There’s nothing wrong with a gym membership, but let’s face it, they are expensive. Are you one of those people that gets the most out of it? Or are you the other type that signs up with the best of intentions and just doesn’t go? Either way, consider for a minute why you actually go to the gym.
I used to work for Les Mills International, when you ask them what business they are in you’d expect them to say the gym business, or the health and fitness business. You’d be surprised when they are in the business of motivation. They want to provide people with motivation to get fit. Are you in a gym because it gives you that motivation? If so, see if you can do it on your own!
I’ve not had a gym membership in over 15 years but some memberships here in New Zealand cost around $100 a month. That’s a lot to save!
You don’t really need all that fancy equipment to keep yourself fit and healthy. I used to hit the road for a run or a jog, until I picked up an injury (don’t forget to stretch before and after people!). Use the great outdoors to run or walk, or jump on a bike. Learn some additional exercises to fit into your routine to work out the rest of your body such as push ups, press ups, burpees etc. and use the local play area equipment for chin ups to work out the rest of your body. Even better, check out calisthenic workouts and learn to use your own body weight.
If you’re into yoga or some instructor led workout then fire up YouTube for a whole host of videos you can watch in front of your TV or laptop.
Cable or Sky
Everyone seems to be switching to Netflix these days and you can save money by cancelling your existing cable or Sky TV contract.
If you want to watch sports, drop in on a friend, football games are always better with a crowd anyway!
Personally, I don’t have TV. I mean, I have a TV set, but that’s predominantly for my son to watch DVD’s. After my separation I didn’t have a TV set for almost a year and I realised I had so much more time on my hands. I spent time reading (and learning – I don’t read fiction), I would do some productive work on my laptop or I would spend more time with friends. When it’s summer you find you spend more time outside in the fresh air and sunshine, which is always good for your health.
When I finally bought a small TV, I refused to get Sky TV. When I was married I had Sky TV and it used to cost $90 a month. Right now, I don’t even have a TV ariel to get the free channels, I just don’t miss it.
Ok. Who can live without Internet these days?
I don’t think I could ditch this one.
I’m not suggesting you should cut out Internet, although you could try, but if you’re following this blog to learn how to earn some extra income online, as I intend to do, then you’re likely going to find passive income means via the internet.
You could always try cutting Internet at home out, you’ll save a good amount for sure, and using your work Internet as much as possible (to read my blog).
A saving on cutting out your Internet would be anything from $50 – $100 a month.
If you can’t live without Internet then see if you cut down your plan. Go for a slower speed, or capped data plan (you lucky souls in the United States, UK and Canada probably don’t have to worry about capped data). Here in New Zealand, going for a capped plan vs unlimited can save you $20 – $40 a month, just keep an eye on your usage.
Mobile phone contracts
Ditch your contracts and go for prepay. I’m pretty lucky, my job provides me with a phone and pays my usage so I don’t have that worry. However, prior to taking up my job 3 years ago I was on a basic plan that cost me at least $60 a month.
I never used all the minutes or texts and even if I did I could probably have been a lot more sensible about when I called people.
I’m not sure what it’s like elsewhere in the world but here in New Zealand we have “naked broadband” which means this package only provides Internet; you don’t get a landline number. I rarely make national calls, despite them being free. If I need to call abroad, which I do regularly to talk to my family in the UK or friends in the States, I use Skype or Facebook Messenger.
Yes, you could cut out mobile phones altogether. I mean, we used to survive before mobile phones my friend! But I accept, we’ve all gotten pretty used to being connected on the move.
No, what I’m suggesting here is you downgrade your phone. Get rid of that brand new iPhone and cope with something cheap and cheerful that does the essentials.
This is a big one. I’ve never been a big one for wanting to eat out, in fact I HATE going to fancy restaurants.
You know the kind, the one’s that leave you broke but with a desire to pick up a pizza on the way home.
Instead, learn a thing or two about cooking a nice meal. If you have a partner, cooking together can be romantic, or sitting and watching your significant other cook whilst you share a wine and talk can be a nice way to spend some time together. Having friends over can be so much more fun too.
The biggest upside is you’ll save a fortune!
The downside, you have to wash up.
Eating out here costs upwards of $30 per person for a single meal with a drink and no dessert. For that price you can pick up two quality steaks for two people and all the other ingredients you need for a full on meal.
Yeah, it’s not like we’re all chugging down caviar whilst we’re cuddled up with the cat and a good book, I know!
What I mean by this is there’s a whole bunch of food that you don’t really need to add to your shopping basket. Things like soda and junk food are a big waste of money because they aren’t doing anything for your health. Remember, that’s the reason we eat at the end of the day.
More importantly for your shopping bill there’s the expensive food like salmon and sirloin steak. You should cut back on those too. Can you cope on cheaper alternatives perhaps?
Then there’s out of season veges that always cost more. Plan your meals around the vegetables that are in season and therefore cheaper. Perhaps also shop around to find the local shops or even farms that are cheaper. If we travel an hour out of Auckland city, into the rural areas, we find local grocers, farms and orchards sell fruit and vege almost five times cheaper than the supermarkets. Whilst it’s not worth a long drive for the savings if we’re passing through and heading home we’ll often stock up to save. It’s even better if you can stock up on foods you can freeze.
I’m not going to put the hard word on your here because I’d be a hypocrite. I regularly give up coffee for months at a time, but it’s like that girlfriend you always go back to just to see if it’ll work out.
If you checked out my post about family budget’s you’ll know that I realised I was spending a fortune on coffee. $4.50 for a coffee isn’t much and grabbing one on the way into work each morning doesn’t seem like much.
But it all adds up!
Almost $25 a week, $100 a month, $1,200 a year. Wow!
I’ve cut back big time for sure this year.
Quit buying new furniture, electronics and even clothes and hunt around for pre-owned. Furniture is definitely a big one for me. I’m happy to have some second hand furniture, clothes not so much.
Hanging off the last point, if you’re not happy opting for second hand clothes then question if you really need to get some new clothes. Can you cope with what you have for a little bit longer even if they are a little outdated or worn out. Perhaps set shopping for some new clothes (with a limit) as a milestone reward for paying off some debt.
Gifts & cards
If you’re in a relationship, agree not to buy each other presents for holidays, anniversaries, valentines day and Christmas. There’s a lot of commercialisation out there and there’s often things you can do that are special that doesn’t require you to go out and spend a fortune on something materialistic.
For example, you could make a card, spend some time putting your own words together. If you’re good at art, draw something out. If you’re not good at art it may be all the more endearing (or funny) to have made a try, or even print something off form the internet.
As for presents, you could opt for doing something special, perhaps secretly organise a picnic or a day trip out in the great outdoors, or make up a voucher for an hour massage (done by you).
If it’s for family, and you’re really broke, you could make up a voucher for something your family would appreciate. I know my parents would like help with the garden.
When you finally have some cash, down the line, you can treat people to make up for these frugal times.
There are plenty of ways you can make savings with cars. If you are two car household consider if you can share a car with your partner? You may have to get more organised in the morning for one partner to drop the other off at work. It can be a pain at times, but you might make worthwhile savings on the petrol. Could you even do this just for a short period of time to help bolster you debt repayments or savings slightly?
If this works out you could potentially sell one car.
I’m sure we are all guilty of jumping into the car to pop to the local shop for some milk, ask yourself if you can walk or cycle to get what you need. Short trips in the car often use the most petrol.
I’m not sure how essential this is in the U.S. but in the U.K. and New Zealand health care is free and when you have health insurance it’s normally a costly extra to jump the queue and access premium care. My point being, it’s not essential and it can be very expensive. Ditching health care, even in the short term can save you a fortune.
You’re probably not going to look down at your furry friend right now and tell him you’re going to trade him in to free up some cash to pay off debt.
Take a look at the level of cuteness that’s staring back at me whilst I write this right now.
His chin resting on the arm of the chair whilst I sit with my laptop on my knee, staring with big, cute, brown eyes.
He’s been fed tonight, he’s probably staring me down in the hope I’ll stop writing and take him for his evening walk.
I just couldn’t give him up either.
But if you don’t have pets I suggest you don’t buy one.
They are expensive.
Food can average out at $20 – $40 a week. Vet bills, toys, grooming, flea treatments.
It mounts up.
I couldn’t get rid of my guy even if I wanted too. He’s the family dog, he’s a part of the family. However, I know my son would love a kitten. I’m even a cat person myself, but it’s not a sensible decision to extend the family right now.
“My home!” I hear you shreik, “Have you, flippin’ lost it?!?!”.
Slow down Batman! I’m not telling you to quit your home and go homeless.
Although imagine how much you’d save!
Yeah, that would be a bit extreme.
I’m suggesting you should take a look at where you live. Is your house too big? Can you get more for your money by living out of town and commuting?
House prices here in Auckland are insane right now. Over the last five years the market has exploded. If you take a 90 minute drive south property suddenly becomes so much more affordable. Consequently, many people are moving out of the city to get more land and a bigger home, or just something that’s sooooo much cheaper.
I have a number of work colleagues who have bought 4 bedroom houses for around $400,000 and work remotely or commute. A similar house and land in Auckland would cost you over $1,000,000. It’s well worth thinking about moving out of town to make savings like these don’t you think?
Going out to the movies
I love the movies, but it can be costly. A movie ticket here is between $15-$20, and that’s without any food and drinks. I got into the habit a while back of picking up sweets and a bottle of coke from the supermarket to take with me. More recently a sales rep at work furnished me with a 2-1 card on movie tickets she had received from a client to say thank you for some training I had given her which has increased her sales rate.
However, despite that, I’ve not been to the movies in a long while. It’s just one of those things I had to cut out in desperate times.
There are other alternatives like Netflix or your local DVD store (if it’s still in business). I know there have been some great movies out recently, but it’s a cost you can afford to ditch.
Cleaning products can get expensive. Did you know there’s a whole bunch of tips on making your own cleaning products on Pinterest? I only came across them in my search for frugal living ideas. People make their own laundry powder or all purpose cleaning sprays! I haven’t tried it myself you, but I think that’s awesome.
Yes, you’ll have to buy the ingredients but in most cases the amount of product you’ll get from making your own will carry you far longer than buying off the shelf.
I don’t have one of these any more but when I did that damn thing clocked up way too many miles on my electric bill over a short period of time. These days I use the good old sunshine, all the time. I leave my washing to pile up until the weather is good enough to hang outside.
I recall electricity bills of $400 a month at the time I had a clothes dryer, now I’m paying around $90 a month!
The clothes dryer wasn’t entirely responsible for the difference, I have cut out a great deal of electronics from my life as well, and I’m being much more careful with my all my utilities, but I do know it was very expensive to run and I’m sure you’ll notice a big difference if you cut it out as well.
I cut back on haircuts a couple of years ago.
There’s no pun intended there.
At $40 a time I can make a reasonable difference to my budget to hang on for a haircut by a couple of weeks.
This summer I opted to shave it all off which saved me six months of costs.
I must admit though, I feel like a bit of a mess right now and I have to say I do feel so much better about myself when I have a good haircut. However, I feel way better seeing my debt go down faster, it’s a temporary pain.
One man’s trash is another man’s gold!
We all have it don’t we?
It’s the obvious avenue for some quick cash.
Take a good look through your stuff and see what you have in there that you just don’t need or use any more. Have a yard sale, go to a car boot sale or local market and grab yourself a stall or even stick your bits on eBay. You may be surprised at home much you can bring in.
When I lived in the UK my ex and I used to frequent car-boot sales to offload our clutter and make some money, it’s worth it.
What else would you give up to pay off debt?
I’m quite sure this list could go on and on so help me out here. What else would you give up or advise someone to give up to be able to pay off debt or save money?
Put your ideas in the comments.