If you’re like me, you don’t mind spending money, within reason, on good food, experiences, and things that are more valuable to you than their price tags. I’m not a very frugal person, although I do have a Frugal GPA of 2.7. However, I try to save money whenever the cost of what I’m buying doesn’t provide the value I expect. I’m always interested in learning how to save money every month. These are 10 things I currently do.
How to Save Money Every Month – 10 Things I Do
1. Pack a Lunch to Work ($100 Savings)
My favorite TV show (when I used to watch TV) was Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Call me a foodie, food fanatic or food junkie. I love food so much that I’m happy thinking about, talking about, writing about, looking at, smelling, and eating food.
It doesn’t bother me to eat out a few times a week because I can afford to. As long as my overall monthly eating-out expense doesn’t go into 4 digits, I’m okay. I’m tempted to classify eating out as an entertainment expense!
If I really needed to, I would stop eating out and pack a lunch for every work day. That would save me an additional $70 per month but I wouldn’t be able to socialize with my colleagues, try out new places, and take my food pics! 🙂
My colleagues and I eat out for our weekly team-building lunch which typically costs $12. I’ll pack a lunch from home for 3 days of the week. Since a home-made lunch only costs me $4, I save $24 a week or approximately $100 per month.
2. Drink Water ($25 Savings)
Drink water? WTF? Yes. What do you order to drink, when eating out? How much does that beer, wine, tea, or soft drink cost?
Honestly, I drink water more to limit how much sugar I consume than to save money. Every once in a while, I’ll allow myself to enjoy a soft drink. More than 90% of the time; however, I’ll order water (not bottled) with my meals.
Since I eat out at least 10 times a month, I’m saving $2 to $7 each time. Just to be conservative, I’ll say I’m saving $25 per month by drinking water.
I’m also making room for dessert! 🙂
3. Don’t Drink Alcohol … Much ($100 Savings)
I’ve never been much of a drinker. Even when I tried to drink a lot when I was younger, I doubt that I ever had more than six beers in any 24-hour period. If I had three beers right now, I’d be drunk.
Occasionally, I will have a good beer with dinner. My favorite, currently, is Xingu Black Beer.
I might drink one beer a week at home or when I eat out. My alcohol expense for the month is $10 which is no more than the price of a 6-pack of good beer. I know many people who drink much more than I do and some who spend over $1000 a month on expensive wines. Wine makes my head hurt, especially when I look at the price.
How much am I saving? In 2014, Katherine Muniz of the Motley Fool wrote in USA Today “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American consumer dedicates 1 percent of all their spending to alcohol or about $1 of every $100!” I’m saving $100 a month by not drinking much alcohol.
4. Don’t Use Tobacco Products (Life Savings)
I started smoking shortly after I joined the military. Smoking helped me connect with others since most people seemed to use some form of tobacco: cigarettes, dip or chew. I was a “field” smoker, someone who only smoked when he or she went on a field-training exercise, which was often. When I deployed overseas, smoking became my stress-reliever. It took forever, but I finally quit, completely, several years before I retired.
A pack of cigarettes costs approximately $6 (more or less depending on where you live). I only smoked an average of one pack per month but I know my health is far better now that I no longer smoke.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US. Yet more than 55.8 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, according to the “National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” As of 2013, there were also 12.4 million cigar smokers in the US, 8.8 million smokeless tobacco users (chewing tobacco and snuff), and 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes.
Source: American Cancer Society
5. Brew My Own Coffee ($50 Savings)
Every day, I drink the equivalent of two tall-size drip coffees. If I had to meet someone for coffee, it wouldn’t be at Starbucks. There are so many better coffee establishments that sell better tasting coffee.
If I were to buy one cup of coffee outside, I’d pay about $2.50. I would only do this on weekdays so I’m saving at least $50 per month by making gourmet-coffee at home.
I’ve written this before and I’ll write it again. I love coffee, and I don’t mean Taster’s Choice, Folgers or Maxwell House. I love me some good gourmet coffee like Illy or Lavazza, just to name a few.
6. Don’t Play the Lottery ($45 Savings)
In the U.S., people spent over $80 billion playing the lottery in 2016 even though the odds of winning are less than one in a million. The lottery is one of the biggest scams in the U.S. Its purpose is to generate revenue, but where do the millions of dollars generated actually go? Who benefits?
I don’t believe rich people buy too many lottery tickets. That means that people who can’t afford to are buying lottery tickets with delusional dreams of winning millions of dollars. Since there are approximately 147 million people employed in the U.S., I’m estimating that employed people are spending at least $544 each year on lottery tickets. That’s about $45 per month that I’m saving by not buying into a fool’s dream.
7. Don’t Watch TV ($100 Savings)
I love sports, especially Big 10 college football and my World-Series Champions, the Chicago Cubs! In the past, I even paid to watch several episodes of the Walking Dead–I’m a big zombie fan.
But my love of sports and zombies isn’t enough to consume my limited time and money. The average monthly cost of cable TV is $100.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, the average user age 15 and above watched 2.73 hours of TV per day. In a 30-day month, that’s 83 hours!
Watching TV is so time-consuming! I’ll watch some cartoons with my kids and some Korean karaoke shows with my wife and kids from time to time, on YouTube, of course. However, my time is limited so I refuse to waste more than about 3 hours a month (83 hours saved – 3 hours = 80 hours saved).
By watching almost no TV, I save $100 (and 80 hours) each month.
8. Pay Credit Card Balances in Full ($125 Savings)
By paying my credit cards in full every month, I do not pay any interest. My credit cards reward me approximately 2.75% in cash back and travel rewards points. I’m only using two credit cards for the majority of my purchases and bills. Unfortunately, I have to pay my mortgage payments, credit card bills, and one utility bill with my checking account.
In order to qualify for the best rewards credit cards, you’ll need very good credit.
Read the Ultimate Guide to Improve Your Credit Score before applying for the best credit cards.
I save $125 each month by paying my credit cards in full, not including how much I would save if I paid interest (never)!
9. Use Affordable Cell Phone Service ($50 Savings)
I recently upgraded my phone to a Moto Z Play after I broke my Moto X while playing with my kids at the playground.
The Moto Z Play (unlocked) was rated at 4.4 stars and only cost $350 on Amazon. I don’t buy premium phones. I buy good mid-tier phones that will do everything that a premium phone will do at half the cost. Since it’s difficult to capture total cost of cell phone ownership including cell phone price, accessories, etc… I’m only referring to cell phone service.
Read my review of Republic Wireless.
I might as well work for Republic Wireless. I’m a big fan. I recently upgraded my plan from 0.5 GB to 1 GB of data with unlimited talk and text messages.
How do I use so little data?
I primarily use data only when WiFi is available. Emails and text messages use up very little data. In my car, I use the Waze app to get me where I need to go on time. Surprisingly, that app doesn’t use much data either.
The average user pays $75 a month for cell phone service because most people want unlimited data or as much data as they can afford. My cell phone bill is only $25 a month including taxes and fees!
10. Cut My Own Hair ($50 Savings)
I’ve been cutting my own hair since I was 15. At first, I did it because I didn’t want my mom or dad to cut my hair. The first haircut I gave myself looked like a mix between a mohawk and a mullet. It wasn’t pretty and I’m sure glad we didn’t have smart phones back then.
When I served in the military, I needed to get a hair cut every week. After serving for 21 years, I averaged four hair cuts a month and must have had at least 1000 hair cuts. I only went to a barber if he or she was good and affordable, so I cut my hair 90% of the time.
These days, I cut my hair twice a month. If the average hair cut with tip, gas, and time is factored in, I’m saving $25 per hair cut, at the very least, for an average monthly savings of $50.
The 10 things I do every month save me $500 to $700 every month. Most people aren’t going to cut their own hair, nor should they. We have to find what works for us or keep looking, proactively. Some of my 10 ways to save money are common knowledge in the personal finance community but I wanted to point out a few problems that are not only costing us time and money but also our health.
What do you do to save money every month?
Please share this with others and comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.