Simple Cutbacks, Big Savings

Saving money when you’re already on a very tight budget is like saying no to an Oreo when you’re on a diet. It’s almost impossible. These are the easiest ways to save money.

Eric and I talked briefly about our finances before we got married. I knew he had some credit card debt, he knew I had student loans and a car loan, but somehow love conquers all and we’d figure out the money thing along the way, right?

Back up, Sleeping Beauty. The truth is, we should have been much more vigilant about our spending habits. We should have had a budget and been secure in our careers and had a sizable savings account to fall back on. None of which we had when we tied the knot.

After spending carelessly the first two months of our marriage, we sat down and looked over our finances. We realized that we really had nothing left over at the end of the month for extras, especially if we wanted to pay off the credit cards. This led to a cutback of almost all of the little (and not-so-little) extras that we had been spending on without even thinking about their cost.

This is an overview of things we’ve cut back on

Coffee: Having to be at work at 5 a.m., Eric would purchase a cup of coffee every morning and then an energy drink in the afternoon. He also would buy lunch frequently. Now, he uses our Keurig coffee maker , he got rid of the energy drinks (which are bad for you anyway) and takes lunch most days.

SAVINGS: $50/week

Beauty Rituals: Before I was married, I would get my hair done every three months ($130), a mani-pedi ($30), an eyebrow wax ($8) and a bikini wax once a month ($50). I am now letting my natural hair color grow out, paint my own nails, pluck my eyebrows and perform my own bikini waxes ( I swear by Gigi)!

SAVINGS: $1576/year

Shopping: I used to go shopping at least once a month, and it was always hard not to spend at least $200. I have drastically cut back on my shopping, and now go to consignment shops and Target if I really need to fulfill an urge.

SAVINGS: $1200/ year

Eating out: Eric and I would would frequently order pizza on a Friday night, go out to eat on Saturday night, and order take out on Sundays. We would easily spend at least $100 a week on eating out. We arn’t willing to cut back all our dining-out options yet, but we have cut back to eating out only once or twice a month, and ordering takeout about once a month. We no longer order pizza Friday nights and instead buy frozen pizzas on sale and eat that with a cheap bottle of wine, and wah-lah, the perfect Friday night.

SAVINGS: $300/month

So far, by changing some of our habits, we are able to save ourselves a grand total of about $7400. That’s a lot of money!

Our next step is to cut our rent and utilities at least $250/month and cut our cable completely $100/month, for an additional yearly savings of $4200.

That’s $11,600 that can go toward a down payment on a new home! I could get used to this saving thing…

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20 thoughts on “Simple Cutbacks, Big Savings

  1. Mary Withrow
    March 18, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Way to go! I use coupons whenever I can and always take water or a drink where ever I go, take my lunch as well!

  2. Nightvid Cole
    November 26, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Why only for a down payment? Wait a bit longer, move close to work and go down to one car, accept a smaller house and pay cash.

    • November 26, 2013 at 10:29 am

      That might work if we lived in the country, but we live in southern california where home prices are at least half a million dollars. I do live 10 minutes from work and bike some days, but frankly being a one-car family is not an option for us since I would be without a car on the days my husband works his 24-hour shifts. Your suggestions are helpful, but they just don’t work for us. And paying cash for a home is just not an option for everyone. Frankly, I am perfectly okay with having a mortgage.

  3. December 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Excellent post! I grew up very poor which turned out to be a HUGE blessing once I became an adult. At a very young age I learned the difference between wants and needs. Because I understand the difference between the two, living debt-free has not been a struggle like I see in so many others.
    Mrs.B

  4. June 28, 2012 at 5:35 am

    I am new to this blog, but good job on cutting out all the nonsense expensive things in life that some people are too hard headed to cut back on. I always try and find alternatives to lifes expenses that are better suited to my life and my goals. For example the cable is one I would cut but it is bundled with the internet and phone, if I cut one I wont really get the best value as i am now.

  5. May 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    It’s been a year since you wrote this article. I am curious if you cut your rent by $250. I just started reading your blog so I am curious.

  6. May 1, 2012 at 10:33 am

    You guys really did do a deep analysis and performed some surgery. $11k in savings is incredible, congratulations! Hope you don’t mind I direct readers to this post to see your example in cutting back.

  7. March 11, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Sigh. I HATE painting my own nails because I am terrible at it, and the polish never seems to dry (despite 12+ hours) before I get into bed and mess it up, but I too am on the self-fulfilling beauty regime to save money. The good thing about not shopping is that it actually gets hard to do when you get out of the habit! Good luck!

    • Jasmine
      March 16, 2012 at 10:08 am

      you should try Seche Vite Quick Dry Top Coat – dries to the touch in minutes so you can go to bed without worry, and it’ll harden and cure overnight.

  8. January 16, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Again very proud that you are willing to share your journey with your readers! Taking lunch into work each day is an easy way to cut out unnecessary expenses. Although I am not ready to let go of my cable, I do have to admit I did that a number of years ago when I was in need to changing my financial life around!

  9. lynn
    May 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    My husband uses Keurig and refills it every morning.

    I have decided to give myself a pedicure and save the $45 and do my own eyebrows, $20 and trim my bangs.

    I also reconfigured our car insurance and saved about $240 a year.

    We are getting rid of our land line and cable that is about $140 a month.

    We (family of 4) used to spend about $1500 a month eating out. Now we spend about $400 a month.

    We also got on the energy saving program and limit electric usage from 3-6 pm daily. That saves hundreds a year.

    A tip I heard and employ is to put snacks in the front basket of my cart. That way I can see how much I am getting and how much it costs. I tend to buy less that way.

    Lots of little things add up. I figure that we can find better ways to spend the money.

  10. September 15, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Okay, your blog has totally inspired me to take a hard look at our budget (from which we’re currently pulling money from our savings each and every month to do the things we enjoy). I can absolutely see how cutting a few things out here and there can make such a difference. And especially with the beauty rituals, wow! Congratulations to you guys for taking this huge step and good luck on your journey!
    Ashley recently posted..Wordless Wednesday- Blue Box Blues

  11. September 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    i don’t want to rain on your eco-parade, because i think it’s awesome what you’re doing. but you know those keurig k cups are not so good for the environment, right? have you thought about using re-usable filters?

    love you, love your blog!

    • September 14, 2010 at 12:28 am

      OOOOOoooo, i had NO idea. See you learn something every day. I actually use the reusable filter since they dont have k-cups in the coffee i like. but eric is lazy and hates refilling it…we just bought an 80 k-cup supply at costco, but we may have to sell our coffee maker afterward… : (
      had no clue, so thanks for bringing this to my attention!!

      • September 15, 2010 at 8:39 pm

        i am pretty sure they are not recyclable (at least that’s what my mom has been telling me for years). and all that plastic from the individual packaging really adds up! it’s like how using a brita is way better than buying bottles and bottles of water…

        • Anonymous
          January 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm

          The k-cups used by the Keurig are not yet recyclable, but the company is actually working on finding a material that is, and still works in the machine.

          Until then, keep using your refillable, and tell Eric to not be so lazy ;-)

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