In our day-to-day lives, it can be easy to develop bad spending habits. We often don’t realize it, but when we take a closer look at where our money goes each month, it can be surprising. Want to challenge yourself this month? Get ready because we’ve got 5 budget challenges to pick from that could save you hundreds.
There are a lot of areas where it’s easy to spend more than we realize, but it’s also pretty simple to save money by making small changes. Simply becoming aware of what we’re spending on various categories can be a good start—you can see your spending by category with the finance helper in the Brigit app. You can also find more budgeting ideas in our article 6 budgeting tips to help you save & cut expenses.
1. Make coffee at home
Coffee is a daily ritual for a lot of us, and it can add up—the average Starbucks customer spends $11 – $20 per week. If you make your coffee at home, you’ll typically spend just a fraction of that.
Try making your coffee at home, and see how much you can save! If you simply can’t stand the thought of not seeing your barista on a regular basis, a compromise can still help you save—cut the daily coffee run to twice a week, and brew it at home the rest of the time.
2. Make more efficient use of electricity
Electricity (along with other utilities) is another area where making some simple changes can save you money each month. This can be as simple as turning off lights you’re not using, or making sure you turn off the heater or AC when you leave the house.
In addition to being mindful of turning off lights and the thermostat, running major appliances at off-peak times can also be helpful. Most utility companies offer lower rates during certain hours of the day. You can log into your account to see what those off-peak hours are, and try to do laundry, run the dishwasher, or charge your car (if you have an electric car or plug-in hybrid) at those off-peak times.
3. Make your own meals
Eating out, takeout, and food delivery can add up fast. Meal planning each week can be a great way to save a significant amount of money on food.
Making a food budget is a helpful first step. After that, try grocery shopping and prepping your lunches and dinners on Sunday for the coming week—that can be a way to save time as well as curb your food spending.
As you plan your meals, try to use some of the same ingredients to keep costs down and limit waste; for example, roasting a whole chicken can mean having part of it for dinner and also having leftover meat to add protein to a salad for lunch.
4. Cut entertainment spending
What do you do in your spare time? If you spend money on going to the movies, premium cable channels, or streaming services, those costs can add up fast.
Try canceling a couple of premium channels or streaming subscriptions for a month—you might even find that you’re not currently watching them, especially when you’re in between seasons of the shows you watch.
Instead of watching movies or TV, try reading, or going for a walk. If you have a family, this can be a great opportunity to focus on more interactive activities, like playing a board game, going for a walk, or playing sports together.
5. Pay down debt
Take a look at what you’re paying each month toward your credit card balance. This is usually where you end up paying the highest interest, so it’s the best place to focus first. Paying down the amount you owe can mean significant savings on your monthly balance due.
With credit cards, it’s always a good habit to pay more than the minimum payment due—that can make a big difference in helping pay off the card quicker, and also reduce the amount of interest you’re paying each month.
As you focus on paying down your credit card balance, it can be helpful to try to use cash or a debit card instead—that way, you can keep from adding (and paying interest on) new charges to your credit card.
How to make those savings work for you
After you test out some of these budget challenges and save some money, there are a number of places you can put it where it can actually make you more money!
A savings account is always a good place to put any extra money you have so that it can accrue interest (which can add up over the long term!) If you want to be more proactive, there are a lot of good options for investing your money. There are varying types of investment accounts, some of which are lower risk and some higher. For some tips on how different types of investment options compare, and finding the right one for you, check out our article Crash course: Investing 101.