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After the birth of our third child, we realized very quickly that we needed to cut expenses and save as much money as possible to be able to pay our monthly bills and hospital bills from the birth. We had already been living paycheck to paycheck, and then I went on maternity leave from my part-time job. With a new baby and a decrease in my monthly part-time income, we found ourselves in the unfortunate position of wondering how we were going to pay our monthly bills.
We began looking at our budget and at our statements to determine where we could decrease our spending. We needed to cut out a lot of unnecessary expenses quickly.
So, that’s what we did. We are currently working our way out of the hole, and I thought it might be helpful to share some of the areas that we cut our spending to help us do just that.
25 Expenses to Cut Right Now to Help You Save Money Fast and Get Out of Debt
- Preschool– This was a tough one. I admit that it brought me to tears when I realized we needed to take our daughters out of preschool. However, it was very expensive so we had to withdraw them for now.
- Gifts for spouse/significant other– There are many ways to celebrate each other without spending a lot of money. Flowers are beautiful and nice to receive, but they usually die within a week. Instead of purchasing expensive flowers, a simple rose from the garden accompanied by a sweet note can be just as thoughtful and sometimes even more meaningful! Even cards at the store can be expensive. Instead of purchasing cards at the grocery store, I’ve known couples who go to the store with their spouse, pick out cards for each other, read them in the aisle, and then put them back. It makes for a fun and cheap date night, too!
- Expensive dates– If money is super tight, nix the expensive restaurant and opt for something more practical. Cook a nice meal at home, have lunch or dinner at a less-expensive restaurant, or just go out for dessert.
- Dining out– Rather than dining out, consider cooking at home. If you’re like me, coming up with new meal ideas can be difficult. That’s why I’m trying out a new weekly meal plan that I’m super excited about. We’ve already tried some of her recipes and loved them. The great thing about this inexpensive service is you receive delicious recipes every week, along with a shopping list. The company was started by a busy mom of four and uses simple ingredients to create recipes the whole family will love. I’m hoping this saves us a lot of money and time! I understand that sometimes there’s just no time to cook. If that’s the case, look for restaurants where kids eat free on certain days/nights of the week. Other ways to save at restaurants include: going out for lunch instead of dinner, drinking water for your beverage, ordering your meal from the appetizer menu, or sharing an entree with someone else.
- Car payment– Do you have years left worth of car payments? Consider selling a vehicle and using the equity to purchase a less-expensive vehicle with cash.
- Brand new clothes– Brand new clothes can be expensive. Instead, find resale shops with brands you like, consider hand me downs from friends or family members, and shop garage sales and online sites like eBay.
- Expensive coffee– A daily order of coffee for two at Starbucks can add up to almost 200 dollars a month. Seriously, if my husband and I ordered coffee from Starbucks every day, we’d spend around 200 dollars a month for our grande iced coffees and tall vanilla lattes. Crazy! So, this is an area that can be cut drastically. We still drink coffee almost every day but make it at home instead.
- Shopping without cash back or coupons– There are three easy ways to get cash back when you shop that you can sign up for today.
- First, Ebates is a great way to earn cash back when shopping online. Some of my favorite places to shop through Ebates include: Etsy, Amazon, Target, Old Navy, Lowe’s, Walmart, and more! How does it work? Simply put, Ebates earns a commission on referrals, and they share that commission with you. I talk about it in depth in my post here: How To Earn Cash with Ebates. It’s super easy (and free) to join. You can get a $10 cash bonus after your first $25 purchase by signing up through my link here.
- Ibotta is another free way to earn cash back. It’s like using coupons without the hassle of clipping coupons. You simply sign up for a free account and then after you shop, scan your products that have coupons in the app, scan your receipt, and watch the cash fall into your Ibotta account. I use the app when I shop at Target and Kroger, but there are a lot of places you can use the service. You can receive a $10 welcome bonus by signing up through my link here.
- Finally, if you shop at Target, I recommend signing up for a FREE Target REDcard because you save 5 percent at checkout every time you use your REDcard when you shop. Other perks when using the REDcard include free shipping at Target.com and 30 extra days for returns. There is a credit card and debit card option, and you can sign up for a Target REDcard here.
- Expensive hotel accommodations– There are two easy ways to save money on travel.
- First, charge everyday purchases on a credit card that gives you points toward free hotel stays. For example, with the Hilton Honors American Express credit card, you can earn bonus points for purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and many other places, and there’s no annual fee! We use our card all the time, pay off the balance in full every month, and have enjoyed numerous free stays at a variety of hotels in the Hilton brand including Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, and Homewood Suites. If you’d like to apply for a Hilton Honors American Express through my referral link, you can earn 65,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card membership.
- Another way to save on travel is by booking accommodations through Airbnb. When I traveled to Washington, D.C., with my husband and brothers, we booked an apartment through Airbnb and split the cost. It ended up being much cheaper than booking multiple hotel rooms. Plus, we got to stay in a fun neighborhood area and live like locals while we were there. If you want to sign up for a free Airbnb account, this referral link will give you $40 off your first trip of $75 or more.
- Expensive kids’ birthday parties– It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on a birthday party when you factor in food, invitations, stamps, activities, decor, party favors and more. Here are some quick tips on how to save money when throwing kids’ birthday parties. First, send out invitations online or via text. You can do this for free or for much less than the cost of printed invitations and stamps. To save on food, plan the party in between meal times and just provide fun snacks. For party favors, check out options at the Dollar Tree or Dollar General. I’ve also had good luck finding cheap items in bulk on Amazon.com, like miniature cans of Play-Doh. Finally, consider having the party somewhere where there is no reservation fee like your home, a park, or a community center in your town.
- Gym membership– Monthly memberships can drain the bank account. Are you using your gym membership? If not, let it go for now and save the cash.
- Netflix– This is another monthly membership that you can cut. If you aren’t using it much, it may be time to save your money.
- Cable– If you have cable, think about the shows you like to watch. Is there a cheaper way to view them? Can you let go of cable and use an antenna, Roku, app, or view them on the network’s website instead?
- Expensive entertainment– I love going to concerts and an occasional movie. However, this is a great area to save big bucks when money is tight. Concert tickets and movie tickets have gone way up in recent years, so we opt for skipping concerts and renting movies through Redbox instead.
- Wasted electricity– A simple way to lower your electricity bills is to turn off the lights when you’re not using them, open the windows instead of using the A/C on nice days, and turn up the A/C or turn down the heater before you leave. Check powertochoose.com to make sure you are getting the best deal on electricity.
- Housekeeper– I love a clean home. But at this stage in life when we are looking for ways to save money, we simply can’t pay someone else to clean our home. Thankfully, my amazing husband helps out a lot, and together, we tackle a little bit at a time each day and keep a decently clean home.
- Professional photography– Rather than spending money on professional family photos, try asking a friend or family member to snap some pics of your family. You can also set up a tripod and take them yourself.
- Toll roads– We live in an area with a lot of toll roads. Sometimes they can’t be avoided, but when they can, we take an alternate route to save a little money.
- Gas– We save money at the pump by filling up at Kroger gas stations and using our Kroger Plus Card. The savings is usually anything between 10 cents off to a full dollar off per gallon. That can add up to almost 20 dollars in savings for just one full tank of gas! Another way to save on gas is by comparing prices near you on gasbuddy.com with a zip code search.
- Hair color/cut– There are some simple ways to stretch your dollar when it comes to hair. First, you can space out your appointments. If you can go an extra week or two, the savings will add up over time. If you want to cover up your gray roots during those extra weeks, you can try using a touch up product. Another way to save money is by asking your stylist if skipping the blow-dry at the end would lower the price. And finally, if you feel brave, you can cut, color, and/or highlight your hair yourself!
- Manicures and pedicures– Is this an area where you may be able to save money? Rather than getting a manicure or pedicure, ask for a simple polish change (usually under 10 dollars) before a trip to the beach or at the beginning of sandals season.
- Car washes– This is an area where money can be saved by washing, vacuuming, and cleaning your own vehicle.
- Dry cleaning– Avoid dry cleaning expenses by purchasing clothes that don’t require dry cleaning. Sometimes this can’t be avoided with uniforms, for example, and in that case, coupons can be helpful.
- Landscaping and yard work– Finding a good, local nursery where they provide helpful recommendations on what to plant depending on the direction of the sun and climate can save money in the long run. You can also save money by doing your own yard work like mowing, weed eating, gardening, etc…
- Unnecessary charges– It’s good practice to check your statements every month for unnecessary charges or fees, double charges on credit cards, and anything else that just doesn’t look right.
What are some expenses you’ve had to cut recently in order to save money?