Today, you’re about to discover effective ways to cut down on your monthly expenses.
How about pocketing an extra $150 or £150 in the next 30 days? If you earn money and have regular expenses like food, transportation, and entertainment, this guide could be precisely what you need.
The 15 tips presented in this article have been proven and are easily applicable to your situation. However, merely reading this won’t magically save you money. If you insist on only buying Heinz baked beans, ignoring other options in the grocery store, or if you’re too unwilling to write a letter to cancel a subscription, then this article may not be suitable for you.
Saving money requires active effort; it’s not a passive endeavor. Often, it involves changing habits, which can be challenging and take you out of your comfort zone. Let’s be honest; stepping outside that comfort zone is never a pleasant experience.
So, if you’re truly committed to saving $150 or £150 in the next 30 days, and you’re willing to make some sacrifices, like skipping your favorite breakfast cereal or canceling a magazine subscription you never actually read, then continue reading for actionable tips.
How To Save Money Each Month:
1. Terminate a Subscription
If you’re equipped with online banking, retrieve your details and log in promptly.
Review each transaction from the past 30 days, documenting the purpose of each payment. If it simplifies the process, consider generating a PDF or downloading a spreadsheet for notes.
For any unfamiliar payments, determine their purpose. This step is crucial; you might be paying for something you don’t actually use. If you’re still being billed for outdated subscriptions or services you no longer utilize, cancel them. Most likely, you can do this online. Although written confirmation may be necessary, proceed with it to ensure you’re covered.
Note: If you’ve recently subscribed within the last 12 months, check for penalties associated with early cancellation in the policy.
After scrutinizing your list and clarifying each payment, identify essential items by enclosing them in brackets. These typically include utility bills, local taxes, insurances, and the like, which may be beyond the scope of this guide to save on.
What remains? Magazine subscriptions, movie subscriptions, and gym memberships. I’m not suggesting you abandon the gym altogether, but if you’re not utilizing it, why continue to pay? This is the challenging part—acknowledging when you’re not following through on commitments.
Last year, I canceled a computer magazine subscription. It was tough. The magazine pertained to a subject I was genuinely passionate about, and canceling felt like admitting defeat or loss of interest. Not a pleasant feeling.
However, here’s the kicker: I had a stack of around 24 magazines still wrapped in cellophane. I hadn’t touched it for about two years, yet canceling felt oddly disheartening.
This is irrational.
Summon the strength to cancel something you no longer use—just one thing. Draft a confirmation letter of your decision, and once done, consider it a step towards saving substantial money this month.
Now, let’s shift focus to a significant area with potential for substantial savings: food.
2. Your Refrigerator
Examine your refrigerator, meticulously going through each shelf. Discard anything past its expiration date, including undated items like leftovers you wouldn’t consume now.
Place all discarded items on the kitchen table and estimate their cost realistically. Jot it down (perhaps on a post-it) and affix it to the fridge.
Now, dispose of all that food. Toss each item into the bin, reflecting on the fact that you spent your hard-earned money on these items. Imagine it’s like throwing that equivalent amount of cash out of a car window while driving—something you’d never do.
But you just did.
Return to your fridge and establish a system that works for you. Arrange items by date—up or down the shelves, depending on your fridge’s layout. Commit to consuming items with the nearest sell-by date first.
3. Pantry Inspection
Apply the same approach used for the refrigerator to your pantry, scrutinizing cans and packets. Even tins have expiry dates, and it can be surprising to discover a can of tuna that’s been sitting in the cupboard for three years. Record the cost of each item, display it somewhere visible, and dispose of these items.
Arrange the items with the nearest expiry date first and implement your system.
4. Consume Existing Supplies
Commit to depleting some of the items in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry over the next 30 days. I’m not suggesting you solely consume these items, but it’s an opportunity for a bit of decluttering. It can be challenging because we typically eat what we crave.
For instance, I might crave pita bread with cheddar cheese, but the celery I bought is set to expire tomorrow—not very enticing. If this scenario repeats often, the solution is to consider refraining from buying celery altogether.
5. Opt for the Back of the Shelf
This practice can truly revolutionize your approach. Cultivate the habit of reaching to the back of the shelf when selecting meat and bread. By doing so, I consistently discover meat items with an extra 5 days on the sell-by date, simply by extending my hand beyond the nearest item. Packaged bread items, like pita bread, can gain an extra week.
This habit will yield significant savings in the long run. Coupled with vigilant stock control in the fridge, discarding expired fresh food can become a thing of the past.
I routinely purchase cucumbers and broccoli, taking a mere 3 seconds to transition from a February 4th item to a February 6th item (now a reflex for me). While it may not seem like a major change, it means those items, initially scheduled for Wednesday consumption, remain fresh until Friday as well. The likelihood of them ending up in the trash is considerably reduced.
However, forming this habit requires conscious effort.
My wife, unfortunately, does not adopt this practice. Often (to my regret), she returns from shopping with items set to expire the following day. This situation can be awkward because I may not be inclined to consume six pitas in one evening.
6. Opt for Generic Brands
Whether you’re shopping for a family or just yourself, you can potentially save £150 or $150 right here. To understand the food hierarchy, consider three levels: branded (like Heinz Tomato Ketchup), shop brand or unbranded, and budget or economy (often in plain packaging).
It can be a hit-and-miss experience. Sometimes unbranded supermarket items are just as good as the branded ones, as I’ve found with cereals where telling them apart can be challenging. Other times, the difference is noticeable.
Experiment with moving down the hierarchy. I’m not suggesting an abrupt switch from your beloved Jack Daniels BBQ sauce to budget alternatives—that would be tough, I won’t deny it. However, try the regular shop brand, involve the family in a taste test at dinner, take a vote, and make it a fun experience.
If everyone grasps the potential savings for the family, you might be surprised how many members are willing to embrace the change.
Significant savings can be found on non-food items like detergents, washing powder, and tissue paper. Since you’re not consuming these, there’s really no excuse.
Consider dishwashing soap, for example. In my local shop, the branded ‘Finish Quantum Max’ costs £6.00 for 30 tablets (20 pence each). The unbranded option also costs £6.00 but for 60 tablets (10 pence each). On the other hand, the no-frills loose powder costs £3.00 for 1 kilo, providing about 40 washes (7.5 pence per wash).
Because it’s loose powder, not a tablet, I can adjust the amount I use based on the load—half for a light load, more for heavy-duty cleaning. You can’t do that with a tablet.
It might not be groundbreaking, but going from 20 pence to 7.5 pence per wash adds up over time. When you apply these savings across a range of products, the impact becomes noticeable.
Side note: If your dishwashing powder is named ‘Quantum Max,’ you should realize you’re likely paying a premium.
7. Bring Your Lunch to Work
Note that I didn’t say “make your lunch.” That’s extremely challenging—you have to be super organized, prepare everything the night before, and remember to take it with you. It’s a minefield, and I don’t necessarily advocate it. Instead, shop for lunch items during your regular grocery run and bring them to work on Monday.
If you have access to a fridge at work, this approach works well. Grab a small loaf of bread, some hummus, cream cheese, or whatever suits your taste. If there’s no fridge, consider crispbread, instant noodles, a jar of peanut butter, or fruit.
You don’t have to compromise on the quality of your food.
One of the bigger challenges here is peer pressure, especially if most people in your workplace dine out. However, you can ease into this change. If there’s a pleasant outdoor area, bring a book and say you’re planning to read during lunch. Alternatively, be honest—explain that you’re trying to save money or saving for a specific goal. Most people will respect your decision, and who knows, you might even start a trend.
Personally, I mix things up. I bring noodles, cereal, and snacks, but I treat myself to lunch out once a week for coffee and a pastry.
8. Opt for Refill Packs
Not all refill packs are created equal. I’ve encountered the odd situation where the refill pack ends up costing more than the original product, especially when the original is on sale.
However, there are deals worth exploring. Personally, I save significantly on liquid hand soap by purchasing a large bottle and using it to refill the smaller ones in the bathroom and kitchen. Even when the original items are discounted, the refill option remains more cost-effective.
This strategy can extend to items like table sauces. If you manage to get a sizable Heinz Tomato Ketchup, you can easily refill the smaller bottle as needed. This allows you to stick with your branded favorite (hooray!). If the smaller bottle becomes less appealing, just toss it in the dishwasher.
9. Cut Back on Dining Out
Even if you are mindful of your budget when dining out, the expenses can add up when factoring in drinks, tips, and transportation.
Consider opting for a take-away version of the same food to save money. Depending on the type of cuisine, you might even find a kit version at the supermarket. While take-away kits might not be as popular in the States, they are a notable trend in the UK and often offer a decent alternative.
10. Enjoy Movie Nights at Home
Older DVDs are available on Amazon for a mere penny plus shipping. The price of a new movie tends to drop quickly, and within a year or two, most DVDs can be acquired for pennies. Charity shops or thrift stores are also excellent places to find inexpensive movies.
I hear the concern: “But my online movie subscription only costs xyz.” Well, the decision is yours. You can let that money automatically leave your wallet month after month, or you can take control and watch movies on your terms. Sorry if that sounded a bit direct!
11. Returning to the Stores
While couponing is a significant practice in the USA (much to my regret), it hasn’t gained much traction in the UK. However, there are several apps worth exploring.
I personally use Shopitize and Checkoutsmart.
These apps offer ‘offers,’ such as 30 pence off a specific jar of tomato sauce. After purchasing the item as usual in the supermarket, you scan the receipt, and the app reimburses you the specified amount, usually to your PayPal or bank account. That’s the basic concept.
Shopitize has been particularly beneficial for me. While it mainly features branded items, if the branded item on the app is also on sale in the shop, I can occasionally even beat the price of the unbranded item.
As a general rule, I lean towards unbranded options over higher-priced branded items, even when on sale.
But every now and then, there’s a ‘perfect storm’ price-wise that works in my favor. Also, when the prices align, I opt for the branded item.
Shopitize also frequently offers rewards on shop brand items like milk and broccoli (random, I know), but getting 25 pence off a £1.00 milk or 20 pence off a 45 pence head of broccoli? I’m all for it!
Checkoutsmart might not be great for discounts, but it occasionally provides a 100% refund on an item. Essentially, this means you can grab a new-to-market item for free, and I’ve scored some good deals this way.
In the last 9 months, I’ve accumulated about £60 from these two apps.
12. Upside-Down Bottle Trick
I assume most families worldwide instinctively adopt this practice. When the tomato ketchup is running low, you turn the bottle upside-down in anticipation of the next meal. Manufacturers have caught on and are now producing bottles designed to ‘live’ upside-down.
Here’s my tip: when you have two half-empty bottles of the same item, balance them on top of each other. If this seems too precarious (and let’s face it, sometimes it is), I use masking tape to secure them together. Problem solved.
13. Avoid Storing Half a Jar in the Fridge
Deep down, we all know that putting that half-used jar in the fridge usually leads to it eventually landing in the bin. In fact, it might as well be tossed in the bin right away.
My approach is to freeze it immediately. After using half a jar of tomato spaghetti sauce, I transfer the remaining portion into a plastic cup and freeze it. When needed, I run the outside of the cup under tap water to release it, then place it in a pot with the lid on very low heat, stirring occasionally.
14. Measure Your Food
Being mindful here, as I’m not advocating strict portion control, especially with young children. If you’re hungry, eat—simple.
What I’m emphasizing is the significant reduction in cooked pasta wastage in our family. Now, I weigh it. It’s straightforward. I can precisely determine the amount needed for an adult or child portion. Nobody goes hungry, everyone can have seconds, but we don’t discard nearly as much anymore.
15. Optimize Transportation
This topic is diverse and varies greatly depending on your specific situation and country of residence.
In the UK, there’s a program called ‘delay and repay.’ If your train is delayed by 30 minutes or more, you can claim a percentage refund. They send you a check in about three weeks. I’m fully taking advantage of this, and since discovering it, I rarely miss an opportunity for a refund.
For those commuting by train and it’s a stopping train, why not explore how much you could save by getting off one stop early? You might be surprised at the savings, and committing to this could also provide some exercise.
For drivers, shopping around for fuel prices is standard. Most countries have dedicated websites to find the cheapest fuel near you. However, did you know that underinflated tires adversely affect your fuel economy?
If you’re skeptical, just Google ‘Fuel consumption and tyre pressure,’ and you’ll see the connection.
This comprehensive guide provides 15 actionable tips to help individuals save an extra $150 or £150 within the next 30 days. It emphasizes the importance of active effort and a willingness to make sacrifices, such as canceling subscriptions or opting for generic brands.
The tips cover various aspects of daily life, including financial management, food storage, and transportation. Key suggestions include canceling unnecessary subscriptions, conducting a thorough examination of the refrigerator and pantry, consuming existing supplies to avoid wastage, opting for generic brands, and utilizing refill packs.
The guide also addresses dining habits, suggesting bringing lunch to work, cutting back on dining out, and enjoying movie nights at home to save on entertainment expenses. Additionally, it explores money-saving apps, couponing, and practical household tricks, such as the upside-down bottle trick and freezing half-used jars.
The guide concludes with advice on measuring food portions and optimizing transportation to further reduce monthly expenses. Overall, the tips are based on practical, tried-and-tested methods for achieving significant savings.
That’s it for now…I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to save money each month. I hope you found some of the ideas here useful, as I said these are all tried and tested.