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Many of us overlook ways to cut costs on necessities when we’re trying to be thrifty. We cut out things we don’t need, but forget about looking for ways to save on things we DO need! Here are a handful of quick and easy ways to cut costs on necessities. Things like shelter, food, gas, and clothing.

1. Housing and Utilities

Renting Versus Buying.

You may think that owning a home is the best way to go, but in this day and age, that might not be the case. You need to run the numbers, but you might be surprised at how much income renting would free up every month.

When you rent, you automatically save on property taxes, maintenance costs, and private mortgage insurance (if you would be required to have that). Depending on where you rent, (i.e. a townhouse versus a single family home) you might save money on lawn care and equipment, snow removal, and other landscaping costs.

Make a list of everything your house is costing you (or ask people for common expenses if you’re not a homeowner) and then research the average rental prices are in your area. If you can use that freed up income to pay down debt or invest elsewhere for a better return, owning might not be all its cut out to be!

We rented for 8 years because the numbers were astronomically different and in our favor. In our situation, we owned a home that was well within our budget. We loved it. However, a great rental opportunity came up and we decided to sell our home and rent. It freed up enough income that I was able to quit my outside job. I loved not having to pay property taxes! If the furnace or septic had an issue, we don’t have to worry about it.

We also saved on utilities. Most landlords pay at least one utility that you’d otherwise be paying for. A water bill or even trash removal will add to your bottom line. You may get an ego boost by owning a home, but if the numbers don’t make sense, just remember – you can’t take anything with you when you’re gone! We are all renters in a sense, even to the government (just try not paying your property taxes)!

We now own our home because again, because we found an amazing deal on a fixer-upper with low taxes in a fantastic area. The numbers made sense with our home and we knew we could remodel it however we wanted. We also only purchased a home that cost us less than 25% of 50% of our combined take-home pay. Although we could have bought twice the house, my husband and I didn’t think it was neccessary and we had other plans for investing our hard earned money. Plus, I had recently launched my virtual assistant business and our combined income went up dramatically, so we were very comfortable with that decision!

House Hacking

Another financially savvy tactic is commonly referred to as house hacking. This is when you buy a multi-family home or a property with an extra guest house, an apartment above the garage, or even a room and rent it out. You then are building equity in real estate while allowing someone else to pay your mortgage, utilities, or at least a portion of them. Whether you lease long-term, or short-term as an Airbnb host, this can save you a fortune over time.

Click here to learn more about becoming an Airbnb Host.

Quick and Easy Ways to Cut Costs on 3 of Life's Necessities

If after you run a cost analysis, it is still better for you to own your home, check and see if you can reduce your utility costs. 

First, decide on what you can do without. Can you cut the cable and just use the internet? Between Netflix, Amazon Prime and their FireTV Stick or Hulu, we don’t feel the need for cable. Shop around at least twice a year for better prices on your utilities. Companies offer promotions that you may not be aware of, or if you switch, the first company will often slash costs to get your business back. Take advantage of this! Try it with cell phone providers too. I have always found the costs to be better with a NO CONTRACT plan. ALWAYS. Now, our situation might be different, or maybe you have spotty coverage with certain providers, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

I use Virgin Mobile Mint Mobile (Updated Jan 2019) and it’s only costing me LESS THAN $22 per month including all taxes and fees. Mint uses the 3 major carriers and has a coverage map as well. I’ve found that it has much better service than Virgin Mobile and the price can’t be beaten! Where I live, Mint uses Verizon’s network for a fraction of the cost and there are no contracts. BONUS – If you sign up with MINT with this link, you’ll get a $15 renewal credit!

Mint Mobile

2. Food

Whether you like to eat a whole food diet, something like paleo (read more about that here) or are just trying to save some money, Aldi is the best! They consistently have the best prices even without coupons. Which also saves time. Their quality is top notch and I’ve found that I’ve been more creative with my recipes due to their limited selection. Honestly, limited selections of the best staples streamline my time when making decisions. It simplifies my life and streamlines my errands. They have an extensive list of recipes on their website, so check it out!

Other programs I use to save on groceries:

Ibotta – They often double cash back and offer limited-time bonuses and they now offer cashback on items from Aldi!!

Checkout51 – New Deals Every Thursday. They sometimes include a short list of staples you can pick from based on your own shopping habits!

Dosh – This is one of my favorites too because YOU DON’T NEED RECEIPTS! You link all of your debit and/or credit cards (don’t forget your spouse’s!) and they automatically add money to your balance as you spend.

Receipt Hog – Another App that pays you to upload your receipts and take surveys about your shopping habits!

Fetch Rewards – Scan receipts and earn points to trade in for gift cards! Use Referral Code P4EDD and you’ll get 2000 points when you scan your first receipt!

*By combining all of the above apps, I get back an average of $20-$30 each month, NOT INCLUDING the 6% cash back from grocery stores that I get with my American Express Card. *Click here to apply and Earn $250 back after you spend $1,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. You will receive $250 back in the form of a statement credit. PLUS 6% cash back at grocery stores and 3% cash back at gas stations!

I’ve also saved by using my Blendtec blender.

Did you know you can make almond butter, almond milk, cashew butter, cashew milk, cocoa butter, coconut milk, whole wheat flour, almond flour, flaxseed meal, grind coffee beans, make and heat soup, juice whole vegetables, even make powdered confectioners sugar from regular baking sugar?

Ok, I could go on and on, but I make SO many items that I’d normally have to pay a lot more money for.

Plus, these crush ice like nobody’s business and come with a 7-year warranty!

Save big on Blendtec Factory Recertified Blenders + Free Shipping

3. Gas

#1 Tip – Order online more and drive less!

When you do need to shop at brick and mortar stores, try to plan your trips for one day a week and go to the furthest store out and work your way back. Plan your route to consolidate trips as much as possible. Or, if you regularly pass by the grocery store of your choice during another outing, try to make that your shopping day.

Make sure your car is tuned up and tires are properly inflated. Make a note to check your tire pressure on the 1st of every month. Take it easy on the gas, and whenever possible, try to stay around 55 MPH. That’s the “sweet spot” for low gas consumption.

Consider trading in your gas guzzler for a gas sipper. I’m on my second hybrid vehicle and get over 30 MPG in the city and over 40 MPG on the highway in my 4×4 Rav4.

Finally, take full advanced of grocery store fuel perks and rewards. Many credit cards, such as this American Express Card have gas reward offers (which makes sense IF AND ONLY IF you pay off your card in full).

How about you? What unconventional ways do you like to save on the necessities? I’d love to hear from you and implement some of your ideas!