Find Big Money in Your Budget


Want to find an extra $500 – $1,000 (or more) a month in your budget? Stop digging in the couch cushions.  The real money isn’t there.

Many of my readers are seasoned frugalites who could out-do me in a grocery game any day, but maybe – just maybe – one or two or 10 of you are ready for some tough frugal love.

You spend what (or more than) you make, the bills are piling up, and working more hours isn’t the solution. You’re ready for change.


Perhaps a job loss is on the horizon, or maybe you’re looking in the face of unexpected expenses.  Possibly your oldest child is now taller than you and oh my goodness, he’s going to college next year.  Or, it could be that you are just sick. of. it. Tired of spinning your wheels in the never-ending cycle of making more, spending more.

If you’re ready to get serious about finding money,

  1. Stop eating out. If your family of five eats out twice a week, that has to be costing you at least $200 per month.  Knock it off.  Eat at home!  And save some money on groceries while you’re at it.
  2. Cut your cable. I don’t even know how much cable costs, because we’ve never paid for it, but I’m guessing you could save $20-$100+ per month by reducing or eliminating your cable or satellite subscription.
  3. Quit buying your kids stuff. Instead, give freely of your time.  Children are minimalists:  it’s your time and attention that they want, not your stuff.  (Yes, even the older ones.)
  4. Stay home. Not only will you rediscover how much you enjoy your family, but you’ll strengthen that bond without spending a dime.
  5. Plan a no-spend Christmas. Christmas will still be Christmas without needless spending, I promise.
  6. Know that you have enough. In fact, it’s quite possible that you live in abundance.
  7. Drop your health insurance. (Edited due to BAD choice of words on my part.) Switch to a healthcare sharing ministry. (We haven’t done that, but it sure seems to work for Joy’s family!)
  8. Downsize. If you’re living in a 3,000 sq. ft. home (that you can’t afford) with 5 bedrooms and 2 children… why?
  9. Give up your love affair with the pricey cell phone. Ours is functional, and it costs $8.34 per month.
  10. Pay with cash.  If you don’t have the cash, don’t buy it.  (Full disclosure ~ we don’t use cash.  It hasn’t worked for us, but I challenge you to find many people that are more tight with their money than we are.)  😉

If those ideas aren’t enough for you, Phoebe, Cara, and Erin have posted some helpful tips and tricks, too.

Have you greatly reduced your budget recently?  What strategy did you find most helpful?

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.


  1. We do all except #7, off to read more about that. Thanks!

    (We don’t have any cell phones.)

  2. This is a great article- we do most of these things and enjoy living frugally! We are also in the process of downsizing (for my health though, financially it is generally a lateral move)

    A no-spend Christmas is a great idea! We did this with our extended family last year and it went well.

    I do have to respectfully disagree with the concept of dropping health insurance. As a woman living with chronic illness and having lived without health insurance before, unexpected medical expenses can quickly bankrupt your family.

    • @Melissa Multitasking Mama, The way I understand it (very limited understanding!) people with chronic illnesses are not accepted into the program, so that would not work for you. However, as in the case of Joy’s mother, BIG bills do get paid by the ministry. Very, very interesting… but definitely unconventional.

    • @Melissa Multitasking Mama, I’m the one Amy linked to about insurance, and I just wanted to clarify that saying we ‘dropped’ our health insurance isn’t really an accurate description of what we did.

      We did drop our insurance coverage, but we are not out in the cold now with regard to our medical expenses. Instead, we are now members of a health care sharing ministry, and our medical expenses are shared among the members of the ministry.

      It’s a new concept for a lot of people (it was for me too), and it’s not ideal for everyone. I wouldn’t have considered it for our family if we had chronic health problems prior to joining. But now that we’re members, if we DO develop some kind of chronic problem, those expenses will be taken care of through the ministry.

      So like I said, a health care sharing ministry isn’t for everyone, but for people like us, without chronic health problems, but who still need to maintain ‘coverage’ in case of unexpected medical needs, it’s been an answer to prayer.

  3. Dropping your health insurance is frightening and irresponsible!

  4. When things were really tight we cut a lot out of our budget and it was actually pretty exciting to plug those leaks. These are some great tips and we have actually toyed with the health insurance thing ,but ultimately decided not to! I know some people who pay so much to have their health insurance, and even then it isn’t very good. For some it may be better to faithfully save money for health expenses at the time of life they are in.

  5. Menu planning WORKS for #1 ! Saving me $$$ AND time!
    Dropped my cable to basic years ago! $12 a month for pretty much local channels with a couple extra.
    This will be a ‘no spend’ for the most part Christmas. I am making gifts which cost VERY little compared. A lot I have on hand. I will only be purchasing something for my 2 kids (and I’ve always had a SMALL budget for that).
    I use my cell more than a home phone! So if you do too …have the home phone turned off.
    Great post!

    • @Sherri S, I only use my cell when I’m out and about. Less than 30 minutes per month on average, I would guess. I do know lots of people who have switched to “cell only”. I’m glad that works for them, but it sure is hard to get in contact with them without a number to look up.

    • I’m scared to have my landline turned off because I still have little ones. Want easy access to a landline in case of emergencies. Kids are smart, but I don’t want them to have to search for my cell if they need to call 911. I do know a lot of people who have switched to just cell phones, though. I only use mine about 30 minutes per month anyway.

  6. Great post. I struggle with buying things because they are a great price. But if I din’t need it, instead of saving money, I spent money I didn’t need to!

    I am posting 13 things I do to save money. Today is buying in bulk.

  7. Great tips.My parents have never ever had cable. It would be interesting to do the math and see how much they have saved over the last few decades. Probably a small fortune. Eating out is a big one. We do not eat out very often. It seems so wasteful. I am no miser and will buy the kids McD’s on occasion, but even that adds up. I am a Canadian who does not pay for healthcare, but I would never suggest that any American forego their health insurance. One can eat right, live right and exercise daily and still get cancer or any other number of illnesses that could bankrupt a family. Sometimes common sense has to prevail.

  8. These are very practical ideas. We do most of them and are dropping our cell phones at the beginning of the year when our contract runs out. As mom of 10 with a change from the corporate world to starting a vineyard, I am enjoying the challenge of frugality!
    Thanks for your encouragment.

  9. Some of these are great ideas, but I have serious concerns about dropping health insurance. We are a very healthy family, but our son was born with cleft lip and palate. It was completely unexpexted (not in our family) and it would have bankrupted us if we had not had insurance. It is worth it!

    • @Whitney, My apologies for the poor choice in words. You can check out my edits and then visit Joy’s post for more information if you wish. Definitely not for every family, but a viable option for thousands.

  10. Do you still have a land line phone? Because we just use cell phones with no land lines to save money.

    • @Heidi, I do keep my landline and have a post in the works about why. Basically, I want my kids to have easy 911 access and want the responders to be able to easily find our location. Also, I want my number in the phone book. I get so frustrated when I can’t find friends’ numbers because they only use a cell. And… our $8.34/month plus landline seems to be a lot cheaper than most cell plans. But that’s just what works for us. I know a lot of people who have given up their landline.

  11. I loved this post! My husband read it and we really liked the ideas. I wrote about it and linked up to you over at my lil blog. Thanks for writing it!

  12. I have to strongly disagree with dropping your health insurance.
    As the daughter of an insurance guy, I ALWAYS had insurance even in college, when I had very little money for anything else. Only one year I decided to skip it and I was a mess the whole year–even a small slip on the ice would have taken my entire savings account, which I used for paying for college out of debt. My whole life would have changed with one small misstep.
    As a newly married person, we could have dropped our insurance because we were young and healthy but as my 26 year old husband lay in the hospital with a completely unexpected Pulmonary Embolism, I was so grateful for the insurance. If we hadn’t had it, we wouldn’t have even gone to the ER, and we certainly wouldn’t have stayed long enough for them to run the test several time to find out what was going on. Because we had budgeted for insurance, we paid off our astronomical hospital bill in two years instead of paying them for the rest of our married life.

    Cut corners in every way possible but whatever you do–don’t skimp on insurance. You will regret it if anything happens.

    • @Rhiannon, My apologies on the poor wording choice. I have edited the post. You may want to go over and read what Joy wrote about the ministry paying for her mother’s heart surgery IN FULL. It really does work for some people.

  13. BTW- I consider organizations like Samaritans a form of insurance. I really respect what they are doing and how it works in the body of Christ.

  14. I am more than a little taken aback by some of the commenters’ reactions to Joy’s decision to go with Samaritan Ministries. This works for her family and has covered there needs entirely for about the same “cost” as regular insurance. I do not think it is necessary to call her irresponsible or foolish for this decision. We should be encouraging each other regarding our finances, not tearing each other down! While healthcare ministries may not work for everyone, I appreciate that Joy took the time to share and inform her readers about this unconventional method. Kudos!

    • @Alyssa @ Keeping the Kingdom First, I completely agree. What works for some may not work for others but it’s no reason to judge the decisions they are making in their family. I think it is funny because I just received a mailer today for a healthcare sharing organization that I wanted to look in to. We have a healthy family and are currently on an HSA plan right now. It does not cover maternity and God surprised us with a pregnancy a few months ago so now we are paying out of pocket for everything birth related. Although I qualify for Medicaid due to our income, we believe God will provide us the funds for this baby we weren’t planning on because we have great faith in Him and know He won’t leave us stranded. Personally, I at times think people place TOO much faith on their health insurance and too quickly overlook other options, believing health insurance to be the only thing that saves them. However, if they feel this is the best way to cover their family in an emergency, then so be it! But for goodness’ sake, take Alyssa’s advice and stop knocking down the people who go for other options and obviously are seeing it work!

  15. #3 is fabulous! And so true!


  16. I’m glad I found your page. I have tried couponing and for the life of me I just can not get the hang of it. You have helped me save in two ways this passed weekend. First I downgraded my satellite tv to the bare minimum, and I made my own breadcrumbs. Still getting used to limited channels but the breadcrumbs were awesome. Keep posting your great articles and thanks. 🙂

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