Do you ever get to the end of the month and find that there just isn’t enough money left? If so, you’ve got to stop spending money!
Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. My goal is to help you along the way and make it as painless as possible…because I’ve been there too!
When we first started taking a hard look at our $17,000 budget, we realized there were a lot of things that we could stop spending money on that were just a waste. There were so many things that we could either cut out completely or find ways to cut corners on.
We live off of one low income, and every single cent counts for us. When we made our budget that we could stick to (after years of trying!), we took a hard look at everything that we were spending money on. Everything from dishwasher detergent to toilet paper came up in our discussion.
Some things were worth keeping in our budget (like toilet paper, of course!) but there were others that either got cut out completely or just got a homemade frugal twist. All in all, when we were done revamping our expenses, we found out that we could save up to $700 a month just by cutting out 11 easy expenses!
Even better? You can do it too!
1. Stop Spending Mony on Cable.
Everybody seems to be breaking up with cable. If you haven’t done it already, give it a try! That’s a really fantastic way to save a whole lot of money. And, don’t you already spend a lot of money on the internet…? Why not just get Hulu and Netflix? If you are like me and shop on Amazon a lot, you can get Amazon Prime for $99 for the whole year and that comes with Amazon Instant Video!
One of my favorite money-saving Amazon hacks is this little-known secret. You can also get HBO, Starz, SHOWtime, and more premium channels from Amazon for $15/month and you can cancel at any time! No, I don’t suggest you get ALL of these (remember, we are learning how to stop spending money!), but pick your favorite and enjoy! Plus, you can always rotate which channels you keep. 😉
You CAN still watch your favorite shows without cable. If it sounds too good to be true…it isn’t! Here’s how to get rid of cable and still watch tv.
2. Water & Water Bottles.
Cold hard truth: water bottles are no different than tap water. It’s a waste of money, and it’s bad for the environment!
The best thing to do is to get a fantastic water filter and a great refillable water bottle to bring with you everywhere you go.
This is the one that we use and it’s been amazing. It’s more money than a typical water filter, but if you’re concerned about the quality of the water that you’re drinking and are looking for a water filter that will last you until you have grandkids or great-grandkids, this is the one for you!
Bonus tip: ONLY order water when you go out to eat. Drinks can easily be $5+ each…the savings will add up quickly!
I cut my sons’ and my husband’s hair at home myself. Just by doing that I wind up saving around $1,500 a year! That’s a huge expense!
Especially for guys’ hair, you can really save a lot of money by cutting their hair and the risk is pretty low. The only thing you need is a halfway decent pair of clippers (these clippers are the ones I’ve been using for the past 4 years and they’re still going strong!).
While I wouldn’t personally cut my own hair (or any other womans!) You can still save money on your next haircut or hair color. To do so, check out your local beauty school. They have incredible prices for all different kinds of services!
4. Stop Spending Money on Dryer Sheets.
Dryer sheets are full of chemicals and they’re expensive! It winds up being around $2 per box which might not seem like that much, but when they are completely unnecessary all together and they just wind up adding a lot of chemicals into your home. It’s time to find a safer and cheaper alternative.
Instead, you can use wool dryer balls with essential oils (lavender and joy are my favorite essential oils for the dryer). Simply add a few drops of essential oils to the dryer balls to get the same scents and even better results. With essential oils, a little goes a long way, so start with a drop or two.
Plus, wool balls cut your drying time down, which also saves money. Double savings win!
Read more about how awesome dryer balls are – I love them so much I wrote an entire post about it!
5. Laundry Detergent.
I go through a lot of laundry. I have 3 active and messy sons and a husband who works in a steel shop. There are constantly loads of dirty clothes in my house. If I had to buy laundry detergent every month, I would be looking at more than $30 a month in detergent alone.
I started making my own laundry detergent. It is sensitive enough to use on my newborn baby’s skin and hard enough to clean my husband’s dirtiest work clothes. This recipe is easy and effective!
In fact...I haven’t spent a PENNY on laundry all year! I’ve saved hundreds if not thousands with these tips and tricks.
6. Paper towels.
Paper towels can be really expensive and they are very wasteful. Plus, it is just not good for the environment to have to use so many paper towels. You are literally paying for trash.
Before we stopped using paper towels almost 3 years ago, we were going through a roll of paper towels almost every 3 to 4 days. That’s a lot! When we realized that it was just too expensive, one day I just stopped buying them!
Since then, I have used old towels that I have cut up into rags. We use these for everything from cleaning the windows to using them to clean up the kids after a messy dinner.
(I’m not a heathen. I have a roll of paper towels and a packet of paper napkins on hand for when company comes! Don’t worry, I won’t make you use my rags if you come over for dinner!)
7. Disposable Diapers.
Okay, hear me out. I know a lot of you are shaking your head already, but think of the savings!
I absolutely love our cloth diapers! They’re not nearly as difficult or time-consuming as I thought they would be, and they wind up saving me a ton of money!
Not to mention, they’re much better for the environment than disposable diapers! Learn more about what you need to start cloth diapering HERE.
Plus, I’ll even show you how to make cloth diapering affordable!
Yes, I mean it! The average American household throws out 40% of all of the food that they buy. That’s crazy! This is why my secret weapon for my budget is meal planning. For $1.62 a week, I’ve never saved more money and cooked better!
It’s also recommended that the monthly grocery budget for a family equals $100 per family member per month. So if you have a family of 4, your grocery budget should be $400.
Does that sound crazy to you? I know that it might, but there’s good news: you can makeover your grocery budget! The real key is planning your recipes and meals.
Honestly, between kids and school and work and everything in between, I don’t have the time or the patience to prepare a meal plan and a grocery list, so I have my meal planning secret weapon to save the day. Best money I’ve ever spent!
You’re wasting money on your grocery budget if you aren’t planning what you’ll be eating each week. By setting up a meal plan that works, you know exactly what you need to get at the store. If you stick to your meal plan, you won’t buy things you don’t need that will just die a slow, painful death in the bottom of the fridge.
If you do just one item from this list…it should be this one. The savings will add up quickly while you also feed your family healthy, homecooked meals. And you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to do it, I promise!!
9. Junk food.
Your wallet and your waistline will thank you for cutting out the junk food! If you’re like me and have always struggled in the kitchen, I discovered my favorite recipe site that changed the way we eat.
Get substantial food for your meals, and get healthy snacks for instead of junk food. Carrots and hummus are much more substantial and will fill you up a lot more than just a bag of chips. It’s so important to make sure you’re actually eating food that fills you up!
Here’s my favorite trick to stay on budget and away from junk food at the grocery store.
10. New clothes.
I haven’t bought new clothes for my family in… wait… how long has it been…? I can’t even remember! But you know what, my kids have grown, and they’ve had new-to-them clothing!
I’m such a huge fan of buying second hand or at yard sales! 99% of all of our clothing is bought either at a thrift shop or yard sales. Why pay full retail when you can get something at a second-hand store for pennies on the dollar?
No one will be the wiser. You can often find brand-name clothing for just pennies on the dollar! Just make sure to give everything a good wash.
11. Fabric softener.
You don’t need it! The chemicals that are from fabric softener and the money that you spend on it are just outrageous. If you really want your clothes to smell like something, go with the wool dryer balls and essential oils combo I mentioned above.
If you still feel like you need fabric softener, white vinegar is a shockingly good fabric softener substitute. Just add 1/2 c. to your wash and tada! your clothes will be just as soft as they would if you had used a fabric softener.
Earn More Money
And if learning how to stop spending money sounds REALLY awful…you do have another choice. You can learn how to make more money instead! Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Make a Full Time Income From Home Proofreading
- 30+ Real Ways to Earn Money From Home
- 7 Survey Sites that Are Actually Worth It
- How I Earn Money as a Stay-at-Home Mom
- 5 Side Hustles That Pay For My Groceries (and More!)
- How to Start a Profitable Blog the Right Way
- An Honest ThredUp Review
- I made $12,007 in one month from my blog
How to Stop Spending Money: Final Thoughts
Let’s be honest. None of these changes are earth-shattering.
But they all add up quickly! If you were to cut everything listed here out of your monthly spending, you could be looking at a monthly savings of around $700 or more! And, there’s nothing “too small” when it comes to personal finance – literally every single cent counts!
Sure, cutting out cable might be a hard pill to swallow, or saying “no” to the chips at the supermarket might make you a little hangry, but Seven. Hundred. Dollars. Each. Month. Eyes on the prize!
Keep Your Motivation Going by Reading One of These Related Posts:
- How to Live on One Low Income
- We Live on ONE Income
- 6 Steps to Drastically Reduce Your Grocery Budget
- What Do You Do When You Get Behind on Bills
- How We Lived Well on $17,000 as a Family of Four
- 10 Reasons Why You Need An Emergency Fund
- Budgeting Books You NEED to Read
- How to Save Money When You’re Broke
- 30+ Real Ways to Earn Money From Home
- 7 Super Easy Ways To Make Your Grocery Budget Last
- How to Live on One Low Income
- Budgeting Allows You to Spend MORE
- The BEST Things To Look For at a Yard Sale
- Money Saving Hacks from an Extreme Cheapskate
Grab the FREE Expert Ways to Save Workbook!
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Lydia @ Thrifty Frugal Mom says
This is a great list! And I so agree with #2. I grew up with good well water, so maybe that is why I have a hard time understanding why people would pay for bottled water. But either way, buying a filtering system is so much smarter all around! We love the one we have and just buy reusable water bottles and fill those up to take with us when we are on the go. Such a money saver!
Jane on Whidbey says
I gave up all of these years ago. I’ve been living small all my life, but I did have several bad habits, like eating out too often when I was tired or too busy.
Since we’re having our first rain in over a week, I’m just sitting here thinking about the things I used to do, versus what I do now. I never got in the nail or hairdo thing, because I became allergic to all that when I was young. I only buy organic shampoo in a tube, put it in a squeeze bottle and add water until it’s thin enough to squirt all over my head. Works better and lasts forever.
I gave up fancy lotions and use coconut oil if I need moisturizer, which I don’t need often because I don’t use soap anymore. If I’m really dirty, the dish detergent in a foaming soap dispenser works fine. Also cleans windows better than anything else I’ve ever used.
I also gave up buying new music cds, movies, going out to dinner, because lunch is cheaper, and all cleaning products other than biodegradable dish detergent, vinegar, baking soda, borax, peroxide, and rubbing alcohol. You can do anything with these few. There are scads of articles to tell you how.
Vinegar in a spray bottle is the best deodorant I’ve ever used. It also deodorizes bathroom air, kills mold, and rinses my clothes and hair.
The only clothing that I buy new are shoes, (and always buy shoes that fit well and don’t hurt) socks, underwear, and an occasional splurge. I don’t buy clothes that need dry-cleaning, and got rid of all that did.
I get my hair cut in a wash-and-wear style at a chain, and only need a cut 4 times a year. Even with a tip, that’s less than $100 annually. And it feels like a treat. I used to buy a new blouse and a pair of earrings every time I got my hair cut, but I just don’t need more. I’ve found a few favorites are better than lots of mehs.
My library provides me with books, music, movies, books on tape, magazines, and various classes and sales. They also give me 10 free copies per day, if I need it. I no longer own a printer. I use a thumb drive.
Pandora, Netflix, YouTube and Hulu are my entertainment companions when I’m not out gardening or playing cribbage.
I no longer have pets. I loved them, mourned them, and now I’m fur-free, and vet-bill free.
I got a chest freezer and an electric pressure cooker, and cut down on my electric bill and my food bill. My house used to be the party house, and now, I go to others to party. That saves lots of money.
The very best thing you can do is cut up your credit cards except for one that you keep in the freezer in a block of ice. Only use it for emergencies. Get a debit card and pay for everything on that. If you don’t have the money, you can’t spend it. Pay your credit card off on a plan that you make up the day you spend the money or before. Don’t pay the minimum. Better still, get a charge card instead of a credit card, like American Express.
Last, but not least, I downsized to a tiny house, and got rid of so many things I didn’t need, and now, life is simple, and much cheaper. Minimal maintenance, maximum enjoyment.
Well, that was a lovely exercise in remembering. I recently cut up a favorite but very old flannel nightgown to try using no toilet paper for urine. I like not using all that tp, and I don’t mind washing them, but I’ll try terrycloth soon instead. I’m using a few thicknesses of the flannel, and I need to sew the together or start over. I have to use 4, and I’m not fond of folding them. lol It’s like folding socks. Boring. I will not be using tp for liquids ever again, though. I like the idea, and the feel. Not for solids, though. I don’t want to be washing that and re-using. I may evolve, over time and if I can set up a system for that. I’m pondering. It took me a while to do the flannel.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I don’t usually write a book.
Try “Blue Bidet” available at Amazon.com. I have been using it along with old wash clothes cut in 4 squares for years. It really cleans well so there’s no mess and you feel so clean. Toilet paper is such a waste of money when water works so much better.
Love all the things you are doing.
Jane on Whidbey says
Well, that’s interesting. I use a damp piece of Bounty after using tp for solids, and add that to my composting toilet. This might be interesting for travel. Do they still make disposable douches? I might carry a small squeeze bottle, so I could fill it with warm water when I travel from home, which I find I do less and less as I age. I love being home, and now I can. Water really is nice to have. Thanks for the comment!
Carol Kain says
I have been using white vinegar instead of fabric softener for at least 5 years now. One gallon costs me $1.88 and it lasts a whole lot longer than a jug of fabric softener! I do still use regular laundry detergent, but I get it when it costs $1.88 gallon (Arm and Hammer) plus use a coupon so I get it for $1.48 per jug. I buy about 10 of them at a time so I don’t have to shop for it constantly. Hate having to drag the stuff into the house:-0 Generic products are good, too. You don’t need to buy Corox bleach. They all work the same. I buy it at the dollar store. Shop the flyers and use coupons. It’ll save you more than you realize.
Emmy @ Club Thrifty says
We got rid of cable and I can honestly say I don’t miss it one bit. We also save on laundry detergent by using soap nuts. I spend less than $15 a year and they are super simple to use. But our biggest money saver is eating vegan. Meat and dairy is spendy!
Just curious, how do you save 1500 a year just cutting two people’s hair ? I get my hair cut once every 3 months , 16 dollars each time (64 dollars a year) how often are you cutting hair and what is the normal charge per cut?
Hi Dana! For us women, it’s a little different than with men. We can go for a long time without a haircut and no one would be able to tell the difference. I have 3 sons and a husband who, if they each went to get their hair professionally cut, would wind up getting their hair cut every 3 weeks or less. For my husband, it’s around $30 each time and around $15 for each of my sons. It winds up being close to $1500 annually just from their hair cuts. I received comments on the post I wrote about it saying that my estimates were even low compared to some!
Lori Morrell says
Thanks for all the great ideas! I’m definitely going to try the wool dryer balls. And cutting up old towels, etc. into rags. I might even think about cutting cable. One comment made was to not have pets….no vet bills or pet food to buy. To each his own, but I could not do that. My dog is worth every penny we spend on him because he constantly gives back in ways you can’t put a price on.
I agree with you, Lori! I’m a crazy person and don’t just have a dog, but also have 3 cats! Yes, we’re crazy. But I absolutely love my animals and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I’m interested in cutting my cable but haven’t seen any info on Internet only plans. I have a house alarm that requires Internet and we would need the wifi for our devices. I live in Delaware any suggestions for high speed internet only plans? Thanks!
Hi Barbie! Right now I have Comcast/ Xfinity which I’d love to switch, but we live in an area where there’s a choice between Comcast or a much smaller company who really fails to provide a high-quality product. That said, I checked in Delaware and you might want to check out CenturyLink. They have 2 options that are $35 a month (locked into the contract at that price for 1 or 2 years, which I think is great compared to Comcast where they up the price from $20 to $70 after 6 months) but you’d have to check the availability. Here’s the link where I found it: http://www.centurylink.com/home/internet/
I hope that helps! 🙂
I have a front loader washing machine and have read not to use powder detergent as it clogs insides up. Right now I buy costco liquid detergent. When I buy a bottle I transfer about 1/2 of the detergent to an old detergent container and then add about 4 to 6 cups water to both containers. Shake them both well. Service man said not to use as much detergent as recommended. If you can give me tips for making liquid detergent that would be great. Some people might say I should get top loader, but got this one brand new for $58. We live in the country. My husband cannot fix anything. I get e extended warranties in my appliances. Sears comes once a year and checks everything out. Just to come to my house costs $100 without warranty. Anyway. My previous washer quit agitating. Repairman came out and fixed it. Next thing I know my garage is flooded. He damaged my heavy duty lines during repairs. When he fixed that problem and water dried up, I had an oil leak. When I got through with customer service, I got back every penny I had spent on washer including previous warranties. That is why New washer cost me $58. The previous washer I won in a contest.
Hey Janet! I’ve heard really great things about Costco’s brand detergent. This recipe has the same ingredients but they use hot water to dissolve the soap and mix everything together. I hope that works well for you! 🙂
I just thought of two questions. Wool dryer balls. What do those of us allergic to wool use instead? My daughter still uses Pandora but have you tried Spotify? With a few commercials, you can listen to their radio which picks songs from music you choose in advance. So far I have made playlists from 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000- present. Just pick songs you like. Also have kids songs, show/movie songs, opera, classical, etc. It is free unless you want commercial free. I was always skipping and jumping channels with Pandora. Often the songs they chose from channels I picked were songs I rejected previously on different station. There is no history on musicians or band, but it was fun picking songs on Spotify from junior high through college, etc. Not to many oldies channels left or any regular radio channels left where I live(California desert).
Hi Janet! They make a plastic alternative to the wool dryer balls. You can get them http://amzn.to/1S3aTZd. But they work just as well and there’s no allergens! I hope that helps! And I LOVE Spotify! My husband and I made a playlist called “Songs We Want The Kids To Know” so that we can share our favorite music with them. It’s so much easier and cheaper than buying all of the albums individually!
Bonita Kale says
If you go to yard sales, pick up cloth napkins–cotton, not slick polyester. They work better than paper, and yes, you can use them for company. I have special ones I iron for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter–aside from that, I don’t iron them. I do keep some of them–unironed– for company. Fold them and put them at the bottom of the pile.
Thanks for posting your ideas. i am so glad that other people are rethinking what and how they spend their money. I love second shopping. i do a lot of it for clothes @ Goodwill. i also donate to them as well. I use the computer in the back for 2 reasons. I get to deduct from my taxes and I send away for the 20% off my next visit coupon!!!!! Check the back , the instructions are easy to follow. If not for yourself, donate the coupon to your church. Many peole need clothes for their kids. 20% off is 205 OFF!!!!
Great list! I do almost everything you listed, but I buy laundry soap because it’s just me these days. I buy the Eco-brand laundry detergent from Vitacost’s Clean Collection line when they’re “buy one get one 50% off” and pay around $8.25 for two jugs that last me for a few months, as I only do two or three loads of laundry a week.
I also gave up napkins and paper towels. I bought a set of casual cloth napkins on clearance for guests, and I use a set of pretty floral 12×12 bandanas as napkins everyday for myself. They “cowboy” style bandanas would be fun, too! The key is to make sure they’re 100% cotton. They’re a little stiff at first, but soften up and become more absorbent over time. Adding vinegar and borax the first couple of washings helps. I’ve had this set for three years and they still look great.
Thanks for the tips!
Tabitha Hidalgo says
We do what we can to switch over…. We usually cloth diaper but unfortunately my two in diapers right now are allergic to the laundry detergent the other one is not… So I put the oldest in ‘sposies until she’s potty trained-hopefully soon cuz it’s killing my budget. I would have to say my biggest use of paper towels is for cleaning up grease spills and the like… with animals in the house I don’t know how I would keep them out of the laundry or the drawer with my towels smelling like bacon. Tips?
My sons all have super sensitive skin, too. I started making our own detergent because everything else hurt their skin and just never did the trick for cleaning the diapers. Here’s the laundry detergent I use, and we’ve never had a skin issue since. You might need to strip the diapers first to get any of the other soap out of them. But that’s a lot scarier than it sounds: just 1c. bleach in hottest water and then rewash them in hot water until they don’t smell like bleach anymore. This is the most cost-effective way to strip the diapers and it really works!
What I do for paper towels is that I use a drip drying rack for bacon and put a frying pan underneath the drying rack. One the grease hardens, I scrape it into the trash and use the left over to season the pan for next time. I do keep a roll of paper towels around for big grease messes and for when company comes over. But it’s only for special occasions. I have 3 cats and a dog and I don’t think that they’ve ever gone after the rags. Mostly because even if I do clean up some grease with a rag, it’s thrown in with the same rags I use for cleaning the counters and windows and everything else that doesn’t smell great. You could also always just get a laundry bag that has a drawstring closure and see if that might help. 🙂
Tabitha Hidalgo says
I’ll try that with the bacon, thanks.
I am not that old but from Jamaica. We have a blue soap that we use on the cloth diapers and put in the sun and it takes out the fecal stain perfectly. No bleach. The soap can be found in any Caribbean store here in the USA.
Eating out/pizza delivery: we were eating takeout once a week and having pizza delivered every Friday night which averaged at $300/mo!!!! We never do takeout any more and make our own pizzas! Meal planning and bringing leftovers to work for lunch has been a huge money saver.
We eliminated dry cleaning. If it cannot be washed, it cannot be worn. We decreased our number of loads of laundry by wearing our PJs several nights, getting out of church or clean school clothing once home and hanging it up, and reusing towels .
This winter break, instead of traveling , we are doing a Stay-cation. We will save on meals, travel and lodging. The boys have two consecutive weeks off, so we will alternate between stay-at-home and day-tripping days. We’re doing this with another family, so the parents can all still work, share childcare and the kids can have different fun experiences!
I use a lot of these ideas, but I have more. I hardly ever use a clothes dryer during spring-fall. I hang my clothes outside. I know this isn’t feasible for everyone, but if you can do it. The clothes smell so much better, no need for any softener and it saves me 40% on my utilities. If you don’t have much space, get a wooden clothes rack from Walmart, or drape items like socks and other small items over chairs outside. I also raise a garden. Here again, some of you can’t raise a lot but even if you just raise salad produce, it saves on the food budget. Seeds are relatively cheap and you can plant in containers that don’t take much room. If you can raise more, get the kids involved. What kid doesn’t love getting dirty? Raising something they themselves planted and nurtured is great for kids self esteem.
I’ve been using vinegar in place of fabric softener for years and have loved the money savings!! I started making my own laundry soap around that same time…and I can’t even fathom that amount of money I used to spend buying the liquid stuff at the store. It’s been a massive savings to my budget!
That’s so awesome, Bethany! I LOVE hearing how many other people use vinegar in their laundry! 😀 It really is an amazing saver to make your own laundry detergent!
Kristina F. says
Great post! I will definitely have to cut out the fabric softener. It’s just me and my husband and I know I spend way too much on groceries. I stopped buying bottled water but that chip aisle gets me every time! I may try the online ordering with curbside pickup a lot of the stores are offering now so I won’t have to be tempted when going inside. Thanks for all the ideas!
Yay! Glad to help! 🙂
Wow, Caroline, this is one of the first blog posts I’ve read that is ACTUALLY helpful! I love that you’re upfront with your budget and, guess what, you just made my husband a super happy dude – we didn’t know you could watch NFL games using our Verizon account! You literally just saved me $30. Thank you!!!
Btw I found your post on the Scoop link party – so glad we could connect!
I really appreciate the info and ideas. I love your blog! This blog is very informative .
and looking forward to reading more of your blog in the future.
Sabra Casey says
Great tips! We cloth diaper too and I love it!