Cutting expenses can come from many different resources, such as eliminating habits like coffee or smoking. But not everyone has that problem. I hope these ideas will help you think through your budget and ways to cut the MISC category down a bit. Let’s dive right in!
1. Pack Your Lunch
Leftovers, sandwiches, soups, salads… the possibilities are endless and rewarding. On average, there are 260 work days in a year. Packing your lunch at least 4 days a week can save you close to $2,500 a year. When in doubt, keep non-perishables like canned soup or frozen meals in case you may forget your lunch.
2. Meal plan
Meal planning takes practice but can be a great budget saving tool. Planning a week’s worth of dinners for your family, you’re able to cut your grocery spending and eating out tremendously. It may also be a good habit to start dedicating stable meals into the weekly agenda, like Taco Tuesdays or Spaghetti Thursdays.
With meal planning there is no guess work in what dinner will be after a stressful day of work. It can improve your wallet and your health.
3. Stockpile when prices are good
This is probably more so for those who coupon faithfully. But even as a beginner, you can find deals and steals that will make you grab multiple. Stockpile while you can, while staying within budget!
4. Skip the bottled water
It’s a big waste. Invest in a water filter that can fit in your refrigerator or over your kitchen faucet. Two cases of water a month can cost up to $100 a year, and is better for our environment. Remember minor changes have a major impact to your budget.
5. Use Coupons
This takes time and a bit of strategy, but there are plenty of free and paid couponing classes. If you’d like to keep it simple, check out apps like Coupons.com, Ebates, and Ibotta to save or earn cash back from purchases. A win is a win!
6. DIY Cleaning Products
These recipes can help you stay in budget with household items you may already have lying around. Check it out!
7. Thrift for Household Decor
Aside from reading, thrifting is probably one of my favorite pasttimes. I love decorating my home in various ways, but it can get expensive. Furniture, trinkets, wall art, and mirrors are bank busting purchases these days. Check out thrift stores and second hand shops in your area. You’d be surprised to see what you can find and refurbish. If you follow my personal IG, you’ll see my many ways of refurbishing furniture and other household items.
8. Shop Discount Stores
Deals aren’t always second hand. Shopping at places like Dollar Tree or 99 cent stores, you’ll quickly see the same name brand items for much less than your local Walmart. Discount stores are my go to for holiday and birthday party supplies. The thing I’ve notices is the nicer, name brand items are in nicer neighborhoods. So venture out and save money on some of your everyday products like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, kitchen essentials, and school supplies. I try to make this a habit of shopping sales papers and discount stores FIRST! Try this next month and report back with your savings!
9. Cancel Your Gym Membership
While I understand health is a serious matter to most, there are other ways to stay in shape while cutting this expense. There are free workout classes you can attend in and around your city, Pinterest workout routines you can do at home, or simply trade this time for walking and running around your neighborhood. If you live in an apartment complex, you’ll more than likely have a free gym. You may also check if your employer offers gym reimbursements. Save those coins!
10. Use the Library
As an avid reader, this was probably one of the most difficult tasks. I get on tangents of fiction and self help and I feel like I need everything I read on my shelf in my own personal library. While on my debt-free journey, this category was one of the first to go. I realized that I was spending anywhere from $9 – $35 on one book. Yea… no. So, I decided to stop purchasing books and check them out at my local library. Turns out Houston has a whole network of libraries I can go to and check books out. And if the library nearest me doesn’t have it, they’ll send it.
The public library in your city or area is a great resource for reading and research. It is also home to amenities like print and career services. Get a free membership and utilize the system to free books. Free game: most libraries also take suggestions from readers. If your library does not have the book you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to ask.
11. Reduce Music Subscriptions
If you’re anything like me, you had several ways to listen to music. From Tidal to Apple Music, and beyond. I was no different. The problem here is the monthly subscription to all. While some services like Soundcloud have it’s freebies, most people subscribe to these streaming services for the many perks. Try to narrow this category to one music subscription. If you can eliminate all paid music subscriptions, then you’re probably a serial killer. I kid.
12. Cancel Cable
I’ve been cable free for 2 years now. Well, kind of. I swapped out my $180 monthly cable service (roughly $2,160 a year) and opted for a one-time tv service called an Amazon Firestick. What this does is allow you to watch many tv shows and movies for free with apps like Tubi, or subscribe to services like Netflix and Hulu. If you’re anything like me, you may have many of these paid services and only pay for one. Hahahaha, judge not! Anyways, currently I pay for the Netflix service at $14/month ($168/year) and piggy back off my sister’s Hulu.
No shame in my game AT ALL. Even in doing this, I see the same shows I watch regularly, just a day later, and about $2,000 cheaper. CATCH THAT!
If you’re lucky enough to know someone who pays a cable bill and isn’t willing to cut it off, ask for their login and download the app on your firestick. My mom refuses to part with cable, so I log into her Dish Anywhere and catch live tv and her DVR recordings.
Call me cheap, but saving $2,000 a year by not paying for cable is WIN! Plus, you can’t complain about not having money if you’re sitting in front of a TV not making any. *shrug*
13. Update Holiday Traditions
Let’s face it, holidays are expensive. Food, travel, lodging, gifts, and decorations can add up pretty quickly. Give your traditions a quick facelift! What’s interesting about holidays is that like most of our spending habits, there is a way to budget for these things. If you’re really interested in cutting expenses, check out a few ideas on saving for big holidays.
New Year’s Eve/Labor Day/Memorial Day/4th of July – host an in home celebration with close friends and family. This is sure to cut down on the $100 you could spend by attending the hottest party. Ask everyone to bring their favorite dish to cut even more costs on your end.
Valentine’s Day (avg. – What’s a better way to say ‘I love you’ than with a homecooked meal, and spruce it up with homemade chocolate covered treats
Easter – find free events for your kiddos to enjoy around town. There are plenty of people dishing out hundred of dollars in goodies, don’t be one of them!
Parental Celebrations (aka Mother’s Day & Father’s Day) – no matter what age you are, try to create handmade gifts for your parents. It’ll mean so much more to them, and your budget. Pinterest & YouTube have ton of great DIY gifts for any stage of creativity
Halloween – costumes and candy are usually the drivers here. Try to purchase costumes in off-season, make them, or Thrift your heart out. Be sure to check your closet for props/paint before running out to get more.
Thanksgiving – Try to purchase non-perishable items in advance to avoid the crowds and impromtu overspending. I’ve seen way too many people running to convenience stores and places like CVS and Walgreens for last minute items. Drinks and plastic wear can be expensive if you’re looking to skip the crowd near this holiday. Preparation is key.
Christmas – There are so many ways to cut costs this holiday season:
- Don’t put up outside decor – it increases your electricity bill and you can only enjoy it if you’re outside. Thank you, next…
- Artificial Tree vs Real Tree – duh, artificial. You’ll save on this expense from year to year and it’s a way easier cleanup
- Decorations – Stores like AtHome have huge after holiday sales, and Christmas is the biggest of them all. Shop in the off season for the next big tree or a change in decor.
14. Try a Spending Freeze
This is my favorite thing to do each month. It’s a personal challenge to look ahead at my calendar for the next month and declare 5 days (at least) as no spend days. This may seem easy, but when you actually disect your spending habits, you may see that you spend more frivolously than you think.