Do you know why most people are resistant to budgets? They think budgets are going to restrict them from everything fun in their life. That’s not the idea behind a budget. A budget, call it a spending plan if that makes you feel better, is a written plan to show you where you’re spending your money. Read this post if you need help setting up a budget. Read this if you need help tightening up your budget a bit.
Maybe you’ve set up your budget and you realized that you’re spending more then you are bringing in each month. Now you’re mad at me because you think you’ve just proved to me that a budget is going to suck all the fun out of your life. Nope, the budget just showed you that you need to tweak some things so you can still live your life but not at the cost of your financial future. The trick is to find a substitution instead of eliminating things completely from your lifestyle.
Here are some easy substitutions when you need to cut back.
Change your store
I shop at a variety of stores because unfortunately I can’t seem to find everything I need at just one. For the most part I’ve always shopped Target, Kroger, and Walmart. Lately I’ve discovered Aldi’s though and for the most part I’ve been pleased with what I’ve bought there. Hawaiian rolls, frozen cinnamon rolls, coffee pods, granola bars, and chips are all items I’ve purchased there so far and been delighted with both the quality/taste and the price difference between the Aldi brand and the name brand/other store’s brand.
Switch to the store brand
This is something I’ve done for quite awhile. There are definitely some things I prefer the name brand on (Kraft cheese, JIF peanut butter, and Angel Soft toilet paper come to mind), but for the most part if I can substitute the store brand for a lower cost then I will.
I’m certainly not going to tell anyone to stop exercising if their budget is tight. I’m 45, both my knees are suddenly bad, and I’m a good 20 pounds heavier than I used to be. Did I also mention that I’m not someone that likes to exercise for the most part??
Last year a new boxing place opened up in my town and I had some birthday money so I splurged and signed up for a month. I LOVED IT!! Definitely the best workout I’ve ever had and I realized I definitely do better with an instructor-led class. That being said, after two months, I sadly realized it was not in my budget at this time to continue the classes so I had to look at other options.
Low Cost Gyms
I was already a member at Planet Fitness, which is a $10 a month membership gym in my town. It has plenty of equipment and it offers a handful of classes too. The gym is also open 24 hours which is great for my crazy schedule. It’s a little harder to motivate myself to go and work out on my own but for the price difference, it’s what I need to do at this time.
Need a free option? There are plenty of free videos out there you can access and work out at home. Walk or run outside. Look for free classes in your neighborhood.
I love to unwind with some TV. It’s possible I might need a 12-step program for my addiction to both the Hallmark channels and HGTV. Several years ago I decided that it was absolutely ridiculous the amount of money we were spending on our cable package though. I knew we had to find a cheaper option. Both boys were honestly watching Netflix more than anything so they didn’t seem too concerned with me cutting the cable package. Nick’s only other requirement was that he wanted to be able to watch ESPN for his sports.
Purchasing an antenna is probably the cheapest way to go, unless you’re willing to cut TV out cold turkey. Anennas can be bought for as little as $10 and generally that will get you the major network channels (ABC, NBC, CBS) and for me some local channels like KET and few others.
Streaming (Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, Disney+, etc.)
Another option, one that we currently use, is to get a streaming service. I’ve written about this before and my next post will be a more detailed update on cutting the cord. Basically to stream you need high speed internet, and a device to stream the subscriptions with. Devices you can use include smart TV’s, gaming consoles, certain blue-ray DVD players, Roku or Fire Sticks, and Chromecast devices. Once you have a device to stream then you pick the service you want. Pick one or mix and match but be careful not to add so many that you negate your monthly savings.
Swap out dinner with friends at a restaurant with pot-luck at one person’s house.
Swap out movies at the theater on a weekend night with a lower cost matinee or the theater’s discount day. Better yet, host a Netflix night at your house and save the ticket price and refreshment gouging all together.
Postpone the expensive travel vacation with plane tickets and find somewhere new to explore within driving distance.
Visit your library for the latest novel you’ve been wanting to read or pick out a new author or series. Not a reader (what’s wrong with you?!?) then borrow a movie from your library.
Google free events for your town/city. I bet you’ll find a list of things to do for little or no cost for the weekend.
It’s Not Forever
Remember, nothing lasts forever. Well, your debt might if you don’t get a handle on it. What I’m trying to stress is that these don’t have to be permanent changes. I can’t wait until I get my finances in better standing again so that I can travel and join that expensive boxing class. I’m using that as motivation in my debt-payoff journey.
Any other suggestions for substitutions you use in your everyday life to save money?