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How to save money without really trying.

How to save money without really trying.

I used to be really good at controlling my spending and putting money into savings and paying off my credit card in full every month. Of course, I also used to live with my parents and, therefore, had very few expenses. And then there’s the fact that I’ve had a really depressing couple of years and, lately, the thought of a nice warm (and expensive) Starbucks white mocha has been the only thing that could drag me out of bed…

Admittedly, in the last year my credit card has gotten a little away from me. Not by that much but enough that I could get myself in trouble if I don’t pay it off. And enough that I am getting annoyed with having to pay a little extra in fees each month. And enough where I am not able to put money into savings for things I want, like a new laptop because poor pinky is dying a slow death.

In truth, I could dip into my savings and pay it all right now. But I feel like that would have only been a temporary fix because I could just as easily rack up more debt and just as easily never pay my savings account back.

I knew the only way out of this mess was good old fashioned discipline.


So I made a plan. While I didn’t set a budget per se I did make a spread sheet to track all of my savings. And in the last month I managed to spend about $450 less than what I made. Which is pretty good I think.

My plan is to continue my budgeting for another month to pay more of my card down and then pay the rest off with savings. Then continue to track and budget and pay back my savings account instead of the card. And then continue saving because I need a new laptop and a cushion of cash to pay off my student loan.

So how do I save money without really trying all that hard? Here are a few places and ways I’ve managed to cut my spending…

 

Coffee.

Yes, yes I have a Starbucks addiction. I admit it. And it gets worse when it gets cold because not only do I stop in the morning but I sometimes will get a nice salted caramel hot chocolate later…And they have those delicious holiday drinks like the pumpkin spice latte and the peppermint mocha…And yes, I am thoroughly aware that I probably spent way over $1,000 on coffee last year…

So I’ve been making my own coffee every morning. And have only let myself go out for coffee once a week, and then only if I stay there for at least an hour to do work. It’s been working so far and I’ve forged a good new habit for myself.

I’ve even discovered a decent at-home mocha replacement: combine coffee and heated milk with some Trader Joe’s sipping chocolate…it’s nice and rich and delicious.

 

Searching my drawers.

I have a drawer where I would throw singles when I ended up having way too many singles in my purse. I went through it the other day and discovered that I had $100 in singles. So I’ve been spending that. I am pretty sure the guy at Trader Joes thinks I am a stripper.

I also found about $25 in Starbucks gift cards. And that was really helpful earlier, before I gave up going, and especially when the card reader at the Starbucks was broken and didn’t take money off the card and I used a $5 gift card for three days straight…

 

Sugar daddy.

OK, so I don’t really have a sugar daddy…but I do have an ex boyfriend who stills pays my way a lot of the time. And those free meals, movie tickets, improv shows, etc. really do help the budget…

 

Groupons.

What has also helped is my stash of Groupons. Basically each day they have a deal where you can buy a gift certificate of sorts to a place for much cheaper. I’ve been buying them whenever I see something that I’ve wanted to get, but haven’t used many of them yet…so I decided now was the time to cash them in! While I paid for all the Groupons it was money already spent, so it felt like I was getting meals for free this past month 🙂

For instance, Chelsa and I went to Meatloaf Bakery on a Groupon…And I got tons of groceries from a gourmet grocery store from one…

Grocery Shopping with a Groupon

 

Food.

I started trying to bring my lunch most days instead of eating out. I also tried not to go out to eat too much. I also tried to make the most of my ingredients and not waste food by making meals that utilize some of the same ingredients. That said I still ate pretty damned well. And I really have no intention of not doing so.


I like to cook and I like to eat so it’s hard not to spend money on food. I can’t do spaghetti and ramen every day. OK, so for one week I did just eat tacos and pizza because it was cheap to make and because I was feeling uninspired to make anything else with the ingredients. It also helps the food budget by concentrating on making just one part of the meal, like the meat, and then getting frozen veggies (and a big bag of tater tots…)

That said, here is what I made to eat over the last month. Like how I tied this in to photos of my food? Thought so!

Rib eye steak with mixed veggies and tater tots.
Rib eye steak with mixed veggies and tater tots.
I actually ate this twice. Because a $6 steak cut in half is a $3 steak.

Parmesan chicken fingers
Parmesan chicken fingers.

Garlic teriyaki chicken leg with mashed potatoes and asparagus.
Garlic teriyaki chicken leg with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Skate wing with mashed potatoes and asparagus.
Skate wing with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Pan roasted chicken and mashed sweet potatoes.
Pan roasted chicken and mashed sweet potatoes.

Apricot prosciutto-wrapped shrimp.
Apricot prosciutto-wrapped shrimp.

Bacon and cheese hamburger.
Bacon and cheese hamburger.

Chicken stir fry.
Chicken stir fry.

Pork tenderloin.
Pork tenderloin.

Chicken soup.
Chicken soup.
I ate this for four lunches in a row.

Turkey leg.
Turkey leg.
Way overcooked because it is impossible to find recipes for single people who just want to make one little turkey leg.

BBQ pork.
BBQ pork.

And that’s how to save money without really trying.

 

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8 Comments
  • Sid
    November 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Come cook for us. I’ll turn the office into another bedroom, or you can have your pick of one of the 3 comfy couches currently scattered around the apartment. Eh eh?

  • Sid
    November 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

    wtf, are there always heart-in-a-heart drawing things next to our comments? Why did I just now notice them if so?

  • Dave
    November 18, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Great job saving $450! Keep it up & hopefully next month will be the same or better! I agree with paying off the credit card, and then keep saving and pay your savings account.

  • Kieron
    November 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Some good advice, and that food looks delicious!

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