With our new year already in full swing, everyone is interested in getting their fresh start, decluttering, organizing, and cutting their expenses to better be able to keep themselves on the straight and narrow for the next 12 months. I am definitely one of those people! I try to stay focused on my fabulously frugal goals always, but having that cliché “New year, New me” feeling really kicks that into high gear. I always get a ton of questions about ways to cut back and save less, but most of the time the outlook is only about cutting a monetary number in half, or decreasing the value of a bill.
I’m here to share 10 ways to cut your household expenses, just by making a few simple lifestyle changes, and switching up how you look at your everyday life.
1. Reuse, Repurpose, and Do It Yourself
Every Frugal OG knows the life of reusing, repurposing, and learning to do things yourself! This is a very broad category for frugal living, but it can definitely be applied nearly everywhere. Apply this philosophy to furniture, car maintenance, carryout containers, mason jars, beauty and grooming, simple home renovations, the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, because I’m not saying that you should be so frugal that you’re electrocuting yourself, or causing a home flood for trying to do it all yourself, but a little research and a Youtube video or two could definitely get you out of a few costly expenses, and it could also have you on the road to learning a new trade, or creating yourself a side hustle.
2. Cut the Cable, Cheaper Phone Plans, Read for Fun
Cut back on electronics! Taking up reading instead of watching is an easy way to cut an expense. The less tv you’re watching, the less you need tv and cable at your disposal. I was one of those people that always said that I couldn’t do it. I would NEVER get rid of my cable. I’m a stay at home mom, and after a long day sometimes a girl just needs a good dose of trashy reality tv! However, I did it. I’ve done it. I invested in a fire stick, and I’ve always been a faithful Netflix and Hulu user, so I’ve been happy with the household expense difference ever since. This expense cut won’t fit everyone, but this is normally a BIG expense that can make a difference if it’s an option for you. There are now so many options to still get access to great shows or the channels that you enjoy. A great way to cut electronic expenses are cheaper phone plans, and no contract phones. I’m still team iPhone, I haven’t had to give up smart phone life (I’m a blogger, so it isss actual conducive to my business) and I’m not trapped into a contract, and I can upgrade whenever I want, and I’m more likely to do so when I actually have the money.
3. Utilize Your Local and Public Resources
While you’re cutting cable and becoming a reading warrior, you should also learn to use your public resources; like the library. The library has options for books so you can save a few pennies before purchasing your own. It also has movies for rent while you’re learning to live your new cable free life. Also, did you know that a lot of local libraries provide cool (and FREE) events for your littles throughout the month? While you’re looking for kid friendly fun, you can also look for local Rec and Community Centers and invest in an affordable membership. Many places will work with you and base your monthly cost off of your household income.
4. Buy Reusable vs Buying Disposable
I like plastic and paper plates just as much as the next person that occasionally hates washing dishes, BUT it really doesn’t save you any money at all. I remember living in my first apartment with my husband and never buying real baking dishes. I only needed them once in a blue moon, so I always chose to buy disposable instead. Years later .. still never bought a baking dish! The amount of times I ended up using a disposable option, I could have just bought a reusable dish (or two) with all of that money instead. Plates, utensils, water bottles, whatever the case may be, buy them all reusable, and not disposable.
5. Cook at Home, Cook From Scratch, Plant When Possible
My favorite thing to talk about when it comes to saving money on groceries and cooking is to start Meal Planning. I have a great break down for it here on my blog. Planning your meals helps to prevent over spending, cooking those meals from scratch help cut costs on premade and prepackaged items, and learning to be sustainable with your fresh produce by learning to plant your own saves cost (and possibly even your health) on your fresh ingredients.
6. Laundry Times, Laundry Temps, Laundry Frequency
I’ve heard once that doing dishes, laundry, and using your electric essentials between certain hours of the day can actually help to lower your energy costs. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but I became genuinely curious so I started to research it. I even went as far as trying it out for a while and really going over my energy bill at the end of the month and surprisingly I actually saw a difference. I started cautiously doing laundry after 7pm, which was the little energy trick that I picked up. I also washed in only cold water, and tried to decrease our laundry frequency (which is surprisingly hard with a family of 5!) but I tried to make it work.
7. Paying Off Credit Cards to a $0 balance
Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise that massive credit card debt is absolutely necessary for daily living. It’s NOT. I do however believe in them for emergency purposes (Although emergency savings should always come first) and building some sort of credit history, but if you’re looking to decrease your household expenses, a great way to do that is to pay down the unnecessary debt that’s wallowing over your head. Once it’s paid off, stick to the 30% utilization rule, and keep your monthly payments low.
8. Buy Used Cars
I know it seems nearly impossible with all of the fancy and flashy cars on the road, but say it with me, and more importantly start saying it to yourself when it’s time to car shop, “The value of a new car depreciates as soon as you drive it off of the lot.” More importantly, after you’ve paid a car payment between $300 – $400 for a year or two, how’s it feel knowing that it still won’t technically be yours to own until another couple thousand dollars are paid? New cars also mean higher required car insurance, on top of your regular gas and maintenance. Buying used isn’t always a taboo. It shouldn’t be. Any car can break down, any car can throw you curveballs, but a car that’s bought outright makes it yours. Yours to sell with no lien, and yours to junk if need be with no burden of still paying a remaining balance. One of the worst feelings is having something happen to your car and still having your loan creep over your head for something you aren’t even enjoying anymore.
9. Date Nights In
My husband and I are just natural homebodies (A match made in heaven!) so it’s always been pretty easy for us to get creative and just enjoy time together from the comfort of our own home. No lines, no crowds, and no extra spending! If you’re a couple that naturally likes to be out and about, that’s fine too. To cut back on expenses, start incorporating more nights in by renting a movie at home vs seeing one in theaters, or cooking your own romantic dinner together vs sitting down at a restaurant. For the times where you do want to get out of the house, check Groupon for local events in your area, or opt to grab cheaper prices by doing a lunch date vs a dinner date.
10. Kids Day “Out”
This same concept of “Date Night In” can even be applied to fun times for the kids. Let them do movie night in the living room, where you create fun treats, and make them their own movie boxes for snacking. You could also plan a scavenger hunt around your house or backyard, do a paint night for kids where you invite a few other friends over, and if the weather permits, the backyard possibilities could be endless for affordably fun times.