12 Ways We Cut Expenses
There are many one-time things we have done over the years to lower expenses, like refinance a home loan and switch cell phone providers. Those all feel great implementing, like checking off a box on a list of financial wins. Some ways to cut expenses, however, mean a lifestyle change. Here is a list of twelve cost-saving practices our family has integrated into our lives. And bonus - they not only save us money, they are also better for our health and the environment. Win-win-win!
Be a 1-car family. When possible, we walk, bike, or take transit instead of driving. We have specifically chosen doctors, dentists, preschools, etc that are close so we can get to them without driving. In fact, when we bought our old home in Seattle we were only looking within a few miles of our business because being able to get there easily and quickly without driving was a must.
Shop with a grocery list and a full belly. The worst grocery shopping I do is when I show up to a store hungry and with no list. My cart ends up overflowing with things I don’t need and are bad for me – sometimes it’s so bad that I can be found with an opened bag of chips in-hand when I get to check-out. We keep a running grocery list on the fridge and stick to it. I also make sure I’ve eaten a meal before shopping.
Free E-books. We read at least three picture books to our kids every day, and like to have a variety. I have the Libby app downloaded on a tablet and linked to our public library card. It’s easy to browse books by category, check out or place on hold, and we can have up to 25 books at a time. In the past year we have read our kids over 400 picture books on the tablet.
Come and go with subscriptions. Most subscriptions do not have a contract, so we cancel and re-subscribe depending on whether we are using them or not. For example, we only watch YouTube TV for sports, so we have the subscription from August-March (football and basketball). We also cancelled most of our subscriptions when we went on our RV road trip and then re-subscribed when we were back in a house.
Turn off the faucet. Water usage is a big deal when in our RV, because we literally have a limited supply and needed to conserve. We have brought that mentality into living in a home with unlimited water supply. When washing dishes, water is only needed to get the dish wet and then rinse it off. You can scrub a dish without water running over it. Same with brushing teeth and washing hands.
Stretch restaurant meals. I love left-overs! If a larger than needed meal is put in front of me, which is typically the case, I eat half my food and take home the rest for another meal. My kids are also great for left-overs at restaurants because they rarely actually want the food we order for them and eat very little of it. Instead of wasting and complaining about their uneaten food, it's my lunch the next day.
Restaurant meals are for restaurants. I have the mentality that the additional money I pay for eating from a restaurant includes the cost of someone else cooking the food AND putting it in front of me AND the atmosphere of the location AND cleaning the dishes afterward. I’m paying for the whole experience. On very, very, very rare occasion we eat restaurant food at home, we always order pick-up to save on delivery costs and support the restaurants directly. The food must also feed us for more than one meal and taste even better as left-overs.
Free or used clothes. My laundry method is to wash and dry everything together, so purchasing something that comes pre-shrunk is a plus. I keep my eyes open for free clothes popping up in my Buy Nothing group. I also love shopping at thrift stores – because what’s better than clothes sorted by size and color!?
Free or used everything. Along with clothes, I love getting used belongings like furniture and toys. I utilize Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp for both buying and selling used items. And before looking for the item used, I will sometimes post to my local Buy Nothing group with an “ask” first.
Thoughtful gifts for kids. I buy my kids gifts that are used if possible, made of durable materials, age-appropriate, and not to many gifts. For Ryan’s 3rd birthday this weekend, we (along with our parents) are getting him: a bottle of bubble bath mix, a wooden train set (found used on Facebook Marketplace), 4 dozen colorful ping pong balls, and a board game. He will be thrilled!!!
Exercise at home. Right now, both Dave and I primarily run or bike for exercise, neither costing us any money. I also own a yoga mat, workout mat, and dumbbells which I use while following videos or my own routines. It’s always exciting to need to buy the next weight up in dumbbells!
Cut our own hair. Dave is the hairdresser in our family. He has been cutting his own hair since before I knew him. Within a few months of our first date, I had him cut off my long hair because I suddenly wanted to donate it to Locks of Love and was too impatient to wait for an appointment. He has cut my hair more often than not over the 14 years since. He now also cuts our kids hair, which is quite a challenge considering how squirmy they are! It’s rarely ever perfect, but it’s always free.