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No matter how much money you make or how well-stocked your emergency fund is, you probably have a happy dance you save for those special moments when you save a bit—or a bunch—of money. That little jig may be even more joyful when you manage to cut costs on your household expenses, which are often some of the toughest parts of the budget to trim.
We’ve got three tips to help you save on those household expenses—both the regular and unexpected varieties—courtesy of Dave’s Facebook fans, who enthusiastically responded to our request for their favorite ideas on how to save money.
How to Cut Your Food Budget by 40%
Let’s start with food. We all need it, so finding savings in the eats category can be a struggle. The U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics found that the average American household is spending more on food this year, thanks in part to a 7.9% increase in spending on “food away from home.”
We all know the best way to stretch your food budget is to avoid dining out. We also know that’s easier said than done. But with some planning and a focus on the big picture, many Dave fans are making it work. Alicia R. said she sets aside a few hours to cook a month’s worth of dinners to freeze. “If it’s already cooked and ready to heat up, we are more likely to stay home and eat than be tempted with going out.”
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Cooking in bulk means buying groceries in bulk, and that leads to even more savings—especially when you shop the sales, Connie W.H. added. She gives variety to her menus with different seasonings and styles. “For instance, I may make American, Italian, Mexican, garlic and barbeque burgers all at once on a griddle and freeze most of them.”
While this may seem like common advice, it’s important to remember that these strategies really do work.
“We do this too,” Gina O. said. “We went from spending $1,200 on groceries for a family of 10 to spending $700.” That’s a 42% cut in their monthly food budget! What results could you get by trying the same thing?
Save $200 a Month With a Little Home Maintenance DIY
According to a list of household expenses compiled by GOBankingRates, the average homeowner can spend more than $1,100 a month to maintain their home. Those costs include expenses you may not have control over like property taxes or association fees. But, as many Dave fans already know, many other costs can be reduced or eliminated with some old-fashioned DIY.
“I’ve done my own yard work since I was big enough to push a mower,” Michael C. said. “Never pay others for what you can do.” You can also shovel your own snow and haul your trash to save even more!
That do-it-yourself attitude can save you on home maintenance too—as much as $290 a month if you’re willing to take care of routine repairs and upkeep yourself, according to GOBankingRates. Wally Y. recommends searching the internet for solutions if you’re having problems with an appliance or your car. “Sometimes the problem is common and simple enough for you to fix yourself.”
After a $200 quote from an appliance repair service to fix her dryer, Meghan B.W. considered buying a new set. “I Googled the problem, and $35 in parts and an hour or so of work later, my hubby fixed it!”
Megan Ann T. and her husband got a great deal on a car thanks to her husband’s automotive know-how. “Our car cost us $300 because it needed the transmission replaced,” she explained. “My husband bought the parts, rebuilt the transmission himself, and now I have a new-to-us car that’s in fantastic shape.”
Maybe you can’t rebuild a transmission, but if you’re willing to learn how to do your own car maintenance, the savings can add up to more than $500 over a year’s time, based on national averages from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
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Use Your Shopping Skills to Save $300 or Even More
By far, Dave’s fans’ favorite cost-cutting recommendation is to shop around. From grocery stores to cell phone plans to cable and streaming television services to insurance coverage, Dave’s fans explore all their options to seek out the best deal.
Plenty of studies back up their advice. According to a Consumer Reports survey of 100,000 subscribers, nearly half of cell phone customers who switched providers saw at least a $20 drop in their monthly phone bills. Many also reported being happier with their service.
Average cable bills cost over $100 a month, according to Leichtman Research Group. By switching to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, you could reduce your monthly bill to as little as $18 a month.
When it comes to auto insurance, a J.D. Power insurance study found that people who shop around for their coverage can save $356 a year on premiums. And according to ValuePenguin, homeowners’ insurance rates have increased more than 50% over the last 10 years. That means millions of homeowners are paying more than they have to for their coverage simply because they haven’t compared policies since they bought their homes.
While comparing cell phone plans, cable packages and grocery stores can be confusing and time consuming, shopping around for the best deals on insurance is easy when you work with an independent insurance agent. Once you tell your agent what you’re looking for, they do all the work, gathering and comparing polices that fit your needs and your budget. This is such a simple step to save money—why not start now by finding an independent insurance agent in your area today?
Small Changes Can Mean Big Savings
If this list of ideas seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry. You don’t have to try all these tactics. You can adopt just a few of these strategies—meal planning, cutting cable, doing your own yardwork, and shopping around for cell phone and insurance policies—and save $400–500 a month!
Even if you don’t save that much, every little bit you can save puts you that much closer to your goals. Go ahead and dig into your budget and see how much money you can save!