Lifestyle Money talk

How I save over $12,000 a year

Saving is hard, because spending is easy. Am I right, or am I right? So, how do I save over $12,000 per year? I’m going to take you on a little adventure through my money mind, so you too can be putting thousands into savings every month.

We live in a society where more is better, more clothes, more gadgets, a nicer car, a bigger house, and let’s be real more cost money. With all these temptations looming in every direction, it can be hard to say no. But more isn’t always the answer, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean happy.

I’m going to give you all the tricks I use to keep my head in the game, and my money in the bank.

Below I’ve created a printable PDF for you to sit down and fill out. This will help you figure out where you could cut costs, and come up with a dollar amount for you to put into savings every month.

Little nothing’s add up to big something’s:

We all know how expensive life is, and inflation really isn’t helping. With that being said, there are choices you can make daily, monthly, and yearly that will benefit you in the long run.

Yahoo says the average person spends about $12-15 dollars on coffee run, whether it be Starbucks, McDonald’s or your local coffee shop.

Here are some numbers to show you the breakdown of what you’re potentially spending on coffee outings:
a week

Isn’t it crazy to see the numbers? To think that you may have spent over $3,000 dollars at a coffee shop… in ONE year.

These numbers could go for anything. Do you order lunch at work a few times a week? Stop to get gas and grab a few snacks or energy drinks? Grab dinner on the way home because you’re too tired to cook?

Now I’m not saying never buy a coffee, or eat out. I’m just showing you where you could potentially be a little better with your money, to be able to put that $12,000 into savings every year.

Let’s change the narrative and create balance. Let’s say on Friday’s you treat yourself to an end of the work week coffee. It makes you happy to end the week on a high note, and coffee is part of what brings you joy. Or maybe coffee isn’t your jam, but treating yourself to your favorite local deli once a week is.

Here are some numbers that seem a lot more reasonable, if you simply turn your habit into a treat:
a week
Personal habits that help me save money:

While we’re on the subject of coffee, and eating out I’ll share with you what I do. I maybe buy coffee for myself on the way to work, once or twice a year. Seems insane to some, but let me explain. I love a coffee shop treat on the weekend, when I can really sit down and enjoy it. But slamming a 8oz coffee on the way to work, only to leave half in the cup that ends up in the trash just doesn’t do it for me.

Instead I make coffee at home. You may say “well I like all the fun stuff they add to it at Starbuck”. Cool me too! So I buy different milks, sugar free flavors, and different types of coffee to make my coffee fun and exciting too.

Currently on the menu in our house is Cool Cats hazelnut cream coffee grounds with a splash of oat milk and a dash of sugar free caramel syrup.

Want the price breakdown for that?

  • Coffee- $7.99
  • Oat milk- $3.49
  • Caramel syrup- $4.79 (one bottle lasts months)

$16.27 for coffee for the entire month or $195.24 per year. A big jump from that $1,440 you’re currently spending.

This goes the same for lunches. Meal prepping breakfast, lunches, and snacks for work saves THOUSANDS per year. It also allows me to be more mindful of the foods I’m consuming.

Wake up 30 minutes earlier to make yourself a delicious cup of coffee, and a few meals for the day to fuel your body. You may learn to love this new habit, even more so when you see the money growing in your savings.


So we took a deep dive into how cutting back on coffee runs, and ordering lunches out can save you thousands, but where else can you be more mindful of your spending?

Grocery shopping! this is a big one. How many times have you done a big grocery run, only to throw half of it away? Money down the drain.

How can you be smarter in the grocery store to not let this be your reality?

  • Make a list and stick to it! Don’t add all those “extras” to your cart, tripling your spending.
  • Buy the off brands. On average the store brand vs the name brand can cost anywhere from .10 to .50 cents less. If you buy 5 items every week that are the “off brand” you are possibly saving yourself $120 dollars a year.
  • Shop at Aldi’s. I spend about $50-80 a week at Aldi’s on fruits, veggies, and other items. If I were to do that same haul at HyVee or Price chopper? You could easily double that number, bringing my total weekly grocery run to $160.
  • Now this one is extreme, but it works for me. Don’t get a cart. I bring reusable bags, filling them with only the items on my list.
  • Costco for meat and proteins. We do one big Costco haul every 2-3 months. Sure it will be upwards of $300-500, but it’s bulk, quality products for a good price. It also keeps our weekly grocery runs to a minimum.
  • Before you go to the grocery store, scroll on Pinterest to find a few meals you want to create. Create a meal prep menu for the week. This keep you from eating out, because you are excited about the food you already have at home.

Rent, car payments & luxury living:

We all know rent has gone up to mind boggling numbers, making it hard to pile away thousands per year. Well here is that little bit of information no one wants to hear.

*You are CHOOSING to pay that premium for the luxury apartment or mortgage*

Live within your means, and if you really want to save, live below your means.

I lived in an apartment in Kansas City for 7 years, that cost me $595 a month. This was a very lucky situation, but the point is.. I found an apartment at a price that I could afford, helping me pile away money in to savings for SEVEN YEARS.

Would I have loved one of the reallllllly nice apartments with a pool and gym? HELL YEAH. But at the time I knew it was a choice between saving my money for travel and experiences, or pay the premium for all the extras.

Besides, we all have a friend of a friend that will let you use their pool a few times a season ;)

Car payments:

Same thing with buying a new car. Now a days, most people have and need a vehicle to get around, myself included. But there is a choice you can make. Get the fancy car with all the bells and whistles, that cost you $600+ a month. Or get the used, economically friendly car that’s still cute, has some of the perks, but costs you under $300 a month.

That one simple choice just added $300 dollars a month to your savings.

I am driving the car I bought when I was 21, I am now 30. I bought it used for $24,000 and paid it off within 4 years. I have not had a car payment for 5 years, and let me tell you, it’s NICE!

Being realistic, I know this won’t last forever, so I am currently saving for the day I need a new car. Just another mindful choice I made along the way that contributes to my savings account every month.

Now I understand, some people see value in things that I don’t, and visversa. But if you really want to see your savings account grow, then these are some of the compromises you may wants to consider making.

Other ways to cut costs:

While coffee, groceries, rent, and car payments may be the culprit of a good chunk of change being spent, there are other guilty pleasures we all have that lead to over spending, and less saving. Here are a few small steps you can take to put more money in the bank.

  • Get off Amazon. It’s too easy to buy items you don’t need. If its not something I need right away, I’ll add it to my cart and sit on it. 8/10 times I don’t end up purchasing.
  • Cancel subscriptions. Do you really need that Ipsy box of makeup minis you’ll never use for $25 dollars a month? Or the Bark Box you ordered for your dog? If you love them, cool budget it in. But if you are putting the items in your junk draw and forgetting about them. CANCEL IT.
  • Return the items you don’t need. How many times have you bought something, never used it, but also never returned it? Put the item in your car, in the bag with the receipt, and next time you are running errands, RETURN IT!
  • Plant Fitness membership. If you don’t use it cancel it. Really any membership that you aren’t using, you should cancel. But for some reason Planet Fitness is the guilty party for many of my friends. “It’s only $25 a month” “They make it too hard to cancel” stop coming up with excuses and buying everyone pizza parties at Planet, and save your $25 a month! ($300 a year)
  • Ask yourself why you are buying? Am I buying out of necessity, does this bring me joy, or am I buying to fill a void. Your spending may be linked to something a lot deeper than just needing a new outfit. Maybe it’s time to take a deep dive into WHY you buy.
Money tips:
  • Transfer your money into savings. If it’s in your checking, it makes it more temping to spend. I transfer money out as soon as I get paid. Sometimes my checking will be as low as $75 dollars at the end of the month, but that’s okay. I’ve put my “goal dollar amount” into savings and enjoyed the rest.
  • Create multiple savings account (retirement, new car, travel, home) I put a certain amount into each every month. It’s kind of a reward when you check your statement and see how much you’ve saved, with intentions of spending it on your dream vacation. It also helps you know what you have allocated to each category.
  • Use credit cards to receive points/cash back, saving you money on travel and more. I use Chase Sapphire Rewards, and get typically get 1-2 free flights a year.
  • Pay off credit cards as you spend. Saving you those annoying, hefty interest charges.
  • Stick to your budget! If you’ve already spent your monthly allowance, don’t treat yourself to that fresh mani/pedi, new outfit, or gadget.
  • Invest your money. Let your money make your more money. Yes, its a huge risk but there are many different options when it comes to investing. Seek out an advisor you trust, see them yearly, and pretend that money doesn’t exist.

How do I know how much I can save?

We have gone over some simple shifts to be more mindful about the money you are spending, so how do we figure out what you can save per month to hit that $12,000+ goal everything year?

Easy, calculate your total spending per month.

Deduct that from your income per month.

Whatever is left over put into savings.

It’s as simple as that.

Here is that printable PDF I mentioned above. Print it out, fill it out, and see what you can do to help yourself create a savings account you’re proud of.

Let’s save:

Pull up your last months credit card statement, and fill out the printable PDF above. Anything “extra” such a groceries, nails, shopping, gifts, pretty much anything you spent money on, add that to one of the blank lines.

Take it all in. When you see this number of dollars spent in a month, it really brings it all full circle.

Now, re-read this blog post, and give my tips and tricks ONE MONTH. That’s it, all i’m asking you to do is be mindful for one single month. But in this one month, give it a serious shot. Cut back on even half of the coffee shop stops, make the list for groceries and stick to it, buy the off brand, cancel a few subscriptions, skip the nail appointment. And for Petes sake, CANCEL YOUR UNUSED PLANET FITNESS MEMBERSHIP.

Once that month has past, add up your spending totals again. Compare your previous months spending, to the month of mindful spending.

See a difference?

If so, I bet it feels pretty good right? Knowing that you can save money, by simply being more mindful. and that being more mindful could lead to an extra trip next year, or that downpayment you’ve been trying so hard to save.

If you love these little money mind life hacks, keep it going. I’ve been living this way my entire life, and let me tell you, my savings account allows me a lot of freedom and possibilities.

I wrote this blog post because so many people have asked me how I do it…

Well the truth is, it’s really hard. I choose to be thrifty in every aspect of my spending. I make sacrifices along the way. I don’t treat myself all the time. And in the end it’s worth it, because I can afford to do what makes me happy.

Find your why for wanting to save, and I would love to say the rest will be easy… but it won’t. What I can promise you is, it will be worth it.

If you have questions or did this challenge and saw major changes, shoot me a message! I would love to hear your money mind successes!