Milwaukee Public Market. Hang out for an hour, walk around, and try some of the vendor’s fresh food. The public market also has classes and events sometimes, if you’re into that kinda thing. It’s also indoors, which is the kind of self-awareness I like to see in a city.

1:30 pm – Milwaukee Brewing Co.
They don’t call it the Beer Capital of the World for no reason! We stopped at Milwaukee Brewing Co.‘s newer location on 9th St and it did not disappoint. Bright windows, greenery walls and beer flights make for a very happy Bianca. This location and the other offer brewery tours for $12, which gets you beer samples and a pint glass as well. We love Wisconsin.

4:30 pm – Lakefront Brewery
Time for beer stop #2, and this one’s practically a Milwaukee must-do. We decided to go for a brewery tour at Lakefront Brewery (book ahead) that has the exact same perks as the previous brewery. They make it informational in a funny and entertaining way, which is important because I’ve been on 294 brewery tours and still don’t understand how beer is made. Tip: try their Hazy Rabbit if you like IPAs and do not leave until you’ve overdosed on their cheese curds– I cannot recommend them enough.

Bianca Bialk

6:00 pm – Dinnnnna
After stuffing yourself with beer and fried cheese, it’s time to put on your big girl pants and go grab some dinner. Balzac was the perfect choice for us, as it’s a cozy restaurant with small plates and an extensive wine list. The food was delicious and the portions were JUST RIGHT. Small plates or die. If you speak in Yelp language, I’d say this is a two dollar-sign ($$) restaurant.
Other options:
$ – Ian’s Pizza, late night
$$ – Birch and Butcher, small plates | La Merenda, tapas | Point’s East Pub, dive bar with great wings | BelAir Cantina, Mexican | Fixture, pizza | Sobelman’s, American/burgers | Rice N Roll, sushi/Thai | St. Paul’s Fish Company (get a lobster or bring home some fresh fish)
$$$ – Zarletti, Italian | Harbor House, seafood | Third Coast Provisions, seafood
$$$$ – Carnevor, steakhouse 

Bianca Bialk

7:30 pm – The Night Begins…
After dinner, head back home/to the hotel/to the Airbnb to freshen up and maybe pregame if the previous four beers and two glasses of wine just wasn’t enough. We went out on Brady St. and had a blast. Bars/areas recommended below:
Brady St (The Garage, Jo Cats, Nomad) | Old World Third, good for game day | Third WardWalkers Point/Fifth Ward, up and coming | Bayview | Riverwest | Shorewood

Sunday

If you don’t have to waste your whole day recovering, here’s a list of Milwaukee’s top attractions. Enjoy, and let me know what I missed:
Drinks – The Outsider, rooftop bar | View MKE, rooftop bar | Lost Valley Cider Co. | Milwaukee Pedal & Paddle Tavern | Lakefront Brewery | MKE Brewing Co.
Sports – Milwaukee Brewers | Milwaukee Bucks 
Activities – Check out Visit Milwaukee for an up-to-date listing of seasonal activities! 

P.S. – If you’re new to Airbnb, use this link to get $40 off your first stay!

Thanks for reading,