How to *actually* save money
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I’m writing this from a coffee shop while drinking my $4 iced cold brew, and I’m not mad about it. Know why? I know from personal experience that “bringing coffee from home” or other typical financial advice targeted at millennials isn’t enough. I’ve made space in my budget for the life-bringing coffee, and I am happy with that. Let’s talk about ways you can actually reduce your expenses so that you can pay off some debt, save up for a new house (or a big trip to IKEA if you do a 0% down program with me), and just generally live less money-stressed.
Call your service providers.
Put on your big girl pants and pick up the phone and talk to a real live human. Just do it. Here’s the script you’ll want to use: “Hi! I’ve been a customer of yours for (x) years and I’ve been shopping around to see if I can save on some of my monthly expenses. Before I cancel, do you have any current discounts that I’m not taking advantage of that might reduce my bill?” Here are the rules:
Be kind. They’re just working a job, and they deal with so many unhappy people that they’re more likely to give you a deal if you’re a nice person.
Be reasonable. Your $300 cell phone bill isn’t going to go down to $50.
Know your stuff. Actually shop around and know what kind of rates (promotional or otherwise!) you could get with other providers.
Who you can call:
cell phone provider
Shop prices for recurring purchases
Do you have a prescription that you fill every month? Check GoodRx to find the best price and a coupon.
Do you have a protein shake addiction? Subscribe to one on Amazon and get an automatic monthly delivery at a reduced price.
Finding yourself spending extra while you’re out because you get “snacky”? Buy snacks in bulk to stash in your bag.
Use automatic savings
I personally use Digit (click here to get $5 in your account!); they save automatically based on my income and purchasing. If I go on a spending spree, they’ll save more. If I’m being frugal, they’ll save a couple dollars here and there. The best part about it is that if you aren’t one of those people who checks their balance every day, you’ll accumulate a decent stash in no time, then be surprised when you check back in to the app!
I also have an autodraft of my savings every week, so that I don’t chicken out of putting extra money in.
Pay off debts
This one is easier said than done, but we just paid off our car after 5.5 years and it is SO NICE to not have that payment hanging over our heads. We paid it off 6 months early by chipping in an extra $20 per month. This means that an extra $250 per month can go towards paying off other debts (hello Dave Ramsey snowballers), or it can go towards savings. I prefer to split it up to reward myself, letting some of it go towards “needs” and some of it going towards fun.
Cancel what you aren’t using
Haven’t watched anything on Hulu since Handmaids Tale? Cancel it. Using Spotify more than Apple music? Cancel Apple music. If you want to see what automatic payments are coming out of your Paypal account, follow these instructions.
Stop letting other people spend your money
How many influencers do you follow on social media? How many of them inspire you to do anything other than shop? (ooo girl) Try unfollowing those that make you feel like you aren’t enough, like you don’t have enough, or that you don’t do enough. Instead, follow people who motivate you towards your goal of reducing your spending, like minimalist bloggers (make sure they’re realistic minimalists, not people just buying verrrry expensive things and staying in fancy hotels all the time).
I know this is an unpopular option, because of reality shows and those people with binders full of slips of paper clearing out shelves, but hear me out. I LOVE using coupons. It feels like I’m cheating the system. I only use them for things I am already buying (see the Publix app), and I do as many virtual ones as I can, so that I don’t have to keep track of those tiny pieces of paper. I do it this way because I know myself and I want to make it as easy as possible for “in-the-grocery-store-Caroline” to follow “aspirational-planning-at-home-Caroline’s” wishes. Download the app for your favorite local store and browse the available coupons while on the canned goods aisle, then cash them in at the register for those extra savings. BONUS TIP: Are you a student, teacher, or senior? Chances are high that your local grocery store has a specific discount day for you, and you miss all of the shots you don’t take, so ask them!
Hopefully these tips help you to save a few bucks here and there, and to find some flexibility in you budget. If you’re ready to get your debts in order and prepare to buy a house, schedule an appointment with me using the links on the left.
Did I miss something? Comment below! I want ALL the tips and tricks.
Related post: Get a Handle on Your Wallet