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25 Ways to Save $1,000 on Monthly Expenses

A number of years ago I met Kathryn and Galen. They’d won a contest sponsored by Woman’s Day magazine. The prize? A money makeover and financial coaching with … me! From our first meeting, we became fast friends.

Not only were they drowning in debt, Galen was dealing with a protracted season of unemployment. Their financial situation was grim.


Debt and Family

Kathryn and Galen were totally committed to working with me as I created a plan that, if followed diligently, would get them out of debt and on their way to financial freedom.

The problem was that even with their new scaled-back lifestyle, my students were $1,000 short every month—an amount they would have to find somewhere, some how, if this plan were to work.

Never have I seen a couple so committed to getting out of debt. They didn’t complain or seek pity. They didn’t whine or make excuses. Instead, they adopted a “scorched earth” attitude as they became committed to doing anything and everything possible to reach their goal.

Here’s Kathryn’s list of the 25 things they did to cut expenses and find find the $1,000 they needed every month in order to stay on track with getting out of debt:


A cellphone


1. Joined The Grocery Game  (an online program that is no longer in business; an excellent alternative is Grocery Budget Makeover) to slash our grocery bill.

MORE: 23 Ways to Chop Your Grocery Bill

Sought help

2. Accepted help from community food distribution ministries and ended up working as volunteers once we were back on our feet.

Bought used

3. When our oven failed and sofa wore out, we replaced them with cheap yet gently used items we found on Craigslist.


4. Made our own laundry detergent (instructions HERE) plus anything else we could

MORE: Favorite Household Cleaners You Can Make Yourself for Just Pennies

Community college

5. Daughter withdrew from private college and moved home to attend local community college for a fraction of the cost.

Cut premiums

6. Re-evaluated our insurance needs and reduced premiums by more than $200 a month by increasing deductibles.

MORE: Preventive Maintenance is Cheap Insurance

Cheap cuts

7. Quit the salons in favor of beauty schools for cheap haircuts.

Eat in

8. Stopped eating out except for very special occasions to cut expenses.

Online bill pay

9. Started paying bills online saving postage, envelopes, and time.

Cut cable

10. Cut the cable and borrowed movies for free from the library instead of renting or buying.


11. Enjoyed entertainment opportunities that were free and local (open houses, festivals, fairs) by looking in the paper.

No hand-outs

12. Required kids to pay for things we used to cover (cell phone, gasoline, clothes). Have family meetings to update ourselves on where we are and what we can do as a family to do better and save more.

Stop, think

13. Were committed to thinking long and hard together before we bought anything—a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g!

No plastic

14. We did not use credit cards or any kind of “free financing.” Period. Even now we continue to pay cash now or we don’t buy it.

Scratch cooking

15. I did a lot more cooking from scratch using all of the pantry items and stuff we have on hand; and learning all I could to keep doing better.

Frugal lifestyle

16. We made things last as long as we could and then determined to go for as long as possible before having to replace it.

Cancel the gym

17. I gave up my lunch-time Pilates class

Cut driving

18. We drove less and walked more. I continue to walk 1/2 mile to work.


19. I got a second job where I worked nights and weekends, which was also within walking distance of my house and daytime job.

Bare bones

20. Cut back all phone services (cell and landline) to bare bones—no bells or whistles.

Cancel contracts

21. Cancelled “maintenance contracts” on everything but our computer.

Drink water

22. We all gave up soda and replaced it with water.


23. We made our Christmas gifts—baskets with homemade bean soup mix and cornbread mix with other goodies tucked in.

Brown bag

24. We took our lunches from home, all the time.

Sell assets

25. We sold stuff we didn’t need at yard sales, resale shops, and Craigslist. Gave lots to charity, taking full advantage of the receipts to reduce our taxes.

They did it!

It took four years—only four years!—for Kathryn and Galen to make it all the way to debt-free. In that time Galen became gainfully employed, which turbocharged their race to the goal.

The key to cutting expenses effectively is to cut a a little bit in every area instead of trying to completely eliminate a single spending category.

It was a thrill for me to watch Kathryn and Galen cross that finish line. We remain friends to this day. Their commitment to living debt-free continues to be so inspiring!


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3 replies
  1. Stephanie says:

    This is so inspiring..
    I also need help.. But I am from Malaysia and I am not sure how it works. Some advice would be great

  2. Chrissy Goff says:

    Two good sites are Hip2Save and KrogerKrazy. I get free products after coupons all the time. Not just junk food either. I usually half the meat in a recipe and if I buy a frozen dinner (sometimes with coupons it is free) I will add more rice or pasta to it etc to stretch it. I will add oatmeal or bread crumbs to my meatloaf to stretch it too. I am supporting 6 people on one income so it helps the food budget go a long way thanks to the sites above too. Join freecycle and get a lot of items free. I got a nice couch and loveseat from a business that listed it along with a coffee table when they decided to update their waiting room. I only eat out when I get a free gift certificate from doing surveys. I turn in the points for doing surveys and get Lowes or Home Depot gift cards (used some to replace the termite infested wall of the garage in the backyard), amazon cards (bought groceries and car parts), target or walmart cards (clothes for the kids or paper supplies) among other gift cards. I send off for all freebies (Hip2Save lists them) and use them as stocking stuffers. There are even survey sites where you can get free magazines. I read them then donate them to waiting rooms….. It isn’t easy but I usually can make our dollars stretch……..


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