Budget
Budget

How You Can Save $400 A Month Just Like Me

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra $400 in the bank each month? Without a doubt I think most people would agree with that statement. A lot of times when seeking extra income people look for extra work, work overtime or find side hustles, which are all great ways to earn extra money. But what if you didn’t have to get a second job or work overtime to get extra money in the bank?

The answer is cutting back your monthly spending and living below your means. Sounds easy right? The concept is simple but implementing it takes willpower and habit changes. But it can be done.

My husband and I just recently bought our first home and couldn’t be happier. Especially because we have nearly $400K in student loan debt combined. We never thought being homeowners someday was possible for us. But I’m sitting here typing this post from my kitchen and couldn’t be happier.

One of the things the home buying process opened my eyes to was my spending habits. I work Monday through Friday, a typical work week for most people, and I was spending on average of $20 per day on lattes and lunch.

When you multiple $20 x 20 days (4 weeks of work per month) that equates to $400. Honestly, some days I was even spending more than this because I was buying breakfast too.

It’s crazy to think I was spending so much on food! I would much rather be saving $400 per month to put towards an awesome vacation or treating myself to a spa facial, not buying breakfast burritos and salads at work.

Moral of the story is, if you are like me and you spend money on food at work, that is one of the easiest things to cut back on and you will instantly start putting more money in your pocket.

It’s All About Meal Prep on Sundays

To be successful, you need to prepare a head of time. If your mornings are anything like mine you are most likely always racing against the clock as you are getting ready, sipping coffee, taking the dog out etc.

So many mornings I would awake with good intentions and think to myself “okay, today is the day I get on track.” But then of course I would not be prepared, I would run out of time to make myself lunch and think that I could just skip lunch time, but then of course lunch rolls around and I find myself starving and then boom, money out the window for a rice bowl.

Now I set aside some time on Sunday and prep my lunches for the week. I will either make a big crockpot full of soup or make salads. I could eat salad every single day. I don’t get sick of it. Maybe its because salads can have so many variations which keep them interesting.

I Went From Spending $20 per Day to $3.60

The total cost of all of my salad ingredients costs a total of $18 at the grocery store. When I divide 18 by 5 (days of the week) it equals $3.60!

Here is my salad shopping list for a typical week:

  • 1 box of mixed green lettuce – $4.00
  • 1 cucumber – $1.00
  • 1 green pepper – $1.00
  • 4 tomatos – $3.00
  • 1 lemon – $1.00
  • Olive Oil – $3.00
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken $5.00

Chopping up my salad and making my easy homemade salad dressing takes me no more than 45 minutes total. This allows me to be prepared once the hectic weekday mornings roll around.

In Addition To Saving Money, I Am Also Eating Healthier

Because I am controlling what I eat ahead of time, I am not making impulse purchases, such as vending machine Doritos and sweet pastries.

Oh and about that latte habit. Now I bring my coffee in a to-go mug each morning. This has been a very hard thing for me to adjust to. I think part of the reason is simply that its habit for me. I have been in the routine of going to the same coffee shop each morning. It sets the tone for the day and makes me happy to get a treat for myself in the form of latte. I know that sounds silly but its how I feel.

You Can Still Treat Yourself

You will fail if you tell yourself things like: “You can never buy lunch at work again!” or “You can’t buy coffee at work ever again.” The truth is there will be days where a friend asks you to lunch or you feel like treating yourself one day, and that’s okay.

Give Yourself A Monthly Food Spending Budget

In order to allow for your own sanity and stay successful, give yourself a set amount of money that you set aside for those random situations where the boss asks you to coffee or you simply forgot your lunch at home. I give myself $20 a month.

Take Money Out Of The ATM

I find that having actual cash rather than a debit or credit card keeps me honest with my spending. This is similar to the “envelope system” that some budget guru’s swear by. If you don’t know what the envelope system is, it’s when you place cash in envelopes for specific areas of spending so that you don’t overspend. When the physical money is gone, you are done spending in that area. People will make envelopes for entertainment, eating out, etc.

If you have money left at the end of the month then good for you! Do what you wish, roll it into next month, put it in savings, or splurge on something else, pedicure anyone?

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