I was always so jealous of the few lucky kids who found money in their Easter eggs. Don’t get me wrong, candy is great, but money is better. As an adult, I stand by that statement, which is why this Easter, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the adult version of Easter eggs.
Rather than finding money hidden in some plastic eggs, you can go above and beyond and find the money you likely lost track of in your budget.
Whether you’re trying to build up a financial safety net, save up for a big expense, or just want to purchase an unhealthy amount of marshmallow peeps, these strategies can help you save a little extra each month towards your goals.
1. Monitor recurring expenses
Most people have recurring monthly expenses, whether that means rent, a monthly mortgage payment, utility bills, car payments, or another expense that’s billed once a month. These recurring monthly expenses can often eat up a large chunk of income each month, so it’s important to monitor them carefully and keep track of where your money is going.
It’s a good idea to make a list of all recurring monthly expenses, including necessary bills like rent and electricity as well as non-essential monthly recurring spending. Once you have all of these monthly costs written down, you may want to consider taking a break from some of the non-essential items on your list.
2. Cut back on subscriptions
There’s now a subscription for just about everything – from streaming services like Netflix and Spotify to subscriptions for meal kits, fresh produce, razors, apps, and more. When taken together, these subscriptions can add up to a sizable monthly expense, and since many of them are on auto-pay, it’s easy to lose track of exactly what you’re paying for.
Since many subscriptions are billed monthly, it can also be easy to pay more than you mean to per year. For example, a $15 per month subscription adds up to $180 per year. You should think carefully about what subscriptions provide value in your life, and what subscriptions you could do without.
3. Trim your grocery budget
No matter how frugal you are at the grocery store, odds are that food likely still makes up a significant part of your budget each month. That said, there are plenty of ways to save on food and lower your monthly spending when it comes to groceries and takeout. These include:
- Cooking at home. Cooking your own food is almost always less expensive than ordering takeout.
- Buying in bulk. If you can afford the upfront cost, buying in bulk usually results in a cheaper cost per serving for shelf-stable staples like rice, beans, canned goods, and more.
- Shop different stores for sales and special items. While it may be tempting to stick to your favorite, familiar grocery store for weekly shopping trips, be sure to check out sales and special discounted items from other stores.
- Trying new recipes. If you’re stuck in a dinner rut and trying to save money, consider checking out frugal but tasty recipes from sites like Budget Bytes.
4. Take a DIY approach
While some things are better left to the professionals, there’s often a lot of savings potential to taking a DIY approach to basic expenses. Whether you give your own hair a trim, treat yourself to a DIY manicure, or take a crafty, homemade approach to home decor, doing things yourself can pay off when it comes to your wallet.
Taking a DIY approach can also help you to learn new things and master new skills!
5. Skip a trip to the mechanic
Car maintenance can be a little intimidating, even for people comfortable taking a DIY approach in other areas of their lives. That said, there are plenty of basic maintenance tasks that you can complete at home without needing to involve a mechanic. These include:
- Changing your air filter.
- Changing your windshield wipers.
- Completing an oil change.
- Replacing headlight bulbs.
- Washing and vacuuming your car.
A quick search on YouTube can bring up dozens of videos that teach you how to do all of these things and more.
6. Go generic
Another hidden “Easter egg” when it comes to budgeting is to seek out the generic brand of your favorite products. This advice applies to a wide range of items, from prescription and over-the-counter medicine to clothing and cereal.
In many cases, you’re paying extra for name-brand products and can save a few dollars each month just by switching to the generic version of the same product.
7. Shop around for insurance
Yes, it’s what all the insurance companies tell you to do on TV, but it really is true! Regularly shopping around for insurance products and comparing rates from different providers can help you to lower your monthly premiums and save you money. This applies to many types of consumer insurance products, including life insurance, auto insurance, renters insurance, homeowners insurance, and pet insurance, just to name a few.
Insurance marketplaces, like Policygenius, can help you to compare rates online in a matter of minutes, making it quick and easy to find an insurance policy that works for your budget.
If you’re already satisfied with your current insurance provider but receive offers for a lower rate from competitors, you can reach out to your current insurance company and see if they will match the rate.
8. Save on cell phone plans
Cell phone plans can get pricey fast, especially if you’re already paying a monthly fee for a new phone. However, cell phone providers do often run recurring deals and specials for both new and returning customers. If you’re trying to lower your cell phone bill, consider calling up your cell phone provider to see if they’re able to give you a discount. Depending on what options you have in your area, you may also want to switch to a different provider with lower rates.
Hidden banking fees are annoying, unnecessary, and best avoided if at all possible. If your bank charges you a monthly maintenance fee, fees for services like ATM withdrawals, or fees if you fail to keep a certain minimum balance in your account, the good news is that there are plenty of fee-free options available to switch to.
Online financial apps like Chime® are great options if you’re looking to switch to a financial app that offers very few fees, has no monthly maintenance fees, no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no minimum monthly balance requirement. 22 There’s no fee for the Chime Savings Account. Cash withdrawal and Third-party fees may apply to Chime Checking Accounts. You must have a Chime Checking Account to open a Chime Savings Account.
10. Keep track of your spending
One of the most important strategies for unearthing hidden “Easter eggs” in your monthly budget is to keep careful track of your spending. Tracking your spending can help you to identify patterns in where you spend money, spot areas that you could potentially cut back in, and more effectively manage your money so that you’re aware of where every dollar goes.
Budgeting tools like YNAB can be a great way to keep track of spending digitally. Many banking apps also come with built-in budgeting tools that help you track and analyze your spending. That said, an old-fashioned pen-and-paper budget or a simple spreadsheet can be just as effective.
Even if you’re already on a tight budget, there are plenty of areas where a little hunting can help to unearth some serious savings. Even just making a few small changes in your life can enable you to get a better handle on your monthly spending and set yourself up for financial success!