With money tight these days and my expenses higher than they should be, I’ve recently undertaken an effort to be more economical and lower my core costs. These costs include those allocated for housing, transportation, and food.
First, I worked to lower my housing costs by refinancing my mortgage, specifically by reducing the terms of my loan and saving myself a decade-and-a-half’s worth of interest. As a veteran, I looked to sites such as vamortgage.com and searched out a streamlined IRRRL refinance approach. This method allowed me to reduce my mortgage length from 30 to 15 years, thereby saving me considerably in the long term.
Next, I turned my attention to transportation costs. Like most Americans, a substantial percentage of my regular transportation expense is tied up in the daily commute I make going to and from work. In the past I have made my commute alone and in my car every day, insuring that my monthly gas costs remained particularly high. My new plan entailed reducing those solo driving days in half from 22 per month to 12. The remaining 12 days are now restricted to commutes that include carpooling, biking, running, or taking public transit – anything less costly than driving alone.
Finally, I addressed by last core cost – food – by taking an three step approach towards reducing my monthly food budget. Before implementing the plan, my monthly expenses usually fell somewhere around $300, a figure that the Department of Agriculture deems slightly above moderate for a male of my age. My goal was to cut $90 out of this budget and bring my spending in line with the USDA’s “thrifty” food expense range.
Three Ways How I Plan to Cut Food Costs
Here’s what I did to cut out those $75:
- Restrict restaurant, coffee shop, and fast food purchases to the weekends. While it is always tempting to go out for lunch during the week and order in dinner after a long day at the office, there are considerable savings to be had by limiting your “leisure food” spending to the weekends only. Doing so helped me cut $30 out of my monthly budget.
- Go vegetarian. The average person spends a highly disproportionate amount of their food budget on beef, chicken, and other meat products. Eating vegetarian (at least when shopping at the grocery store) can help you easily replace those high-cost items with far cheaper beans, nuts, and lentils. I saved about $35 per month on this step.
- Plan meals out beforehand. In the past, I would go to the grocery store and buy whatever items I thought necessary. Many of these, of course, were ultimately not as necessary as I thought; some I ate but didn’t really need to, while others sat for weeks in my fridge before getting tossed. My new approach is to plan out all my meals for a two-week period before going to the store. This makes the shopping process less overwhelming, saves me the trouble of deciding what to eat every night, and it also helps reduce my food budget in the process – according to my estimate, by $25 per month.
This three-step plan helped me reduce by food budget by my target goal of $90 per month. While $90 may not seem like a huge amount of money, it nonetheless equates to a savings of over $1000 dollars every year. And by limiting restaurant visits, eating less meat, and planning out my weekly meals, I can only benefit from a health perspective as well. If you’re looking to cut your food budget, you might want to give this three-step approach a try.
Guest Post by Amanda