If you're anything like me, the word budget makes you want to scream. I want to stick to a budget, I really do. I just can't. I have tried everything: Dave Ramsey, Mint, YNAB and I just can't stick tightly to it. So instead of a strict budget, I keep track of my finances the best that I can and I started cutting back on some things that I was either paying too much for, wasn't using or didn't need. A little bit of research and negotiating is almost always worth saving a few dollars here and there. Those dollars add up, my friends. For us, they added up to a trip to Disney last year!
You Better Shop Around
I check car insurance rates at other companies once a year. We have yet to find cheaper rates than what we have with our current provider. Although, after a little research, I did find that I get a discount on my current insurance company through my employer. Score! My Savings: $300 per year
Cut the Cable
I am not ashamed to admit: I love TV. I am not one of those anti-TV people who never used that evil, brain rotting device anyway. I seriously and devoutly love TV. When I had cable my DVR was always full of documentaries, movies and TV shows. But, I decided it just wasn't worth what we were paying.
I did some research and found out about the Roku. These things are the bomb dot com. I got set up with a Netflix and Hulu plus accounts. I already had Amazon Prime, so I also added their channel to my Roku.
What happened next was magical. TV marathons. Doctor Who, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Sons of Anarchy, oh my! Documentaries galore. Even some reality TV. We learned about castles and food processing plants and GMOs. Brain rot, huh? Me thinks not. My Savings: $960 per year
I don't invest a lot of time in couponing as I talked about here. You don't have to be an extreme couponer to save money. Building up a nice little stockpile of food and toiletries will save you time and money. The times that you don't have to run to the store and pay full price for something really add up. I don't know exactly what our savings are here, but they are significant. My Savings: Varies
I Paid What?!
That is what I found myself saying every time I looked at the statement of our joint checking account. We were with one of the larger banks since we had gotten married and the fees became significant.
We switched over to Ally Bank about a year ago. Ally is completely internet based. Not having brick and mortar locations keeps the bank's costs low and they pass the savings on to the customers. Free checks, no monthly fees for having a low balance (this one always made me laugh. You are charging me for being broke?), NO ATM fees. This includes third party fees, Ally reimburses us for any fees incurred at any ATM. Pretty sweet, right? My Savings: $200+ per year
I started making my own household cleansers because I did not like the idea of using chemicals around my kids. The savings was an added bonus. I'm lazy, if I can do this, you can too. You can check out a couple of my tried and true recipes here and here. I make almost all of my own cleaners, and I will be adding more recipes soon. My Savings: Estimate $100+ per year
You'll Never Nnow Unless You Ask
It's amazing how much money you can save by simply asking. I called my internet service provider and asked if there were any promotions. I ended up saving $15 a month on my internet and office phone line.
There are also companies out there like Bill Cutterz. Just signup and provide them with your bills. They will call and negotiate for you if you don't have the time or are uncomfortable doing the negotiating yourself. I haven't personally used them, but I have read mostly favorable things. My savings: $180 per year
Ditch the Contract
We were paying over $200 a month with our cellphone provider, for three iPhones. We paid this for years, without even thinking twice about it. And then I stumbled upon a company called Ting about a year ago.
Ting charges you for what you actually use, rather than a set monthly fee. Working from home, we don't use a ton of minutes. Many of my friends and family also have iPhones- iMessage is Apple's version of the text and it is free between Apple users. So we also weren't using a lot of our unlimited texting with our previous provider.
Ting has different pricing tiers, from extra small to extra large for each feature: voice, text and data.
You can set a usage limit on each feature. When this limit is set, you can be notified that you are getting close to the next tier or have it cut off completely so you CAN'T go over that month.
People that use their cellphones a lot probably will not find the same value. However, the savings can be great for people who find they aren't getting close to their allotted amounts of each feature with their current carrier. Our average monthly bill for 3 phones has been about $50. If you use my referral link, you will receive $25 off your first bill. My savings: $600 per year