10 Easy Money Moves I Made to Slash My Spending in Half

by Allison Martin · 17 comments

There was once a time in my life that money seemed to disappear from my bank account as quickly as it came in. And the more income I generated, the less disposable income I had available. In fact, I often found myself scrambling to make money stretch until the next direct deposit came in.

Surprisingly, my transition to the freelance world was exactly what I needed to get my spending habits under control. The amount of income wasn’t the problem — but failing to properly account for it was.

Sound familiar? If you’re living from check to check, a few minor adjustments to your habits can help you cut costs and start working towards financial freedom.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

10 Quick Ways to Save Money

1. Pay attention to your spending patterns

As the old adage says, “It’s not about how much you make, but how you spend it.” Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that your finances aren’t in tip-top shape, closely monitor your expenditures for a month or so to get an idea of what areas need to be shaved down. What you find will probably surprise you.

2. Cut out dining on the fly

This is usually one of the biggest budget busters to plague innocent consumers. Whether it’s the result of being too tired to cook dinner for your family, or wanting to catch up with co-workers over lunch hour, dining out adds up rather quickly. Let’s say you spend $15 per day on a cup of joe and lunch. That’s $75 a week — or $300 per month.

3. Eliminate spa visits

Life can be draining, so we all need a little pampering to unwind. But if the $150 visits become a monthly routine, your wallet can easily take a beating. A wiser alternative: do-it-yourself, and only when the funds are available.

4. Start using coupons

You don’t have to go overboard and commit hours of your life to couponing. But it wouldn’t hurt to peruse the Sunday paper or visit online databases to find coupons for your favorite items . A meal planner that incorporates these items is another way to stretch your grocery money.

5. Exchange the soda and juice for water

If it’s clean in your city, tap water is the easiest and cheapest beverage available. But even bottled water beats the cost of sodas and juices. (Not to mention it’s much healthier for you!)

6. Sign up for Netflix

Before I made the switch, my cable bill was a whopping $132 per month. Now, I only spend $8.99 per month — and still can watch all my favorite shows.

7. Explore the great outdoors

Ditch the gym membership, which could easily be $19.99 or more per month, and go for a run. Not in the mood for fun in the sun? Visit YouTube for free workouts, or check out an exercise DVD from your local library.

8. Open up the windows in your home

The cooler months are right around the corner, so the interior of your home could use some fresh air. Watch your utility bills drop as the breeze rolls in!

9. Switch cell phone providers

As much as I love fancy smart phones, paying close to $100 each month wasn’t working out. So I switched to a provider that offered an all-inclusive plan for only $40.

10. Stop using the dry cleaners

Unless the tag clearly indicates that the item must be dry-cleaned, you can always air dry those delicate pieces and steam them in the comfort of your own home. I was able to acquire a decent steamer for around $25 at Walmart, and then eliminated my monthly drycleaning bill of $160.

Imagine how quickly you could boost your emergency fund or eliminate outstanding debts by implementing a few of these suggestions and taking a more disciplined approach to your variable expenses.

What money moves have you made to get your finances in order?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Wendy T says:

    Hi, I have a question about Netflix and being able to still watch your favorite shows.

    Are you able to watch what is currently on tv – cable and network shows? Or are you watching previous seasons?

    I’ve read a lot about this, but I still don’t seem to get it. I need a “Guide for Dummies” or something like that. Any and all input appreciated. Thanks.

    • David says:

      Wendy, switching to Netflix does not allow you to immediately watch TV shows. For example the AMC shows that we love, Mad Men and Walking Dead are a full year behind. We got a late start on them so it’s not a big deal.
      For broadcast shows on most of the big networks, we use Hulu Plus. It is also about $9 a month.
      We stream ours through an Apple TV, but you can hook up your computer to your TV with an HDMI cable and stream from their.
      Feel free to shoot me any other questions about it. I am doing a short Monday Money Minute on our site about this very subject. I am uploading the video I created right now. 😉 It’s not technical, but I am here to help where I can. — David of DebtFreeGuys.com

  • Ashley Eneriz says:

    Great list. The biggest thing for me is that I buy used items (and usually resell them for a profit when I am done with them – ex baby stuff), and I don’t rely too much on coupons but more on buying meats when they are marked down to 50% and then freezing them or turning them into freezer meals that day.

    • I’m a huge fan of reselling unused goods for a profit. Smart move, Ashley. And you can’t beat the clearance sales since coupons are rarely available for meats that aren’t prepackaged.

  • fredjohnson says:

    I have a $30 a month Tmobile cell plan. No contracts. Unlimited 4G data and texts. 100 talk min a month, but if at home you can talk unlimited on wifi, or anywhere on wifi for that matter. Just download Google Voice for free.

  • fredjohnson says:

    Disagree with stopping the gym membership. $20 a month is cheap for physical exercise. Besides, in the snow belt, you aren’t going to want to run outside 6 months of the year. Here in MN it’s closer to 8 months of cold during a year. And, my Blue Cross Blue Shield reimburses most people $20 a month of their membership if you go to the gym at least 12 times a month. Because of this my gym membership has been free for years.

  • KT,
    I also have Republic Wireless! How awesome is that? The plans are very affordable and the service is great.

  • KT says:

    If you’re looking for inexpensive (yet good) cell service I went with Wireless Republic. Invested $150 in the Moto G but after the initial investment I’m paying $10 per month for a smart phone with unlimited talk, text and data when on wifi and unlimited talk, text through the Sprint network. If I wanted to up my bill to $25 per month I could get unlimited talk, text and data both on wifi and cell (3G on Spring) but just haven’t found I needed it. It is somewhat of a start-up company and I did have to go through 2 phones before I got one that worked but Wireless Republic sent me 3 phones (the 3rd was the keeper), paid the return postage on the 2 phones that died after 2-3 weeks, extended my 30 day trial period twice and gave me a $25 credit to boot. They back what they cell and they want their customers to be satisfied.
    FYI – I’m not affiliated financially or otherwise with them – I’m just a happy customers who wants this company to continue to grow.
    If you want to check them out here is this link: https://republicwireless.com/info/plans/

  • David Ning says:

    I’m doing most of what Allison has mentioned. I still get a tiny bit of giddy when the junk mailer comes in from the cable company asking me to sign up for their overpriced triple play bundles!

  • I had to do all the things in your list to be able to save money and get out of debt (except for the Spa and the Dry cleaners… I didn’t do those before).

    Tracking my spending and not eating out as much were the two that helped me out the most and the easiest to do right away. I slowly started changing other things, like cutting cable and getting netflix, using coupons (although I don’t go crazy with this, I still try to find one whenever I can), quit the gym and workout outside more often, stopped drinking so much soda and juice, and switch cell phone providers (I used to pay $127 a month for two phones, now I pay ~$50 for the same two phones).

    This is a great list and whoever follows it, will surely save a lot of money and get out of debt faster.

  • Kirsten says:

    I’ve been a runner for 20 years, so for me it was a good idea to get a treadmill. That keeps me from purchasing a gym membership to keep up with training during inclimate weather – like our thee months of subzero “high” temperatures. Every now and then it makes sense to spend money to save money (although my treadmill was a gift).

    I do many of the other things in your list 🙂

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