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I am doing a no-spend February, which means no spending on anything that isn’t an essential. We are still buying groceries, and even ordered a mattress since we planned the purchase a long time ago. So far we have been able to put more money towards debt, and it has shown me how mindlessly I was shopping.
Shopping had almost become a hobby to me – something to do when I was bored. I was constantly browsing Amazon and finding things we suddenly “needed.” Since we have been on a no-spend I have had to find other ways to occupy my time, and it has really reset my way of thinking. After seeing how much extra we were able to throw at our debt, I am even more inspired to keep going. I really dug into out budget and figured out where we could cut things out and tighten up the belt.
5 Things I Did To Save Money This Week
Changing Our Cell Phone Provider
I have had AT&T for my cell phone for over a decade, and have always been reasonable happy with them. All 3 of us have iPhones and we were on an unlimited data plan. We had several built credits from various specials, and got an extra discount since we also have DirecTV, bit those bill credits were ending this month. That was going to raise our bill by at least $70, so I decided to do some shopping around.
Unlimited data was nice, but it definitely wasn’t a necessity. Since I quit working outside the home, I am rarely off of our WiFi. And now that my daughter is homeschooled she isn’t either. We could definitely do a smaller data plan as long as we were mindful of our use. One day I tuned into Dave Ramsey (to hear Budget Girl do her debt free scream!) and heard him endorse Pure Talk USA for prepaid cell phone plans. There are a lot of prepaid plans out there but either they weren’t any cheaper than what we were already paying, the coverage area wasn’t good for our area, or we would have to buy new phones (to the tune of almost $2,000). When I looked up Pure Talk USA not only could we use our existing phones, the coverage was exactly the same as what we already had. I discussed it with my husband and we decided to take the plunge. I figured the worst that would happen is that we wouldn’t like it and would switch back.
We are only about a week in to the new service so I can’t give it a FULL review, but so far so good! We are using a lot less data than I expected, so we may be able to drop our plans down and save even more money!
Calling Our TV Provider
We live in an area where we only have one option for high speed internet (and HIGH speed may be a bit of an overstatement). We went without cable for many years and just used streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, but often went over our internet allotment and ended up having to bump up to the next plan. My husband is a huge sports fanatic so he wanted to explore our cable and satellite options. We were surprised to find that DirecTV was pretty reasonable if we bundled it with our phone plan.
Well, since we cancelled out phone plan our DirecTV bill was going to go up. We planned on cancelling it and just eating the early cancellation fee, but when we called they were willing to give us a deal that would drop our bill down to essentially the same price as a streaming service + faster internet. By making a 5 minute phone call we saved an additional $40 a month!
Stayed Off Amazon
Amazon Prime is a major temptation for me to spend, so I have stayed off of Amazon for the entire month of February. I often order household supplies from Amazon, but it’s too tempting to add extras onto the order so I have completely refrained. It turns out, I was spending a lot of money on Amazon! We have been able to get the same household items for essentially the same price at local stores, and no extra pens or books have found their way into my cart. I’m actually considering dropping our Amazon Prime membership when it comes due because we have saved so much money this month.
Amazon may not be your spending achilles heel. Maybe it’s Target. Maybe it’s Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. Whatever tempts you to throw caution to the wind and spend needlessly, be ruthless in amputating it from your life. Would you rather be in debt or buy another candle from Target?
Meal planning hands down saves us more money than any other frugal endeavor. Not only has it cut my grocery budget in half, it has dramatically reduced how often we eat out. I’ve learned to be realistic with my meal plans and include some easy, convenience types of meals for those nights that I don’t have the time or energy to cook. I have some more meal planning tips here.
Shopping My Stash
One habit I am trying to establish before I buy something is checking my stash. Whether I am shopping for planner supplies, makeup, or even kitchen gadgets more often than not I already have something on hand that could do the job. I have been out of my favorite planner stickers for a while now, but I still have a box full of stickers that I can work with. Not to mention a Silhouette machine to make my own!
By adopting the habit of seeing if I can use what I have on hand first I have avoided several purchases I might have deemed “necessary” not too long ago. Even when I am cooking I find I can often substitute an ingredient I already have on hand instead of running to the store to buy what I am out of. It’s basically just the habit of being intentional and thinking frugally.
These are just a few of the things I have done this week to save money, but they have added up to big savings! What have you done this week to save money?