How you manage your monthly budget makes or breaks your financial life. The monthly budget is where you control your income and tell your money what to do. Opening up money to pay off debt or invest is essential to gain financial traction. Here are 5 simple ways we save $519.75 on monthly expenses.
We Cut the Cable
It is no surprise that Americans love their televisions. We spend countless hours in front of our TVs for entertainment, relaxation, and time with our loved ones and friends. My husband and I love to cuddle up and watch our most recent binge-worthy show. We do consciously limit our screen time, but TV is a great way to unwind and relax.
That being said, most Americans spend a small fortune on their cable or satellite bill. According to some sources, the average monthly cable or satellite bill is over $100!
That is over $1200 a year spent on TV programming.
That same amount invested for 20 years in a mutual fund averaging 10% could grow to over $75,000! I sure hope you like all that TV you’re watching.My husband and I decided to cut the cable altogether. We get our TV programming from several streaming sources: Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.
At the time of writing this we pay $11.99 for Hulu, $10.99 for Netflix, and our annual Amazon Prime membership. For the purpose of this post I’m not calculating the Prime membership as part of our cost, because our primary purpose of Prime is the access to free quick shipping. The streaming content is just a bonus.
So we pay about $23 a month for more TV shows and movies than you could watch in a lifetime. That frees up $77 a month! Ka-ching!
We Take Lunches to Work
Eating out has become a way of life for most Americans. Not only is it a way to get food, but it has become a form of entertainment. Whether you love dining at your favorite spot or trying something new, restaurants have become the new normal. There is one major drawback; they are super expensive.
Eating out almost always costs far more than cooking at home from scratch. Currently, my husband and I spend about $400 a month on groceries. This buys us mostly organic produce, high quality meats, and other more expensive foods for a family of two. What I’m saying is that we could cut this down even more, but we value healthy eating.
To save money, we take leftovers or home prepared food for lunches. With the average work lunch somewhere around $10, this costs a single person around $50 a work week or $100 for a couple. Just taking lunches to work saves us about $400 a month!
Of course, this doesn’t factor in the groceries I mentioned above, but that $400 on monthly groceries is for all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Let’s estimate that 1/3 ($133) of our grocery bill goes toward lunches.
That means we save around $267 a month by bringing lunches to work instead of buying them!
Above taking lunches to work, we limit ourselves to eating out around one or two times a week, one date night and one night out with family or friends. This comes from our separate entertainment budget. We feel that this gives us a great balance of eating at home and eating out, and it is far less than the average family. I’m not even factoring this into our monthly savings, but you can guess that it is significant.
We Have Cheaper Cell Phone Service
Smart phones have become a fact of life for most of us. Think about it, how often is your phone not on you or right by your side?
Unfortunately, cell phone service is quite expensive. The average cell phone bill for a single user hovers around $75, without taxes and fees.
To save money, my husband and I ditched the major carriers. My work pays for my cell phone and we pay annually for my husband’s phone. We pay $495 once a year for service through a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). MVNO’s buy service from the very same cell towers used by the major carriers and sell it for a fraction of the price. This means the same service, just cheaper.
That $495 averages out to $41.25 a month. That gives us a savings of $33.75 over the monthly average of $75.
Plus we get the very same coverage, unlimited calls and texts, and more data than is needed. Woot, woot!
We Don’t Buy Drinks at Restaurants
This may sound silly to some of you, but it is something that I have hung on to from my childhood. On the rare times that my parents took me and my three siblings out to a restaurant we were explicitly banned from ordering drinks.
Now I don’t believe that my parents were being cheap; it is just plain expensive to take a family of six out for dinner. Add drinks on top of the food and it is even worse.
My husband and I have opted out of ordering soda, or other drinks, at the restaurant for two reason. First is obviously the money savings. The second is our health. Those sodas, juices, and lemonades are virtually free of anything nutritious and are packed with more sugar than we want to consume.
So how much does this actually save us? As you remember, we only eat out 1 to 2 times a week. So let’s average that out and say 7 times a month. Drinks now average out around $3.
If we both got a drink every one of those 7 times out that would be $42 a month.
Maybe that is not a ton, but it would pay for my husband’s entire cell phone bill that month! It is enough to make a difference. If you eat out more and/or order more expensive drinks, then the savings would be even bigger.
We Don’t Pay Full Price at the Movie Theater
We believe in having a weekly date night. This means a night out, or in, doing something different than normal. It has done wonders for our relationship and is something we look forward to every week. Look around and you’ll find many relationship experts that recommend it.
The typical date night in the United States is dinner and a movie. In our area the weekends are crazy busy, plus the movies cost around $17.50 a person.
We started looking around at theaters in the area and found one that has $5 tickets on Tuesdays. This is not a second-run theater with broken seats and sticky floors; it is a theater with new releases with reclined and reserved seating. So, we moved our date nights to Tuesdays.
We don’t always go to a movie, but if we wanted to it would save the two of us $25 a week, or $100 month.
It All Adds Up
To summarize, here are all of our savings per month:
- $77 by cutting the cable.
- $267 by taking lunches to work.
- $33.75 by selecting a cheaper cell phone service.
- $100 a month by not paying full price at the movie theater.
- $42 by not ordering drinks at restaurants.
This is a total savings of $519.75!
These are only 5 simple ways that we have cut our monthly expenses. They were simple, but made a huge difference when we were paying off debt. Considering cutting your personal expenses in these ways or others. If you have creative ways that you save every month please comment below.