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Small Ways to Save without Cutting Lattes


Is there anything better than sipping on a morning cup of coffee after a groggy wake up? Rolling out of bed after hitting the snooze button three times. It’s one of those days where things just aren’t working. Mornings are crunch time and you have to get out the door before traffic gets bad. The only redeeming quality for this time is stopping by your nearest Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts to pick up that sweeeet and joyful latte.

It’s the the little things, right? Right.

Despite your addicting latte habit, you’re trying to save some money. There are the big ticket items to go through (cutting cable, eating out, looking for ways to save on car insurance) but what about the small stuff? I like to call them money leaks.

Money leaks are areas where you don’t really notice your money slipping away. If you’re a person without a budget (which let’s be honest, most don’t have one), then the money is gone before you fully realize it.

*cue the horror showdown that happens when you look at your bank account*

I wonder what amounts like an extra $30 or $50 or even $100 per month could bring me. Right now it’s all about paying off student loans. Maybe it’s different for you.


I love Spotify, I mean I really love it. It’s playlists make it so much better than Pandora. It just gets me, ya know? Haha. Anyways, despite the love, I recently cut it. I mainly used it for ambient music while working and dealing with ads wasn’t as bad as I thought. $10.81 per month saved.

Photoshop was the next thing I cut. I did graphic design stuff in college and used it a lot. As time went on, I realized using things like PicMonkey or Affinity Photo are cheaper alternatives. $10.81 per month saved.

I’m willing to bet, subscription expenses have risen for many people. There are clothing and jeweler services like Bombfell and Roxbox and magazine, music, cloud storage, and other subscriptions that can drain away money.

I saved $21.62 per month eliminating some of my subscriptions, how much can you save?


I’m not just talking about alcoholic beverages here. I used to go to the grocery store and get those individual packs of beverages to drink.Snapple’s only cost one dollar, so I would load up on them.

Have people forgotten about drink mixes? Koolaid! That Country Hill lemonade stuff I always see. With these you can make quarts and have beverages for only a handful of change each.

Also, next time you go to the bar for happy hour with friends, just get a water or cranberry juice, it’s cheaper and you’re morning self will thank you. 🙂


Be honest with yourself, do you ever actually use your gym membership? You saw that New Years crossfit commercial, dropped the candy and ran to the nearest gym to sign up. Now it’s March and you’ve only been once.

Personally I still have a gym membership since I regularly attend it. My membership is to Planet Fitness and it only costs $21.70 per month. Super affordable compared to most others.

Evaluate whether you use your gym membership or not. There are lots of free workout/yoga/zumba workouts online. Consider looking into lower cost gyms as well.

Expensive Cell Phone Plans

Why. Do. People. Pay. So.Much. For. Their. Cell.Phones???

Seriously though, people spend a ridiculous amount on their cell phone plans every month. Did you know the average American now spends around $110 per month on their cell phones.

I’m with Cricket and I spend $35 a month (taxes and fees included). I get unlimited talk/text and 2.5gb high speed data. Check out Cricket, Republic Wireless, or Ting if you want to lower your cell phone bill.

Credit Card Interest

I don’t have much experience with this considering how I just got my first credit card back in October and it has 0% APR for the first year. But my personal banker did tell me people throw away money on credit card interest a lot. The best way to combat this is to call the company and see if there are any promotional offers or other ways to lower your interest rate.

I’m still looking into different ways money “leaks” from my bank account. I’m stopped renting Redbox movies, don’t get “convenience foods” at the grocery store or gas station as much and cut down on my subscriptions.

I still get to get my morning coffee! Granted I don’t go to Starbucks every weekday (more like 1-2 times a week), it’s still nice to find ways to cut expenses without sacrificing coffee runs.

What are ways you’ve cut expenses? Do you still drink+enjoy a morning latte? 

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How to Save on Home Entertainment Costs

home entertainment cost savingsHome entertainment costs are something people should pay more attention to.

Growing up, my parents always had the largest cable package, complete with all the fancy channels like HBO and Starz (they were a super luxury back then!). As a kid, even before the “cord cutting revolution” started, I found it silly to have a cable subscription. Why do you need 200+ channels when you only watch 10 or 15 of them? My 10-year-old brain racked itself over and over with questions. Why pay for cable when you have DVDs and other forms of entertainment?

I walked up to my parents one day and told them they needed to cancel their cable subscription. Their reaction? What? No! We NEED cable! Then they proceeded to tell my how I would have to give up all my kid shows if they cancelled cable. I wouldn’t want that, right? No. To prove them wrong, I went over a month without watching any of my kid shows on the Disney Channel in order to show I could survive without cable (who would have thought?!).

At the end of my month without cable, they commended what I did, but still continued with their cable subscription.

Whenever people are looking to cut expenses, the first thing the personal finance world says is to cut cable. And for good reason, it’s probably the priciest thing on your home entertainment expenses. But what about people who don’t want to cut cable? How do they lower home entertainment costs while still staying part of the cord?

I have a confession to make, I’m a cord never. I bet you don’t hear that term a lot. It means I’ve never been a subscriber to cable. I don’t think I ever will be a cable subscriber, despite what the cable industry thinks.

Below are some possible ways to go about saving on home entertainment costs.

Antenna + streaming player (cutting the cord)

This is a popular option. You can get an antenna for your TV to be able to watch local channels (FOX, ABC, CBS, etc) and then use a streaming player (Roku and Amazon Fire Stick are popular options).

Once you get these items, you pick out which streaming platforms to subscribe to.

  • Netflix (per month: $7.99 for basic, $9.99 for standard, $11.99 for top package)
  • Hulu (per month: $7.99 basic, ad-supported, $11.99 ad-free)
  • Amazon Prime ($8.25 a month, billed annually at $99)
  • Sling TV ($20 per month, $5-15 per month extra for add-ons)
  • Vudu
  • iTunes
  • Crackle

Thoughts on how to save money with this route: People still know Hulu has a free option, right? As long as your okay with waiting a week or so for episodes to come out, you can rid yourself of the $8-12 per month cost.

Netflix. When signing up for Netflix, it defaults to the $9.99 per month middle plan. Do you really need that though? Consider whether you are able to opt for the $7.99 per month (1 stream) plan rather than the $9.99 per month (2 stream) plan.

Streaming player: Many recommend a Roku 2 or 3 when getting a streaming player. The cheaper Roku stick will do just fine. Save $20-40 bucks).

Look at your cable bill closely + cut what you don’t need

Did you know I used to work for a cable company? Yep, I did. More on that in a later post :). Since I worked at a cable company, I know first hand how they would upsell people.

Get home phone service free for 12 months! HBO and Showtime free for six months! Two-year price lock guarantee! 

Can you guess what would happen? People would sign up and get these promotional offers, then the promotional offers would end and people would forget to cancel them and continue to pay for the extras.

I know so many people who had $20-30 charges for home phone service they never used. Look at your bill and cut what you don’t need.

You don’t need as much internet speed as you think

It’s worth mentioning again, I used to work at a cable company and would see people get super fast internet packages when they would have been perfectly okay with a lower, and less expensive, package.

5mbps download speed is needed to run Netflix smoothly. If you’re a single person or a couple, you can get by with the 6mbps download package many companies provide. If you have a family of 4-5, you can get by with about 18mbps or 25mbps download speed that companies provide.

You don’t need a Smart TV

Seriously, it’s usually cheaper to just buy a regular flatscreen+streaming player rather than buying a Smart TV.

I mentioned above how I am a cord-never. Well, there was one time I did have cable. During my 2nd year of college, I lived in an apartment where cable and internet was included. I used the cable a grand total of one time during the entire year I lived in the apartment.

Now I use Netflix+Amazon Prime (which I got at a discounted price of $49 per year). As of this writing, I only have Amazon Prime. I took a different approach with my Netflix, I only sign up when I need it. Only a few months out of the year (three or six months) I pay for Netflix. I started doing this a while back after noticing I only used my Netflix when my favorite shows premiered (Orange is the New Black, Arrested Development, etc).

How do you save on home entertainment costs? What tools+products do you use? 

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Don’t Kill My (Savings) Vibe


I have a confession. I don’t have a budget. I sort of have one, a kind of “halfway budget” if you will. Not a full “real” budget though. When I made the dive into learning more about personal finance, the first thing recommended (and then repeated over and over) was how I needed a budget.

Budgets are essential.

Budgets keep you accountable.

Without a budget, you won’t know where your money is going each month!

That’s what I was being told as I read those endless articles on starting a budget. Nothing was wrong with them. They were great and packed full of super helpful information. There were some problems though. First off, I tried putting them into practice and none of them really stuck. Second, the budgets created a guideline many people didn’t/don’t seem to want to venture out of.

Let’s look at some of those budgets.

50/20/30 Rule

I heard about this budget over and over. I can see why, the percentages are a good rule of thumb to follow. 50% of your income goes to essentials (rent, food, transportation, and utilities), the necessities of life. There are ways to save in this category. Move to places with lower rent, get roommates, a full-efficient car, meal plan and don’t eat out often and so forth.

20% are for financial obligations. You pay these after the 50% but before the last part. The 20% goes towards savings account, retirement planning, and paying off debt.

The last part, 30%, is all for the flex spending. Some consider it the “treat yourself” money of the budget. It is, sort of. This one is for day to day expenses: gas (including swirving past that slow driving on the freeway), entertainment (cocktails add up, haha), hobbies (all the books!) and any other miscellaneous expenses.

Envelope System

A simple, bare bones budget. This no frills budget can be used by many, but it seems better suited for someone who is a former swipe addict or the type of person who has a habit of not checking. Anyways…

You have several envelopes. Each of them with a different category. Groceries. Rent. Utilities. Insurance. And so on. This is a good budget for someone just starting out or for someone who really wants to know where all their money is going.

There are other types of budgets, but the two above are the ones I tried out and had some success with. I also tried out Mint, the online budgeting system. I didn’t even like that. Even though the budgets were great, none of them really stuck. Ya know?

I felt bad about not having a budget. Was I destined to spiral into a life of credit card debt and other debts because I didn’t have a budget? Scary, right? Not anymore though. I do something a little differently now. Good ol’ pen and paper! Yep, that’s right, Something super plain and simple.

Every month I get out a piece of paper and on one side I write out the target amount I want to save and the limit I need to spend in order to reach that savings goal. For example, let’s say a person makes $2,000 a month and wants to save $500. To reach the goal, they would need to make sure their expenses aren’t over $1,500 for the month.

This pseudo-budget/what-cha-ma-call-it does have some problems. What if a person wants to save more but can’t because of bills and expenses? That is where the topic of earning more (via raises at work or doing side hustles) comes into play and that’s a whole other post for another day.

I work with my money this sort of way because it works for me. It works for me way more than any of the other things attempted. The budgets killed my savings vibe. As instructed, I spent the time making sure my expenses meet the necessary categories.

I became so invested all the time in tracking my expenses and putting everything into little boxes. The budgets seemed to focus more on how much to save rather than how much to live off.

In the end, the whole task of budgeting left me exhausted and feeling restricted. So I abandoned the budget. And as I talked with other people, I learned many others felt intimidated about budgeting. They felt unsure about it and you can guess what would usually happen…they would abandon the idea of having any sort of budget and continue to go on, blindly sending their money into the abyss.

No0o0o0o0!! It does not have to be this way.

People look at the budgets and think:

“I can’t save that amount of money each month!” 

“My rent costs more than the listed percentage on the budget. There’s no way to follow it!”

Or worse…

“Okay, I’m saving 10% just like the budget says, so that means I can use any leftover money to treat myself! Yay!” 

Budgets and managing your money doesn’t have to feel restrictive. A person should continue to look for ways to cut their expenses, save more, and make more. Saving 10% and then calling it a day isn’t how to do it.

If you feel exhausted and/or restricted by budgeting, just grab a pen and paper. Or hey, do whatever works for you! Look into the anti-budget recommended by Afford Anything. Just remember to have some sort of budget. They’re *kind of* important.

What has your budgeting journey been like? Let me know how your budget works for you and how you personalize it!

Photo credit



How $240 Brought Me Happiness


You ever have that hankering to buy something you aren’t even sure how to justify? The day gets slow and your thoughts immediately goes to that thing on your mind. The one sitting in your Amazon cart that you keep putting in and taking back out. Or maybe it’s at a store. You make up excuses about needing to do an impromptu grocery run just so you can stop by the store and marvel at the product because it’s so amazing. 

Someone asks “Why do you even want it? Just save your money!”

You’re not dissuaded by what they say. Eyes are still on the prize. The thought of buying it and seeming materialist lingers in the back of your mind. The thing is just an ah so amazing kind of way.

Back when I was in college, working a low-paying crappy food service job and having scant savings, I went through feeling. It was my first semester of college and I wanted to save as much as possible. Despite the mindset of spending only on necessities, something caught my eye. A particular point and shoot camera. Brand: Cannon, higher-end (translation: more pricey) point and shoot camera with several features I liked.

I wasn’t set out on becoming a professional photographer or anything, I just wanted to get a camera and see where it would take me. It wasn’t some fancy DSLR  that would require a month’s rent and part of my soul. However it did require a bit of money: $240 for the camera, bag, memory card, tripod, and extra battery.

Now $240 might not feel like a lot to most but at the time, to my broke college self, it was a lot. With a crappy living situation, an equally crappy job, and a full load of classes, I wanted an outlet to spend time on.

Keep in mind this was the year 2012 when smartphones had already taken over and people’s phones became the default camera option. Point and shoots were a dying breed. For some odd reason, I still wanted one.

This longing had been from a childhood obsession with taking pictures. I would use my allowance to buy a Kodak disposable camera once a month. Using those 27 exposures, I would take pictures of anything and everything. It was so fun.

So on a Sunday night after work, I clicked the purchase button. After putting in and taking it out of my Amazon cart for months, I had finally bought it.

Adrenaline was running high. 

Throughout college and for the next several years I used every bit of that camera. Since carrying a backpack everywhere was looked at as normal for a college student (even when I wasn’t on campus), I was able to take my point and shoot with me almost everywhere. With one of those Eye-fi memory cards, I was able to wirelessly send the photos to my smartphone.

The camera went with me to South by Southwest festival, New Orleans, NYC, Chicago, California, and a bunch of other places. The little piece of machinery, I loved it so much. The camera is still with me to this day (three years of ownership so far). Looking back, even though I was broke and barely getting by, I’m glad I dropped the $240 on the camera.

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Investing in yourself. Investing in your hobbies. That’s what the camera represents to me. (If you’re curious, it was a Canon SX260 HS I bought, the updated model is the Canon SX 610 HS).

Question: What has been something you decided to splurge on? Did you consider it an investment in yourself? Something to fulfill a curiosity or hobby? 

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