My wife and I used to be on a budget that had us stashing away money for Christmas gifts every month. It was never quite enough to cover everything, but it definitely felt good to have a head start. We have fallen off the wagon in recent years and now, as Christmas approaches, we’re going into panic mode as we try to figure out if there’s a way to DIY a Nintendo Switch.
1. Shop around for your expenses.
We all have those monthly expenses that feel stuck and we can’t do much about it. Cable and internet, electric, car insurance. And for many people, health insurance feels that way, too. But health care sharing ministries like Medi-Share cost hundreds of dollars less per month than traditional insurance and also take care of you and your medical expenses better than any insurance company.
One couple who uses Medi-Share said they couldn’t believe that the monthly share amount was so low and that it was nice to “finally have a health care company we can trust.”
Carpooling isn’t just for kids! I just found out one of my colleagues lives 10 minutes away and on my way to the interstate. We could share the 40-minute drive to work (even once or twice a week) and not only save money on gas but also get to know each other.
If you’re worried about awkward silence or making conversation, settle on a podcast you both enjoy and listen together on the drive.If you’re trying to save money, a good way to do that is to see how you can sacrifice big, but temporarily.
3. Live like a temporary pauper.
I can hear someone saying, “Joke’s on you! We already do!” I get that cutting back is hard when you feel like you’re living on a shoestring budget. But if you’re trying to save money quickly, a good way to do that is to see how you can sacrifice big, but temporarily.
One idea is to forgo the trip to the grocery store for a week or two. You might eat cereal for dinner one night. Or you’ll send the kids to school with a PB&J and the chips in the variety pack that usually go uneaten because they’re everyone’s least favorite (for us, that’s Fritos). But if it leads to a $200 savings, it’s worth it. And your kids will probably love the scrounged-up dinners you create.
4. Make the most of your credit card.
Some people would argue with me on this one, but I believe using a credit card responsibly is a good way to make your money work for you. In my home, we put our monthly expenses that can be charged on a cash-back card. It’s in our budget to pay all those bills, so instead of paying them separately through our checking account, they all get paid with the card, and we pay the card off every month.
Some months we get $50 cash back. Now if you aren’t going to pay it off immediately, this trick will work against you. Don’t waste your money on interest if you can avoid it.
5. Do a subscription audit.
According to a recent survey, the average consumer spends $273 per month on subscription services and 89 percent of those surveyed underestimated what they spend each month. Nearly half of those who underestimated were off by between $100-$300.
Check your bank account and write down every service you subscribe to. Netflix, Amazon Prime, fitness apps, music streaming, gaming services, cloud storage… The list goes on and on. You might find that there are a few things you don’t use and should break up with. They might only be $4.99 a month, but if you part with a few, you could save a significant amount.
6. Find a different way to scratch the dining-out itch.
My family loves to go out to dinner. Not having to cook, clean up, or refill a kid cup once or twice a week is worth the expense to us. But in times when I need to save money quickly, I know dining out is one of the first things on the chopping block.
Instead of doing dinner out on a Saturday night, eat a simple dinner at home and then go out for dessert, or take the meal to go and save on the tip and drinks. Is it the same? No, but when you have more money in the bank, you’ll be grateful you made the sacrifice.
7. Sleep on it.
Agree with your wife to sleep on every online purchase you make for the next month. Amazon is so convenient that it’s easy to find yourself buying something the moment it pops in your head without stopping to consider if you really need it.
The dopamine hit you get when you make a purchase combined with the convenience of having the item on your doorstep two days later makes impulse buys a major expense for some families. Give it 24 hours before you click that purchase button.
Sound off: What’s your go-to way to save money quickly?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it’s important to be wise with money?”