Making a budget and sticking to it can be very difficult. These are my top 5 biggest budget killers that can get you the most bang for your buck.
Eating Out – Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner eating out is costly. One of the biggest cost savings is cooking at home. The number one reason we eat out is time and convenience. Preparing make ahead meals that require just a quick heat in the microwave or oven is the best for time crunched people. To go coffee is a huge money drain. These range anywhere from $1 to over $5! Making it yourself will only cost you around $.20 per cup. Packing nutritious and filling lunches can be difficult. We aren’t always in the mood for leftovers. Noodle travel soups and salads in a jar are some amazing options. Pinterest is an awesome resource for finding quick, inexpensive and tasty options. Meal planning is one of the best options for cooking dinners at home. If you know what you can make that week and your fridge and freezer are already stocked, you’re less likely to call in take out. The average dinner per person cost $13 when eaten outside the home. For this same amount you can make a meal for a family of four with left overs.
Bottled Water – If you happen to buy the bottles in a case, you are getting the best deal. However, this is still money wasted as well as adding more plastic to the already full landfills. If you buy an individual bottle, you are looking at minimum $1 a bottle all the way up to $3+. Using a reusable bottle that is filled with filtered water can save you hundreds during the year. Not to mention most bottled water isn’t regulated in the same way that city/county water is. Whether you want glass, stainless steel, or BPA free plastic there are many kinds of water bottles in a variety of sizes to choose from. Those with a filtration system on their fridges have it the easiest. Filtration pitchers and systems that hook up directly to the faucet are a quick and inexpensive way of getting refreshing water to drink.
Cable – Most of us don’t want to give up the luxury of cable. Even with the invention of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, we still want to watch the most current TV shows and sporting events. Watching online is an option but can be an issue when multiple people want to watch at the same time. For most, we do not need the 1000+ channels offered at the ridiculous premium price. Basic cable (generally the first 13-20 channels) cost anywhere from $9.99 to $20 depending on the carrier. Reducing to this option can save you over $100 a month which is over $1000 in one year!
Electric Bill – We all know to turn off the lights in a room when we aren’t in it. Unplug unused electronic devices even when they aren’t on. But the biggest budget killer is the AC unit. The temperature you keep your house set can severely impact your bill. In the winter, keep the heat set to 68°F when you are home and awake. Reduce to 65° when you aren’t home and when you can snuggle under the covers. In the summer, set the cooling to 78° when home and increase to 80° when not at home. Many people have an issue sleeping if it’s very hot, so feel free to reduce the temperature during the summer at bedtime. The biggest impact will be seen with consistency. Don’t fiddle with the thermostat throughout the day. This causes the HVAC unit to work extra which leads to your higher bill. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it. If you don’t and can get one, they can make a huge difference in your comfort and wallet.
Gas – Driving can be a big expense especially in areas where public transportation is not very good. You may not have a choice but to drive but you can be smart about it. Making a plan of all the places you need to go to before you jump in the car can significantly reduce your gas usage. Your plan should have you driving in a circle to end up back home, not back tracking past places you’ve already been. Making fewer trips and making them count is the key to reducing your gas budget. Try to go to the grocery store once a week and don’t drive across town to save $.10 on an item you can get at the store you’re already in. When possible buy online and utilize free shipping options. Subscription options are available for many items that not only save you money on cost but also reduce the stores you need to visit to buy your goods. Amazon and Target offer this on everything from baby products to paper goods to groceries.
What are items you save money on? What are your biggest budget killers?