In May, my husband, Tyler, and I bought a house in the suburbs of New York City.
We had lived in Manhattan for six years, so the move was a big adjustment. It was an exciting time in our lives — and it felt like a fresh start.
So a week or so after moving in, I thought to myself, now would be the perfect time to make some positive lifestyle changes.
Tyler and I decided we wanted to kill a few bad habits — like watching too much TV and buying unhealthy lunches every day — and vowed to form better ones.
Sure, it had crossed our minds that we’d probably also save some money along the way. But that wasn’t our main motivation, so we hadn’t thought too much about it. But after noticing that my credit card bill has been lower these past few months, I decided to find out why.
You guessed it: Those lifestyle changes have been saving us way more than we thought they would.
Here are the six small changes we made — and how much money they save us per month:
Change 1: We started preparing and bringing lunch to work.
Before May, we almost never brought lunches with us to work.
Every day, I’d run to the pizzeria next door to my office for a salad (which was always drenched in fattening dressing), or the sandwich shop a few blocks away for a (greasy) veggie panini. Sometimes I’d order sushi or Thai food.
Tyler did the same.
We decided when we moved into our new home that we wanted to be healthier, and we began preparing lunch at home and bringing it with us to work.
No, we don’t do this every day — but our goal is to make lunch at least four times per week. As a result, our waistlines feel slimmer, and our wallets fatter.
To figure out exactly how much we’re saving, we recently looked at our credit card statements and did the math.
Before, we were each spending, on average, $11 a day on lunch. That’s a total of $110 per workweek, which is about $485 per month (if a month has 4.4 weeks).
Now we buy groceries every Sunday night and spend about $25 total on ingredients we use to make our lunches for the week.
So assuming we each still order or go out for lunch once per workweek, that means we’re now spending a total of about $205 per month.
Monthly savings: about $280
Change 2: We started cooking dinner more often.
For the same reasons we started making lunch, we’ve made an effort to cook dinner at home more often.
When we lived in the city, we had a tiny kitchen with an even smaller refrigerator (I’m talking mini fridge!) and almost no counter space. Oh, and did I mention that we didn’t have an oven? Don’t get me wrong — it was a great apartment. But it wasn’t all that conducive to cooking.
So we ordered in — almost every night. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad habit.
Not only were we eating not-so-healthy food, but we were spending a ridiculous amount of money.
About six nights per week, we’d dish out around $25 for dinner, including the tip for the delivery person. (And one night a week, on average, we’d go out for a nicer dinner — which we still do.)
We were spending $150 for six dinners per week. That’s about $660 per month.
Now we still go out about once a week for a nicer dinner — but for the six nights we cook, we spend about $50 on dinner groceries per week. That means we now spend about $220 per month on dinner (not including the four or five times we go out).
Monthly savings: about $440
Change 3: We gave up cable.
We’ve never watched much TV, but a few months before we moved, I started to get into this habit of picking up the remote whenever I had some free time.
And I didn’t like it.
So Tyler and I decided that we’d try living without our $100-a-month cable. We do still have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (which we’ve been subscribing to for years) — so it’s not as if we’re totally depriving ourselves.
Monthly savings: $100
Read more @