I’m so excited to feature this guest post written by my friend Amy from Deliberately Here. Amy is always sharing practical tips and frugal solutions over on her blog. I’m thrilled to share this encouraging post about such an important topic.
Take it away, Amy!
5 Easy Ways to Save Money (even when it feels impossible)
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Does it feel like you’re struggling to stretch every last penny you have? Are you trying to save money but wind up feeling exhausted and worn out?
I’ve been there. Saving money isn’t always as easy as many people promise it can be.
Sometimes trying to save money can feel flat out impossible.
Can you relate?
Whatever your reason for saving money might be – a vacation, paying off your house, sending your kids to college, or just paying this month’s bills – I want to provide you with a couple things that you can do to make it all possible.
Here are 5 easy ways to save money, even when it feels impossible.
1. Stop Eating Out
I mean it. It’s time to stop.
According to CNBC the average American family spends about $250 a month JUST eating out. That amount doesn’t even include the grocery bill, it’s just the amount of money spent on dining out each month.
I don’t know about you, but when I heard that my jaw nearly hit the floor.
Not because I was thinking of how crazy all those families were, but because I realized that if my husband and I weren’t careful, that could easily become us.
Whether you’re in the routine of picking up a coffee every day or you dine out several times a week, it might be time to start looking at your receipts and seeing how much money you are spending each month on dining out.
After I heard that startling statistic, I realized that my husband and I needed to create a budget pronto, before we became the average family who wastes $250 eating out each month, without even realizing it.
- Read: Top 10 Frugal Food Tips
2. Create a Meal Plan
If I had to tell you to do any one thing to cut back on your spending, it would be to start meal planning.
Meal planning has allowed my husband and I to cut our grocery bill in half, and has kept it down there.
Before I started meal planning I would be in the middle of making dinner before I realized that I was out of a certain ingredient that I needed, so I would make a quick trip to the grocery store and end up leaving with 10 items, rather than just the one thing that I needed.
Meal planning might not sound appealing, but if you are in a pinch and need to save money now, my suggestion to you is to start meal planning.
I completely understand that meal planning isn’t for everyone – I even hated it at first. I tried it and was very quick to quit after a failed attempt, but my second go-around with meal planning was the time that it stuck.
I was determined to make it work and I did – and I believe you can do it, too.
If traditional meal planning doesn’t work for you and your family, try this Meal Plan Alternative.
3. Stock Up
I will tell you this one with some hesitation. Stocking up on sale items is definitely a great way to save money, but you have to be sure you know your limits.
Make sure you know how much you and your family will use of a certain item so you don’t go overboard and buy way too much stuff.
If there’s a huge sale on kale at the grocery store but you know your family doesn’t necessarily like it and that it won’t get eaten very quickly, don’t stock up on it.
If you buy items purely because they’re on sale but they just end up going bad in your pantry, you aren’t saving money – you’re wasting money.
On the other hand, you definitely can save good money when you know how to decipher sales.
When I see a great sale on cheese, I ALWAYS stock up. Cheese is something that I know my husband and I use a lot of, and it’s something that can be stored in the freezer so I don’t have to worry about it going bad before we get around to using it.
Learn the prices of your local grocery stores, study the sale prices, see how often good sales come around, and only buy sale items if it’s something you will actually end up using.
I know of someone who happened to see an amazing sale on tomato juice. The sale was so good that he couldn’t pass it up, so he stocked up on it.
The catch? He doesn’t like tomato juice.
4. Stop Wasting your Money on Groceries
You might argue that groceries aren’t a waste of money, and I completely agree.
When I say to stop wasting money on groceries, I don’t mean stop buying food. I mean stop buying foods that are overpriced.
- Shredded Cheese
If you really want to save money but aren’t willing to buy a block of cheese and add a minute or two more into your meal-prep time to shred your own cheese, do you even want to save money?
(Note from Heather: I do this and I recently discovered that it is so much easier with a rotary grater! Here is the exact one I use.)
- Bottled Water
If your tap water isn’t drinkable, rather than buying bottled water consider investing in a good water filtering system, or even just a Brita water jug.
My husband and I have terrible water where we live. I used to spend hours a day boiling water, waiting for it to cool, then putting it into a water jug in the fridge to drink all because I was too cheap to spend $30 on a filtering water jug.
Over a year later of doing the whole boiling water process, we finally purchased a Brita water jug and we are quite pleased with it.
Our Brita water jug removes the chlorine taste from our water and works pretty quickly. I find that we are drinking a lot more water since buying the Brita, which is much better for our overall health. I would definitely say the Brita water jug has more than paid for itself.
- Pre-made Salads
Pre-made salad, like pre-shredded cheese, is another situation where you could be saving a lot of money if you bought plain old lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers and took the time to make your own salads.
These are just a couple of things that many people are willing to pay extra money for to cut back on the amount of work involved in making food, but if you’re trying to save money, cutting a few of the more expensive groceries off of your list will impact your budget greatly.
5. Lower your Bills
Did you know that you can actually lower a number of your recurring monthly bills, like your cellphone bill, cable, internet bill, home phone, car insurance, and more?
All you have to do is give the service provider a call and ask if there are any lower rates available.
Even if they don’t have any current promotions on, if you have been with them for a while they may still lower your bill simply because you’re a loyal customer.
It doesn’t hurt to call and ask – the worst they can do is say no, but there’s a good chance that you could end the call with a lower rate than you went in with.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face when it comes to saving money? Do you find saving money comes easily or do you struggle with it?
Amy is a frugal living wife who is always on the search for more ways to save money and cut costs. She is a stay at home wife with a passion to help other wives and moms who long to stay home with their families find ways to make it possible.
You can read more of her money saving ideas on her blog, Deliberately Here.