1. CANCEL CABLE TELEVISION
I know a lot of people these days who do not have cable, but I also know how much my husband in particular loves his programs. I on the other hand barely know how to operate the controllers and mostly enjoy The Amazing Race, The Travel Channel and Documentaries. It was not an easy decision in our house but when we learned we would save about $60 per month we worked out a compromise. NETFLIX! For $7.99 per month my husband can now watch movies he chooses, when he wants and with no commercials. So overall we are now saving approximately $50 per month. I am happy to now have so many documentaries to choose from, when I actually get the time. So far this has been working out well for us for about 4 months.
The obvious is to reduce your usage and be more mindful in your home. Change your light bulbs to be more energy efficient and invest in a refrigerator that is more kind. In addition, at least here in Southern California, there is a program to help reduce your bill. It does not hurt to see if your family and home qualify. We submitted our income information and answered a few questions and almost immediately we received approval. Our next bill was about half the normal cost, saving us between $20 - $25 per month. If you are in Southern California and use Edison for you electric, check out the CARE/FERA programs to see if you qualify.
This part could actually be two pieces, so lets now say you are getting a Buy One Get One Free (we are talking about saving aren't we). This is all about eating out and not feeling as guilty with the burden on your wallet.
1. We all know birthdays are well celebrated in the states and how awesome that so many places like to adorn us with desserts and birthday songs... but did you know you can have a full dinner out and not just ON your birthday?! You can google Birthday Freebies to find lots of options, mostly food related but even make up and more. This is the list I went off of HERE. There are plenty more not on this list but this is great to go off of. One of the best parts is for example, Behihana, you get an email and you have the whole month to use it to get $30 off your bill. We like that for the month of July and the month of August we can get lots of yummy free stuff. We even did a foodie adventure one day, we jumped amongst 4 places and shared the freebies. Total pig out!
There are so many things you can recycle these days and we all know about drink containers that give you a few cents back, but did you know about ink cartridges? We have been recycling ink cartridges for about the past year and it may not be a lot but it sure helps us a bit on the side. Our recycling program of choice is STAPLES. Every 180 days you have to spend $30 in ink. When you do that you qualify to recycle up to 10 empty cartridges per month during the 180 days. You can get $2 credit for each one, meaning every month you can earn $20 to spend at Staples (lots of exclusions on what FYI). So lots of you are thinking, "I do not need any office/school supplies," well neither do we. The reality is that my husband is a coffee drinker and we do need paper towels, toilet paper and soap sometimes. Depending on our stash our usual items we purchase are Starbucks coffee, paper towels, toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, hand soap and zip lock bags (for Doula work purposes, but I will save you on that description). It's up to you to decide if this is worth it for you, but in the past we have collected empty ink from businesses and that has helped us out tremendously... speaking of which, we are out!
Now this is unconventional and many of you may stop above, but the reality is, I LOVE MY CREDIT CARDS! People always wonder how I have done so much travel in the past, the answer is mileage points. So while this may not be the true answer to saving money, it is what has allowed me to LIVE LIFE on a budget. I have flown to Europe twice and Africa once all on airline miles. My secret is every dollar I am going to spend anyways, on groceries, gas, phone bill, car registration and more, I use my Credit Cards. Each month I pay my bill in full, so every dollar I spend I get a point. If you sign up at the right times you can get major bonus miles for signing up (often enough for a free flight, but if you wait a tad bit longer you may even have a free flight to Europe and not just to Vegas). One way you can save, if you are given the option, is based on the card you apply for. This week I received a letter from my credit union that I have pre-qualified for a card with no annual fee, low interest and a good spending limit. The best part of the card is it comes with 15,000 bonus points. Those 15,000 bonus points can be redeemed for $150 in gift cards from the rewards center, so I am deciding between gas, Bed Bath and Beyond or just bonus entertainment to help us still enjoy ourselves while on a budget. You have to be very diligent to play this game correctly and without hurting your budget more. Credit Cards have the potential to be very evil, but when you do it right there are rewards to reap. We used our miles for our honeymoon to get us to Europe and come to think of it I also used bonus sign up points to buy my husbands ipad for his birthday last year and to fly someone out for our wedding. My very favorite place to learn more is Million Mile Secrets, check it for yourself. (Your last bonus of the day is to check out CouchSurfing and Airbnb if you like to travel)