The purpose of cutting spending and saving on purchases is to set aside extra money to pay off a debt or build savings. It can also help to stretch your dollar when you are low on cash.
There are many ways to cut your spending painlessly even when it feels like you don’t have enough to cover everything. If you can focus your efforts on a few things to cut, you will find you can cut $20-50 a month and then start your savings or reduce your debt.
Here are lots of ideas to get you started. Read each category and go through your last few months of spending to see which you can use in your own plans. If doing them all is overwhelming, start by choosing 1-3 from each list and then watch how much you can save over time.
We all have to eat and just can’t get around it. For most of us, our eating will consist of a mixture of cooking at home using the groceries we buy and eating out at restaurants.
It is often the little ways we save on these things that can add up over a month. Before you know it, you can cut costs enough to save $50 extra a month or apply $50 extra to debt to eliminate it.
Here are some great ways to cut spending on food:
1 Make coffee at home and carry it in a travel mug instead of stopping at Starbucks or Dutch Bros. on your way to work. The $3 or more you would save each day on that coffee could easily fund a $500 emergency fund or pay off a $500 debt in about 8 months. If you can’t stand to cut out all Starbucks, limit yourself to once a week or as a reward when you have met other goals or milestones, then you will still reach your $500 goal in under a year.
2 Bring lunch to work instead of eating out. If buying lunch costs $8 a day and bringing lunch costs $3. Then you could save $100 a month or $80 if you still eat out once a week!
3 Plan your meals for the week. Make a list and stick to it as you shop. People who make a list and resist impulse buys spend much less money at the grocery store.
4 Know what items your family uses all the time, scan the adds each week looking for the lowest prices on these key items. Stock up for the month or longer when the prices for your key items are at their lowest. This will lower your overall shopping bill.
5 Be very careful to buy only what you will use. Freeze what you can to extend its life and use another time, if you didn’t plan well enough. Use this food freezing guide to help you with that.
6 Use a money-saving app or plan to cut costs even further.
Kroger stores (Fry’s in Arizona) link electronic coupons to the shopping online. I can add the coupons to the items as I shop. I add them to my customer card and the savings are deducted as I pay! No need to go through the paper and cut coupons anymore. I also save way more using my list and shopping on the website than wandering through the aisles. It is easier for me to resist things online rather than when it looks so good in person which means less impulse buys for me and all I have to do is drive up and pick up the bagged groceries too. The $5 fee is well worth this and I save much more in the end.
Ibotta will give you cash back for certain items after you shop. You just have to upload a receipt or connect your account to your loyalty cards at your grocery store. You can save up the cashback to use for Christmas, vacation, or to pay down debt.
7 Create your meal plan and shopping list around on sale meats and produce or what is already in your pantry/fridge.
8 Choose the store brand over the name brand, especially on staples. Staples like flour, sugar, ketchup, and others are often used with other items to the point that you will not even notice using a brand that saves you money. Decide the few brands that your family prefers and then choose the store brands on all they don’t mind or notice when you do a stealthy switch!
9 Plan a leftover night into your weekly meal plans to use up any leftovers in the fridge and reduce waste. Everyone may have a different meal but heat them and eat together. It could be dubbed, “Family Free Choice Night” or something like that to make it fun.
10 Have a few easy or quick options for nights you end up running late or something unexpected happens to avoid eating out. My kids will always eat Quesadillas (simply corn tortillas with melted cheese, folded in half), warmed hot dogs, or organic mac and cheese in a box on nights like these. I always keep these on hand then even if I don’t have time to cook a full meal.
11 Limit your visits to fast food and other restaurants. Plan to only take the family out to eat once or twice a month. If it costs $50 to eat out and only $10 to eat at home. Then you will save $40 each time you stay at home to eat dinner! You can make your dollar stretch farther by taking your family to places that are having kids eat free specials, have military discounts (for service members), or are offering coupons or special deals.
12 Try online shopping for your groceries. This keeps track of your spending as you add items to your cart. It will help you stick to a set budget amount. Not to mention, I LOVE the convenience of driving up and having my groceries loaded to my car without spending time in the store for a minimal or no fee!
I bet you have your own tips and tricks to cut your grocery costs. I believe the key is to try to implement 3-5 on a regular basis. Choose the ones that truly work for you and stick to them. Then you will be able to shift a set amount into your savings or to pay off debt on a regular basis.
Just be sure you follow through and shift the money to the savings or as debt repayment and you will begin to see some improvement in your financial situation!
To find out other ways to save money, check out the rest of my money-saving series.
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