7 Simple Ways We Save A Little Bit More

posted by Andrea | 02/9/2017
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I’ve gotten lots of money-saving questions over the past few weeks, probably because many people are looking for ways to save more and spend less at the start of another New Year.

As I mentioned last week, I don’t think spending money (or even occasional splurges) are bad or irresponsible. However, I do tend to focus on saving money more than spending money… and today, I thought I’d share a handful of relatively small and simple ways Dave and I save quite a bit every month and every year.

Most of these simple ways to save won’t instantly change your financial situation, but (as with most things in life) the changes will come about more slowly. However, by starting small and sticking with your savings goals, you will be on your way to create the very valuable habit of SAVING!

1. We don’t pay for cable.

Dave and I decided to nix cable TV last year, after several price increases (and realizing that the kids and I NEVER watched live TV anymore). Dave purchased a $25 antenna to get a handful of local news and sports channels and we’re saving about $45 a month (even after spending $9.99 for Netflix)!

2. We don’t pay for the newspaper or any magazine subscriptions.

Dave and I haven’t paid for magazine subscriptions in years… and although I do like the idea of supporting our local newspaper, it just didn’t make sense to spend the money anymore — so we canceled our newspaper a few years ago too. We now have less expense, less paper clutter, and A LOT less paper recycling.

Dave can get the newspaper online and I can browse any magazines I’m interested in at the library or online.

3. We don’t buy fancy drinks.

This might make us sound very boring, but we truly never pay for fancy drinks. We don’t go out for coffee, we don’t order drinks at restaurants, we don’t buy expensive alcohol to have at home, and we don’t pay for bottled water.

Dave does have several $5 gift cards to Starbucks and Biggby (gifts from students) that he will occasionally use or re-gift, and we will get pop when it comes with our meal at Culver’s, but that’s about it.

I should mention that if we are entertaining or having a party, we will buy alcohol if it’s the right group of people 🙂

4. We don’t buy extended warranties.

I honestly can’t think of one time when we’ve ever purchased an extended warranty on anything — and I have a feeling we’ve saved ourselves quite a bit of cash because of it.

I suppose this is partly because we often buy used items that don’t come with a warranty anyways, but when we do buy something new, we try to buy a quality item and then take care of it. So far, this hasn’t come back to bite us (knock on wood!)

5. We don’t shop at expensive places.

This one is much easier for me since I’m not a big shopper, but since we buy almost everything we can used (via Craigslist) I’m rarely tempted to splurge on cute things I see on store shelves or even online.

In general, I would even go one step further to say I simply DON’T SHOP… but since I know that’s not realistic for most people, I feel that staying away from stores that tend to be more expensive is a good place to start. Even if they have a fabulous sale, their prices are still most likely higher than a less expensive store.

6. We don’t pay banking fees.

None of our bank accounts, debit cards, or credit cards have ever charged any type of a fee. We’ve also never overdrawn our accounts, paid an ATM fee, or bounced a check. And speaking of checks, we always use the free checks provided by our bank.

7. We don’t pay interest.

I realize this might sound impossible, but the only thing we’ve ever paid any interest on in our entire married lives is our mortgage (at 2.49% for a 7-year mortgage).

We’ve never paid interest on a credit card bill, we paid off our student loans before they started accruing interest, and we’ve never taken out loans for anything else.

I honestly can’t even comprehend how many thousands and thousands of dollars we’ve saved on interest payments over the last 10 years — but I know it’s a lot!

As some of you know, we live in a low-cost-of-living area, so I know it’s not feasible for everyone to get through life without paying interest, BUT if there is any way you can get a lower interest rate or even just make a few small extra principal payments, you will save yourself SO much money on interest in the long run!

I’m sure I could continue to list more and more if I really thought for a while… but you get the idea. Obviously MY ways of saving might be some of your splurges — and that’s fine. I would guess Dave and I spend more money on home and garden projects than many of you 🙂

.

The point of this post is NOT to say “you shouldn’t ever buy fancy coffee or pay an ATM fee”, it’s simply to start thinking about where your money is going… and then consider if you can cut back or save more in a few different areas.

Maybe you can limit your coffee drive-thru purchase to once a week and buy more high-quality beans to make your own fancier coffee at home the other days. Or maybe you cancel all the subscriptions you don’t use right now and take a look at your bank account to see what (if any) fees you’ve been paying.

It’s usually pretty eye opening if you haven’t looked into this for a while — it’s amazing all the little fees and price increases that make their way into our budgets when we’re not paying close attention!

What are a few simple ways YOU save more?

photo source 1, 2

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21 comments

  1. Mary Lynn

    02/10/2017

    Hi! Did you get such a low interest rate because you of the good timing with low interest rates or a particular bank or negotiating? We are doing a refi from a 30 year to a 15 (with the goal of paying off in a little under 10 years) but the lowest I can find is 3.3%
    We have high credit (which I know can affect it) but I’m thinking your timing was just right!? Thanks for any tips!

    [Reply]

    Mary Lynn Cole Reply:

    *high/good credit scores

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    We got our mortgage just over 6 years ago… and although it was a really great interest rate at the time, I do know that in general, the 7-year interest rates will be considerably lower than the 15, 20, or 30 rates because not many people take out a 7-year mortgage. It might not hurt to at least see what a 7-year rate is and what type of monthly payments you’d have to make.

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  2. Katie

    02/10/2017

    A 7 year mortgage?!?! I’m jealous! 🙂 I thought we were doing well with a 15 year at 3%. Good for you! That inspires me. 🙂

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  3. Shan

    02/09/2017

    Andrea, Good for you and Dave for starting out life together with such strong conviction about not incurring debt. I’m sure each of you came from families that know how to have a good time without breaking the bank. You are so far ahead at your young age! So neat that you are sharing your ideas and experience and encouraging others that a debt-free life is wonderful and possible!
    After I retired (early) two years ago, we immediately put our house up for sale and downsized to a retirement community 45 minutes away. Because we bought a smaller house in a less expensive area, we had money left over for living expenses. We also downsized to one computer, one car, and half of our furnishings and possessions. It’s been good for my husband and me to learn to share and coordinate with each other’s needs and wants. We are happy and content in our new place with an indoor swimming pool and other amenities. This has been possible partly because we have adhered to sound financial planning principles throughout our lives. But most of all we are grateful to God for his provision. We are thankful that with less “stuff” to take care of, we can enjoy retirement doing things that are important to us: having more time with each other in the Word and prayer and doing other fun things. Still in the process of decluttering further, and that’s why your blog is very inspirational to me. Thank you, Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Shan! And good for you for enjoying your early retirement!

    [Reply]

  4. Trudy

    02/09/2017

    I’m doing the “Five dollar challenge” this year. It’s pretty simple…..when you get a five dollar bill in change, put it aside and then tuck it away somewhere home, out of your wallet…….then save it to see how much you accumulate at the end of the year.

    A couple years ago, I did the “One Dollar Challenge”…one week 1, you save 1 dollar, week two, 2 dollars, week three, 3 dollars…..well, it figured averaged $25 a week. The first year, sometimes coming up with the right cash amount was tough, so for the second year……I had $50 a pay put into a seldom used credit union account via payroll deduction and have continued. This is my third year…..it’s quite painless and because I can’t get to it easily, I’m not tempted.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    these are all really great ways to save more without a huge hassle — thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  5. Chris

    02/09/2017

    Great post! Here’s the way I love to look at things. Take the $45 from #1 alone on your list and multiple it by 12 for an annual savings of $540 and then multiple THAT amount for 50 years (or whatever number you would like for a lifetime savings) of $27,000. That is more than $27,000 of income you won’t be needing in your lifetime. You would have to actually earn more than $27,000 because you would be paying taxes. THEN, take each number you have listed and do the same thing. This is what I do in our own home, and it’s actually kind of fun!

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    I meant to ask in my post, did you and Dave rent your first house?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    no, we bought that house right before we got married and sold it again when we purchased our farmhouse.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh this is a fun way of thinking through how much money we’d save over the course of our lives.

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  6. Rhonda

    02/09/2017

    The “extended warranties” really should be stressed. I once heard on a radio talk show (probably NPR) that warranties such as this should really be reserved for things that would create a financial hardship if you had to repair or replace it (ie, only more expensive items, like a car or computer). Most of the time there is very little chance that you would reap the benefit of an extended warranty, and most of the time people could afford to replace. I have been asked at stores about purchasing an extended warranty for a $40 toy – crazy! Companies are probably making a ton of money off of this.

    [Reply]

  7. Lynn Oyama

    02/09/2017

    Thanks for the post Andrea! My husband and I love animals and we have rescued quite a few over the years. In the last six months I have found the discount gift card site – giftcardgranny.com. This has saved me a BUNCH of money! I can usually get PetsMart cards for 20% off. I budget $140 a month for their food and can purchase gift cards with that $140 to get $170+ worth. Then I combine the gift card with coupons and sales. I also can usually get a local deli that we love for 30% off. This one site has helped my budget a lot!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — good for you guys! And thanks for the tip about giftcardgranny.com!

    [Reply]

  8. Angela

    02/09/2017

    When you entertain, do you buy pop or kids’ drinks to serve? We entertain a lot in the summer, and I find that I spend a lot to have beer, an assortment of pop, and Capri Suns on hand for company. Wondering if you’ve found a way to entertain without as much expense in that department.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I guess we look at entertaining as a “gift” to the people we are entertaining — so no, we usually don’t try to be extra frugal or skimp. I almost always make all the food and we buy the drinks (including alcohol, pop, and juice boxes or Capri Suns).
    I totally understand why many people would want to be frugal (and I don’t think it’s bad) but Dave and I just decided that we enjoy entertaining (mostly in the summer) and part of the fun of entertaining for us is splurging on things we don’t normally do for our everyday lives.

    [Reply]

  9. Amy

    02/09/2017

    We follow many of the same tenents in our budgeting. At the beginning of the year, I started using QuickBooks (purchased as a business expense, so no extra cost for me) to track our finances. It really is quite eye opening to see the report at the end of the month. Previously, I had tracked expenses with pen & paper. This new method is simple for me to use and yields greater usable information for us. I also use QB to track our HSA account. Thanks for the continued great posts!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I use a program for my business finances too and it’s always fun to break it into graphs and charts for the different months. I should use it for our personal expenses too, I guess I’ve never really thought about that!

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    Curious as to what program you use. I just can’t the hang of quickbooks.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I use Outright.com. I’ve been using it for 5 years now (I think) and I really like it. Very simple to use and easy to make graphs and charts or print off information for taxes.

    [Reply]