Do you want to save money? Of course you do, you’re reading this article. Maybe the better question is: Who doesn’t want to save money?
When we moved to San Diego we had to make some budget cuts. San Diego is an expensive place to live. I was working two jobs and Amy had a part-time job and we were barely breaking even.
Moving to San Diego was excellent training for becoming a missionary to Australia. It’s expensive there. Recently, I saw an article that said the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Sydney was $645 a week (~$2,500/mo)!
Living in Australia will take some creative ideas for keeping the monthly expenses low. We’ll likely use many of the same techniques we’ve been using for the past few years in San Diego.
So how did we save money? Here are a few things we did, plus some extra tips, to help you shave a few dollars off your monthly bills.
Money Saving Tips
1. Pack a lunch. A large majority of workers order fast food for lunch. Most of my co-workers certainly did. If you order take-out everyday, it costs you $5-$10/day. If you make a sandwich or take leftovers, you’re lunch costs about $1-$2. Do this only 3 times a month and you’ll save at least $10. I never ordered out and probably saved about $100/month because of it. Depending on what you order, your savings might be higher.
2. Cancel your gym membership. 1 in 6 people own a gym membership, but did you know more than 60% of membership owners never use them more than once? The average gym membership in America is $41/month. That’s a huge savings.
3. Shop for new insurance rates. Whether we’re talking about car insurance, life insurance, or home owners insurance, you should be shopping for new rates about once a year. This is a great way to make sure you have the lowest rates on the market.
We switched our life insurance this month and went from $90/mo to $30/mo and for higher coverage at that. Last year, we reduced our car insurance from $126/mo to $104/mo.
Between those two, we are now saving $82/mo over what we were paying a year ago.
4. Collect your change. Do you lose your change? Does it fall in the cracks of the couch, under the dresser, or on the floor of the car? If you’ll put just 50 cents a day in a jar or piggy bank, you’ll have $15 at the end of the month.
5. Use the library. I saved $300 last year when I started using my local library instead of buying every book I wanted to read. Most libraries will even let you download kindle books. Our library in San Diego has over 30,000 titles available for the kindle. And if they don’t have the book I want, I just suggest it and they’ll most likely buy it for me. Prefer audiobooks? They have those at the library too; CD and digital.
6. Buy a reusable water bottle. A pack of bottled water costs $10-$20. Filling up a reusable bottle from your Brita filter or buying a bottle that filters the water will save you a ton of money. I used this primarily at work and would fill it up at the water fountain. If you hate water, you can buy inexpensive flavoring at Walmart.
7. Cut back your cell phone and internet plans. Check with your provider, you may be paying for 10 GB of data on your phone and only use 3 GB. With your internet, did you know you only need about 12 MB/s to stream Netflix. We were paying for 50MB/s because the sales rep assured us it was necessary. It’s not. We’ve never had an issue with 12 MB/s. With our internet provider, Cox, the cost savings is $15/month.
Bonus Tip: Call up your internet service provider and threaten to cancel your service. They’ll lower your price on the spot to keep you. I do this every year when they increase their prices.
8. Stream your favorite shows. Cable is expensive. The average cable bill is $100/month. You can subscribe to both Netflix and Hulu for just $20/month combined. Hulu has most current shows and they appear the day after they air on TV. Netflix has countless seasons of some of your favorite shows. Watching two episodes of NCIS a night will take you 165 days to get through the whole series, and then you can watch NCIS: New Orleans! Not to mention the countless number of movies available.
9. Don’t shop hungry. I know everyone knows this rule, but it’s true. A study at the University of Minnesota showed that people spend 64% more on their groceries when they shop hungry. If you typically spend $300 on groceries a month, that means your bill could be as high as $500 if you shop hungry.
10. Eat out less. Eating out just once less a month will save you $10/month in tips alone, not to mention the amount you save by preparing your own meal. Dave Ramsey suggests, that if you’re trying to save money or get out of debt, you don’t see the inside of a restaurant unless you work there.
The $10 Challenge
I challenge you to pick at least one of these tips and try it out this month. At the very least almost everyone ought be doing the Bonus Tip under #7. It’s so easy you’d be crazy not to (unless you don’t have internet, and, yes, some people still don’t).
If these tips save you money, will you consider giving that money to support our ministry to Australia monthly? You can go to http://www.abwe.org/automatic-support-program to begin your support today.