I Stopped Spending Money on These 10+ Things and Saved Over $350 Every Month
My name is Julia and all my friends know that I’m a spender. To make my life easier and more pleasant, I’m ready to spend all the money I earn. But once, my husband and I decided that it was time to buy our own apartment. So we figured out that if we want to live in our own apartment, we’d have to change our lifestyle and not only earn more, but spend less.
I analyzed our expenses and realized that it was possible to stop spending money on some things and that this would bring us more benefit than harm.
We’ve been saving money for almost a year and now I’m finally able to fully see our financial situation. I’m happy to share with Bright Side readers how to adjust the family budget so any extra money can be spent on more important things.
Many salon procedures can be easily done at home. I used to spent about $80 a month on a manicure and pedicure. Then I bought a kit for a home manicure that cost me almost the same. The UV lamp I bought will work for several years and the nail polishes will definitely last for at least a year. So my expenses dropped from $80 a month to around $5 a month.
I also stopped spending money on:
Going to a beautician and salon waxing. Instead, I bought high-quality face cleansers and began to regularly use cleansing masks. To get rid of unwanted body hair, I used my old epilator.
Brow correction. I watched a couple of videos on YouTube to figure out what brow shape would look good on me and learned to style my brows myself.
I also stopped spending money on oil for the ends of my hair, thermal protection, and body scrubs. I replaced the oil with an ordinary cream. I dry my hair with cold air and replaced the scrubs with a washcloth. By doing all this, I managed to save another $80 on my beauty routine.
Previously, we couldn’t imagine our life without convenience food and processed products. They’re tasty, but expensive, and not very good for our health. For example, we used to make a sandwich to eat on a break at work or cook scrambled eggs with sausage for breakfast. It brought us zero health benefits, but we spent good money on the food products to make these dishes.
We changed our meal plan and now:
- We buy products in bulk once every few weeks. So thanks to this approach, we don’t go to the grocery store very often and don’t buy food we don’t need. We replaced salami with baked meat and stopped buying yogurts with artificial flavors, frozen dumplings, pizza, sausages, and canned goods.
- I’ve learned to freeze fresh bread, a stew that has been in our fridge for several days, and my mom’s pies. So I don’t throw away anything and when I don’t want to cook, I just heat up a dish that’s already been prepared.
- In the summer, I bought a couple of pounds of tomatoes and made ketchup. Several pounds of a home-made product costs as much as one big bottle of my favorite Heinz ketchup. I also gathered some linden, raspberry, and currant leaves, and now we don’t have to buy flavored tea bags.
These measures helped us save another $80 monthly.
We have a car, but in recent years, we have been using it mainly to go someplace out of town or to go to the supermarket.
- We’ve become more active. My husband almost always uses his bicycle and I started to get to my office by walking. Of course, when it’s raining, we use a car. But luckily, the days with good weather prevail.
- We stopped paying for our gym membership because walking, riding a bicycle, and jogging in the park is free.
We managed to save about $30 a month just on gas. We used to go through about 18 gallons of gas every month and now this number is down to 7 gallons. And we saved about $20 because we stopped paying for the gym membership.
We love walking around the city, going from one cafe to another, and it was pretty difficult to deny ourselves this pleasure. But after being sad for a couple of weekends, we found a good way out:
- We started to check coupon websites before going to a restaurant, so we could have the same meal, but 2 times cheaper. You shouldn’t deprive yourself of all of life’s pleasures. You can also buy coupons to go to the movies, bowling, or to a water park at an average of 50% off. And if we go out to dinner at a restaurant without any discount, we try to not order the most expensive dishes.
- We’ve stopped hanging out with our friends so much. Going out to clubs every week costs a lot, so we decided to invite our friends, who want to spend time with us, to our apartment for a light dinner.
Prices on mass-market clothes from new collections never bothered me if I really wanted to buy something, but now things have changed:
- I had to admit that buying a $90 dress is impractical, because it’ll be possible to buy it much cheaper in a couple of months. I do window shop and choose clothes that I like, and when sales start, I just buy these things at a 50%, or even a 70%, discount.
- I learned to choose classic clothing that will never go out of style.
- We don’t buy trendy devices and new smartphones just because a new model has been released. Our phones are still working fine after a year of using them.
- We started to buy things on the internet, since it’s often more profitable than going shopping offline.
Everyday life and household
We also managed to reduce our household expenses a little. Some things may look like they’re insignificant, but we managed to save a significant amount of money thanks to cutting down our expenses on them. We paid attention to everything:
- I used to love spending time lying in a hot bath 3–5 times a week. When I started doing that only once a week, our water consumption significantly dropped.
- We stopped using our washing machine to wash a couple of T-shirts at a time and started to wait until we had more things to load into it. The number of washings decreased by 2 times.
- We stopped paying for cable TV and started to watch videos on YouTube instead.
We started bringing our own textile bags to go shopping instead of buying plastic bags at the grocery store. We also stopped using paper towels, garbage bags, and expensive microfiber sponges. Our house is full of old things that are great for these purposes.
Holidays and presents
I figured out that we used to spend about $400 on Christmas presents and took a lot of time to pick them out. And don’t forget about other holidays, including birthdays. Yes, I’d also get presents, for example, a body lotion that doesn’t smell good or a scarf that I’ll never wear. So I changed my attitude toward giving presents: I don’t buy expensive presents for people who I don’t communicate with often, like my neighbors and my colleagues. I just present them with inexpensive little presents from time to time.
I also included tips in the “presents” category. I revised our weekly expenses and it turned out that we used to spend $27 on tips. For example, our average restaurant bill was $30 and we leave 15% to the waiter. That’s $4.50. I also gave $2.50 to a delivery guy who brought us food, and $20 to my hairdresser. I had to significantly cut down on these expenses too.
Besides, we don’t invite guests very often these days, so I don’t have to cook a lot of dishes for them. And we also started visiting our friends less frequently, so we don’t have to spend money on little gifts and food, so we don’t show up empty-handed.
We live in a foreign country in a rented apartment. Our friends know about this, but some of them have no qualms with coming to visit us and staying at our place for a couple of weeks, since our 2-bedroom apartment looks like a hotel to them.
We used to spend $150 on one guest’s arrival: we had to take a day off to cook food, show them the city, and clean the apartment after they go back home. Now we don’t allow our friends and relatives to come visit us anymore, because we aren’t ready to accommodate guests right now. Of course, they were offended at first. But as a result, only people who we are truly happy to see, still come see us. And what’s funny is that these people prefer to rent an apartment and they don’t force communication on us.
Thanks to all these measures we managed to save more than $350 every month.
When we decided to cut down on our expenses, I thought it would lead to a dull and unhappy existence. And the only thing that gave us strength was a desire to buy our own apartment. But after a little while had passed, I realized that I stopped spending not only money, but time.
I no longer have to worry about being late for my manicure and spending an hour to get to the salon, because I take care of my nails myself now. I’m not going to the gym for 3 hours anymore, spending 2 hours to get there and to change my clothes. I just leave my apartment and jog for 40 minutes. I don’t spend time going shopping without any purpose, since I don’t buy things I don’t need. We started to eat more high-quality food, my skin looks better, and I’ve lost 4.4 lbs (and I had tried to get rid of this weight for a long time).
It turned out that we can be happy without about 70% of the things we couldn’t imagine we’d be able to live without. We can still feel good about our life and we don’t even miss them.
Have you ever had to try to save some money and cut down your expenses? Would you want to live like that all the time or do you prefer to spend your spare money?