Financial Spring Cleaning: Top 4 Ways to Save Money Each Month

in Financial Planning by

KEY POINTS
  • Cancel your Netflix subscriptions and other monthly bills that you never use.
  • Why you should avoid that $9 salad everyday at lunch.
  • Save big by not eating out an extra night a week.

Spring is the perfect time to declutter your home and, I’d wager, your finances too. Much like the bizarre amounts of dust I unearth from beneath our furniture when I deep clean, there’s always a hidden expense lurking in our budget that previously went unchecked. I find that by dedicating time to spring clean my accounts, I’m able to discover new opportunities for saving even more money every month.

Of course we all know it’s important to track our expenses on a regular basis—my husband and I use Personal Capital for this monthly task—but, it’s easy to get lax about actually changing our spending patterns. To combat this, I’m proposing a thorough clean-out this spring! For added motivation, I’ve outlined just how much you could potentially save by giving your finances a good old-fashioned scrubbing.

Let’s get started:

1. Get rid of any subscriptions you’re not seriously using.

Are you honestly listening to a ton of books on Audible or are they instead becoming more of a forgotten item on your to-do list? What about your monthly Bark Box—is your pup enjoying these random treats or is last month’s box sitting unopened in the foyer? Or your own Birch Box – are you really using all of those tiny makeup samples each month? Take a hard look at anything you’re subscribed to and don’t be afraid to calculate how much its costing you on an annual basis. Sometimes seeing the total amount you’re spending for a full year of a subscription is motivation enough to cancel.

Potential savings: $43.95 ($14.95/month for Audible and $19/month for Bark Box and
$10/month for Birch Box)

2. Cancel recurring monthly payments.

I find that some of the worst spending culprits are those pesky auto-renewing payments. They’re so pesky in fact that my husband and I made the decision to eliminate everything on auto-renew, except for our internet (since we definitely use that on a daily basis). It was altogether too easy to forget we even had them in the first place. Sometimes it’s best to go old school and un-automate your expenses.

I think cable is one of the most egregious offenders in this category. There’s so much content available through cheaper services like Hulu and Netflix that having a cable subscription feels like a pricey relic of the past. So if you’re not legitimately watching it, ditch cable this spring!

Potential savings: $99 (the average monthly cable bill in America)

3. Take your lunch to work.

This is one of my all-time favorite ways to save serious dough. It’s so easy to get lulled into the habit of buying lunch at work every single day—I certainly used to. Getting into the swing of preparing lunch at home instead, though, is such a great way to suddenly pocket your own lunch money.

My husband and I typically cook up a huge batch of something on Sunday nights, which we then tote to work all week. By cooking in advance, we no longer have the excuse of running out of time mid-week to make lunch. Each day’s meal is already portioned out and ready to go in the refrigerator—all we have to do is grab it and go.

Potential savings: $200 ($10 per lunch every weekday of the month)

4. Eliminate one take-out or delivery meal a week (or more!)

Food again! My husband and I used to fall victim to the delivery and take-out trap way too often. It’s just so tempting to pick something up on the way home from work, especially those delicious build-your-own salads… but I digress.

Despite the ease and tastiness of take-out, we had to put an end to it for the betterment of our finances. And so, we started thoughtfully meal-planning each week and established a rotation of homemade dinners for every night of the week. One of the keys for us in staying on track with cooking at home is ensuring that our weekday suppers are pretty quick and simple to cook. We don’t try to pull off filet mignon on a Monday, rather, we opt for a homemade salad with a salmon burger on the side. It’s delicious, nutritious, and far less expensive than anything from a restaurant.

Potential savings: $120 ($30 for one take-out or delivery meal for two per week, every week of the month)

The Grand Total

By making these four alterations to your budget, you could save up to $462.95 every month, which is a whopping $5,555.40 per year!

Plus, I find that by conducting this comprehensive exercise of combing through every single expenditure, I always uncover even more ways to save.

With each of these spring cleaning efforts, the underlying truth is that it’s all about developing long-term frugal habits. Once you get into the routine of, say, making your weekday lunches, it becomes your new normal and the commensurate savings will suddenly be on autopilot. That’s the beauty of doing a complete spring cleaning—you can change your spending behaviors for the long-haul and reap the benefits of added savings for years to come!

Track Your Spending With Personal Capital

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Mrs. Frugalwoods

Mrs. Frugalwoods

Mrs. Frugalwoods writes at www.frugalwoods.com about her journey to financial inde-pendence by age 33 and a homestead in the woods with her husband, daughter, and greyhound Frugal Hound.

14 comments

  1. John

    For the food related items, the savings should be lower because you’re spending on groceries and gas/electricity. I find that groceries alone can still be high that it’s only a marginal saving versus buying a cheap lunch (eg Subway). I’d like to hear your thoughts.

    Reply
    • Johan

      Lunch from home is usually a result from leftovers. You already had to buy groceries for your household so it’s not really increasing your monthly grocery expenses or adding to utilities since it was cooked from dinner. Not to mention the long-term health care savings by eating nutritious food rather than fast food.

      Reply
    • Jordan

      My wife and I take our lunch to work everyday and even though it may only be a marginal savings, it adds up over time. My wife and I spend approx $225-275/mo on groceries which is a significant savings compared to a $5 eat out lunch every work day. Which is right on line with what Mrs Frugalwoods is referring to. We also bargain shop when things are on sale which helps too.

      Reply
    • Melissa

      From my experience, groceries are WAY cheaper than eating out. I used to eat out 3-4 times a week total (lunch and dinner), but decided to cut it down to 1-2 times a week. I went from spending $350-400 on food per month (including groceries) to $250 – 300 per month. I also didn’t really see a change in my utilities bill, so I don’t think there is much of an extra expense there. If I could save $100 a month just by eliminating eating out twice a week, then I bet someone could easily save $320 a month by eliminating 6 meals out a week, especially given the dinner take-out is for 2 people and not just 1. Of course at the end of the day, the amount of savings will depend on where you are choosing to eat out and your grocery shopping habits (which is definitely another place to do some spring cleaning – no more wasted food!). However, I think for many people there are significant savings to be had by cutting down on take-out/restaurant food.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Buying fresh lunch meat can give you 4-5 sandwiches for the price of one subway footlong. You get considerably more bang for your buck in the grocery store if you shop correctly.

      Reply
    • Horatio

      In reality, electricity and gas are extremely inexpensive in the US. at like .05 per kWh, you’d maybe add $1 per month in electricity usage (less if you’re the Frugalwoods or MMM). Plus, for a majority of households, there is a lot of waste from buying food that you never eat. My family can buy groceries for 4 for a month, including expensive dairy delivery for $13 per day, which you’d have to eat a LOT of cheap (and unhealthy) food to keep up with. So, for the cost of 1 Jimmy-John’s combo, per day, you can feed an entire family three organic vegetarian meals.

      TL;DR – her numbers are pretty accurate.

      Reply
  2. Jordan Rozycki

    The costs of cable and fees or overwhelming. You can get the same with much less spent. Same goes for phone bill. I went from $90 for Verizon to $35 with Page Plus. Goes off the Verizon network. Same goes with other providers.

    Reply
  3. Bruce Casner

    This describes well what I already do. I had hopes for something new, but we are very frugal already.

    Reply
  4. Amber Petrovich

    I mean this in a constructive way, but this is not a well thought-out article. It barely skims the surface of the complex, high payments most people deal with on a monthly basis. Especially if you have HOA fees, student loans, home and car insurance, leases.

    A stronger article would’ve gone into more complex things like fees for online trading, how to lower interest rates, consolidate, etc. Things I would associate with spring-cleaning my finances… I mean, seriously, Bark Box?

    Reply
  5. Mr. PTM

    Mrs. Frugalwoods on Personal Capital?! Hooray!

    Looking forward to future posts on Frugalhound’s 401k withdrawal strategy.

    Reply
  6. Vivian Dibrell

    Another saving measure is to get rid of your expensive cell phone service and go with one like Consumer Cellular. I am doing this and saving $600 a year!

    Reply
  7. Jeff

    One other tip is do not impulse buy or over buy at the grocery store! If you buy too much fresh food, you will end up throwing it out as garbage. Also, do not have a freezer. It sounds great to get all those items on sale and store them, but without a dedicated logistics food plan, much of that food will get too old and freezer burned to eat. Not to mention the cost in electricity of running the freezer.

    Reply
    • Dee

      Thanks for this comment! I am currently thawing out the knuckle bones I have stored in my freezer since last summer. The bones go to the dogs! After roasting to harvest the marrow for me, of course.

      I have struggled for the past several months regarding having too much food in my house. I eat perhaps twice a day, sometimes not even that. Unless i have properly packaged food to freeze, it goes to waste and waste makes me a very sad panda.

      So, I have embarked on a rather narrow diet of things that cook up well for dinner, and as I don’t really eat that much, can be breakfast/lunch the next day. I am hoping to slash waste/over buying over the next several months. Wish me luck!

      Regards

      Reply
  8. Mike

    I needed to hear that.

    Reply

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