3 Big Financial Changes You Can Make to Save Hundreds of Dollars a Month
“Did you know you can save $4 a week by not buying your weekly double venti mocha skinny steamed swirled eggnog latte?” No, I did not, toothy internet financial guru, THANK YOU, WOW, this will pay off my $600 a month student loans.
And while I’m at it, I’ll sign up for a newspaper subscription so I can occasionally use a $0.25 manufacturer’s coupon on an already overpriced cleaning product that’s basically fancy bleach.
Maybe a consistently over indulgent lifestyle can get you in a bad place financially, but more than likely, it’s not your small daily choices that are hurting your bank account. For my first blog post, I’m going to go over big financial changes you can make to get the really make a difference in your finances. Several of these I have used myself and will go into more detail on in future posts. Most of these will take some effort and won’t help you pay tomorrow’s electric bill, but over time, choices like these will really get you on the right track.
1. Live somewhere cheaper.
Probably the biggest drain on your personal finances is housing. There are several ways you can get around this issue without having to live somewhere terrifying.
One decision I made shortly after graduating from college was moving to a small town in the true middle of nowhere. When I lived in a large city, I lived in an older 2/2 apartment with a mild rat issue that was $1400 a month (split with husband).
After relocating to the small town (let’s call it Swampland, USA) I ended up in a 3/2 house on 5 acres for $900 a month, one of only 3 places for rent in the entire county (yes, county). In addition to saving a huge amount on housing itself, everything was generally cheaper, from meals out to car repairs.
There were also not a lot of money sucking distractions in Swampland, so while there were some definite drawbacks to living in a small town, I was able to squirrel a good amount of money into savings while chopping away at my student loans.
Another strategy you can use to make housing cheaper is to get a roommate. Back when I first got married, my husband and I actually had a roommate for a few months. It was more of an accidental roommate situation; the roommate was supposed to be out when I moved in, but his work contract was extended, so for a while we were that weird married couple with a roommate. In retrospect, it wasn’t that weird at all, and it allowed everyone to save a good amount of money.
A third way to make a dent in housing costs if you don’t want to move to Swampland is to move away from the trendy areas if you live in a city. Right now I live in a suburb of a major city. Are all the edgy and cool restaurants and bars in walking distance here? No, not at all, but I am saving a good amount on rent by living here.
2. Reduce your car or commuting expenses.
Transportation costs are probably your biggest expense next to housing. I’ve never personally lived in a city with a decent public transportation system (yay America), so here I will mostly cover car expenses.
One way to save on car expenses is by reducing or eliminating a car payment by “downsizing” your car. Here in the U.S. we generally convince ourselves that we HAVE to have a truck or SUV. If you go to another country or even a major city, you can see that plenty of people get by with smaller vehicles.
Just because you have 1 kid and pick up lumber from Home Depot once a year doesn’t mean you need an SUV.
I personally drive a used small car and get by just fine. I will talk about this more in a later post, since it is a nicer model that I actually consider somewhat of a splurge.
Looking into reducing your gas or toll costs can also have you a big chunk of money. A more fuel efficient car, moving closer to your work, or avoiding toll roads can all make an impact on your finances.
Evaluating your car insurance options is also a good way to save. Financial gurus often swear by getting a low cost car and paying it off in full, but we often ignore the other big reoccurring car payment. Look into whether you have the right insurance for your needs and see if changing companies or eliminating extras can help you save.
One thing I will warn you about though is getting a car that’s too cheap. During my college days I had an old Civic that ate electrical parts on a monthly basis or would leave me stranded on my commute. If your repairs are becoming a car payment, you might as well get a car payment for a reliable car.
3. Reduce bills and subscription costs.
Look into what bills you can reduce or possibly eliminate. Do you really need cable? If you think you do, are you really watching all 6000 channels?
What are all those charges that have creeped onto your phone bill? Usually if you call your phone company, they will be able to find a charge or two to eliminate to keep your business. Otherwise switch providers.
As we progress further into the 21st century, new bills in the form of subscription services have made their way onto our monthly budgets. Recognize subscription goody boxes, entertainment services, genealogy membership accounts, meal delivery services for what they really are- they are bills, and they add up. Decide which ones are really necessary.
If you implement a few of these changes to your monthly budget, you should be able to save $100s a month and really make some changes to your financial situation.
Readers, what big financial changes have you made or are planning to make? Share your own story in the comments section below!