Since cutting out my salary so that I could stay home with Maggie, we’ve been trying to get creative when it comes to different ways we can save. We’re [currently] not made of money [but one day will be]. So, for now…here are a few things that we’ve done recently that are helping us big time.
1. Refinancing — My husband Colin saw that mortgage rates were at an all time low, so we decided to go for it. We used the same mortgage broker from when we bought our house. If you’re interested in doing this you could use the same broker from when you bought your house, or you could ask around for recommendations from people you trust.
This was pretty much a no brainer when we realized it would be easy to do, and that it would keep an extra $150 in our pockets each month.
2. Cutting cable + house phone — This one was a tough one for me. I LOVE TV AND I’M NOT ASHAMED OF IT! The thing is, even if you get an awesome rate from whomever you use (we had Verizon Fios) there are still so many shitty little charges attached to your base rate. If you’re ‘triple play’ rate (or whatever you have) is $114.99 for the bundle (a land line, internet, and cable) then you still have to take into consideration the extra charges — $19.99 for the cable box/DVR, and $15.99 to have Showtime (what can I say, I love Shameless and House of Lies!).
So, we decided to get rid of Verizon altogether. First we decided to get rid of our land line and cable, then we decided to get rid of Verizon. We never really had a problem with them, but when comparing internet prices — Comcast was significantly cheaper than Verizon’s (for internet only), so we decided to switch to them and only get internet. Now we pay $29.99 a month for internet. We invested in an HD antenna in order to get basic cable (PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and a few others) and an Amazon Firestick (we have Amazon Prime as well — $99 a year — so we can access a ton of movies and TV shows through that). We also have Netflix (thanks, Mom and Dad!).
With these options we have plenty to watch, I never miss out on my shows, and we’re saving $120.98 a month.
3. Insulating our attic — We decided to have a home energy assessment by Mass Save (we live in Massachusetts) which was a super easy process. They usually only take about 1.5-2.5 hours to do, and the specialist doing the assessment will give you a custom list of energy saving recommendations for your home in order to make it more energy efficient. (If you’d like to start the process, here is the Online Home Energy Assessment — a good place to start). The specialist recommended we insulate our attic — they set up the appointment for us with one of their contractors, and it was done in about half a day for $500. We’ve already felt the improvements in our house, and BONUS! we also got about $300 worth of free energy efficient light bulbs for our house during our assessment.
This will save us around $350-$400 a year. And since Mass Save pays 75% of any weatherization improvements to your house (with up to a $2,000 cost), we will most likely insulate our walls next year for a similar price. MORE SAVINGS, PEOPLE!
4. Low gas rates + Cumberland Farms app — If you live anywhere near a Cumberland Farms (are they only in Massachusetts? The north east? I don’t know…) you NEED to have the Cumberland Farms Smart Pay app on your phone. We synched it up to our checking account so when I pull up to the pump I just open the app, sign in, type in what number pump I am at, and then I am ready to pump. No need to take out your credit card, or go into the store to pay in cash. Super easy. Also, ding!ding!ding! you save .10 cents a gallon when you use your app! Any little bit helps. (You can also get a Smart Pay gas card if you don’t have a smart phone).
I use my smart phone for everything else…it’s about time I start using it to save money. Especially to save $150-$200 a month on gas.
5. Shopping at the cheaper grocery store + meal planning — When you start seeing results from money saving changes, finding ways to save even more money basically becomes a game. It’s a challenge that lasts forever. It’s fun! (Yes, I’m a weirdo).
Anyway, we have two close grocery store options by us — Market Basket or Stop and Shop. To be honest, I like the atmosphere at Stop and Shop better than Market Basket. It’s rarely crazy in there, it’s smaller, and everyone is very friendly. However, it’s definitely more expensive than Market Basket. Market Basket is much bigger, and quite a bit busier, but the staff is always just as friendly as Stop and Shop. When we shop at Market Basket vs. Stop and Shop, we see a significant difference in our bill. So we have made a commitment to consistently shop at Market Basket which may sound like a really simple change to make, but it actually is kind of tough. I had been used to going to Stop and Shop for a while, and once I’m in a routine it is hard for me to change that routine. But ever since making a conscious decision to shop at Market Basket, I have been sticking with it for about a month now and I think it’s safe to say that it is now part of my new routine.
And part of my new routine has been to do my weekly grocery shopping on Monday mornings instead of Sunday evenings, because Market Basket is a zoo on Sunday evenings. Panic attack central.
Second part of #5 is meal planning. I’ve been trying my best to stick to meal planning on Sunday afternoons or evenings. That way I have meals planned out for each night of the week, and a very specific list to adhere to at the store. This helps me stay focused, makes my trips quicker, and it makes it harder for me to stray from the list (therefore, not wasting money on unnecessary items). The app Pepperplate has been helpful for me. It’s free, and pretty straightforward. It helps you to organize your recipes whether they are originals or recipes you found online, create menus, plan meals, and make your shopping list.
Two things I REALLY love about this app are the fact that it’s super easy to share recipes with others via email or social media, and when you’re in ‘cook’ mode — the screen doesn’t dim and lock on you. I HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS.
Shopping at Market Basket and meal planning has helped save us around $100 a month.
When we first started to think about new ways we could save money, we decided to look at the big picture. Where are we spending unnecessary money? How can we cut back and simplify a bit? Switching to Market Basket instead of Stop and Shop was one of our first money saving decisions, and I whined about that because I thought something so small wouldn’t be a big deal.
However, like I said, every little bit helps — and when you cut out five little bits one by one, you’re saving a big chunk of money every month. That’s more money in your pocket for things you want to do with it (whether it be going on a vacation, redoing the kitchen, paying off student loans, etc.) I’m all about cutting out unnecessary spending, and I am on a mission to continue to do so. (Except cutting out my Heavenly Donuts coffees a few times a week…DON’T TAKE MY COFFEES AWAY!!!!!)