No one likes to budget, especially if you love your lifestyle as it is. Saving money can feel painful, and every bit of saving involves blood, sweat, and sacrifice. However, with the right gameplan, it doesn’t have to be like this at all.
In this article, we will share tips for cutting back on your spending without cutting into your lifestyle. From alternative choices to substitutions, finding ways to emulate your lifestyle while spending less takes a little bit of effort for a long-term reward. Not only does it help you build up an emergency fund, it also gives you the choice to splurge on that dream vacation or new car without taking out a loan.
1. Plan A Night In
Going out for a night on the town with your friends can be fun but also costly. Every drink purchased can be $9-$10 out of your pocket, and that’s before food and cover fees. It might be time to save some cash by planning a night in, with your humble abode and a group meeting scheduler.
Pick up some mixers, some movies, a charcuterie board and snacks, and invite your friends over. Although you might not be bar hopping, planning out your night with a digital agenda can keep things fun and fresh. Lay out plans for movies, events, baking, and more. By always having the next activity already planned, you’ll have no downtime and lots to do. This is an easy way to have a fun, social night without absolutely breaking the bank.
2. Turn Takeout Into Home Cooking
Takeout food absolutely rules, but it’s also quite expensive. If you’re eating out multiple times a week, or everyday for lunch, that cost can really start to add up. It might be time to hit the kitchen and master your favorite foods. If you’re constantly craving a certain flavor, grabbing the ingredients and making it yourself can lead to loads of savings.
Start by making a list of foods you love to grab when you go out. Pad Thai, pho, tikka masala, Jamaican jerk chicken, Italian pizza, or a fresh deli sub come to mind as some obvious choices. Once you’ve gotten your own list, hit the internet for some copycat recipes, and more importantly, feasibility of your dishes. Sometimes, the prep time, cooking, and manpower of a dish is just too much to justify. It sometimes is cheaper to grab that takeout in these cases.
If the dish doesn’t take 4-5 hours to make, you’re in business. Hit the grocery store, grab the ingredients, and marvel at the savings as you get your favorite dishes for a portion of the price. Plus, you’ve learned to cook something new!
3. Drive Less, Save More
Driving around town can be a lot of fun, heading to your favorite far away places and restaurants. Gas is also expensive, and every mile has a cost. While you likely don’t have the ability to fully switch out of using your car, any reduction will be a money saving one. So pull out those tennis shoes and hit the sidewalks. Having a few places you can always walk to will end up saving you lots of money in the long run.
If you have a bike at your disposal, even better! Biking is just as cost effective as walking, but helps you get farther faster. Biking to the grocery store, local areas, or a friend’s house instead of driving will help you save tons on gas. It’s also highly beneficial for the environment! If you have the luxury of being close enough to work to bike to and from, you’ve hit the jackpot. Saving money on your daily commute quickly adds up, all while being great for your health. Even if you don’t currently have a bike, it’s absolutely a worthwhile investment to look into.
4. Reevaluate your Monthly Expenses
In a world of monthly subscriptions, you likely have a few yourself. Instead of just looking at those obviously monthly expenses, take the time to tally up your expenses and look at your monthly spending as a whole. You might be surprised what you find, and it could better put into perspective how much you’re spending on what.
If you aren’t actively using a streaming service, go ahead and cancel it. Even if you’re waiting for a new season of your favorite show, an unused streaming service is wasted money. This goes for any of your monthly expenses- if it’s not being used, it’s not worth keeping. Cancel gym subscriptions, online services, or the Spotify you haven’t touched in months. While it might not seem like you’re saving a ton, it adds up. In a few months, your savings from a few canceled subscriptions could be in the hundreds.
As for everything else, take a hard look at what’s being spent where. How much are you spending eating out? On groceries? What about on fun nights out? If anything stands out, it might be worth setting a monthly budget. Keeping track of all your expenses daily can be overwhelming, so focusing on keeping track of only the larger slices can be more manageable. Set some goals and keep them manageable, and soon you’ll be getting those monthly costs down. Just taking the time to see your expenses is the first step towards actually starting to save.
Little Changes Add Up
Saving money is all about changes. Consider swapping out that $3 daily coke for a free glass of water, or cutting back on monthly clothes shopping. Slowly pulling back on your spending can help you create that rainy day fund, and make your current lifestyle more affordable. So make those tiny changes, and watch them add up to huge savings.