5SmallExpenses

Title
5 Small Expenses to cut out
Author
Nora Conrad
Publish Date
Feb 13, 2020
If you’re looking for quick ideas to save some cash; cancel your cable, stop buying going out for coffee, stop eating out for lunch, give up clothes shopping for a year, and get rid of your fancy cell for a cheap phone you can buy in full. If you need some ideas that you don’t see on every Pinterest post, keep reading.
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01 ELECTRIC BILL

Every state is different (country if you’re outside the US), so I want to make sure that you know I’m living in Colorado and I use Xcel Energy for my apartment. If your situation is different, only some of this might apply to you.
When we moved from a 2 bedroom to a 3 bedroom loft, our electric bill went from $70ish per month to $220ish per month. The huge windows and 30ft ceilings came with a HIIIIGGGGHHHHH cost. So, we needed to find some serious ways to cut back on our energy usage.
Sign up for a time-based plan.
Xcel has a program called Time of Use Pricing, which allows us to use our big appliances (dishwasher, washing machine, TV, fans, space heaters, etc) during “off-demand” hours at a discounted rate. Most people tend to turn these things on between 2 pm — 6 pm every weekday. If we use our appliances during this time, we pay more than the average home. If we instead use these things between 9 pm — 9 am, we get a discounted rate.
This has been super simple to adjust to, we load the washer, dryer, and dishwasher before bed, and start them when we go to sleep. If we have lots of laundry to do, we do it early in the morning or save it for weekends. We plan meals that don’t require the oven or stove too much (hello SousVide and Crockpots). We run our fans during the night and turn them off when we leave for work. This program alone saved us around $100 per month on our cost.
Switch to LED / Power Strips / Light Timers
We have both a Google Home and an Alexa in our apartment, so buying more efficient lights and putting them on timers has helped us keep electronics off when not in use and keep them on lower settings when we are using them.
Powerstrips make it quick to shut down larger things like TV systems (Xbox when they aren’t in use), our desktop computer, and our printer.
Insulate and Update
Drafty windows, cracks under a door, and old filters make your home super inefficient for keeping cool or hot when you need it. Something as quick and simple as putting some bubble wrap on the glass can help reduce cold air coming in during the winter months. There’s a ton of draft-stopping options on Amazon, so do some hunting based on your needs and spend the extra $5 to save you more throughout the year.

02 FOOD & DRINKS

I’ve talked about it before, but we like to bulk shop and shop online. It saves us a ton of time and money. Think about it; if you are planning meals day-by-day, you might run to the grocery store after work and grab 5–6 items. It maybe costs $20 and then you have a home-cooked meal. The issue is, you bought extra pasta because you couldn’t remember if you had any left at home (you did), you also saw a display of sale pasta sauce, so you grabbed three, even though you could have bought a bulk container at Costco for half the price and with double the sauce. You also were starving in the checkout lane, so you grabbed a snack too. You could have paid $5–6 for that meal, but tomorrow you’ll do it all over again.
At the beginning of every month, we plan out our meals. We don’t get too specific with this, we just need to know if we need more pasta, rice, bread, frozen veggies, eggs, etc. Then we order at Sam’s club online and pick it up at the curb. No need to push a huge cart around a warehouse for 2 hours, no standing in line, no temptations of all the yummy treats.
Throughout the month, we have to make grocery runs — either the baby needs milk, we need fresh veggies for the meal we planned, or we’re running low on lunch options. Same idea here, we order online at King Soopers, pick it up and we have exactly what we need.
I’ll admit we have the occasional we-ran-out-of-milk-and-the-baby-is-screaming-so-we-pay-ten-dollars-for-a-half-gallon-at-7–11 moments but for the most part, we cut our grocery bill from over $1000 per month to $400. Not bad.
Along with groceries comes the rare eating out, or grabbing drinks with friends nights. We have a rule for this too. If we’re there for a meal, we share large portions, order waters to drink, and skip deserts. If we’re at a brewery or bar, we each order one drink (almost always beer because yum), and then we get a growler to go if we absolutely love it. Most of the time, we eat at home and buy beer or wine in bulk.

03 ENTERTAINMENT BILLS

Cutting cable, using an option like Spotify + Hulu + Showtime, using an antenna, watching less TV — you know the drill. Subscription services add up like crazy because there are so many options out there. To cut costs as much as possible, we pay for basic internet ($45 a month through Comcast) and we split a YouTube TV subscription with my mom and sisters. We pay $30 for it. We also use my sister’s Netflix login and my SIL’s Hulu login and they use our Amazon Prime account.
We pay a total of around $100 on entertainment every month, but it’s money that is well spent. If we find ourselves not watching as much TV, we pause the services. If football isn’t on, we pause the services. If we’re going out of town for a while, we pause the services. You don’t need a $300 internet and TV plan but you also don’t need to live under a rock and watch no TV at all (unless you want to do that, in that case — props).

04 BEAUTY & HEALTH PURCHASES

This one has been a massive change in my life and in my day-to-day beauty routine. I was SUPER into makeup through college, and I still binge the occasional beauty YouTuber channel. Since after having my daughter, I’ve realized that less really is more when it comes to taking care of myself, and using fewer products less has saved me around $500 per year, maybe more if I included my hair products too.
One of the biggest changes I made is that I no longer use face wash. I use the makeup eraser for when I do have makeup on, and I use micellar water if I had eyeshadow or heavy lashes on for the rare times I do a full face of makeup (Halloween, new years eve, etc). I found that the only thing face wash did for me is dry out my skin and make me break out — no matter how expensive the products were or what systems I tried.
Now I use a mixture of aloe gel and witch hazel as a lotion for my face only when I need it or if I’m putting makeup on. Our house has been really dry this winter so I’ve been using it 3–4 times per week. I add in sunscreen as well when I’m going to be outside.
I wash my hair every 3–4 days depending on how oily it is or what we’re doing. I use a shampoo bar from a local shop and a conditioner bar from Lush. Both last SO much longer than my bottled stuff and they produce no waste.
We also bought the Quip toothbrushes and we love them (you can get a free refill if you use my code: HV99Z48M), I floss every night but skip the mouthwash because my dentist said it wasn’t really necessary.
As far as daily makeup goes, I’m able to skip the mascara and brow gel most days because of two routines:
  • I use the “just for men beard and mustache dye” for my eyebrows so I don’t need to use an eyebrow filler daily. I find that this works better than the 1000 brow kit and it’s easier to apply.
  • I use 1000 Hour Eyelash & Brow Dye kit for my eyelashes so that I don’t have to use mascara as often.
Here’s what my typical routine looks like now:
  • Drink water & start the coffee maker
  • Brush teeth
  • Jump in the shower, wash hair every 3 days
  • Let hair air dry
  • Use baby oil right after the shower before drying off
  • Light coat skin tint if going out
  • Chapstick
  • Drink More water along with coffee and breakfast
I still use makeup every now and then, but it’s VERY rare that I do a full face like I used to. It saves me a ton of time in the mornings and a ton of money at Sephora.

05 CELL PHONE BILLS

When we got married, both my husband and I were on phone plans with our family. We were paying around $60 each for our phones and the service. Now we pay about $50 together and own our phones outright. We use Google Fi and both have Google Pixel phones. We chose this plan partially because we are on WiFi around 90% of the time and didn’t need unlimited data plans, and partially because we love the flexibility and service we get with google. We also are HUGE fans of the Google Pixel phones in general.
Regardless of your situation — you can probably get on a cheaper phone plan, or at least buy your phone outright and stop leasing (it loses you money to lease, it doesn’t matter what it is or how good the offer sounds. Do your research). There are a ton of options for budget phones and budget phone plans — so figure out how much data you actually use and look into changing services. If you’re interested in Google Fi, you can use my link and get a $20 credit for your first bill.