*This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure
Everyone wants to save money.
And they want to see the results RIGHT AWAY.
Lucky for you, I feel exactly the same way, and put together a list of 18 ways that you can save a HUGE amount of cash, starting this month!
And I’m not just going to tell you what they are.
I will walk you through STEP-BY-STEP how to implement them right away.
If you are tired of wasting money, read below and TAKE ACTION to save over $1,800+ per month!
Table of Contents
Eliminate The Unnecessary
1. Cut the Cable
- According to a 2017 study by Kagan, the average cost of TV programming is now $100.96 per month!
- With the WIDE availability of streaming services, on-demand entertainment, and Live TV online, this is an absurd number than can be reduced dramatically and save you a bundle of cash.
- How to cut the cord!
- Call your cable or satellite company, ask to cancel your service.
- If still under contract, negotiate the early termination fee, ask to stay with high-speed internet only
- Or, call a competing company and let them know you’re trying to switch and want help with the fees associated with cancelling.
- Basically ask “what’s the best you can do?”
- Get your entertainment fix using one of a MANY streaming services. I recommend pick 2 (we use Netflix and Amazon Prime)
- Also, just stop watching so much damn TV!
Money Saved This Month: $75 ($100 – $25 (for Prime and Netflix) = $75)
Money Saved This Year: $900
2. Cancel Unused Gym Membership
- So, you signed up in January and went a total of what, 5 times?
- According to Statistic Brain Research Institute, the average Gym Memberships are $58 per month
- It’s time to cut the gym membership and start working out at home!
- Steps to Cancel Gym Membership
- Go in person, talk to a manager, explain that you no longer use the facility and would like help cancelling the contract.
- Negotiate the termination cost, they may ask that you pay the rest up front, see if you can cut that in half. Or see if they will lower the monthly rate through the rest of the contract, and cancel once it’s up.
- Now, find your favorite online workout program (Make It Easy: go sign up for a 14-day Free Trial of Beach Body On Demand streaming service, and only about $12 per month after that), and GET TO WORK!
- Better yet, build your own home gym and never step foot in a traditional gym again!
- Set a schedule, block out the time, and commit to it at the beginning of each week.
Money Saved This Month: $46
Money Saved This Year: $552
3. No More Starbucks
Ok, this one has been beaten TO DEATH, but hear me out. It’s not that you can’t afford a coffee out now and then, it’s that you can have MUCH BETTER COFFEE for literally 8x less money.
Coffee is wonderful, and even healthy for you (in moderation, of course). But grabbing a cup of joe on the go every day is KILLING your budget. Let me show you.
- Average cost 12 oz cup of coffee at Starbucks in 2018: $2.15
- Add in the average $1 tip, your cup of coffee is $3.15
- A simple cup of coffee just on work days is now costing you $15.75 per week
- Multiply that by 22 week days per month (Mon-Fri), and you are spending $69.30 per month on coffee
- Let’s be honest, this is conservative, as most people don’t just get drip at Starbucks. Most likely you’re out the door spending $5 on a latte, but we’ll stick with drip for now.
- As of 2018, average cost of 1lb. of ground, roasted coffee is $4.30 (according to Bureau of Labor Statistics). But ACTUAL GOOD COFFEE is more like $10 a pound (might as well treat yourself for saving $$$).
- That 1-pound bag will make (82) 9oz cups of coffee. EIGHTY-TWO CUPS OF COFFEE for $10!!!
- Even if you go HARD and take down (2) 9oz cups of coffee for the day, you still have 41 days’ worth of coffee for $10.
- You buy Starbucks drip coffee for $3.15 per day, or $69.30 per month. Time wasted (15 mins per day x 22 days = over 5 hours per month). Coffee spilled on clothes in car = at least 5 times per month. Wrong order = at least twice per month. Subpar, expensive coffee = EVERY DAY.
- You buy a decent bag of coffee for $10. You use the money saved from Starbucks to grab a very nice French Press for $16 that makes you two cups of coffee exactly.
- You enjoy BETTER TASTING coffee in the peacefulness of your home for the next 42 DAYS. That’s a month and a half of coffee (including weekends), for 8x less than the drive through.
- 9lbs. of coffee will last you the whole year (42 days x 9 = 378 days of coffee!)
Money Saved This Month: $48.30 (Save $64.30 – $16 for French Press)
Money Saved This Year: Almost $750! ($741.60 for you money nerds)
4. Unfollow Deal Websites (Groupon, Living Social, Etc.)
- Average American spending on Entertainment is about $250 as of 2017 (according to Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Coupon deal sites are a GREAT way to save on planned date nights and family activities, but you DO NOT need to be reminded of every deal, every day. UNSUBSCRIBE!
Plan your entertainment. Set up a weekly date night, stay in every other time. Set a budget and THEN search for coupons.
There are ALWAYS deals, do not get a case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). “Once in a lifetime” does not apply to a coupon. Trust me.
- Instead of spending $250 per month, let’s slash that down to $125 per month.
- At home date night means food and drinks are already included in the Grocery budget, Entertainment is whatever is streaming online, or just hanging out and playing a board game. Cost = $0
- Twice a month it’s time to go out. Woohoo!
- Since the budget is $150 total, let’s shoot for $75 per date night! NOW you can search for some coupons! (I’m sitting in a coffee shop in San Antonio, so these are specific to the area. You can find your own on Groupon.com or any other deal website
Date Night Idea #1
- Mini Golf For 2 = $12 with Groupon
- Mongolian Stir Fry (and sodas) for 2 = $20 with Groupon
- Happy Hour Night Cap = $25 (most any place you can find $5 well drink or beer/wine, 2 drinks each plus $5 tip)
- Total = $60
Date Night Idea #2
- Happy Hour = $11 Steak Nachos, $10 Shrimp Tacos, $3.75 for happy hour drinks (x4 drinks). Total with tip = $43
- Escape Room for 2 = $36 with Groupon
- Total = $80
Total Date Night Cost = $140 per month!
Savings Per Month: $110 ($250 average spending – $140 new budget)
Savings Per Year: $1,320
5. Fast Food
- Same BLS study HERE shows the average American family spends over $3,300 annually on eating out. That’s almost $300 per month!
- Let’s saying half of that is Fast Food for lunch. At $5 a day, that’s $150 per month spent on LACK OF PLANNING, on something that is bad for your body, and costs FAR MORE than making your own lunch.
- First, let’s talk about WHY you are eating fast food. According to this Scientific Study, people choose fast food because it is quick, convenient, and they have no time to make their own food.
- The simple fact is fast food is a choice of laziness, but can be corrected with a SMALL amount of effort. In fact, you can eat healthy, save money and NEVER STEP FOOT IN A GROCERY STORE AGAIN!
- Here’s how to do it.
- Sign up for the 14-day trial of eMeals service. They will create the meal plan, create the grocery list, and instructions for cooking.
- They will send you a weekly meal plan. Use the eMeals App on your phone to pick your meals, and then AUTOMATICALLY send these to your grocery service of choice (Instacart, Kroger Clicklist, Amazon Fresh, Walmart or Shipt).
- Schedule to have the groceries delivered, or pick them up at the store (Kroger, Walmart).
- Cooks meals at home, enjoy the savings, and buy back 5+ hours per week (and start losing some pounds)!
- Try eMeals for free for 14 days (Only $5 per month after that ($60 annual))
Savings Per Month: $70 ($150 fast food – $80 lunch ingredients)
Savings Per Year: $840
6. Gas Station Snacks
- Gas stations make their money inside the store, not at the pump. In 2017 alone, gas station convenience stores made $237.0B.
- Read that again. $237,000,000,000 revenue from inside the gas station convenience stores.
- How does this happen? Some of it is from tobacco products (this is another issue altogether). But a majority of that number if from snacks and drinks. It’s a simple formula.
- You fill up your gas. It takes forever. You head inside and grab a soda and bag of chips, maybe a breakfast burrito or other pre-made food. Gas is done, you close the cap and hit the road.
- If this happens at each fill up, say you spend $7 each time, that doesn’t seem bad, but filling up 5 times a month, you’re blowing $35 on LITERALLY THE WORST SNACK FOOD ON THE PLANET.
- No big math formula needed here, JUST STOP. Most people fill up on the way home from work, YOU CAN WAIT 20 MINUTES FOR A SNACK!
- Save your health and your wallet, and cut this habit immediately.
Savings Per Month: $35
Savings Per Year: $420
7. Bank/ATM Fees
- According to a survey of 1,000 people by Transferwire, Americans spend an average of $329 per year on bank fees. That is $25 per month in fees that MOST are not even aware of.
- Here’s where the money is being wasted and how to STOP THE BLEEDING.
- ATM Fees
- This one is simple. Go to an in-network ATM for your cash, or bank with a LOCAL CREDIT UNION that will reimburse any ATM fees. DONE.
- Investment Fees
- Ask your bank what fees are attached to your investment accounts. Better yet, DO NOT INVEST THROUGH A BANK, they make a HUGE profit off of you. Move your investments to Vanguard, which is investor-owned, has the lowest fees and simplest investing options. Choose a Target Date Index Fund, pay almost NOTHING in fees, and enjoying passive investing freedom! Check them out at vanguard.com or give them a call to find out more (1-888-273-4205).
- Overdraft Fees
- This one can be corrected quickly by getting yourself on a budget. Conveniently, this website is ALL ABOUT BUDGETS, and you can simply head over to my tutorial on How To Budget to get yourself started.
- You will give every dollar a name, and will always know how much is in your bank account, and WHEN bills are coming through.
- You will get out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle and never have to worry about overdraft fees again.
- What are you waiting for? Make it happen!
- Transaction Search Fees
- This fee is for requesting information on old transactions. For example, Bank of America charges $20 to research old transaction data. Ridiculous!
- Again, no need when you are on a budget and have this all tracked in your spreadsheet or in YNAB (or even Mint.com)
- Paper Statement Fees
- This fee is for getting copies of old paper statements. Again, simply track your money in a budget, and no need for this.
- Most banks give you access to the previous 6 months of statements, and since you will be tracking your spending closely on your budget, you’ll catch things quickly.
- Early Account Closure Fees
- Many big banks require accounts be open for a certain amount of time, and this is one of those GOTCHAS in the fine print.
- Solve this issue by banking at a member-owned credit union, and if you are still at a big bank, call in BEFORE closing an account to make sure you aren’t ripped off here.
- Minimum Balance Fees
- This one is annoying, but can usually be avoided by setting up direct deposit to an account. If they still require a minimum balance, just make sure when you are budgeting for the month, you keep this money in the account as UNTOUCHABLE savings.
- But seriously, move to a credit union. Seriously.
- International Money Transfer Fees
- Ummmm….I don’t recommend sending money to Nigerian Princes…..under any circumstances….. #feeavoided
- But really, all international wire transfers will have a fee. Just research lowest cost AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, the most SECURE way to do this.
- Wiring money is sketchy, make sure your bank stands behind the wire and will replace any most lost due to fraud.
Savings Per Month: $25+
Savings Per Year: $300+
8. Mow Your Lawn!
- Lawn Care
- On a personal note, I spent $120 per month on lawn care in WA state, but during the spring, that numbers was $240 per month for weekly service.
- On average the American Family spent $180 on lawn care in 2015 ($90 per person, assuming married household according to THIS DATA)
- For that same $180, you can purchase an Electric Mower on Amazon, with a few bucks to spare for a pair of gardening gloves. Spend a few extra dollars for a good adjustable rake, and you’re all set!
- Some tips on mowing the lawn
- Mow in the morning or evening when it’s cool outside. Trust me.
- Keep your grass a little longer (3-3.5″ tall) and mow more frequently. Makes the grass healthier (and greener) and the mowing job quicker and easier.
- Don’t bag the clippings. Let the clippings spread on the lawn as a natural fertilizer, and since you’re mowing more frequently, they won’t clump as much. I’d still bag them before a backyard party though!
- Mow weekly during spring and fall, less frequently when hotter out, as grass will slow growth when in extreme heat.
Savings This Month: $180
Savings Per Year: $2,160
9. Clean Your Own House!
- According to statistics, house cleaning services for a typical 2,200 sq. ft. home can range from $200 – $360 per month for bi-weekly cleaning. So on average, that’s about $280 per month for house cleaning services.
- For some, this service is a Godsend, especially those with small children to keep up with. But it’s a steep price to pay, and with a few tweaks to your daily schedule, cleaning the house can become a habit, and save you a HUGE amount of money.
- Housecleaning Schedule for dummies. Break it down by day. Assign each day of the week with a task that can be completed in 30 minutes or less. Here’s a sample below:
- Monday – Floors. Vacuum or mop all floors
- Tuesday – Countertops and tables. If it has a flat surface, wipe it down, clean it up, and ensure there is NO CRUMB LEFT BEHIND
- Wednesday – Bathrooms. It’s hump day, might as well DO THE HARD THING and deep clean the bathrooms. Floors and counters should be DONE, so just focus on toilets, showers and sinks. And then wipe the mirrors to finish!
- Thursday – Trash Day! – Time to ensure any extra trash, recycling, or items to be donated LEAVE THE HOUSE. You may want to adjust this day closer to whatever your actual trash day it, but use this day to get organized
- Friday – Maintenance Mode. Use Friday to do a quick check of floors, flat surfaces and anything that needs immediate attention. Get ready to kick up your feet for the weekend
- Saturday & Sunday – Take a break! Enjoy your efforts by taking a break for the weekend, you’ll be back at it again Monday.
Savings This Month: $280
Savings Per Year: $3,360
10. Stop Buying Clothes!
- Again, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics study in 2017, the average American household spending on clothing (and related services) was $1,883 per year. This equates to just over $150 per month.
- Clothing is (almost always) required to have a steady job, be seen in public, and generally keep yourself out of prison.
- BUT, you do NOT need to continue buying clothes every month. At some point, you ACTUALLY HAVE ENOUGH CLOTHES, and you can make them last for years at a time. REALLY.
- Tips To Nearly Eliminate Your Clothing Budget
- Step 1: Read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Trust me, this will change your ENTIRE view on not only clothing, but ALL the “stuff” in your life that is cluttering your house and your mind.
- Step 2: Create a Capsule Wardrobe. This is a setup of clothing pieces that allow you to mix and match your clothing to create a HUGE variety of outfits for any occasion. I won’t pretend to be an expert here.
- Go check out this article on Who, What, Wear, and go through your closet THIS MONTH!
- Step 3: Still not enough clothes? Read ALL OF THIS ARTICLE (written by my lovely wife, no less) to setup a “Clothing Swap”, and shop your friends wardrobes for all new clothing. This is a GREAT way to get rid of clothes you don’t like, and get all new-to-you clothes FOR FREE!
- Step 4: STILL NOT SATISFIED? OMG! What will it take?
OK, calm down, there’s another option for free clothing.
No, seriously, free clothing.
- Just hop on Facebook, click on the search bar and type in “Buy Nothing <your city name>”. The “Buy Nothing Project” was put together so people can get rid of stuff without recycling or throwing it away.
- Simply join your local group, and create a new post saying “In Search Of <clothing that is your style/size>”. Then people can comment, send you pics of the clothes they no longer need, and you can schedule a time to pick up straight off their porch.
- We used this for a TON of our kids clothing, as well as a few pieces for the adults as well.
- Savings This Month: Over $150
- Savings Per Year: $1883
Cut Costs Quickly In These Categories
- Most internet providers have a CRAZY LOW introductory offer to bring in new customers. This offer usually lasts 6 months, and then the rates are jacked up crazy high to offset the intro price.
- These rates are also offered by their competitors as well.
- Here’s how you can keep your current provider AND cut your bill in half (or at least back to their crazy low intro rate):
- Call your internet service provider, and follow the phone prompts to get to “cancel service”
- This will automatically send your call to the “customer retention” department, where they do everything in their power to keep you as a customer
- Simply state that you were used to paying the lower intro rate, and you are not happy with the high cost of internet now.
- Let them know their competitors have a crazy low intro rate offer as well, but you would like to stay with them if possible.
- Ask what they can do for you, and then SHUT UP!
- Make sure they get down to something CLOSE to what you were paying before
- DO NOT sign up for any contract, or “BUNDLE”, as those are just a rip off.
- You basically want high speed internet under $50 per month
- If they can’t make it happen, call up the competitor and ask what they can do to make it worth your while to switch, and tell them you want a painless switchover.
Savings This Month: Up to $50
Savings Per Year: $600
12. Cell Phone
- Join a family plan. Carriers offer multiple line discounts, so see if your family (or friends, if you trust them enough) will split a bill with you.
- This can cut down your monthly bill but $15-$20.
- Switch to a pre-paid plan. Pre-paid is no longer just for the archaic looking Trac-Fone’s at the grocery store checkout.
- Today, prepaid plans run on the BIG carrier networks, but give you a discount by paying a month ahead instead of AFTER the month ends.
- For example, an AT&T Unlimited plan is $70, but use the AT&T PREPAID plan, and an Unlimited plan is $55 per month. No-brainer.
- NOTE: You must OWN your phone. Prepaid plans do not offer installment plans for phone or accessories. Which is fine, because you can buy a used phone (use tips below)
- Buy A Used Cell Phone. Once you get your monthly plan reduced, there’s still the OUTRAGEOUS cost of smart phones to deal with ($1,000+!!!!).
- Save hundreds by buying last year’s model on Swappa.com (where users sell their old (working) phones for cheap).
- For example, last year’s Samsung Galaxy can be had in “Good” condition for $260. Again, no brainer!
Savings This Month: Up to $50
Savings Per Year: $600
Want a quick way to save hundreds on your current mortgage? Consider a refinance.
Especially for those being penalized with Mortgage Insurance (FHA Loans typically).
We refinanced our mortgage to get rid of Mortgage Insurance, and lowered our monthly payment. There were some initial costs, but overall we came out ahead and saved thousands.
I recommend contacting a “mortgage broker” as they are not tied to any specific company, and can help you find the best rate.
Steps to ReFi Your Home Mortgage:
- Determine your loan rate and length. You can Google current refi interest rates to see what the common rates are. As for length, try NOT to lengthen your loan. For example: If you are 4 years into a 30-year mortgage, then ReFi as a 26 year (or 25 to round it down) term, do NOT got back to a 30-year, as then you will then be paying MORE interest in the long run. If you can swing it, going down to a 15-year mortgage can save you TENS OF THOUSANDS (possibly hundreds of thousands) over the life of the loan.
- Get your current credit score. This is a guideline, as the lender WILL end up pulling a direct score, but this will get you in the ballpark of what you score is and what rates you can qualify for.
- Contact A Broker. There are TONS of places to ReFi, but I prefer a trusted broker who can go to bat for you. If you don’t have one to work with, reach out for referrals from friends and family with good experience. There are ways to ReFi Online (such as Quicken Loans), but I have not personally used them. Just make sure to get some referrals before using any lender.
A good broker will hand-walk you through the process, and SHOULD be able to do most everything digitally these days.
- Get all your financial statements together. Your lender will have a list for you, but it’s similar to what you need for getting taxes done (plus pay stubs). Grab your last 2 months of pay stubs, last 2 years’ tax returns (including W-2’s), and a list of any debts and assets (investments, etc).
- Have some cash on hand. To close, you will most likely bring SOME money to the table. Feel free to ask your lender what is the LEAST AMOUNT you can spend out of pocket. Our ReFi had no origination fee, we ended up spending $1,200 out of pocket, but that was quickly recouped with our savings every month
- Calculate Your break-even. Since there are fees associated with a ReFi, it’s important to calculate how long it would take to break even. For example; if you are saving $200 per month, but it cost $3,000 to ReFi, make sure you don’t move or ReFi again until you have AT LEAST saved $3,000 (which would be 15 months).
Savings Per Month: Possibly $200 (or more)
Savings Per Year: $2,500+
If you are SERIOUS about achieving Financial Freedom in your life, then sometimes you need to make some BIG moves.
Moving can seem like a HUGE BURDEN, but there are several ways in which moving can get you WAY ahead on your financial goals, and cut years off your retirement!
Here are a few reasons that moving can help you save some serious $$$:
- High Rent: Check if you are paying too much rent using the Rent-o-Meter. This tool analyzes rental rates in your area based on your address. Just plug it in and see if you are over paying
- High-Cost-of-Living (HCOL) Area: Many people are simply living in a place that costs too much. Check out this Cost of Living calculator to determine if moving could save you money.
- Real life example: My sister lived just north of Seattle, and had just had a baby. They could not afford for her to stay at home, so they sold the house and moved near Phoenix, AZ. She was able to quit her job, her husband got a job paying similar wages, and they can now afford to have her stay at home with the baby. The costs were so reasonable that they even had a new home built, but almost HALF of what it costs near Seattle for a used home.
- Long Commute: Transportation costs are FAR MORE expensive than anyone realizes. The average family spends over $9,000 per year on transportation costs (car payments, insurance, maintenance, gas).
- If you can find a home to rent or buy CLOSE to work, you can simply walk or bike there, possibly eliminating $4,500 from your yearly costs (or more if you drive more than your spouse). Even a short bus ride is better than paying for a second car!
- Not to mention lowering your stress, and gaining HOURS back every week not driving on your long, soul-sucking commute.
Savings Per Month: $350 (or more)
Savings Per Year: $4,500+
15. Maintenance DIY
Use THE GOOGLE or hop onto Youtube.com for any maintenance or repair. I have saved TENS OF THOUSANDS taking the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach, and now have a bunch of new skills to boot!
Here are a few things I’ve fixed over the years:
Here’s my formula for DIY when you don’t know what you are doing:
- Google “how to fix <your thing>”
- There are usually Youtube videos, and sometimes step-by-step blog posts that can show you (with pictures) EXACTLY what you will need, and how to fix it.
- On your Youtube App, just search “how to repair <your item>”
- Just like using Google, this will give you a large array of step-by-step videos showing EXACTLY what to do.
- For car issues, find a “car forum”
- For example: If you own a Honda (you should), then go to https://honda-tech.com/forums/
- You can find answers to specific questions people have asked, or you can ask your own
- Savings Per Month: $100 (or more)
- Savings Per Year: $1,000+
There is a big push toward LED lights, and for good reason. They use about 75% LESS electricity than your typical incandescent bulb, AND they last a heck of a lot longer.
I recommend replacing the bulbs you use the most (several hours per day), as that will net you the biggest energy savings. Start with the living room, kitchen, and bathrooms.
Luckily, prices are WAY down on these, and you can get a 24-pack of LED bulbs on Amazon for just $1 per bulb!
And of course, to save even more energy, follow you dad’s advice and “turn off that light!” Open the blinds and let the natural light do the work during the day.
Savings Per Month: Up to $75 (according to a study by CFA)
Savings Per Year: $900
As far as electricity goes, your dryer is the costliest appliance you own! Use the below tips to reduce your energy costs AND keep your dryer running smoothly:
- Clean your lint trap AND your dryer vent hose. Most everyone knows to clean their lint trap after each drying cycle, but do NOT forget your dryer hose and vent as well. We almost had a FIRE because of a clogged dryer hose, luckily, I was able to catch it before the house burned down. This also helped our clothes dry TWICE AS FAST, and saved us several dryer-loads each week.
- Use wool dryer balls. We’ve always used wool dryer balls (my wife even made her own at one point!). They simply help push the clothes around, keeping them separated and allowing more hot air to dry them quicker. You can grab a set wool dryer balls for $17 on Amazon Prime!
- Air Dry When You Can. This is a simple way to not only save on dryer loads, but make your clothes last longer as well. We used an indoor drying rack, and if you’re lucky enough to have year round sunshine, you can opt for a sweet outdoor umbrella style clothesline.
18. Get A Smart Thermostat
Heating and cooling your home can cost a pretty penny! Depending on where you live, this can SIGNIFICANTLY impact your electrical bill each month.
Luckily, there are now Smart Thermostats that can help you save on your energy bills, AND give you great features such as controlling them from your smartphone.
We personally used the NEST Learning Thermostat in our home, though not quite long enough to see the full savings (we sold our home about 8 months after getting it).
According to NEST, their thermostat will save the average user close to $140 per year in energy costs, which means it can pay for itself within 2 years.
Though the savings is great, mostly, we just wanted to turn on the heat WHILE STILL UNDER THE COVERS. #winning
You can grab the Nest Learning Thermostat on Amazon for about $215, but make sure to check for any rebates HERE first. Sometimes your local energy company will give a discount coupon. Just put in your zip code and see 🙂