30 Great Ideas for Cutting Your Monthly Budget

Whether you are trying to live more comfortably, saving for something big, or snowballing your debt a la Dave Ramsey, tightening the purse strings can be really difficult. But if you’ve found this article, then it’s probably something that’s also important to you. Keep scrolling for 30 ideas for cutting your monthly budget to save more and live better.

Quit Going to Starbucks (or Dunkin’ or Peets…)

Estimated Savings Per Month: $120
Morning coffee is a huge destroyer of the budget. If you don’t believe us, just add up the cost of your favorite order for a whole week, then a month, then a year. Shocked yet? Cut this expense out of your monthly budget by committing to making coffee at home each morning. Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and other popular coffee brands even sell ground coffee for just this purpose.

Cancel Your Gym Membership

Estimated Savings Per Month: $20-$80
If you’re someone who’s paying for a gym membership you barely use, then this one should be a no-brainer. Cut that monthly auto charge from your budget! Even if the gym is a regular stop for you, consider canceling your gym membership and replacing it with a daily walk or run (free!). At the very least, shop around and see if you might be able to find a gym with a lower monthly fee.

Replace Cable

Estimated Savings Per Month: $60+
Cable prices are sky high these days, but with so many alternatives, paying astronomical fees for cable each month is unnecessary. Cancel your cable, then subscribe to a much less expensive streaming service, such as Hulu, which even allows you to add on specific channels like ESPN.

Dam Up the Streaming Services

Estimated Savings Per Month: $20+
If you’re truly serious about cutting your budget, and/or you recognize just how much streaming services are cutting into your productivity, then save even more by canceling them all. Subscriptions to Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, CBS All Access, and Amazon Prime really add up. Choose one or two to keep, or just pull the plug on all of them.

Downgrade Your Mobile Phone Plan

Estimated Savings Per Month: $15-$50
If you have a mobile phone plan through T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, or any one of the other big-name phone companies, chances are you’re paying an arm and a leg each month for the privilege of text, talk, and data. Take a look at your current plan, and see if there are any add-ons you’re paying for that can be canceled. Do you really need the international plan if you don’t have any big trips in the future? Are there cheaper plans with a more appropriate amount of talking minutes, texts, or data? Canceling the $15+ per month insurance is one common way people save on their phone bills.

Take on a 30-Day Pantry Challenge

Estimated Savings Per Month: $100+
The average family spends nearly $250 per person on food each month. That’s a lot! One way to decrease the monthly grocery budget is to take on the 30-Day Pantry Challenge. Go through your pantry and freezer, and figure out just how many meals you can get out of what you already have. Then decide an appropriate weekly budget for filling in any necessities like fresh vegetables or milk. Most families who take on this challenge are able to spend just $25 per week total during the challenge. Doing this for just one month is a great way to save upwards of $100.

Go to the Salon Less Frequently

Estimated Savings Per Month: $10+
Do you really need your hair cut and colored every six weeks? Can you stretch that to every eight weeks? Doing so can really save on your monthly salon budget. Other ways to save include:

  • skipping the manicure or pedicure
  • learning to color your own hair at home
  • finding a less expensive chain salon.

Visit Your Local Library

Estimated Savings Per Month: $15+
Reading is a great way to entertain yourself in a relaxing way. Plus, it’s entertainment that can be entirely free! Instead of buying the new bestseller the moment it hits the stands, get a library card and start checking out books for free. That new bestseller will be available to you for free before you know it, and you’ll save a ton of both money and storage space by not purchasing books. Also, be sure to check out your library’s calendar of events, as there are often interesting talks, book readings, children’s activities, and more that are all completely free.

Stop Buying Alcohol

Estimated Savings Per Month: $50
The average household spends $50 per month on alcohol. While this is certainly cheaper than heading to the bar every weekend, buying wines and spirits to enjoy at home is a big budget destroyer. Skipping this aisle at the grocery store is a great way to save a few bucks — and be a little healthier in the long run.

Take the Bus or Carpool

Estimated Savings Per Month: $50
With gas prices over $4/gallon in some states, it makes perfect sense to drive less frequently and save a little cash. If possible, commit to taking the bus to work or school each day, or find a friend with whom you can carpool. It may even be cheaper for spouses to commute together, with one dropping the other off at work before heading to their own job. Even doing this once or twice a week will save.

Switch Grocery Stores

Estimated Savings Per Month: $100+
Can shopping at a different grocery store really save you $100 or more each month? Yes! This is especially true if you’re shopping at a place like Whole Foods, which is notorious for its sky-high prices. Many people who have successfully tightened their budget credit stores like Aldi with seeing a big decrease in their monthly grocery bill.

Order Necessary Household Items Online or as Pick-Up

Estimated Savings Per Month: $10+
The potential savings here are infinite; how often have any of us walked into a store for toilet paper, only to walk out with a cart full of impulse buys (especially if that store is Target!)? Save yourself money, time, and sanity by making a list of the household items you need this month (toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, diapers, etc.). Then, order just the things on your list from Amazon, Target, Wal Mart, or wherever else you like to shop. If you’re purchasing from a store like Target, be sure to choose pickup so that everything has already been pulled off the shelves and bagged for you.

Shop Around for Insurance

Estimated Savings Per Month:$50+
Lots of people get stuck paying the same insurance rates each month for years because they’re too lazy to really shop around. But shopping around for new insurance rates should happen each and every year. See if your car insurance lessens if you switch companies, or if you bundle it with something like homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. If your current insurance includes roadside assistance, do you really need to be paying for AAA each month, too?

Pack Your Lunch

Estimated Savings Per Month: $100+
Lunches out add up quickly! Save yourself upwards of $100 per month by packing your lunch each day before you go to work or school. If that lunch can be packed with leftovers, then it’s even better!

Eat Out Less Frequently

Estimated Savings Per Month:$100+
It’s easy to head to a restaurant for dinner, or to stop at a fast food place on your way home from work. But fight the urge, and commit to preparing meals at home to save upwards of $100 each month (some families save close to $1,000 by cutting out restaurant trips!). If eating out at restaurants is important to you, then limit it to once or twice a month — just make sure you budget for it!

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Set Aside a Strict Amount for Fun Money — and Stick to It!

Estimated Savings Per Month: $100+
It’s easy to lose control of money you spend on fun and entertainment. A trip to the movies here, a zoo trip there, and suddenly you’ve filled your entire weekend with expensive activities. At the beginning of each month, set aside a strict amount for fun money. Many budgeters recommend $100 per person for the entire month. Then stick to that budget! If you’d like to try to spend even less, use Facebook or your community calendar to take advantage of the many free events in your area, or find ways to entertain yourself at home (family movie night, anyone?).

Get Rid of Your Land Line

Estimated Savings Per Month: $10
While fewer and fewer people have land lines in their homes, many more people continue to pay for the service. Part of the reason for this is that many cable and internet companies bundle the service into their plans. If this describes your situation, give your internet company a call and ask about how you can remove the landline from your monthly bill.

Use Apps and/or Coupons to Save at the Grocery Store

Estimated Savings Per Month: $10+
Exactly how much you can save really depends on how much work you’re willing to put in. Some apps, such as ibotta, make saving money as simple as scanning your receipt after a grocery trip. But don’t be afraid to search a store’s website for coupons, or even cut out some coupons from the Pennysaver.

Learn to Meal Plan

Estimated Savings Per Month: $100+
Those who budget successfully plan out all of their meals! Doing so can save hundreds, and it’s just as simple as it sounds. At the beginning of each week, sit down and plan out breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day. Take into account things you may already have in your pantry or freezer, or from the previous week. Then use your plan to create a shopping list. Finally — and this is the most important part — stick to buying only what you need for your meal plan.

Get Used to Leftovers

Estimated Savings Per Month: $50+
As you meal plan, don’t forget to plan on leftovers. For example, many budgeters will plan a day’s lunch to be the rest of the previous night’s dinner. Making a little extra of one thing doesn’t cost nearly as much as a whole new meal.

Buy Gently Used Clothing

Estimated Savings Per Month: $100
Clothing is important, especially if there are growing children in the home. But they’re also expensive. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to save on clothing, one of which is to buy gently used. A slew of Facebook buy/sell/trade groups exist for brands of all types, and are a great place to stock up on anything one may need. If you prefer to see clothing in person before buying, take a trip to the local thrift or consignment store. You’d be shocked by the number of items that make their way there with original tags still attached.

Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions

Estimated Savings Per Month: $10+
Go back through your last bank statement, and highlight every dollar spent for a subscription. Did you know you were spending $3 per month for additional iCloud storage? How about the $15.99 HBO add-on? Do you really need that magazine subscription? Cancel anything and everything that isn’t necessary, and watch the savings add up.

Invite Friends Over Instead of Going Out

Estimated Savings Per Month: $100+
A lot of people interested in getting on a budget worry about what that might do to their social life. But going out can be extremely expensive, especially if there are activities and alcohol included. Save some money by inviting friends over, instead. Game nights are always a hit, as are movie nights and relaxed dinners. Ask everyone to bring a little something, then enjoy a buffet-style meal or snack bar.

[Safely] Re-use Kitchen Items

Estimated Savings Per Month: $10-$20
Most people make bulk purchases of things like napkins, paper towels, and plastic sandwich baggies at the start of each month. One way to cut down on these expensive items is to safely re-use as much as possible. For example, a sandwich bag that held a sandwich or chips likely wasn’t ruined after a single use. Save some money — and the environment — by rinsing out the bag and using it for tomorrow’s sandwich and chips, too. Invest in some cloth napkins that can be popped into the wash and then reused. Similarly, use some cloths instead of paper towels to wipe down countertops, drying dishes, and the table after dinner.

Stop Driving Here, There, and Everywhere

Estimated Savings Per Month: $50+
Gas is getting more and more expensive each day — in some areas of the country, it is as high as $4.00 per gallon! Save as much gas as possible (and decrease wear and tear on your car) by being more intentional about your driving. Drive to and from work and school, without stopping at out-of-the-way places. Plan out your errands so that trips to the grocery store are combined with a trip to the nearby post office, etc. And don’t hop in the car and drive to the nearest fast food place just because you had a craving for an ice-cream sundae.

Wash Your Own Car

Estimated Savings Per Month:$15-$20
Keeping a clean car is important. Not only does it help retain the value of the vehicle, but it feels good to step into a well-maintained vehicle each day. But having a car professionally cleaned can be pricey, so it’s well worth it to wash your own. Grab a bucket and some soap, park the car near your hose, and wash away.

Bathe Your Own Dogs

Estimated Savings Per Month: $25-$50
Similarly, bathe your dogs yourself instead of paying for a professional groomer, which can be very expensive. If the weather permits, bathe your dog outside with the hose and a small kiddie pool. If you have one in your area, it’s also possible to groom your own dogs using a professional grooming station at some feed or pet supply stores. Though you’ll spend more than bathing your dogs at home, you’ll still save in the long run.

Do Your Own Yard Work

Estimated Savings Per Month: $70+
It is easy to hire out certain chores, and yard work is one of them. This is especially true during the summer months. But save the cost of a lawn service by mowing your yard yourself.

Fire the Cleaning Service

Estimated Savings Per Month: $100+
Like the lawn service, weekly or bi-weekly cleaning services are also an easy way to kiss money goodbye. Save on these cleaning fees by committing to tidying up your house yourself. Think you don’t have time? Spend a few minutes each day cleaning a single room or area of your home. It won’t take much time, but it will help you keep up with all that needs to be maintained.

Start Paying with Cash

Estimated Savings Per Month:Lots!
Finally, understand that budgeting is mostly behavioral. If you allow yourself to break the budget for convenience or pleasure, then you’ll never save. One way to help yourself stay on track is to pay with cash for everything that isn’t a bill. For example, instead of walking into the grocery store with your wallet full of debit and credit cards, consider taking in just the amount you want to spend in cash. This will force you to think twice about every purchase. You’ll also feel like it’s a true exchange when you hand over your hard-earned money and receive some back.

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