Money Management

5 Things That Will Make a Big Difference to Your Monthly Budget

By  Karen Banes

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Often we try to save money and fail. But occasionally we save money when we genuinely weren’t trying to. These decisions have impacted my monthly budget significantly, even though that wasn’t my intention when I made them. Occasionally you really do save money when you’re not trying to.

1. Living in a Walkable Neighborhood

I moved house right at the beginning of the pandemic. It was a move that worked well for us in the short to medium term (given our goals for the next 2 years), but the new place was never intended to be our ‘forever home’ so I really didn’t do as much research as I should have. Therefore it was more luck than judgment that I landed in an extremely walkable community. I can walk to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the post office, the library, the doctor’s office, my dentist, my hairdresser, a yoga studio, a gym and numerous restaurants, bars and cafes.

The small town I live in is pedestrianized in the center, with parking available on the outskirts of town. I already live on the outskirts of town, so there would literally be nowhere to park that’s closer than my own home. My car doesn’t move much these days. In fact, as a family of four adults, with two young adult offspring, we’ve taken one of our three cars off the road completely for now. Less money on gas, insurance, maintenance and repairs. Less mileage and wear and tear on the cars. More steps per day and better health for all of us. It’s a win-win-win.

2. Committing to Sustainability

If you’re not yet convinced that sustainable living is the way to go, do a little research on the topic. Consider watching The Story of Stuff to put things in perspective. The amount of unnecessary stuff in the world (and the amount of it already sitting in landfills) is heart-breaking. Sustainable living doesn’t have to be about depriving yourself of nice stuff. It’s simply about being a lot more mindful about what you buy and where you buy it from.

Sustainable living also doesn’t have to be expensive, although many sustainable, eco-friendly brands are extremely over-priced (and some of them aren’t as sustainable as they claim). A simpler, more affordable and more effective approach is to buy a lot less, and buy used rather than new when practical. When you buy less you spend less, and you don’t necessarily live any worse. Here are some of the things I’ve done with the one and only goal of living more sustainably:

· Shopped second-hand (via eBay, FaceBook marketplace, Depop, Vinted, community markets and charity bring-and-buy sales)

· Re-discovered my local library so I don’t have to buy books (and discovered that you can even borrow eBooks from the library)

· Discovered peer-to-peer rental sites like Fat Llama and KitSplit to rent rarely needed items

· Asked friends and family to borrow rarely needed items I know they already own

The aim may have been sustainable living. The unintended result has been more money in the bank.

3. Being a Minimalist

The benefits of becoming a minimalist are far-reaching. Minimalism takes sustainable living further and involves not only buying less, but also getting rid of what you already own. Whether you sell it (putting money in your own pocket) or donate it (freeing yourself of some of the expenses of ownership) becoming more minimalist is generally a sound financial decision as well as an emotionally healthy one.

4. Eating Less Meat

Eating less meat is both a health choice and a move to more sustainable living for many people. It also tends to cut your grocery bills. A recent study found that a fully vegan diet resulted in grocery bills of around 40% less than a diet including meat. And you’ve probably noticed that the cheapest option in most restaurants is the meat-free one.

You don’t have to go vegan of course, but if you’re cutting down on meat for health or environmental reasons, you’re likely to do your budget a favor at the same time. Still convinced that large quantities of meat are an essential part of every human diet? You might find the documentary The Game Changers interesting.

5. Living in a Small (or Tiny) Home

I’ve lived long enough on the planet now to know that square footage isn’t a metric for happiness, health, or anything else. Tiny home living isn’t for everyone, but downsizing to a smaller home can make you happier and richer. We’ve already touched briefly on the expenses of ownership, even when it comes to things. The expenses of homeownership are much more significant and are often related to the size of your home (along with other factors of course).

Moving to a smaller home isn’t always practical, but if you’re retiring, empty nesting, divorcing or going through other major life changes, now might be the time to give it some thought. Simplifying, decluttering and downsizing can be the first step to a better life with more money for many people.

Karen Banes

About the Author

Karen Banes

I’m a freelance writer specializing in online business, personal finance, travel and lifestyle. I also work as a content creator for hire, helping brands and businesses tell their stories, grow their audiences, and reach their ideal customers. I’ve lived, worked and studied in six countries, across three continents. Stop by my blog TheSavvySolopreneur.net to learn how to run your own (very) small business on your own terms. You can also connect with me at my website KarenBanes.com or follow me on Medium.com

Disclaimer: In order to make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers including financial professionals who pay to be featured on our platform. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor promotion of our clients over other professionals not featured on Wealthtender. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.

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