Living outside of my means is one of my strongest personality traits. If I have a $15 Starbucks gift card, which should be more than enough to cover my usual order, I’ll still end up spending $19. I order on Grubhub more times in a month than I’d like to admit. I never stick to my limit when buying presents around the holidays. And, if “not looking at your credit card statement” was a sport, I’d be an Olympian.
After 28 years on this earth, I’m finally addressing my relationship with money—better late than never! One of my first steps was to assess last month’s budget and make immediate cost-cutting changes. After researching easy ways to save a quick buck (and sending a prayer into the abyss), here are the 10 money hacks I’m giving a go this month:
1. Swapping in-person workouts for at-home fitness
I got excited when classes opened back up. I absolutely abused the ability to go back to in-person workout classes. Although, I can’t lie. I had a good time. But when I reviewed my budget and noticed that I was spending *gulp* $300 between my yoga membership and Classpass last month, I just about fainted. My new strategy is to have a baseline routine of online workouts from obé Fitness. Then, I’ll sprinkle in an in-person class once a week just to change things up (and to get out of my apartment).
I’ve loved obé Fitness for years, and somehow, they keep getting better and better. With so many classes and the flexibility to try them all, I’ve found that switching over has already kept my brain and body more entertained. (For instance, I can do Pilates one day and HIIT the next.) This is a must if you’re like me and have a short attention span. And right now, you can get one month free of obé Fitness by using code EVERYGIRL. Walk, don’t run. Budget-friendly “do anywhere, anytime” workouts are calling.
2. Combing through my subscriptions and canceling ones that no longer serve me
Before this month, I have to be honest with y’all. My budgeting strategy (a nightmare, if you will) was simply to not look at it. In the short term, this eased my anxiety. But, unfortunately, this is probably the worst way you can tackle any money situation. So when I squinted my eyes and forced myself to take a look this month, I was shocked at how much money I was throwing away on subscriptions that I don’t even use.
Take my Netflix subscription, for instance. Of course, like the rest of the world, I watch Netflix every day. But over the last few months, my boyfriend and I moved in together, and we’ve been using his account and not mine. I can’t think of one person that needs two Netflix subscriptions, so I canceled that bad boy as soon as humanly possible.
3. Making coffee at home
Trust me. I’m all about treating myself to a nice Starbucks drink. But when treating yourself begins to happen twice a day, every day, some adjustments should probably be made. I used to get a matcha latte in the morning and a cold brew in the late afternoon. The only thing more concerning than my caffeine intake is the fact that I was spending almost $20 a day on coffee (yikes).
I’ve been perfecting my at-home coffee for a while, and I can finally satisfy my coffee needs at a lower price point. On weeks that I solely drink coffee at home, I save almost $100 a week, which is kind of wild to think about.
4. Taking public transit instead of Ubering everywhere
When I peeked at my budget last month, one of my biggest areas of spending was the ungodly amount of money I was spending on Ubers. If you live in Chicago, you already know that what used to be a $10 Uber to a nearby neighborhood is now greater than $20. With a combination of the surge in prices and pure laziness, I spent almost $200, which was a tough pill to swallow.
There’s a time and a place for Ubering (to and from the airport, late at night when I don’t feel safe taking the train, etc.), but I’ve really tried to be more disciplined. I avoid taking Ubers when it’s nice out, when it’s walkable, or if I can take public transit instead. Basically, I’ll no longer be taking Ubers to and from the office on weekdays.
5. Date nights at home
As I previously mentioned, my boyfriend and I moved in together a few months ago. When we moved in, one of our biggest goals was to continue dating each other. If you live with a partner, you already know that it’s easy to fall into a rut and forget why you’re even together in the first place.
In pursuit of our goals, we fell into a pattern of getting dinner and drinks at least once a week. Last month, that ended up totaling to be a hefty number in the hundreds. We both agreed that we’d try to get creative in finding budget-friendly dates, like cooking some fancy meals at home, playing board games, and finding other special ways to celebrate our partnership without the egregious price tag.
6. Thrifting for fall fashion items
Every time fall rolls around, I spend hundreds of dollars in an attempt to finally get that perfectly curated, seasonal wardrobe. This year, however, I’m going to take a different approach. I’ve been seeing fall fashion content all over the internet for almost a month, and the truth is, I want it all. But this time around, I’m going to digest that content with the intention of using it as inspo when I go thrifting instead of using it as an excuse to “add to cart.”
Some of my favorite fall fashion items like trousers, blazers, coats, and chunky knit sweaters are pretty easily found at thrift stores. Hopefully, by the end of this season, I’ll emerge a lot less financially strained than in years past.
7. Setting up auto-pay to avoid late fees
The fact that it took me so long to set up auto-pay on my credit card is absolutely astounding and, honestly, downright careless. There’s nothing worse than seeing an already high credit card bill with the added cherry of “late fee” on top. After seeing it last month, I finally did what I should have done years ago and set up auto-pay. Life is busy. Deadlines can be hard to remember. Setting up this safeguard will help me avoid throwing more money away in the future.
8. Buying groceries online so that I stick to my meal plan
I know what you’re thinking. Buying groceries on an app? Sounds more expensive. This was exactly what I thought until I started totaling up my grocery bills and finding that I was throwing away more spoiled food each week and month than I’d like to admit.
I’m the queen of having a shopping list of 10 items and leaving with 50. Too often, I let the grocery aisles tell me what I need, which is, in fact, a sure way to get way too much food. Now, my strategy is to make a detailed meal plan and stick to it on InstaCart instead of going hog-wild at the grocery store. The delivery fee, while a fee, is still cheaper than the amount of food I overbuy and toss later.
9. Practicing the 3-day rule for “adding to cart”
If there’s one thing that can get me to “add to cart” more than anything else, it’s seeing notifications such as “going fast” or “low stock.” My soul leaves my body. I enter a scarcity mindset. I add it to my cart impulsively, and five days later, I end up unboxing a banana suit that I simply did not need.
The truth is, I have everything I need. No online purchase should feel that dire. This month, I’m going to attempt (keyword: attempt) to have a running list of items I want to buy. If they stay on my list for three days (once that wave of impulsivity passes), I’ll add them to my cart with clarity. And if I realize I don’t actually need a banana suit that’s “almost gone,” I will simply delete it from my list.
10. Downloading a budgeting app
My coworker Jess has been raving about Rocket Money (formerly known as Truebill) for the last year—almost to the point that I became stubborn and decided I’ll absolutely never ever in a million years cave. But last month, my finances got to a point where I needed to take action. I heard Jess’s voice in the depths of my head singing Rocket Money, Rocket Money, Rocket Money.
I swallowed my pride, downloaded it, and will go as far as to admit that she was right. This app does it all, and to be frank, it was quite exposing. But after the initial shock of addressing my finances subsided, I found it to be one of the most helpful budgeting tools I’ve ever tried. Just from the homepage, I can see how my spending is trending in comparison to last month, how soon my next payday is, what’s in my bank account, my current card balance, and all of my subscriptions at a glance. If there’s one app that I can recommend at this point in my financial journey, it’s Rocket Money.
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of obé Fitness, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.