The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

In a world where the cost of living continues to skyrocket, many of us have found ourselves searching for ways to save money without sacrificing our daily comforts. From high gas prices to the relentless rise in grocery costs, the struggle to keep up with essential expenses is real, and it's got us all searching for ways to tighten up our budget.

Over the past few months, I've been on a personal mission to tighten the purse strings in my own household, aiming to put an extra $300-ish back in my pocket each month.

From reevaluating my subscriptions and parting ways with premium brands to taking a second look at impulsive buys, I've managed to trim hundreds of dollars off my monthly expenses. The best part? These small changes have barely impacted my day-to-day life.

It's only been a number of weeks, but already I've learned that it's all about the small, almost invisible changes you can make in your daily routine that'll really help you stash away some extra savings.

So here's how I've done it, because, let's face it, we all could use a bit more wiggle room in our budget right now.

Unused subscriptions

Most of us are guilty of paying for a whole bunch of subscriptions that we barely use – including me. I mean, who hasn't fallen into the trap of signing up for countless 30-day free trials, only to forget to cancel them? It wasn't until I decided to take a good, long look at my subscriptions that I realized just how many were collecting digital dust.

I realized I was forking out cash for a grand total of four different streaming services – Netflix basic ($9.99), Amazon Prime ($9.99), Disney+ ($11.99), Apple TV+ ($8.99), and, truthfully, I only really use one of them.

So, I cancelled three of them instantly, saving me a monthly total of about $30 combined. Sure, having a buffet of streaming services at my fingertips was nice, but the freedom to choose just wasn't worth the money I was actually spending.

Then, I took a closer look at the other entertainment and tech services I was paying monthly for. I realised I had also been paying for Apple Arcade at $5.99 (what even is that?) and Audible from Amazon (another free trial that must have recently run out without me noticing). It was fairly quick and easy to put an end to these subscriptions too, and I'd saved even more money.

What surprised me was how long some of the free trials I'd taken out had lasted. Some of them were months long, so it was hardly surprising that I'd forgotten about them by the time I'd started getting charged. Going forward, you can bet I'll be putting those free trial end dates in my calendar.

My advice is to take a good look at your last couple of card statements and cancel anything you're not regularly using and enjoying. Trust me, if you rarely use it, you likely won't miss it.

There are also online services that'll help you find and cancel any active subscriptions that you have, so check those out too if you're already feeling overwhelmed!

Cancelled services:

Amazon Prime ($9.99)

Apple TV+ ($8.99)

Disney+ ($11.99)

Apple Arcade ($5.99)

Audible ($14.95)

Total monthly savings so far: $51.91

Premium products

Without a doubt, one of the most expensive essentials I'm regularly forking out for is groceries, and at this point I'm prepared to try anything to bring down my grocery bill.

One of the recent changes I've made to my grocery cart is to switch out brand-name products for cheaper, unbranded alternatives, especially in cases where, honestly, I'm not even sure I can appreciate the difference.

Examples of branded products I've regularly started swapping out for cheaper alternatives include things like condiments (I'm talking sauces, spices), cooking essentials (like flour, oil and tinned goods), pet supplies, and even toiletry essentials like hand soap and hairspray.

Truthfully, I haven't noticed a major taste or quality difference in the products I have switched out and making the change has saved me a chunk of money. With the price difference each time I shop, I've calculated the savings to be easily $50 per month.

Of course, you don't have to trade in all of your favourite branded items for the generic alternative. Work out what's really important for you to pay more for and stick with it. Everything else, consider at least trying the cheaper option.

Unused subscriptions: $51.91

Premium products: $50.00

Total monthly savings so far: $101.91

Next day delivery on orders

Something I am definitely guilty of is impatience, and until recently I absolutely always chose the "next day delivery" option whenever I placed an online order – no matter what I was buying.

In some cases, there would only be a dollar or two difference between the standard delivery option and the next-day service, but in other cases I'd be forking out almost double just to receive the item a couple of days sooner.

Of course, I've already bid farewell to my Amazon Prime account, which means I'm officially on the path to adapting to longer delivery times. But by curbing my impatience for online orders, I've managed to pocket an extra $10-$15 per month in saved speed fees. Easy!

Unused subscriptions: $51.91

Premium products: $50.00

Next day delivery: $10.00

Total monthly savings so far: $111.91

Unnecessary services

Another set of expenses I've been taking a long, hard look at are the fees I'm regularly paying for services I don't necessarily need right now.

For example, when my partner and I moved into our house, a monthly window cleaning service was in place per the previous owner's request. Although we hesitated to cancel it straight away, two years have since flown by, and the $20 monthly bill has kept coming. Each time payment was due, we'd remind ourselves to cancel, but it kept slipping through the cracks.

Now, consider it finally done!

Another habit I'd gotten into was having a regular manicure – a routine expense that I realized was more out of habit than genuine desire. With my savings goal in mind, I bid adieu to my bi-weekly appointments, pocketing an extra $30 per month.

My advice is to take a second to look at the services you're acquiring regularly, whether it's a car valet, a hair appointment, or something akin to my nail appointment. Ask yourself whether it's really something you want to continue forking out for, or if it's merely a mindless habit that could be trimmed from your budget.

Unused subscriptions: $51.91

Premium products: $50.00

Next day delivery: $10.00

Unnecessary services: $50.00

Total monthly savings so far: $161.91

Eating out

This was by far the hardest thing to cut from my budget, because I love eating out! But my partner and I found that we were regularly grabbing takeout or fast-food on both a Friday night and a Saturday night every week — and spending $80 per week on average too.

When we calculated what we were spending, we realized that there was room for change without sacrificing any quality time together. We made the decision to nix the Friday night fast-food feast and instead opted for cozy evenings at home. We now cook a meal together, pick out a movie, and settle in for the night. Plus, we save about $40 per week, which works out to be around $160 per month!

Unused subscriptions: $51.91

Premium products: $50.00

Next day delivery: $10.00

Unnecessary services: $50.00

Eating out: $160.00

Total monthly savings so far: $321.91

Mobile phone contract

When I was reassessing my subscriptions, I also took a moment to dig a little deeper into my cell phone plan. While I already had a pretty good deal, I noticed that I wasn't actually using as much data, texts, or call minutes as I was paying for.

So, because my plan is not tied into a contract, I was able to call up my service provider, explain the situation, and they adjusted my plan to a more affordable alternative that better matched my usage patterns, resulting in a monthly cost reduction of $7. It's not a whole lot, but it adds up over an entire year.

If you happen to have flexible plans like this, it's definitely worth reaching out to your provider to explore the possibility of downgrading them to better align with your actual usage.

Unused subscriptions: $51.91

Premium products: $50.00

Next day delivery: $10.00

Unnecessary services: $50.00

Eating out: $160.00

Mobile phone contract: $7.00

Total monthly savings so far: $328.91

Unused memberships

Underutilized memberships were the next on my cost cutting board – and it was really only my gym membership that stood out to me as a possible waste of money.

Although it wasn't super expensive at $35 per month, I was only making use of the gym facilities once or twice a week, and even then, I was sticking to the basics like the treadmill or rowing machine.

While I probably could have cancelled the membership altogether, I opted to switch gyms to a much smaller, more basic gym in the same area that charged just $20 per month but that still had the services I would need.

It felt like a win-win situation – I could still get my workouts in, but now I'm also saving a neat $15 each month.

So, if you're hanging onto a subscription or membership that you'd rather not let go of entirely, consider scouting around to see if there's a comparable service elsewhere that comes with a more budget-friendly price tag.

Unused subscriptions: $51.91

Premium products: $50.00

Next day delivery: $10.00

Unnecessary services: $50.00

Eating out: $40.00

Mobile phone contract: $7.00

Unused memberships: $15

Total monthly savings so far: $343.91

Total money saved

In the grand scheme of daily expenses, it's the little adjustments that have made a significant impact on my budget.

By canceling unused subscriptions, downsizing my cell phone plan, and rethinking memberships, I've managed to save around $343.91 each month, which actually adds up to a whopping $4,126.92 across a year. Not bad, right?

2023-09-29T14:31:06Z dg43tfdfdgfd