Stop making these 7 money mistakes!

10 Best Tips for Reducing Expenses

  March 27, 2024  |    #Eliminate Debt

Reducing expenses and having fun

Discover the 10 strategies that slashed our expenses, enabling us to pay off $51,000 in credit card debt in under three years. If they worked wonders for us, imagine the impact they could have on you.

We had no choice but to reduce expenses

When we hit our “Come to Jesus” moment and saw bankruptcy looming like a grumpy cloud, we knew we had to stop the financial bleeding, as John always said. Life’s gotta stay fun, right? So, instead of becoming total party-poopers, we trimmed expenses here and there—some big, some small. We felt like penny-pinching grumps, but guess what? If we could do it without feeling like total cheapskates, you can too! And hey, debt-free living? It’s like winning the lottery without all the weird relatives hitting you up for cash.

Reduce expenses, like wine

Ah, our love affair with wine!

Picture this: game nights are in full swing, friends bring out fancy bottles, and temptation whispers sweet nothings in our ears. But hold onto your corkscrew! Cooler heads prevailed as we cracked open our trusty Not-So-Expensive (NSE) Bota Box of Zinfandel, a.k.a. Cardboardeaux. We laughed, played, and didn’t cave to our vino vice. This is just a little tale of how saying no to splurges can lead to some cork-popping savings!

10 tips for reducing expenses

How can you reduce expenses? Here ya go:

1. Quit brand-name products

Most of us have some level of brand loyalty. But let’s face it, sometimes it’s all just a royal load of… well, you know. Turns out, Mom’s sage wisdom wasn’t just for show—store brands are often just as regal as their fancy counterparts. So, ditch the crown and head over to The Dollar Store, Big Lots, or any other bargain kingdom for your essentials. From dish detergent to shampoos and household cleaners to kitchen supplies, you’ll find treasures fit for a thrifty monarch. And hey, who knows, you might even have enough left over for a royal feast of ramen noodles

2. Cut the cable and slash the streamers

The great cord-cutting crusade isn’t what it used to be, but it made a difference when we were paying off our debt. We bid farewell to the tyranny of cable bills with the almighty Hulu and Netflix by your side, which, along with other streaming services, are now on par with cable bills of yore. Back then, downgrading from the premier cable package to the basic one with Comcast was like waving hello to $50 a month—or $600 a year, if you’re counting pennies like a hawk.

Nowadays, it pays to use one or two streaming services simultaneously rather than subscribing to multiple.

3. Uncover cost-effective entertainment

The vast expanse of the internet is where entertainment flows like a never-ending stream of cat videos and meme madness—all at prices that won’t make your wallet weep! And hey, if you’re lucky enough to live in a city like Denver, Colorado, where the online world is practically bursting at the seams with free and cheap delights, consider yourself blessed by the frugal fairy godmother herself.

Sure, not every gem you uncover will be free or dirt cheap but fear not. With some digging, you’ll unearth treasures perfectly tailored to your budgetary whims. We even went full-on Sherlock Holmes and crafted a calendar brimming with free or low-cost events, ensuring that every day was a grand adventure without breaking the bank. So, embrace your inner bargain hunter, my friends, and let the quest for budget-friendly fun begin.

4. Do the movies better

Who wouldn’t want a slice of Jason Momoa for free? I mean, who needs 3D glasses when you can have Aquaman in all his glory from the comfort of your own couch? Am I right? Sure, a ticket to a 3D IMAX extravaganza might set you back an excellent $16, but fear not! With the magical wonders of Netflix at just $8 a month, you can dive headfirst into a bottomless sea of cinematic wonders without emptying your treasure chest.

And hey, why stop there? Picture this: for the cost of a third-generation Apple TV ($65) and a mere $5 rental fee for a newish flick, you can transform your living room into the ultimate blockbuster bonanza. Just think of the savings, folks! So grab your popcorn, dim the lights, and let the cinematic adventures begin without sacrificing your firstborn to the movie theater gods.

5. Stop phoning in the phone plan

Ah, the age-old quest for the elusive free phone—a treasure hunt worthy of the most frugal of pirates. Picture this: you snag a shiny new device for absolutely zilch, pair it with a budget-friendly plan, and suddenly, you’re swimming in a sea of savings worth over a hundred doubloons.

We, noble adventurers on the path to financial freedom, held off on upgrading our trusty companions for a good two years while battling the debt dragon, saving a cool $30 each moon cycle. And let’s be honest, who among us couldn’t use a TikTok break? So, trade those gold-plated gadgets for a savvy savings strategy and join us in the land of budget-friendly bliss.

After all, a penny saved can be spent on something far more exciting than the latest phone fad.

6. Cut the credit card expenses

The mythical creatures known as “those who religiously pay off their credit card balances monthly”are a breed as rare as a unicorn sighting on a Tuesday afternoon. But fear not, fellow mortals, for there is hope in the land of plastic pitfalls.

Picture it: by simply stashing away your credit cards like buried treasure, you could save yourself a veritable shipload of doubloons each year. With credit card interest rates sailing as high as 10% to 18%, every swipe becomes a high-seas adventure in financial folly. Who wants to pay 10% to 18% more for all their… stuff?

And if you find yourself drowning in the debt deep, fear not! Lowering those interest rate anchors and setting sail on a month-to-month payment plan could be your ticket to debt-free shores faster than you can say, “Avast ye credit card sharks!” So hoist the financial flag, me hearties, and let’s navigate these treacherous waters of debt with wit, wisdom, and maybe just a sprinkle of pirate humor.

7. Grocery shop smarter

The noble quest for the perfect grocery list is a journey fraught with perilous pitfalls and tantalizing temptations! But fear not, brave adventurers, for with a well-crafted list in hand, you can conquer the treacherous aisles of the supermarket like a seasoned warrior.

Armed with your trusty list and a keen eye for sales and coupons, you navigate the maze of shelves with the grace of a ninja and the determination of a knight on a quest. And lo and behold, the savings. By avoiding those impromptu trips to the store, you could be pocketing an extra $30 to $50 each week—or a staggering $1,560 to $2,600 annually! That’s enough loot to rival even the most extravagant dragon’s hoard.

But wait, there’s more! What if, instead of squandering those hard-earned doubloons on impulse purchases, you invested them in a retirement account? With financial wizardry and a sprinkle of compound interest magic, that $1,560 annually could grow into a princely sum of $24,590 over a decade at a modest 6% return. Now, that’s what I call a feast fit for a king! So, my fellow epicurean adventurers, let us dine on the bounty of our groceries and the sweet taste of financial freedom.

8. Do coffee differently (and better)

The battle of the beans – in one corner, we have the almighty French Press, champion of home-brewed bliss. In the other corner is the formidable foe, Starbucks, where your wallet weeps with every grande latte.

Let’s break it down: while Starbucks might lure you in with its siren song of frothy concoctions, the truth is that it’s a financial black hole. But fear not, for the kingdom of locally roasted coffee beans awaits! For a mere $12 a pound, you can wield the power of the French Press to conjure up 45 cups of liquid gold—that’s a mere $0.27 per cup, my caffeinated comrades!

Now, imagine this: if you’re currently shackled to the Starbucks ritual three times a week, that’s a whopping $737.88 a year going straight into the mermaid’s coffers. But with the trusty French Press by your side, you’ll save enough booty to fund your caffeine kingdom! So brew forth, my friends, and let the aroma of savings fill your kingdom with joy and prosperity.

9. Cancel prepared food

The tale of two kernels: on the one hand, we have the illustrious Pop Secret Homestyle Microwave Popcorn, decked out in its pre-popped glory and priced at a princely sum of $4.98 for a mere 10 servings. That’s roughly $0.498 per pop! But hold onto your kernels, folks, because in the other corner stands the mighty Orville Redenbacher, a veritable titan of un-popped potential. For the same $4.98 investment at Walmart, you’ll snag a colossal 3.2-pound container capable of yielding 32 servings. That’s a mere $0.156 per serving, making it a true hero in the battle against snack-time expenses!

Now, let’s crunch those numbers: by taking matters into your own hands and popping your own popcorn, you’re saving a jaw-dropping $0.342 per serving. That’s right, my thrifty snackers, you’re pocketing a delightful $10.94 in savings with each container of Orville! So, bid farewell to the overpriced popcorn packets of yore and embrace the homemade goodness of Orville Redenbacher—it’s a snack-time revolution you won’t want to miss

10. Borrow and share books

This is the age-old dilemma of bookworms everywhere: to buy or not to buy? But fear not, fellow literary enthusiasts, for the library beckons with its siren song of free books—a treasure trove for the thrifty reader! Who can resist the allure of free, am I right?

And if you’re not quite ready to part ways with the tangible charm of paper and ink, fear not! Enter the realm of eBooks, where even a humble used Kindle can be yours for less than the price of a fancy dinner. With Amazon boasting a treasure trove of nearly 3 million free eBooks, you’ll be swimming in literary riches without spending a single doubloon. That’s right, folks, $0.00! And with every page turned, your Kindle inches closer to paying for itself—after devouring just eight to ten books, it practically becomes the Robin Hood of your reading habits, stealing from the overpriced bookstores and giving back to your wallet!

So there you have it, ten whimsical ways to trim those expenses, each one a little gem that helped us dig our way out of the $51,000 credit card debt dungeon in just two and a half years. It’s like a financial fairy tale, ending with happily ever after and debt-free bliss.

More ways to save money:

11 responses to “10 Best Tips for Reducing Expenses

  1. Love this list, guys! Love your story too – $51k in debt paid off – WOW! Amazing what we can do when we set our minds to it, huh? I also love that you aren’t out to abandon everything fun in life! That’s so important for us all to embrace! Thanks for this great article!

    1. Thank you Kimberly. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. It was a battle, but as a team we were able to win. As you remind us, we still need to have fun. Thus our mantra #LiveDebtFree #HaveFun and #BeMoneyConscious. It is possible. We’ve been around the world and many fun days/nights near home all because we live by that. 😉

  2. Who still buys physical books anyway? 🙂 I can’t even imagine spending more than $12-13 on a book anymore. I went into a bookstore a few weeks ago and saw a hardcover book for $30 and almost fainted. Kindle? $9.99.

    1. You are right, James. Many books are not worth the physical copy price. Others, some still like to have the hard copy. We have a few favs we keep around, but most we do Kindle, Smashwords or iBooks.

  3. Don’t forget that many libraries also have both movie streaming services for free, and DVD collections you can rent. We watch every series a few months after, but at no cost at all (also no temptation to the couch potatohood that comes with an ongoing stream of stuff on the tv.)

    Also, libraries are online so you can access these from other areas often.

    I’ve never had more than basic cable, but we have saved over $2.4K on even what we did have.

  4. Papyrus cards are awesome! One of the only times I will splurge on one of those is for a wedding card, when I don’t like any of the more affordable options available.
    I read this right after being reprimanded by my spouse for opening a bottle of wine that someone brought over last weekend, without checking the price. Turns out it’s worth about $10 more than what we normally drink. Oops.

  5. This is insane. Try being our family of 7 kids and my husband and I. Our grocery bill is 800 a month, we buy name brand clothes and shoes for our kids, we drive nice cars and we have left over at the end of the month. The difference in our life is I make every bit of our food from scratch with the exception of Friday night pizza, we buy all the clothes and shoes either second hand or end of season so they are highly discounted. we have no car payments because we scrimped and saved and paid cash. We buy things at thrift stores and sell them on eBay or Facebook for extra cash. I make all our soap (laundry & body from scratch) because goat milk soap is crazy expensive at the store but cheap and easy at home. Try my life. Its not hard, trying at times but fulfilling.

    1. Wow! Awesome comment. Thanks for sharing your suggestions on ways to stretch a budget. Being a large family certainly is expensive, but sound like you 7 have a great plan to manage that and still have fun. 😉

    2. Wow! That is awesome. You have found a great way as a big family to still have a fun and sane life without having to hock yourself into debt. Thanks for sharing your great ideas on ways to save and make a bit extra. We haven’t gone the route of selling stuff, but sometimes it sure looks appealing. Thanks again for commenting. 😉

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