Hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, we might buy a house this spring. Which is exciting! And nerve-racking! And very expensive!
We’ve been saving for a couple years, but these last few months are the time for us to buckle down and save as much as possible. Essentially, the goal is to pay rent twice- once to our current landlord, and once into our savings account. More money saved = bigger down payment = a slightly less scary loan.
I always hate reading articles where their first piece of advice is, “stop buying the $5/day latte and you’ll save $100 a month.” That doesn’t help so much when you don’t have a daily latte/snack/whatever buying habit. So, without further ado, a few things that have worked for me so far:
- Direct Deposit a certain amount into savings accounts. If I don’t see it, I don’t miss it. I have two savings accounts actually- one connected to my checking account in case of emergency and one that is at a totally different bank. I can get to that money if I need to, but it usually takes 3 business days for the transfer to happen so I’m not likely to buy something on impulse. I also don’t have a debit card for that savings account- again, it makes it just hard enough to access it that I don’t touch it.
- Meal Plan. Also, don’t go grocery shopping hungry. Breakfasts are currently smoothies or oatmeal for me so I add those ingredients to the list, and then plan out a couple of dinners. My favorite website for cheap meal ideas is Budget Bytes! Since we are only two people, planning 4 dinners a week (the recipes generally serve 4) seems to work well. We get a couple nights of leftovers plus some food to bring for lunches.
- Bring your lunch. I’m lucky and get a free lunch at work, but my boyfriend had gotten into a buying lunch habit. Bringing it saves him $6-$10/day!
- Go grocery shopping at a cheaper place. Although I love my local natural foods store, it’s really expensive (I buy some cheaper bulk items there now and the rest on iHerb*). The nearest grocery store is also expensive. We’ve started going to one a little further away (often planning a hike or outing in that direction) but it saves us 15% average on groceries so it’s worth it to us. I use some coupons, but find that since most of our food is produce and organic meat they aren’t always that helpful.
- Carpool/Bike to Work. This one is getting a little harder for me as the days shorten, but I have been biking to work about 1 day a week. It saves gas money, gets me outside first thing, plus it’s my daily exercise all rolled into one. Carpooling can be more complicated, but I had great success with it over the summer- I pretty much halved my gas cost which was amazing.
- Outside is free. Avoid paying a gym fee if possible and work out outside for cardio and at home for weights. Between hiking, walking the dog, and cycling, I do pretty well for cardio and I love Fitness Blender’s videos for strength training! I also have a jump rope which cost me about $10 and it’s great for quick cardio or tabata intervals.
Any more ideas to add? As you can probably guess from the above, my biggest expenses are rent, gas, and food. I’m not a big shopper (other than grocery shopping….) so that’s not an issue. At this point, it feels like I just need to hunker down for the next couple of months and let my savings account grow…