Over the past year, my wife and I have started to trim our monthly budget with some creative ways to save money. Our kids are getting older and we want to travel with them to places like Disney World. In addition to adventures, we also want to get more aggressive with our retirement savings. To help us save for those adventures and savings, we’ve decided to reduce our already meager monthly expenses.
The cuts we found save us over $700 a month!
When you’re already on a meager budget like us, it can be hard to save money. Of course you can leave out the nice things, but I also want to be able to enjoy life a bit! The trick is to be creative and learn continuously. Below are some examples of creative ways to save money each month. These are all personal examples that my wife and I have implemented over the past year.
1. Internet ($15 per month)
I mentioned this briefly in a recent article, but I had no idea you could use your own modem instead of renting one from the internet company. I knew we paid $15 a month to use their modem, but apparently you don’t have to.
It’s not that hard either! We ended up buying one from Amazon for about $50. It pays for itself in 3.5 months!
Once you receive it, unplug the modem from the cable company and then plug in your new modem. While waiting for it to boot up, I connected my computer directly to the modem. This allowed me to follow Xfinity’s instructions (URL provided by the modem company). When I was done, I unplugged my computer and plugged that ethernet cable into our wireless router. This took maybe 10 minutes in total.
When I was done, I returned the Xfinity modem and they took the cost off our monthly bill.
2. Phone Bill ($60-$70 per month)
We’ve made a big leap here. We’ve been with Verizon for nearly 10 years, but at $136 a month, we decided this bill was WAY too expensive. After some research, we decided to switch to Google Fi.
Google Fi is a unique network that switches between the T-Mobile, USCellular, and secure Wi-Fi networks depending on who has the strongest signal. We’ve only had the service for two weeks now. I have no complaints yet.
To help you save more money, you can bring your own phone. We finally did this. Note that automatic network switching only works with compatible phones. You can see if your phone is compatible from the Google Fi website.
3. Subscriptions ($30 per month)
Subscriptions for streaming services or monthly boxes can add up considerably. This is what happened to us. We had way too much, so we both discussed what to cut.
Together we discussed which service we looked at the most, individually. My wife said Netflix and I said Hulu. The kids watch Disney+ the most, which is also a favorite for my wife and me. After our discussion, we decided to delete everything except Netflix and Disney+.
We also decided to cancel my Adobe subscription because I barely used it anymore and had access to the very old but still very usable Adobe CS5. Finally, we decided to end our Microsoft Office service and use Google Docs instead. This is a very viable replacement.
I recommend writing down every monthly subscription you have. Most of these plans are wants, not needs. So I’d go through your list and ask yourself, “Do I really use this a lot?” and rank them by how much you use them. When you’re done with your ranking, cut to the bottom of the list.
4. Groceries ($50-$100 per month)
Groceries can be expensive! We spend between $100 and $125 on food for the week.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, King Soopers (Kroger) has created all of their digital products, making it easier to find deals for the week. We make sure to take advantage every week. King Soopers also gives us loyalty coupons that give us free items such as eggs or $10 off products.
Some weeks, these coupons can cut our grocery bill from $125 to $100.
We also like to use the Ibotta app. This app is a creative way to save money, saving us between $5 and $10 per week. This may not seem like much, but it can add up throughout the month! Check out our Ibotta review if you want to learn more about this amazing application.
5A. Refinance (net zero)
Refinancing and the next item, student loans, are related, which is why I named them 5A and 5B.
In the summer of 2021, we decided to refinance, but not to cut our interest rates. We already had the lowest interest rate. Instead, we tried to tap into the $115,000 in value that our home had increased in its first 12 months of ownership.
A key goal of our refinancing was to get rid of our private mortgage insurance (PMI). After the 2008 housing market collapse, PMI is required for homeowners to consider that they have less than 20% in the value of the home. My wife and I were able to put down 10% on our $500,000 house. We had to come up with another $50,000 to get above the 20% down payment. This is where part of the $115,000.
The rest would go to help us restructure our debt.
5B. Student Loans ($550 per month)
We refinanced with the aim of not taking on more debt, but to restructure our current debt. This time we focused on paying off my $45,000 in student loans with the rest of the $115,000.
While that debt still exists, we’ve been able to cut interest rates in half. We can now take this extra $550 and put it into our retirement fund so that hopefully it can make more money for us.
Creative Ways to Save Money Conclusion
It feels great to save so much every month ($8,400 a year). This money can go a long way for our future and for having adventures with our children.
What are your favorite creative ways to save money!
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