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This is the sixth day in our 31-Day Money Challenge. Over 31 days we’ll publish 31 podcasts, each designed to help you move closer to financial freedom. Yesterday we interviewed YNAB-founder Jesse Mecham on the 4 rules of budgeting. In today’s podcast, we talk about the one-n-done way to save serious money..

Sponsors: The 31-Day Money Podcast is sponsored by Betterment and Personal CapitalBetterment and Personal Capital are two tools I use to make investing easier, less expensive, and more effective.

A Story

Imagine a family trying to save money three different ways. First, they decided to cut back on how frequently they ate at restaurants. Second, they spent hours clipping coupons to save money at the grocery store. Finally, they switched from an expensive cell phone plan with a 2-year contract to a prepaid cell phone, saving $30 a month.

How do these three approaches to saving money compare?

Cutting back on eating out is a lifestyle change that can save money. But it is a sacrifice for many. More importantly, you only save money so long as you continue to make the sacrifice.

Clipping coupons is not as much of a lifestyle sacrifice, although it does take work. And as with eating out less, you have to keep doing it in order to save money.

And that brings us to the third example. By making just one change to a cell phone plan, you can save money each and every month. There’s little if any sacrifice to your lifestyle. There is no effort involved after the initial work to change plans is complete. That’s what I call the One-N-Done method of saving money, and that is the topic of today’s podcast.

The One-n-Done Approach to Saving Money

This approach to saving money is extremely easy to do. In today’s podcast we walk through the following three steps:

Step #1: Write down every monthly bill you have including the amount. For loans, you should include the interest rate you are paying.

Here is a list of common monthly bills:

  • Rent or Mortgage
  • Credit Card debt
  • Car loans
  • School loans
  • All other debt
  • Utilities (electric, gas, water, trash service)
  • Internet, cable, home phone, and cell phone
  • Netflix and other subscription based services
  • Insurance (car, life, health, homeowners)

To make sure you haven’t missed anything, check your credit card and bank statements.

Step #2: Once you have a complete list, ask the following three questions for every item on the list:

  1. Do I really need this?
  2. Do I need exactly what I have?
  3. Can I get what I need for less?

In the podcast I cover a lot of examples of ways to save money on monthly bills. You’ll also find a lot of ideas in the resources listed below.

Step #3: Execute. Once you have your list and know how you can save money, it’s time to make the changes. This often involves a lot of phone calls.

We’ve covered this one-n-done method in our free weekly newsletter. In 2013 I received a ton of email from newsletter subscribes sharing with me just how much they have saved. For some it may be $50 a month, and for many it’s hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month.


Day 7: 20 Painless Ways to Save Money

Author Bio

Total Articles: 1080
Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Article comments

dojo says:

I’m amazed how people consider it a sacrifice to not eat out. for us the sacrifice is to actually eat out and have to rely on the food others prepare for us. We do go out from time to time (mostly maybe once every 2-3 months), but that’s only on some occasions when we have friends visiting or we’re traveling. We’re very careful with the quality of food we eat and cooking at home from the best ingredients is for us the actual goal. So, when we do go out we know we’re making a concession, since most restaurants or fast-food joints never use the type of ingredients we do.

Anyway … every little bit counts. By cutting down on the eating out, by getting better deals for the utilities and taking advantage of some coupons can clearly make a dent in the amount of money spent each month. This extra money can be saved or used to pay off debt faster, thus helping the family get into a better financial position.

KJ says:

That’s nice if you have the time. Not everyone has the luxury of being a stay-at-home parent or even working a 40-hour work week, so please save the preaching about how it’s a sacrifice to go out to eat meals made of “lesser ingredients”. Just because you’re affluent and bored enough to cook homemade meals “from the best ingredients” doesn’t mean everyone else is. In the real world, we have to work late or attend college or pick up children from daycare, and eating out is a nice treat.

Dude says:

….”Bitter, party of one…you’re table is ready”.

CB says:

Yes! I completely agree. I’ve always called this “limiting my fixed expenses.” If you set up a few of these things right you put your low cost lifestyle on autopilot, and make it super easy to cut back in case of an emergency/change of income. It’s my #1 budget priority.

DB says:

It doesn’t have take longer or be more expensive. Sometimes simple meals can take a lot less time and money than going to a restaurant and waiting for a meal. I have a recipe for chicken cutlets to make ahead and freeze that can be baked in about 20 minutes. Come in, turn on the oven, start water for spaghetti, pop the cutlets in, make a salad, set the table and dinner is ready in less than 1/2 hour. Yesterday for lunch alone I had half a can of chili beans and 1/3 bag of frozen stir fry vegetables. Two minutes in the microwave and I had a healthy lunch that cost less than a dollar. (It would cost about $1.35 if I used Kroger organic beans this week.) I plan to bake a sweet potato, have a green salad with some garbanzo beans, plus pineapple I froze last time whole ones were on sale.

Neil Crawford says:

I agree, choosing not to eat out has nothing to do with time but is a reflection of priorities. This is 2014, I have a programmable pressure cooker that can cook a stew in 10 minutes, veggies in 3 minutes and any meat dish in 7 to 9 minutes.

Having said that, people tend to operate within “cultural boundaries”…Americans tend to think of eating out as actually eating…whereas many other cultures see it for what it is; entertainment with a centerpiece of processed food-like treats.

Mr. Grosjean says:

“whereas many other cultures see it for what it is; entertainment with a centerpiece of processed food-like treats.”

Have you ever actually eaten in any other cultures? Tell that to a Frenchman at a sidewalk cafe and see what kind of response you get…