Ever since I can remember, I have always been a saver. I owe that all to my parents. They were both very clear about saving money and helped get me started when I was as young as maybe 10 or 12 years old. I got my first job when I was 13 and yes, I loved spending money on clothes and make-up and jewelry and movies and CDs like any other teen girl, but I was always equally as conscious about checking my balances and managing my checkbook. Yes, I still to this day use a checkbook, haha! My husband laughs at me and thinks I am crazy but whatever… I am old school like that and and it really helps keep me on track.
Needless to say, my money-saving and budgeting habits began to rub off on Joe (thankfully) and we’ve be even more conscious lately with baby girl on the way.
There are some days when I say to myself “oh we totally got this, it’s all gonna be great” and then some days when I wake up frazzled and freaking out over saving more more more. Life is going to drastically change and money will be tighter than ever – there is no doubt in my mind – but I am trying my best to focus on the good and know that everything will work out. We will find a way to make things work. We have to!
In an effort to save more money before September, I’ve been a lot more conscious of what we are buying, how we are buying, and non-essentials we can forgo. Whether you are also preparing for a major life change (that will affect your budget) or want to just save a little more, I hope some of these tips inspire you. These are just some of the personal ways we are saving here and there. Nothing too crazy, just things that have been working for us.
#1: Cutting down food bill. Joe and I would spent between $70-90 a week on groceries in the past, but I have been trying to shop smarter and budget for $50-70 instead. We started shopping more at Price Rite for the bulk of our shopping and only visiting Trader Joe’s for specialty items. This has definitely helped us stay within budget. Coupons for Target, too!
#2: Eating out less. Cooking at home more has definitely helped us save money here and there. When we do go out (maybe 3-5 times a month), we’ve been opting for some of the cheaper stops that we still love – like Bagelz for breakfast! It still feels like we get out and enjoy each other’s company, but we are definitely saving money by enjoying coffee and a bagel vs. a huge breakfast.
#3: Thrifting vs. buying. If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve been thrifting for baby clothes every chance we get. Between friends with hand-me-downs and local thrift sales, we’ve been very fortunate and lucky to save hundreds. Yes, HUNDREDS.
#4: Avoid the temptation of buying baby anything. It’s hard, I know. In the beginning, I definitely caved on this due to all the excitement. However, the last few months I have been AWESOME at not buying a damn thing. If you are fortunate enough to have a baby shower, make sure you add everything you believe you will need. I registered on Amazon because they have the best prices and the largest selection. Once your shower is over, you can re-evaluate what your amazing friends and family have gifted you and then figure out what you still need. Until then, hold off on buying! Just trust me.
#5: Choosing reusable products. Another way we cut back was investing in more reusable products to avoid buying things over and over again. Some items we did this with: cloth napkins vs. paper, reusable straws vs. plastic, and rechargeable batteries. If you have more ideas, please share with me below!
#6: Adding a little extra in the savings account. Not everyone has the luxury of this, but if you do, see what more you can add to your savings each week. Joe and I figured out exactly what we could afford to say goodbye to each week from our paychecks to beef up our savings. Sometimes it may not seem like much, but even $25 or $50 extra a week will add up over the course of months. We may have to re-adjust once baby arrives, but for now… we’re going with it.
#7: Re-assessing our car insurance. I can’t tell you how happy I am that we did this. It may not be an option for everyone, but I am adding this in case it helps or pertains to even just one person! Once we got married, we took care of everything else in the world but sort of forgot about car insurance (we were separate, of course). Once we decided to re-evaluate and combine onto a “family plan,” we ended up saving over $600 a year. WEEEEE!
#8: Cutting cable. Just do it. We saved about $30 a month, but since it was a 2-year plan, this ended up saving us $720 all together. Netflix is everything. Plus, we also use the Playstation Vue service, which is no commitment and can be canceled at any time. To be honest, we only use it for The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul. Once these shows are over, we will cancel until they come back in the fall/winter. We save so much money by doing this. Look into your options!
#9: Choosing double-duty baby items. We opted for items that would last years – a crib that turns into a toddler bed and eventually day bed, a changing table that turns into a dresser. You know, big ticket items that would be costly if you had to continue to replace.
#10: Buying in bulk. From 5-lb bags of brown rice to toilet paper, we always choose bulk. Check the costs and compare. I know we will always need toilet paper. I know we will always be cooking brown rice. So hey, buy the most bang for your buck even though it is a little more expensive upfront and then you won’t have to replace for at least a month or two.
#11: Comparing store prices to Amazon. Amazon isn’t always the cheapest, but I do find that it is in most cases. Do your homework and check! Plus, with Amazon Prime (worth every penny), you get free shipping and have it in 2 days.
#12: Buying generic. I’ll admit I was a store-brand kind of person for a while, but we’ve switched over to generic when possible. Read the ingredients on some of this stuff – they are almost always the same!
#13: Minimal maternity wear. I got lucky with a summer pregnancy (not everyone will think that is considered lucky) because I can wear dresses all summer. I have a ton already, so honestly… all I had to buy was a good pair of maternity jeans (which I got on sale for $8), 2 maternity tanks, 1 black maternity top, and maternity leggings. I didn’t need much else (I had some flowy tops already, too), and I refuse to buy just to buy. Use your laundry machine and you’ll have enough to get you through the week! I am not in this for style – comfort and cost. It’s fine if I look the same for a couple months, right? Haha!
#14: Taking on more freelance projects. This won’t pertain to everyone, but as a writer I have the option to work on more freelance projects. If your profession allows this type of work, don’t be afraid to branch out and seek opportunities. I’ve made some awesome contacts this way, too.
#15: Registering for gender neutral (mostly). This tip will help anyone who may be planning on having a second or third. Joe and I would like two kids, so this works for us. Hand-me-downs will be AWESOME once the time for the second arrives. To be honest, I am not a pink kinda person in the first place (greens and blues forever) so this was easy for me. Sure, some things are girly and I know a lot of people will gift me with all the pink and purple – but overall, I have opted for gender neutrals on my registry. Green is my favorite color, so there is a ton of that. And actually, a lot is just rainbow and includes all colors… so still bright and fun! Doesn’t have to be all gray, cream, and yellow.
#16: Buying fruit/veggies in season. This may be more of a personal tip because I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (more than the average person). Fruits and veggies in season are usually significantly cheaper. Compare prices and do your homework. I actually think the farmer’s market is also a cheaper option in most cases, so seek out those local stands!
#17: Re-organizing current wardrobe. A lot of stuff tends to get lost in my closet – how about you? I blame nesting mostly, but I started rummaging through and clearing out all the nooks and crannies. Items I could totally rock while pregnant were now front and center. Doing this not only helped me to find older pieces that could be reworked/reworn, but showed me that wow… I really have no reason to shop for much. Everything is here. I used to browse Marshalls and TJ Maxx a lot for clothes, but have totally avoided this (aside from maternity wear) and know that I have saved a bunch of money doing so. If you think you are in the same boat as me when it comes to this, then consider this a good tip. Ha!
#18: Lowering heat. Again – may not pertain to everyone depending on where you live. It’s almost summer here now, so our heat has been off for a while. However, the winter was so cold! As cold as it was, it is cheaper to just layer up rather than keep the heat blasting all day. We make sure to set it on a timer, too. It helps keeps the monthly bill in check.
#19: Invest in coffee maker. For any coffee drinkers out there. My husband is a big iced coffee drinker and would grab his at Starbucks usually. Instead, we invested in a cold brew maker. Instead of dishing out the $2 or $3 a day for a cold brew, he makes his own. AND it is delicious. Yes, another upfront cost but trust me, with the amount of coffee this dude drinks… it has already paid for itself!
#20: Bringing lunch to work. Both Joe and I are guilty of buying lunch at work. It’s so convenient for me especially because we have an awesome cafe that caters to vegans. I still spend money there occasionally but have cut back by bringing in my own lunch. I’ve been making a little extra at dinner so I can reheat leftovers the next day. It saves me at least $30 a week (or $120 a month!)
*Bonus Tip: I call this a bonus because this isn’t technically a money-saver I guess, but I watched the documentary Minimalism on Netflix and it really changed the way I view material items. I’ll always like to buy things (I know this) but it definitely gave me some push and motivation to stay strong and really be mindful of the items I buy and put in my home. Maybe it will inspire you, too.
So there you have it – just some of the ways we’ve been successful in our own saving endeavors. I wrote a post in the past about living rich on a budget, and I think that is also a great read if you are nervous about a shift in lifestyle. Being more money conscious and living a bit more minimal doesn’t have to be scary, right? I find myself re-reading that post often, too!
Do you have any money-saving tips for me that I didn’t mention above? I’d really love all the ideas and help I can get. Please share in the comments. xx bianca