No matter how much money you make or how padded your emergency fund is, you probably have a happy dance you bust out for those special moments you save money. That little jig may be even more joyful when you manage to cut costs on your regular household expenses, which are often some of the toughest parts of the budget to trim.
We’ve got three major tips to help you save money 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.
Saving Money in Your Food Budget
Let’s start with food. We all need to eat, but saving money in the food category can be a real struggle. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found Americans spent over $3,000 on food away from home in 2016.(1) That’s more than $250 a month just on restaurants and fast food alone!
We all know one of the best way to stretch your food budget is to avoid dining out. But we also know that’s easier said than done. 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."
Cooking in bulk means buying groceries in bulk, and that can help you save money—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 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!
Save Money With a Little DIY Home Maintenance
According to a list of household expenses compiled by GOBankingRates, the average homeowner can spend more than $1,000 a month to maintain their home.(2) Those costs include things you may not have control over, like property taxes or homeowners association fees. But as many Dave fans already know, many other costs can be reduced or even 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 money on home maintenance—as much as $298 a month if you’re willing to take care of routine repairs and upkeep yourself.(3) 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!"
Maybe it’s time to invest in your home and take on a DIY project to add value to the house and help you with saving money. And while we all can’t add solar panels to our homes, we can still do little, affordable things to help build value. Look into turning an old closet into a home work space, removing cabinet doors to create open shelving, or adding some flowers and shrubbery to your front lawn.
Shop Around If You Want to Save Money
The favorite cost-cutting recommendation by Dave’s fans is to shop around. From grocery stores to cell phone plans and television services to insurance coverage, they explore all their options to seek out the best deal.
Don’t be afraid to shop around to find the best cell phone provider for you and your budget! According to a Consumer Reports survey of almost 90,000 cell phone subscribers, nearly half of those who switched providers saw at least a $20 drop in their monthly phone bills.(4)
And by ditching cable for good and switching to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, you could reduce your monthly bill down to as little as $16–24 a month. And that’s for having both streaming services!
When it comes to auto insurance, a 2016 J.D. Power insurance study found that people who shop around for their coverage can save $356 a year on premiums.(5) And according to ValuePenguin, homeowners insurance rates have increased more than 50% over the last 10 years.(6) Don’t miss out on saving money just because you haven’t compared a few numbers.
Small Changes Can Mean Big Savings
If this list of money saving ideas seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry. You don’t have to try all these tactics at once. Even if you just practice a few of these strategies, it can still make a big difference.
You can take control of your money. It just starts with making some small tweaks, changing habits, and making goals—no matter how small! Even if you don’t save much right away, every little bit you can save gets you that much closer to your goals. Go ahead and dig into your budget and see how much fun you can have with saving money!
Shopping around for the best deals on insurance is easy when you work with an endorsed local provider. Tell your agent what you’re looking for and they’ll do all the work to find a policy that fits your budget. Find an ELP in your area today!