How We’ve Cut Our Expenses by $4,380/Year

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We've found a way to cut $4,380 of spending out of our budget. Learn how you can do the same.

When I started this blog, we were living on a really tight budget.  It’s still tight, to be honest, but there’s a little more room to breathe these days.  (Or do things like build a pretty decent emergency fund and save for a house.)

Part of the reason things have gotten better is that our income has increased.  When you’re low-income, this is one of the best ways to eradicate your financial woes.  It hasn’t been an easy or quick process, but it has been the #1 thing that’s helped us on our journey.

But another huge reason things have gotten better is that we’ve cut our expenses in a big way.  We’ve looked at our monthly bills and slashed them.  Now that we’ve gotten to a point where increased income is possible, that extra money that would have gone to major corporations can now be saved and invested into our future.  There’s lots of little ways we’ve saved in our day-to-day life, but these are the three big ones that have been consistent and major game changers:

1.  We cut our cable.  $1,440 savings/year.

Initially, this was a painful process.  We had to have cable for the best sports packages.  We are from Pittsburgh, after all.  Not every Penguins game and hardly any Pirates games are on broadcast TV.  Then, since we had the bigger package anyways, why not tack on HBO for $20/month?  Game of Thrones, anyone?

But the price tag was insane.  We were paying $170/month for our internet and cable.  That number was unacceptable.  So we cut it.  We waited to go in on buying seasons of Game of Thrones on Blu-Ray/DVD with friends when they came out.  The husband gets a lot of his hockey fix via radio.  Missing Pirates games is still painful, but in a real pinch we can visit our friends who still pay for the bigger packages.  Or even just go to the game itself.

When we cut it, we found out that by keeping the basic-est of basic cable we actually reduced our internet bill.  So now we pay $50/month.  If we just had internet, it would be closer to $56.  The savings, my friends, is worth it.

2.  We switched cell phone carriers. $1,560/year.

We always knew our cell phone bill was too high.  We tried to take the smallest packages, and only got a smart phone when our carrier didn’t have a flip phone option for us at renewal.  Then something amazing happened.  I discovered Republic Wireless.  Before we were paying $180 + occasional mystery charges to one of the major providers.  When we switched, we got fancier phones and a bigger data package for $50/month total for the both of us.  Same service at an astronomically lower price?  I don’t know why everybody doesn’t do it.  (Unless Sprint has shoddy service in your area.  Then you shouldn’t do it.)

3.  We paid off one of our cars.  And kept it.  $1,380/year.

I’m not completely against car loans.  I’m probably one of the few frugal bloggers who will say that, because a car is a depreciating asset.  I used to drive beaters, and they all cost me a ton of money in repairs and inconveniences.  So to buy a barely-used car that wouldn’t have as many problems was a no-brainer for us.  Significantly less spent on maintenance monthly.  Significantly less than we would have spent on a loan for a brand, sparkling new automobile.

In 2012 I paid off my car completely.  I paid it off a few months early, saving about $60 in interest.  Not a lot, but you know what they say about a penny saved….  More importantly we kept that car.  We take good care of it, and while it’s not the sexiest thing on earth and is a decade out of style, it’s still serving us well 3 years later.  (Knock on wood for me!)

That car payment was about $115/month.  By kicking it to the curb, and driving our vehicle until it bites the dust, we’ve saved $1,380/year, assuming that we could get a similar loan on a vehicle that was only a year out of style.

We cut our expenses by a grand total of $4,380/year.

Like I said before, there are still little things we do everyday that add up in a big way, but if you have to or want to cut your budget by thousands, look into those monthly bills.  Look into the services you’re likely paying too much for.  When you finish paying something off, don’t immediately search to replace it with the latest and greatest thing.  Our cable cut allowed us to learn to live on less.  Our cell phone switch allowed us to get more for our money.  And paying off and keeping our car taught us to appreciate and take care of what we have.

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32 thoughts on “How We’ve Cut Our Expenses by $4,380/Year

  1. taylorqlee

    Great tips for saving! I’ve been trying to get our ISP to cut our internet bill, but no luck so far. Like you, for whatever reason the lowest we can go is bundled with basic cable so we have an unused TV box sitting in our living room.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Ha! I hear you on that. The husband doesn’t want to lose the HD in his HDTV, so we just use the antennae in the living room, anyways.

      Reply
  2. Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore

    Great savings tips. The only reason I haven’t switched to Republic wireless (or something similar) is because they don’t ever have service in my very rural area. Otherwise I would do it in a heartbeat. I currently pay about $102/month for my 1 cell phone and I hate doing it. I’m also cutting my TV subscription in June (when my contract is up). That’ll save me about $60/month.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Yay for cutting back the TV! And I’m hoping that major carriers other than Sprint will open up their towers to smaller carriers in the future. I don’t know if that’s technically possible, but I also don’t see how their business is viable long-term if they don’t.

      Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Writing this post seriously made me want to go through and find the other things we’ve trimmed down….we’re probably saving a whole lot more than we realize!

      Reply
  3. Prudence Debtfree

    I really admire you for living with these cuts in expenses even when you’ve had a salary raise. The saying, “Your cost-of-living rises to meet your income” is not true of you. Your formula of lower cost-of-living combined with higher salary is a very promising one!

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Thanks so much, Prudence! If we want to get ahead, upping that cable package again is going to get us no where fast. The status quo is still not acceptable in my book. We’ve had a long journey, and we’re still on it, but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Ms. S

    That cable bill was high, great savings there! I used to always get calls from my dealership about trading up my car for a newer model. I always tell them I am a life long owner. Therefore if it’s still moving, I’m still driving. They stopped calling.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Nice! Usually even after our car dies we can still trade it in for a reduction on the next loan, too. Because all dying means is that it would cost us more money to fix it than it’s worth. But the dealership can still make something off of it. I’m usually all against debt, and being upside down on a depreciating asset is never a good thing, but neither is owning a total clunker that sucks up money and time.

      Reply
  5. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    Nice job! I think cutting cable when you a sports fan is more difficult than if you’re not. I wasn’t happy about having a car loan again, but it was a used car and small loan with great interest, so I feel a little less guilty. And my old car died…I had no choice but to get a new one.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Yeah, the sports definitely put a little more sting into it! Those are the best kind of car loans, in my opinion. And I hear you. We need cars to function in our family, too. Extreme frugality will criticize, but it’s reality for us. Better than driving a beater that sucks up just as much money in repairs. And you always have the option to pay that loan off early.

      Reply
  6. Chonce

    Those are significant savings. I also cut cable and my phone plan last year and switched to Republic Wireless. Now I only pay $10/month. I’m working on the car note though.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Yay! Another Republic fan! Nice job on the cable, too! We still have one loan out in our family for one of our vehicles. It’s getting pretty small, though.

      Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Honestly, initially these cuts allowed us to just get by. I would have loved to invest the difference, but we were in a situation where our expenses far outweighed what we were pulling in every month.

      Since the income’s increased, though, there has been some small amount of investing. (Better than none!) And with the cuts to the phone bill, which are relatively recent, we’ve been building a nest egg for a house.

      Reply
      1. binabug

        oh def invest in a house …we got lucky because we got our house before the housing market went up in our area …PIT for our two bedroom is $435/month and we’ve been here for 13 yrs now, so 1.5 yrs and its paid off 🙂 … I was horrified when my son moved to the city and paid $1000 for a two bedroom apt … and now, even in our town, places are renting for high due to it being a mining town

        Reply
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  8. binabug

    nice !! we’ve never had cable, we’ve only got one cell phone which hubby needs for work and we only have one car we paid cash for (its a two door ford fiesta). I think one of the major things for me with trying to reign in my spending, is do I want it? or do I need it? Even my husband has gone from spending $200 a month on lunches to about $20 by just bringing his own food with him and eating in his work truck instead. (I just eat leftovers at work , including any that we produce lol)

    Reply
  9. Saving Sanely

    Great ideas! I love seeing what others do to cut their monthly expenses! My lease on my car is up this year so I’m looking to either buy it out or try a cheaper used car to hopefully soon be car payment free as well! Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Tennille

    It’s amazing how much simple things can save you over the course of the year! We cut our cable last fall and haven’t missed it at all!

    By the way saw your link over on The Penny Hoarders Facebook page. Very cool! :o)

    Reply
  11. Rachyl @ On My Fridays Off

    These are such great points! A lot of people pay off their cars and then run out and buy another! The best thing to do it pay off your car (early if you can!) and then take that amount and either put it towards debt or into a car savings. That way you never have to have a car loan again!

    We also don’t have cable. We use Netflix and Sling, and we share the accounts with family. Netflix has great pricing for multiple streaming.

    We haven’t done the cell phone one yet because I am nervous to do it. There aren’t a lot of options that allow for decent service where we live. Hopefully that changes soon and we can switch to save a lot of money!

    Reply

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