Let’s face it – we all would love to save more money. I would, my friends would, and I know you would too. But the honest truth is that it’s really tough to do and even tougher to keep track of.
With a ton of weddings, showers, bachelorettes and trips this year I finally sat down and laid out everything on our expense list and I’m not going to lie.. I had to take a few deep breaths. It’s a lot. Last year we kind of took everything head on and didn’t make a budget, but this year (especially since it’s only April) I really want to start planning and saving properly. My usual take on these things is to ‘do the fun things and eat ramen after’. I don’t want to be in a position to turn down fun, but I also know it’s important to be fiscally responsible.
This month I’m really trying to crack down and not spend frivolously on things like random cabs when I’m running late and delivery 4-5x a week. I set aside a monthly budget for my shopping and blog related things, but outside of that I’m trying to cut back elsewhere.
I was chatting about saving money with my friend Marisa who has lots of experience and in our group of gal pals is probably the most generally and fiscally responsible, and we came up with some ideas that we’re already doing to help you guys start saving, too.
1. Save On Meals
This is a big one and luckily there are so many ways to tackle this. For some, it’s easy to meal plan and grocery shop as long as you have time to plan ahead. If that’s you – get it girl.
That’s unfortunately not me. I need a little more help with these things, so have discovered a few great ways to save money without having to think about every single meal and their ingredients. Have you heard of Plated? MG’s sister Caitlin sent us an invite for a free box and we loved it. You can customize your box so that the number of meals and type of meals suit your needs and taste buds and the best part is that you’re not locked in every week. We’ve skipped a few weeks that we’ve been out of town and are getting another one next week. It comes out to less than what it costs us to order delivery for dinner all week, which is what happens when we didn’t make it to the store.
There’s also things like Fresh Direct that can make going to the store much easier by eliminating the need to go. Everything comes right to your door to the busy bees out there who can’t get there or don’t have a good store nearby.
Lunchtime can be a bit trickier, but if you’re in NYC and work in Manhattan you might want to give Mealpal a try. You choose your lunch the night before from restaurants nearby and all you have to do is pick it up at the time you chose. They’ve expanded their restaurants in the last year and now we can get lunch from some of the same places we regularly go to, but for an average of about $6 which in a lot of cases is half the price.
2. Save On Clothes & Sell What You Don’t Wear
This one can be a bit trickier, but it all comes down to organization. We shop because we want new things or because we think we need certain things. But the truth is, you often think you need things that you already have. Have you done spring cleaning on your closet yet? If not, start there before you spend one more penny. You will unearth items you forgot about and also end up with a decent pile of things to sell. If you have some designer pieces that you no longer wear, let go of them. I’ve earned almost $500 back selling on The Real Real.
For those of you who are quick to hit purchase and are online shoppers like I am, do you track everything you buy? This year I started a spreadsheet and anything I bought something I had to add it to the list. I was shocked at how quickly little things added up and am now using that to budget my monthly shopping allowance. It helps keep me in check and it’s easy to remove things if I return them.
3. Find Deals On Workout Classes
If you live in NYC you know as well as I do that it is not cheap to workout here. Classes run you anywhere from $25-35 each and monthly gym memberships are on the upwards of $200/month for a nice gym. I know people who have spent $1000 on working out in a month! It’s just going to SoulCycle every day and can you imagine how hungry you’d probably also be?
It can be tough to find deals on the best classes in the city, but did you know that you can find some great deals on Gilt City? We’ve scored deals on Pop Physique and Y-7 yoga that way – you just have to keep an eye out. There are also new client specials that will help you try classes at a discount and allow you to work those in if you’re on a budget. You can supplement with at home workouts and videos, too. I have the Nike Training Club app that I use for abs and arm workouts when I’m at home and I just downloaded this one called Asana Rebel that I’m about to start trying. Once the weather clears up a bit too it’ll be a lot easier to get a run in outside.
4. Save On Travel
We have so many trips coming up and all I keep wondering is how we’re going to get all of these flights for as cheap as possible. I used to travel a lot and actually have so many great tips and hacks for finding deals. You’ve probably heard this before, but buying flights on a Tuesday is usually one of the cheaper days. I also downloaded an app called Hopper that tells you when you should book your route for those dates. I also religiously use Kayak to look for flights because it’s a great aggregator that’s easy to use and it also gives you an idea of when to buy in the top left hand corner of your search.
Use points when you can. I have a rule that I don’t use points for flights under $300 because you’re not really getting your money’s worth from the points. If you’re able to, sign up for a credit card like the AA one, Jetblue, Southwest or a card that rewards you with bonus miles and points when you sign up and for every purchase. Between MG and I we’ve been able to use points across all 3 for various flights.
Try pricing 2 one-way flights on different carriers. I’ve done this a lot and you’ll be surprised at how you can hack the system out of a round-trip and find a cheaper way to get there and back.
Let’s talk airport transportation. You may think that in NYC you need to take a cab, but with the tolls and surcharges you’re easily going to spend an additional $50-75 each way, which is another leg of a flight. There are 3 other ways to get to each airport for under $20 and in some cases $15 each:
- Take the LIRR to JFK (it’s much faster than the subway)
- Take NJ transit from Penn Station to Newark (it’s 30 minutes door to door and so cheap)
- Take the airport shuttle to LGA (it picks up at various points in the city and also takes you back)
5. Save On The Little Things
Yes, put down that Starbucks cup and just drink the brewed coffee at the office. You may think that having a Starbucks 5x a week is making you a more positive and productive person, but really it’s just draining your bank account. Did you know that you can buy a jug of cold brew from the store for about $6 and it makes 5+ cups of iced coffee? Store it in your work fridge and save yourself that $25. It all adds up. For me, it’s things like that that end up making a big difference at the end of a month.
So let’s get saving! I haven’t done many posts like this before, so let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your tips on how you save, too!