How I cut $1000 a month from our budget
Last summer I became determined to lower our monthly expenses. I knew there were some we could reduce, but also some that we could cut out altogether.
Month by month, I looked for ways to reduce our spending. From cutting a $10 allowance to refinancing our mortgage, every little dollar helped to get us in a better financial position.
And when I recently added up all those little dollars, I realized we were saving over $1000 a month!
I thought this was information definitely worth sharing, and I’m guessing you’d like to know how to save $1000 a month, too. So, here’s how I did it.
Want to learn even more ways to save money? Download this free 50 Tips to Save More Money checklist!
How to save $1000 a month (without working more)
If you want to learn how to save $1000 a month in your own budget, you must consider reducing or eliminating every expense you have. This is when a budget is very useful.
Look at every bill and every budget category to determine if there is a way you can cut costs. If you’re serious about saving, this shouldn’t be too difficult.
Having a $1,000 goal in mind will help keep you focused so you can find every dollar that’s being wasted.
Here are just a few areas to look for money you could be saving instead of spending:
- grocery bill
- dining out
- clothing & shoes
- utility bills
- mortgage payment
- insurance premiums
- memberships & subscriptions
If you’re struggling to cut your expenses by $1000 because you don’t want to give up certain conveniences, give yourself a little motivation.
Saving $1000 a month for a year will add $12,000 to your retirement fund.
If you kept that $12k in an interest-bearing account for 15 years, earning an average of 8%, your savings would grow to over $38,000!
Is that worth giving up cable?
Putting your future first will give you the right mindset to make savings a priority.
How I cut over $1000 in expenses
I was tired of going over budget every. single. month.
Our savings balance was getting increasingly smaller because we kept “borrowing” from it.
I decided I was going to cut everything I could from our household expenses and find those budget leaks that were draining our savings.
Turns out those leaks added up to $1,086 a month.
#1 Cable & Internet
The very first thing I changed was our cable & internet plan. We had been paying $100+ a month for years, and by just going to the Comcast website I found a plan for $69 that fit our needs. We don’t have all the extra channels, just “limited basic” cable with 30 stations.
Also, I chose an internet plan with a lower download speed. My husband ran a test on our wifi and found the speed we were at was comparable to what we would get on the new plan. So we switched, and have never experienced any difference.
Call your cable company and negotiate a lower price or find a cheaper plan.
If there isn’t one that suits your fancy, find another provider. Or, better yet, cut the cord and go without a cable bill all together.
Monthly savings: $40
#2 Cell phone
Next, I tackled our cell phone plan. I had been researching “no contract” carriers and decided to switch to Ting. We only pay for what we use, and there’s no plan that we’re committed to. Our bill went from $160 to $60 a month – a savings of $100.
There are more options these days for those tired of exorbitant cell phone bills.
If your cell phone is paid off and you’re not bound to a contract, look into switching providers for more savings.
Monthly savings: $100
#3 Gym membership
When our gym membership expired, it was easy to decide not to renew. My husband and I didn’t end up going and it was like money going down the drain every month. Another $60 saved!
Even if you are an avid gym member, consider if the monthly cost is worth it.
You can find a wide variety of fitness classes on YouTube for free and pick up used workout equipment from Craigslist at a fraction of the original cost.
Monthly savings: $60
#4 Cafeteria lunches
Last school year our youngest son would buy cafeteria lunches every day, at an average of $5 a meal. Some months I added $100 to his school lunch account, so in August I told him he’s going to sack lunch it from now on. I added up what a home lunch cost and it was under a dollar! I just rolled this minimal cost into our grocery budget, so we’re actually saving that $100 a month now.
I know adding money to a lunch plan is convenient, but saving a few bucks a day for 10 minutes of effort is worth it. Besides, you can make healthier options for your kids than what’s offered at school!
Maybe you don’t have kids, but you go out for lunch with your work buds every day. You could be spending close to $200 a month on just lunch!
Take 10 minutes to pack your own, and put that money in savings.
Your future self will thank you for it!
Monthly savings: $100
Another change was eliminating a weekly allowance for my daughter, who got a job last summer. I had a few different reasons for doing this (one being she was bringing in a paycheck, another being she never did her chores), and she agreed it was fair. It was only $10 week, but that added $40 to our monthly budget.
If you have a teen that’s still getting an allowance, maybe it’s time they get a job and earn their own paycheck.
They’ll feel differently about that money in their pocket, and they’ll learn the value of hard work.
Monthly savings: $40
#6 Insurance premiums
One unexpected surprise was the savings from paying for our life insurance premium annually instead of monthly. When I had to transfer the automatic monthly payment to a different account, I decided to just pay the annual premium so I’d only have to think about it once a year.
Turns out it’s cheaper to pay annually than monthly! (I’m sure some of you already knew that, but it was a surprise to me!) I ended up saving $80 a year, which is a little over $6 a month.
Check your insurance premiums to see if you can save by paying annually or bi-annually.
Every dollar counts!
Monthly savings: $6
#7 Dog grooming
For our little long-haired chihuahua, I decided we didn’t need the $45 grooming expenses every 3 months. We bought our own grooming kit for $30 and just do it ourselves in the kitchen sink. This saves us $15 a month.
Look at your budget and see if there’s a way you can cut down on pet care costs.
After all, Spot doesn’t care if he smells like baby powder and has a bow in his hair.
Monthly savings: $15
#8 Online grocery shopping
Another surprise I wasn’t expecting was saving money on groceries by switching to online grocery shopping.
A couple of months ago I decided to start doing all my grocery shopping through Walmart’s website, which has been a total game changer for me. I create a menu for the week, make a list, and do all my shopping in less than 30 minutes.
The best thing I like about it is I know if I’m staying within my budget before I pay. But a really nice result of shopping online has been how much lower my monthly grocery bill is now.
I ran a couple of reports and found that our average monthly grocery bill for 2019 was $800 (yikes!), and for the past two months, it’s been $600. That’s a savings of $200 a month! I know it’s because I’m going in the store less and sticking closer to our budget.
If online grocery shopping intimidates you, start out with a small order.
Most stores require a minimum, usually around $30. Stick to your list and stay within your budget. You can always go inside to pick out your fresh produce, but you might really like having your groceries brought out and loaded in your trunk for you!
Monthly savings: $200
#9 Credit cards
With some of the money we’ve been saving and with the extra cash flow from our recent mortgage refinance, I’ve been able to pay off 6 different credit card balances.
These cards’ minimum payments totaled $200 every month, but now that they’re at a zero balance, I can put that money toward other things (like the high-balance card I’m currently chipping away at).
If you have some credit card bills that you can pay off easily, do it.
You’ll save on interest, time, and effort. Maybe you don’t like the idea of dipping into your savings to pay off credit cards, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Once you do, you can start applying those payments to your retirement fund!
Monthly savings: $200
#10 Mortgage payment
Finally, the mortgage refinance has had the biggest impact on our budget. When we bought our house in 2012, we had to go with an ARM loan for various reasons. Our starting rate was 2.75%! In the 6th year it jumped to 4%, then in the 7th year it was 5.25%. Our payment went from $1,735 to $2,182 a month in 7 years – almost $450!
On top of that, we also had a second mortgage with a payment of $260 a month. When we refinanced, we rolled the second into the first and brought the entire payment down to $2120 a month. This is saving us close to $325 a month!
If you haven’t refinanced in the last year, you could potentially save hundreds every month by getting a lower rate.
Talk to a mortgage lender to see what your options are.
Monthly savings: $325
After adding up all of the savings, I was able to reduce our monthly expenses by $1,086!
A quick recap
Maybe your budget is a little tight, or maybe you just want to build savings faster. Either way, you can find areas in your spending that can be reduced or eliminated.
Here’s a quick recap of how I did it:
- Changed cable & internet plan, savings of $40/month
- Changed our cell phone plan, savings of $100/month
- Cancelled gym membership, savings of $60/month
- Switched from cafeteria meals to sack lunches, savings of $100/month
- Stopped weekly allowance, savings of $40/month
- Paid for life insurance premium annually instead of monthly, savings of $6/month
- Grooming our dogs at home, savings of $15/month
- Doing my grocery shopping online, savings of $200/month
- Paid off some credit cards, savings of $200/month
- Refinanced our mortgage, savings of $325/month
- Total Monthly Savings: $1,086
It took about 8 months to fully realize these total savings, but the great news is I’m not even done yet! The next bill I’m going to lower is our auto & homeowner’s insurance, which could possibly save us close to $100 more a month.
When I added up all the expenses we had lowered or eliminated, I was shocked at how much it was. At first I thought, wow – we’re saving so much money! And then I thought, wait – where is all this money going?
Because it doesn’t matter how much you save if you’re not intentional about what you’re saving.
How to save $1000 a month (and not waste it)
Our money strategy has always been:
- Pay all the bills on payday
- Spend what’s left on whatever we want until we run out
This, my friends, is how you live paycheck to paycheck.
So, if I want to break this cycle, I need to be intentional about what we do with our savings.
This is where a budget comes in, which I’ve now implemented, so we don’t squander it all away.
I also went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class, and that’s really helped me put a plan in place for every dollar of our income. I’ve also been using a zero sum budget, and it’s been working great for us. Knowing where every dollar is going has made a huge difference.
We also budget off of our previous month’s income. This has been super helpful, especially because we have a variable income that changes every month.
There are other budget strategies out there, like reverse budgeting and value-based budgeting. The important thing is to pick a tracking system that works for you.
The point of making sacrifices and cutting costs is so you can build up your savings for the future. Don’t let your efforts go to waste by not being intentional with the money you’re saving.
Find your own leaks
Maybe you don’t have teenagers that want an allowance, or pets that need to be groomed. Maybe you don’t go to the gym or watch cable.
It doesn’t matter. Your financial picture will look different than mine and everybody else’s.
If you’re struggling to save money, it’s likely you have budget leaks of your own.
Get on a budget, track your spending, and find out where every dollar is going.
Then, determine the difference between your needs and your wants. Figure out what your financial priorities are, and make some goals. Be willing to make some sacrifices.
With a little intention, you’ll be able to find areas in your spending that can be reduced or eliminated.
Don’t forget to grab your free 50 Tips to Save More Money checklist!
You may hear from a lot of FIRE and personal finance bloggers that there’s a limit to how much you can cut from your budget, but there’s no limit to how much you can add to your income. I totally agree.
But – every little bit helps.
So, while I may not have the opportunity right now to increase our income very much, I’ll do what I can to stretch every dollar we make.
Saving $1,000 a month might sound impossible to you right now. But, once you become intentional about knowing where your money is going, and distinguish between your needs and your wants, you can find opportunities to save more.