13 Realistic Changes You Can Make To Save $300 This Month

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1. Cut one coffee per week. You save $3 every week for four weeks straight. Total savings: $12. (Alternately, if you are a hardcore latte lover, switch from espresso to drip coffee for the month, which can save you $2 every time you walk into a coffee shop. If you buy coffee three times a week, that means you’d save about $24 in the month.)

2. Eliminate transportation snacks from your budget. Maybe I’m the only one with a weakness for a pack of Reese’s pieces and a seltzer for the train or car ride home, but for me, it’s the best treat after a long day. That’s about $4 twice a week. For four weeks, your total savings is $32.

3. Don’t buy spontaneous decor for your apartment and office. AKA, the temptation to buy a notebook here, candles there, and a few postcards that you don’t actually know what to do with, but that are cute enough to convince you to throw down a few dollars. If you have one small impulse buy a week, that comes to $3-$8. Total savings from cutting it out: $20-$25 (approximately).

4. Switch to generic brands for four or five of your main grocery items. Five grocery store items I could easily buy generic would be: tortilla chips, milk, cream cheese, seltzer, and bread. This is probably a total savings of $4-$5 every week for me. So total savings for the month would be $20.

5. Cut out spending for a weekend. On our personal finance articles roundup yesterday, I mentioned that I read about a no-spend weekend challenge, and I am hooked on the idea. If on a given weekend, I buy two drinks out at a bar, that’s $20. If I go to brunch, that’s another $25, which is $30 with tip. If I work at a coffee shop on a Saturday, that’s another $5. And then if I take an Uber somewhere, that’s around $15 there and back (because I only take Ubers under $10). In total, that’s $70 saved if I do a no-spend weekend challenge.

6. Stop using your heat and AC for the month. April is a ~transitional month~ in terms of weather, and in a lot of place, that means it isn’t cold enough for heat, but it isn’t warm enough for AC. Typically using the AC or heat adds about $30 to my bill, so I’d say the total savings is somewhere in that realm.

7. Cut out one happy hour per week. If you’re going to happy hour two or three times a week, make it a goal to slow down a little for the month of April. You don’t need to cut it out of your life completely, but it would really help to nix one of them each week for the entire month. If you get two $5 drinks at happy hour and no food, you pay about $13 with tip. Saving $13 for four weeks means saving $52.

8. Or, if it’s easier than cutting a happy hour, cut one drink every time you go out. For example, if you’re typically a three-drink person when you go out, try a month of just doing two drinks when you go to a bar. If you go out twice a week, and cut one $10 cocktail each time you go out, that’s $20 saved a week. Total savings for the month: $80.

9. Swap one of your pricey indoor go-to activities for a free outdoor one as the weather gets nicer. Basically, it’s the difference between $20 admission to a museum and $0 admission to the park. Instead of paying $10-$15 for a movie ticket, go for a long walk around dusk, or find a hiking trail close to you. If you cut two of these activities in April, that’s about $40 saved. (My calculation assumes that you’re getting popcorn and candy at the movies, which is my go-to because I will never see a movie without snacks.)

10. Get rid of one of your premium memberships or subscriptions for the month. I was recently reading about how one of the latest millennial spending traps is subscription services; the hope is that you’ll sign up once to try a service and end up completely forgetting about it, and just pay $20 a month for a box of samples you don’t even want. Total potential savings: depends what you subscribe to, but probably around $20 for the month.

11. Give up nail treatments for a month. I know this might sound ridiculous to people who don’t do their nails, but I do my nails a couple of times a month, and I’ve noticed that they are much less strong than they once were. So, I stopped painting my nails (almost) entirely last month, and not to #humblebrag all over the place, but my nails look great now. This is a perfect way to save on small drug store buys, like nail polish remover, new filers, extra cotton swabs, or a couple new ‘treat yo’self’ nail polishes. (I support ‘treat yo’self’ nail polishes, but they’ll be waiting for you at the drug store next month.) Potential savings: $20.

12. Think before you Venmo. I love Venmo; it’s honestly one of my favorite apps. But just like having money on an ID card in college, saying the words, “Oh, I’ll venmo you for it!” makes me sometimes forget that I am using real money, because I can just magically send people money in less time than it takes me to send a tweet. Of course, if someone charges you on Venmo, you should send them the money in a timely manner. But before you ask your friend to pick you up a coffee and scone on the way into work, ask yourself if you really need it, or if you just like the idea because of how convenient it is for you to complete that charge.

13. Related: take the app that drives your impulse spending the most off your phone for a month, whether that’s a food delivery app, an online shopping app, or a ride-share app. See if you can live without it, and calculate how much you can save. Potential savings: endless.

Image via Unsplash

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  • Kaci

    I’m attempting to cut out spending on clothing and eating out this month (with the exception of the long weekend that I’ll be out of town). I’m hoping that will lead to saving an additional $200 or so in April!

  • Jack

    I really want to beef up my emergency fund so these tips are helpful. I started tracking expenses in December and I can see that most of my eating out budget consists of snacky things when I’m going from A-B. Looks like I need to carry more Clif bars and tea bags around with me!

  • Emily

    The issue here is that if one is trying to be frugal, you’re already avoiding all of these things. All of these recommendations surround expenses that should already be cut for anyone paying down debt or saving up for an emergency fund.

    • Mary Harman

      Sometimes it’s frustrating to see a headline and then read the article and realize it doesn’t apply to you. I guess the site is for all types of people who are at different points, so it makes sense…but yeah, I feel the same way. Like, I’m going to zero happy hours/month because I work in the burbs for a ‘conservative’ organization and everybody has a spouse and kids to get home to, and I spend maybe $15/month on alcohol anyway…and I make my own coffee…etc etc. So, this isn’t super helpful to a lot of people trying to save. Like, ‘Save $300 by not spending so much money’ But I guess it could be an eye-opener for a beginner? Why can’t everything be tailored to me? lol

      • Haha, yup. Same! What are your personal recommendations for those frugal for additional savings? I shop in bulk at Costco, skip organic on items that don’t need to be organic, use apps like Ibotta on items I buy anyway. To curb spontaneous spending (bad habit of mine, but oh so fun), I put things in my shopping cart and then close out of the page. OR I sit on a decision for a day or two and in that time, the idea isn’t as fresh and new and exciting anymore.

        • Mary Harman

          I’m not too big of a shopper, so I don’t often get the urge to impulse shop which is nice. But when I do need to buy something, I try to go for bigger savings on more expensive things, rather than lots of small savings (like grocery store items, etc). When my flat iron broke, I bought one off of ebay that was brand new and hadn’t been out of the packaging. I think my flat iron is $130 plus tax when new, and I got mine off of ebay for about $75. Trying do coupons drives me mad, so I try to find ways to save on big things like that. That’s my biggest ‘saving’ tip. Also, bananas (at least in the US) are so cheap that they are basically free, so I always buy bananas in excess so I’m not tempted to stop and get food on my way to work if I’m running late and have no time for breakfast, and I always have something to throw in my bag for lunch if I haven’t got a nice-sized lunch for the day.

      • Sarah

        Totally agreed! I don’t do any of these things!

      • Mj D’Arco

        me too, one of the things that really get to me are frequent dinners out with my boyfriend followed by drinks out, and parking tickets… 🙁

        • Mary Harman

          Yes! Dinner dates are what surprise me the most when I look at our statements. At the moment, my husband and I are living with my parents until my husband gets his green card and can work, so we probably do dinner out and a coffee date out of the house once a week just to ensure time to ourselves. We dated long distance for our entire relationship, so I’m SO not used to having date night expenses. It’s a bummer!

          • Mj D’Arco

            and the thing about that too, is that you want to go somewhere nice because it’s so infrequent.. wahh

          • Mary Harman

            Yep! Although we recently ran errands together on a Saturday morning and we went to McDonald’s for breakfast and it was actually kind of nice to sit down in a mostly-empty restaurant except for a few old married couples in their 80s. We took our time and enjoyed some coffee and oj and some egg mcmuffins. I’d highly recommend that for a cheap-y date sometime when you just want to spend time together.

    • Right, I hate that there’s still this assumption that people (millennials especially?) spend $4 or $5 a day on designer lattes and don’t realize it. Also that we all live in places where going for a walk is a safe let alone pleasurable activity (I’ve lived places without sidewalks and my apartment is currently off of a major highway, and a lot of parks charge admission/parking).

  • Shannon

    This is the most realistic “ways to save money” article I’ve seen in a while. I like that it’s just “lessen” than “cut out completely”. Well done!

  • GemNoelle

    Thanks for a great post. This was one of the first saving money list posts where I got an idea for something I could change that am not already doing — this month I am going cut out “travel snacks.” While I am not a serious offender, I take classes a few nights a week after work and I have been known to turn cheese-its from CVS into my dinner/late night snack. Bad for my wallet and my waist line.

  • D. Broussard

    This is actually pretty useful! I definitely have a *bad* Sbux habit and I have been going more infrequently. 🙌🏻. I think I’ll also work on cutting commuting snacks. (Says the person who just ate hot Cheetos and has an apple juice in their bag. D’oh!)

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