As a project manager, my husband often travels for work. Normally, this only requires him to be away for a week every month. However, his most recent assignment has him on-site so often that he needs to rent an apartment close to the job site. While his company provides a monthly allowance for living expenses and he splits rent with another supervisor, it doesn’t cover all the costs of living and transportation. It has put a significant strain on our finances. Therefore, we have been looking for more ways to cut costs and stretch our budget. Here are 7 small ways we have found to stop wasting money and save more each month.
7 Small Ways You Can Stop Wasting Money Every Month
Although there are many ways to reduce your spending, these tips have proven the most effective in our situation.
1. Using ride shares and carpooling.
When my husband visits the current job site, he has to travel about 500 miles. Not only is this a lot of distance to cover, but it’s in a small town with a regional airport. Sometimes they will contract the company plane to fly a group of them up. In other instances, they will purchase economy tickets with multiple connecting flights. But when this isn’t an option due to budgetary or time constraints, he and his team have to drive.
Unfortunately, they all have work trucks which aren’t the most fuel-efficient vehicles. Sometimes he will drive himself. But whenever possible, they try to coordinate and drive together to reduce transportation costs. While it can be inconvenient, it saves about $75 in fuel costs each way, totaling about $150 a month.
2. Meal planning every week.
Food is another major expense in our budget. My husband and I both work full-time jobs in addition to familial obligations which leaves little time and energy for food prep. So, we often took the easy route of going out to dinner or having food delivered. When he was traveling, he would dine out even more frequently.
However, after we evaluated our budget, we realized we were wasting hundreds of dollars every month on service and delivery fees. That’s when we decided to start meal planning. Now, we spend Sundays cooking and preparing our food for the week. It has been a great way to spend time together, eat healthier, and save more than $250 a month.
3. Looking for ways to reduce heating and cooling costs.
Once we trimmed the budget categories where we were hemorrhaging money, it was time to look at the nitty-gritty details to see where we could reduce spending even further. The next item on our chopping block was our utility bills, namely our heating and cooling costs.
When it’s only me at home, I tend to use a few of the rooms. So, I restrict my movement as well as heating and cooling to these areas. The first step was to close the doors and registers in rooms I didn’t use. We also regularly check the furnace filter so the HVAC can run more efficiently and use less energy.
However, my husband installed a programmable thermostat to help regulate the temperature even when we aren’t home. It automatically goes into eco-mode when we are away for long periods to save even more. Not only does this help us reduce our energy bills by roughly 25%, but we also discovered that these systems may qualify for an energy tax credit to put even more money back in your pocket.
4. Switching to LED lights.
Several years ago, we switched out all the lighting in our house to more energy-efficient LED bulbs. This made sense for several reasons. In addition to reducing our monthly bill and energy consumption, these bulbs last longer than other options.
Unfortunately, the apartment building he moved into was older and didn’t have LED bulbs. So, he and his roommate made the same switch there. While the savings won’t be immediately apparent, studies have shown that using energy star rated bulbs can save up to 75% on the cost of lighting your home and last 25 times longer so they won’t have to be replaced as often as incandescent bulbs.
5. Limiting water consumption.
When we were doing seasonal preparations, we discovered that we had some plumbing issues that were costing us money. One major problem was a leaky toilet that constantly ran and wasted gallons of water. After we fixed this issue, we then inspected all the plumbing to repair any additional leaks to prevent unnecessary water consumption.
But now that we are more budget-conscious, we took it one step further by adding a timer to the water heater. Everyone loves a hot shower, but I also indulged in baths as well. But since we added the timer, I learned to limit my shower time to about 15 minutes. While it turns off after about 30 minutes, it has taught us better habits and helped decrease the cost of keeping large amounts of water continually heated, even when we weren’t using it.
6. Paying more attention to energy consumption habits.
One thing that I’ve learned throughout this budgeting exercise is that we save more each month by paying more attention to our energy consumption. For example, I have a terrible habit of leaving lights on when I leave a room and not unplugging appliances when they aren’t in use. Now, I am more aware and take greater efforts to practice better habits. Installing smart switches and motion-activated lights in the laundry room and garage has also helped with this problem. But, I’m hoping that these changes will continue to have a positive impact on our finances.
7. Evaluating the monthly budget.
Even though all these small adjustments have helped us stop wasting money, the most important step was to evaluate our budget. Tracking expenses and becoming aware of bad habits is the simplest way for us to reduce unnecessary spending.
It can be difficult for some, but it starts by identifying our wants versus needs. When we truthfully answered this question, it was easy to prioritize our spending toward bills and savings goals. We have also utilized several apps and budgeting tools that categorize our spending to see where our money is going every month. Not only has this helped us regain control of our finances, but we now spend less effort to track our expenses and help us stay under budget.
What budgeting tips have helped you stop wasting money? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.
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