4 Ways I Reduced My Monthly Expenses (& How You Can, Too!)

I’m all about being a bitch on a budget. I’ve literally tracked every dollar I’ve earned and every dollar I’ve spent in a custom-made color coded spreadsheet for the last four years. By doing so, I’ve learned that it’s *vital* to pay attention to how much money you spend so you can identify where and how you can cut back to save money when in need.

On that note! It’s the first month of a new year, and I’m moving to a new apartment in a few days. So what have I been doing aside from packing my life’s belongings and spending as much time by the water as I can before I move to the mountains? Yep, you guessed it – figuring out how to cut my expenses.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of the ways I’ve been spending less money in an effort to inspire you to do the same. Here are four tips for reducing your monthly expenses before a move or to simply help you save extra bucks at the end of the month to spend on whatever tf you want, based on my recent experience.

Eliminate extra (unnecessary) costs

It turned out that I was spending at least $19/month on services that I didn’t even utilize. I rarely ever watch Netflix, so I unsubscribed and saved myself that recurring $8.99 fee. And when looking into my Verizon billing statement, I found that I’d been paying $10/month for an old iPad that I haven’t used (and TBH, have no idea where it even is) for the last few years. $20 back in my pocket every month? Yes, please, and thank you.

I’d also gotten into the not-so-eco-friendly habit of buying huge packs of water bottles every other week. Rather than spending $10 on water on a regular basis, I decided to “splurge” on a ZeroWater filter pitcher that flawlessly filters tap water. A one-time $40 purchase will save me hundreds of dollars on water at the end of this year. Way better for my wallet AND the environment.

Chances are that you’ve been dishing out money every month that you don’t need to be, too. Look at your habits, credit card statements, and your checking and savings accounts to see which products you can cut out and which services are automatically being taken from you each month. If you haven’t used it in a while, or don’t even recognize it, or can figure out a better way to navigate it, consider cutting those cords. 

Shop around for better rates

I usually shop around to see if I can get better monthly rates for my car insurance, phone bill, and other utilities with other companies every January. With $10 recently off my monthly Verizon bill, I feel content paying $72/month so I didn’t feel the need to look for a cheaper phone service provider. I did browse for a better car insurance rate, though (since I currently pay $220/month). 

First, I compared car insurance rates using The Zebra’s online tool. I was basically asked a few questions about what type of car I drive, how long I’ve been insured, who I’ve been insured by, my accident history, etc. At the end, it actually looked like I had the cheapest quote with Geico

So I decided to take things one step further and call Geico to see if they can knock my rates down any lower than they already are. After getting the phone robot runaround to waiting on hold forever and not being able to get in touch with a live chat team member on their website, I gave up on them and researched for myself. Ultimately, I discovered that I could take a defensive driving course to reduce my insurance rate by 10-30% for the next few years… sooo that’s what I’m doing now! 

Although your rates won’t drop until you upload proof of your course completion certificate, you can save hundreds of dollars each year by finishing an online course that costs $20-$25 and six hours to take. 

TL;DR – always shop around for better rates! You might just find that you’ve been paying way more with one company when you could be paying way less elsewhere.

Cook more often

My faaaavorite hobby is going out to eat. But now that we’re in quarantine, I’ve been avoiding dining in and supporting local businesses by ordering takeout as much as possible. However, I realized that I’d been spending at least $150-$200 PER MONTH on takeout for the last 11 months. Without doing the math, I can confidently say that’s …. a ton of money. So I cut back this month. A lot. And I got off my ass and cooked meals instead. 

Instead of spending all that money on takeout each week, I decided to “go out to eat” only once a week all month. Rather than the $200 I was dishing out, I only spent $50 at restaurants and bought groceries to cook the rest of the meals. Not only did it feel really good to cook my own food but I was able to get creative with my recipes, listen to songs, and enjoy the process along the way, while *still* supporting small businesses as my budget deemed fit. Win win.

Spend mindfully

I love snacks and driving around mindlessly for fun, but the amount of money I was spending on treats and gas was *not* worth the pleasure, IMHO. Instead of driving around all the time and wasting gas, and rather than buying $6 chocolate bars and three packs of $5 gluten-free snack bites I eat in two days, I decided to cut back on the snacks and spend more time at home instead. By doing so, I saved $100 on gas and $200 in groceries. Save $300 for cutting back on sugar and playing more video games? Sign me up.

This sounds like a simple tip but be careful where and how you spend your money. Seriously. Little lifestyle habits can add up and hurt your wallet or save you a decent chunk of change each month. The choice is yours. 

Final Thoughts

Altogether, I’ve saved at least $400 in the last 30 days. If I keep this up for the next 11 months, I’ll have about $4,800 in my savings account by the end of the year. That’s enough for like, three or four week-long all inclusive stays at a tropical resort (once COVID ends and it’s safe to travel again, obv)! 10/10 – I highly recommend you do the same.

Images: Gabby K from Pexels, GIPHY (4)

About Author

Morgan Mandriota is the founder of Highly Untamed and a freelance sex and wellness writer. She regularly writes for Betches, Cosmopolitan, Tinder, Health, SHAPE, and your other favorite websites. She loves traveling, hiking, eating tacos, and training Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Follow Morgan on Instagram and Twitter @morganmandriota.