Saving money has been on my mind pretty much non-stop these last few weeks. I’m not sure if it’s the change in the seasons or the fact that we have some potentially big expenses looming in the not to distant future. But all I can think about is saving. And I have been looking at our spending and how we find room in our budget to save money.
On the surface, saving money is easy. Spend less than you earn. Pay yourself first. And sit back and watch your savings grow, right? Not necessarily. When it comes to finding ways to save, even though we all know it’s important, it can be a challenge to cut our spending. This got me thinking about how we actually find money in our budget to save. None of these ideas are really earth shattering, but they show how shifting habits and your mindset can help you save money.
Saving Money on Personal Care
Personal care expenses vary greatly from person to person. I have a specific set of moisturizers I use because I have very dry skin. To help save on them, I buy them when there is a sale, or when I can find them at Coscto.
But our biggest personal care savings comes from my husband’s haircuts. Typically, my husband gets his hair cut every 5-6 weeks. When he was getting it cut by a professional it cost us between $25-$35 a cut. That’s $260-$360 a year depending on frequency and expense!
Growing up my mom always cut our hair. Saturday mornings she would “open up shop”. My dad, my brother, and me would all take turns getting our hair cut. She had no formal training, she just learned as she cut. Mom was the only one who went out to the salon a few times a year to get her hair cut. Several years ago, when I saw how much we were spending to cut my husband’s hair, I pitched the idea of getting clippers. For the price of 1.5 haircuts, we invested in clippers and had mom show me the ropes. There have been a few “oops” moments. But for the most part, it has gone fine. I get better every time. And we’ve been able to save the money we would spend on haircuts.
What Can You Do?
I am not suggesting or encouraging everyone to cut their own hair. Although I know with the pandemic it has become more common. But there are ways you can save on personal care.
Buy the products you know you love and use on sale. Stocking up a few times a year can save you so much money.
Look for off brand products that are the same as your name brand products. This is one of my favorite tips when it comes to saving money on anything. Often the name brand and off brand are identical, and you can save by not paying for the name.
Our Food Budget and Saving Money
Food spending has always been an issue in our budget. No matter how much we allot for groceries, I almost always overspend. And it isn’t because I don’t budget enough. I cook based on whims. Often there is no set plan in place, and I run to the store “just to get one thing”. One thing turns into ten. You get the picture. So, for me, working to stick to a grocery budget required more of a mindset shift.
To save money in this area, my husband and I first started making a meal plan. I know there are so many people out there who swear by meal planning. And they aren’t wrong. Instead of assigning each meal a night, which is too confining for me, we make a list of meals we’d like to eat in the next week. Then, we make a list of all the ingredients we need. Before we head to the store, we shop our pantry. Using our list, we see what ingredients we already have on hand. This keeps us from overbuying. Then, list in hand we shop. While at the store, we pay attention to what is on sale and what off brand items we can buy. The simple act of making a plan and minimizing trips to the store has really helped us find room in our budget to save.
We have also started making meals that create leftovers we love. I’m not a big fan of leftovers, but I do love knowing lunch is already made for the next day! This has helped us cut back on our grocery spending because we don’t have to buy separate lunch stuff.
What Can You Do?
To save more money on your grocery spending, make a meal plan. And if you can, find ingredients you are able to use in more than one meal. This can help lower the cost per meal and helps you get the full value of the food you are buying.
Having Our Coffee and Saving Too
Coffee is something that gets attacked a lot in the personal finance community. I’m not sure it deserves its bad reputation. Sure, having a latte or two out on a daily basis adds up. But there is nothing wrong with the occasional coffee out with friends. In our household, we like good coffee. Keeping this habit in check has been tough at times. But now we’ve developed a system.
We have a budgeted amount for coffee out each month. Instead of indulging daily, or even weekly, we use coffee out as a treat. At home to manage our coffee habit we use a French press. I’m not sure I can tell a huge difference between French press coffee and coffee pot coffee. But the ritual of grinding the beans, boiling the water, and mixing them together, makes having coffee at home even more of an experience. And I can get behind that.
What Can You Do?
If coffee is one of your favorite things, that’s ok! Take your coffee spending as part of your budget as a whole. Maybe you don’t go out every day, but you still have coffee spending in your plan. If you’ve planned for it and know you can afford it, there is no guilt with the purchase. You can enjoy it even more this way.
What We Splurge On
These are just a few things that we have been making an effort to save on in recently. Adjusting our spending in these areas has helped us find room in our budget to save money. Which has been awesome! But, even when we focus on saving, there are a few things we splurge on.
We have multiple streaming services. One would work just fine, but we like options and none of the services give us access to all of the shows or features we want. Since the pandemic hit, we haven’t gone out much. So, this is one thing that we have allowed in our budget.
Name brand cereal. I know, I said I find the off brand whenever possible. But for whatever reason, we like name brand cereal better. And we eat a lot of cereal. So, if I have to shuffle my grocery budget around to get the cereal that we love I do it!
Finding Ways to Create Savings in Your Own Budget
These are just a few of the ways that we find room in our budget to save money. You can find ways to save based on your budget too!
Ultimately, finding ways to save in your budget comes down to what you value. After your fixed expenses and bills are covered, the rest of your spending should follow your values. Your spending and savings behaviors are about creating balance between your needs and your wants today and your plans for the future. If you look hard at your spending, you will find places where your spending doesn’t line up with your values. These are places you can cut back to find money to save. This savings will help you build a safety net for the future and add more of what you value to your life.