The Power of Small Changes for Big Savings

When our family started getting serious about saving for an early retirement, we knew decreasing our spending was a key part of the plan. At first, this seems daunting. Could we really make a meaningful dent in our spending? Would small changes really add up?

The encouraging answer is yes!

Regardless of your financial situation or goals, it is powerful to know that small changes do make a difference. 

It starts with a simple exercise…

The process is simple. For each and every expense (yes, ALL of them!) ask yourself:

1) Do we really need this expense? (…Really?)

2) If yes, is there a way we can reduce this expense?

By simply auditing our expenses – and having a conversation about each expense – we made some simple but very powerful changes.

Related – “Should I Buy It?” A Helpful Chart for Frugal Families?

Small Changes, Big Savings

Here are some of the simple changes we made in the last year to increase our savings.

Cancelling Cable

This change was hard to pull the trigger on – especially for my sports-loving husband. We still pay for Netflix, we have an antenna to watch football, and we usually find a way to stream soccer matches. And guess what? We don’t miss cable at all!

  • Monthly Savings: $90
  • Annual Savings: $1,080
  • 10-Year Savings: $10,800

Changing Cell Phone Carriers

Previously were paying ~$170/month for two cell phones – an amount that now seems ridiculous.

Mr. Saver now exclusively uses his work cell phone and I changed cell phone providers from T-Mobile to Republic Wireless. My cell phone bill is now $20/month.

  • Monthly Savings: $150
  • Annual Savings: $1,800
  • 10-Year Savings: $18,000

Moving (The Big Change)

We moved 30 miles to be closer to work. The move was a big, emotional decision, but it has helped us save money in so many direct and indirect ways (and, life is pretty effin awesome in our new home!).

In the short-term, our mortgage loan payment is more expensive than it was. However, this is because we opted for a 15-year loan rather than a fixed 30-year. We were paying ~$1,700/month. Now we are paying ~$2,500/month.

The savings are in the long-term. By moving, and by selecting a 15-year mortgage loan (vs. a 30-year), we are saving ~$114,000 over the course of the loan! The indirect expenses are harder to quantify. We are closer to work, family, friends, and many activities we enjoy.

Reducing Utilities

We have become more conscious about our energy and water use, so I am curious to see how this translates to our utility bills. We just started tracking this, so the savings are TBD.

  • Monthly Savings: TBD
  • Annual Savings: TBD
  • 10-Year Savings: TBD

Saying Bye Bye to Car Payments

Because of our move, Mr. Saver now bikes to work. As a result, we no longer need two cars. Heck, we hardly even need one except for longer trips. We will return our leased Nissan Leaf this month – eliminating a $267 a month car payment. We will save ~$120 a month on insurance.

  • Monthly Savings: $387
  • Annual Savings: $4,644
  • 10-Year Savings: $46,440

Shopping Around for Insurance Policies

Speaking of insurance, we audit all of our insurance policies (health, car, home, etc.) annually. Get new quotes, ask friends, shop around. Sometimes we find savings, other times we find we have the best policy for our needs.

Spending Less on Food

By not eating out regularly, monthly meal planning, making basics from scratch, and not buying as many processed foods we cut our food bill in half –  from $1,500 a month to about $750 a month. It takes a bit more organization, will power, and planning, but the savings are huge!

  • Monthly Savings: $750
  • Annual Savings: $9,000
  • 10-Year Savings: $90,000

Working Out at Home

After we moved and Mr. Saver started biking to work, his Crossfit gym was no longer on the way to work. Additionally, the membership fee was pretty high at $190/month. For us, the solution was to buy a home gym for our garage. It was a larger upfront expense ($2,400), but it will pay for itself in a year. And, the whole family can use the equipment and it is less time away from the family for Mr. Saver. Bonus!

  • Monthly Savings: $0
  • Annual Savings (The First Year): $0
  • 10-Year Savings: $20,520

I’m sure there are many more examples – such as reducing kids items, clothing, and discretionary spending – but I think you get the idea.

Many of these changes seem small, but over the course of the year – and over the course of a decade – these small changes create big savings.

In these examples alone, we’ve found an additional savings of $16,524 annually, or $185,760 over ten years… Even more if you add in interest gained on these savings.

Change is powerful, yet difficult

We often want different results, but we don’t want to change our daily behaviors.

Sometimes in life, the big goals –  and big changes – seem daunting. But before you start listening to all the voices saying no, remember the power in simply starting, having a road map, and making small changes (and sometimes, a few big ones too).

What changes – big or small – are you making to save money? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

P.S.: Let’s connect! Find us over at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Cheers.

Small Changes, Big Savings - Raising Savers Blog


12 thoughts on “The Power of Small Changes for Big Savings

  1. frugalfamilia says:

    Wow that’s quite the savings you’ve found for you and your family. We don’t have too much ‘fluff’ in our expenses. Some small changes we’ve made; cutting my own hair from time to time, mowing the lawn myself, expanding our garden to save on produce cost at the grocery store, disputing our property tax bill. I would love to cut the cable cord but unfortunately my wife isn’t going for it quite yet.


    • Christina (Mrs. Saver) says:

      Thanks! It sounds like you are doing great, as well. We had a lot of low hanging fruit. Now that we’ve “trimmed the fat” we’ll have to get a little more creative to find more savings. 🙂


  2. Emily Jividen says:

    Those are some awesome savings, and I especially like that you are looking at the 10 year pay off.
    In the last year we’ve cut cable, changed from Verizon to Cricket, and dropped the Y memberships. We’ve also made a concerted effort to save electricity by doing things like turning down the thermostat on thewater heater and installing low flow aerators and shower heads.


    • Christina (Mrs. Saver) says:

      Thanks, Emily! I too love thinking about savings (even a $5 Starbucks) over the course of time. Sounds like you are doing an awesome job, also!


  3. Steven Goodwin (@myfamonabudget) says:

    Interesting ways to save. With your mortgage payment going up so much, were you very low on your percentage of payment to income that you can sustain that big of a jump? Not criticizing, just wondering. I know that our mortgage (escrowed) is around 30% of our take home pay if you include our association dues and our home repair fund in. I guess if things got hairy, you could always go refinance to a longer term if you absolutely had to.

    It’s fantastic that you were able to make the move closer to your work. We are about 25 miles from my wife’s work and I know that adds about 35-45 minutes each way for the commute. We have contemplated moving closer, but just aren’t quite ready to make the switch yet. What was the big jumping off point that got you to pull the plug on the old place and move?

    Thanks for sharing your story and being so open! It’s fantastic!


    • Christina (Mrs. Saver) says:

      Hi Steve – Thanks for the note and questions. Switching to the 15yr was a hard (but calculated) decision – we definitely had to crunch the numbers to see if we could sustain that big of an increase, and also the net in the long run (ex: the amount we save in interest over the course of the loan vs. the amount we could invest by having a lower monthly payment). In the end, we decided we could budget for the larger monthly premium payment (and not be too tight) and wanted to pay off the loan sooner than later. I think for us the big jumping off point was being able to move to a lower cost of living area (get more house for less money) and be able to ditch a car, etc. because of being closer to work, etc. We also only had one commute to factor in, as I work from home. But, it was hard! We had a lot of emotional connection to our first home and living in the big city. We wrote more about that path here:

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bailey says:

    These are really great tips! We usually only get cable for football every year but the cost adds up so quickly. This year we decided to ditch getting cable and tried the digital antenna instead and it works amazingly. It was around $70 upfront but we won’t be spending $150+ every month to watch tv for a couple of hours three days a week and we don’t have to go to a sports bar or out to eat either. Some people might think it’s crazy but being able to trim out the fat really helps in the long run.


  5. Savvy Newbie says:

    Love your calculations.
    My husband and I cancelled our phone service, have gone prepaid and took advantage of Google hangout and skype free calls. We’re now spending about $20/year, that’s a wooping $1060 saved.


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