Living On Less: Update (5 More Ways We’re Saving Money)

It’s been nearly three months since my “Life On Less” post so we figured it was worth doing a quick update (and collecting more great ideas from you guys on how we can all save a buck here and there). You might remember that four months ago we learned I’d be bringing home four fewer benjamins each month, and we’re pleased to report – thanks to many of your suggestions – that we’ve been able to stick to all but one of the money saving tactics I outlined in the previous post: stop buying music on iTunes, cancel my gym membership, watch movies at home and cash in some credit card points. Here’s how it all went down:

1. iTunes out, Pandora in: Several of you mentioned in your comments and boy am I grateful. I love it! You just input some of your favorite artists or songs and it builds a custom radio station filled with similar tunes. You can even thumbs-up or thumb-down songs to help Pandora learn your musical tastes over time. It’s completely free, though – if you’re like me – you might hit your 40 hour monthly limit pretty quickly. But the good news is that it’s only $0.99 to get unlimited access (which is a heckova lot cheaper than my old iTunes habit). I’m totally addicted, and I have you guys to blame/thank.

2. Sayonara Netflix, Konnichiwa Redbox: Again, at your recommendation we realized there was a less expensive option than our $15 per month Netflix bill. With Redbox, you can rent movies for a $1/night meaning even two movies per weekend only costs you $8 per month. And we’re not even usually that movie crazy. I think we’ve probably spent $6 total on movie rentals all summer thanks to Redbox. Sure, the movie selection is a bit narrower (note: do NOT rent “Knowing” with Nicholas Cage) but it still gets new releases and keeps us plenty entertained. Plus, we saved so much moolah with Red Box that we splurged on one trip to the theatre. I let Sherry drag me to The Proposal. Does that mean good husband bonus points for life?

3. Credit Card Points = Cash… and Magazines!: When we cashed in our stored up credit card points back in May for an awesome chunk of change, we suddenly found Bank of America offering us some free magazine subscriptions too. Usually we brush those off, but when the list showed several that Sherry and I routinely peruse at Barnes & Noble we said “sign me up.” So while this isn’t saving us any money directly, it has meant fewer trips to chill at B&N, which means avoiding the temptation to buy books… and cookies from the cafe. Plus we drop off all of our magazines at a local book store when we’re done with them (they offer them for free to their customers) so it’s a great way for us to read them without feeling wasteful.

4. Tapping the Brakes on My Gym Membership: Ok, so this is the one I didn’t follow through on. After a few weeks off I realized how much a midday workout did for stress release so I caved and kept my membership to the YMCA going. Though my workload has kept lunchtime trips to the gym at a minimum, unfortunately, I guess I’m not strong enough to let this one go. So instead…

5. Is Our New BFF: Since we’re still amateurs in the kitchen, it’s tough for us to give up eating out entirely. But befriending has certainly made dining out every once in a while much easier on our wallets. They sell a bunch of $25 gift cards for only $10 which means (with a usual minimum purchase of $35) we can save $15 on a meal out. Not bad, but we happened to snag a handful of coupons during a 80% off sale they were having, meaning those precious coupons were only $2! That equals a $23 savings each time we use one! And I recently learned they’re doing that promotion again through Aug 13th. Just enter “PORTION” upon checkout to score a $25 restaurant gift card for just two bucks! And there’s no waiting for the gift certificates to ship or worrying about them getting lost in the mail- just pay and print them right from your computer. Genius.

So that’s our update. What about you all? Did you uncover any new money saving tricks that you can teach the rest of us? Have you been able to stick to your money saving schemes or are you still being a tiny bit “flexible” like me with my gym membership? Our wallets thank you in advance for all the great ideas!

Pssst: To learn more about how we pinch pennies here at Casa Petersik (ex: Sherry gives me haircuts, we brown bag our lunches, we share one car, etc) check out our Save It series (read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here).


  1. says

    Hi Guys,
    I think you’re doing great to be so young! I’m sending a link of this post to both my kiddos {ages 21 and 23}.

    I have a new rule, which happens to not be so hard for me to follow since I love all things vintage, all my new furniture pieces for my “Cottage In The Woods” are either from Craigslist, garage sales, ebay, thrift stores or antique shops…ie…re-use, re-purpose, re-do! It saves a ton of money and it’s my little part in helping to save our planet. I do still splurge on some accessories, however I keep the cost under budget.

  2. says

    I’m all about saving where I can! With a new home purchase coming later this month, I’ve tried extra hard to cut back. I’ve tackled some of the same money saving areas that you have:
    1. ITunes out: yep. I love Pandora and if I have a song that’s bugging me, I head over to YouTube.
    2. I use my dvr to record movies/shows since I had signed up for a 2 year cable contract that I’m stuck in.
    3.I never use my credit card, but I need to get on board with some rewards while paying off the balance!
    4. Instead of a gym membership, I: ride my bike, swim in public pools, run, and lift free weights. Also, I use my dvr to record workouts off of FitTV
    5. I save on eating out by going to the restaurants that have half priced happy hour specials. Can’t beat sushi for two at $10!

  3. says

    We have a few money rules of our own –

    1) we eat out only 1 time per week – usually a “fast casual” place like Panera or Qdoba.
    2) + one coffee splurge per week, otherwise we make iced coffees at home – saves time and money
    3) DIY most home projects – about the only thing I won’t do is roofing. The internet is full of good info to go along with my basic knowledge of tools and home maintenance.
    4) no magazine, newspaper or other subscriptions – the internet strikes again – almost everything in print is free online and is usually available in a more timely manner
    5) considering canceling our DirecTV in December (after contract is up) – the $80/month price tag could be put to better use
    6) reward credit card (paid in full monthly of course) – this gets us about $500 annually in cash just by charging our normal expenses – groceries, diapers, household stuff, etc
    7) clean with natural products – vinegar and baking soda are cheaper, eco-friendly and less toxic than pricey manufactured chemicals

  4. Rebecca says

    How do you find the discounted price at It sounds like a great deal, but when I go to the site, it has $25 gift cards for $10, not $2!

  5. Amy says

    I got a part-time (4 hours a week!) job at Pottery Barn to save money on home furnishings. Not only do I make a little extra money, I get 40% off of everything at Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Williams Sonoma. I wait until something goes to 50% off, then I get 40% off that! My best score? An 8-piece Calphalon cookware set at 80% off. I would never be able to afford any of that stuff otherwise!

  6. Meredith says

    This may not interest you, but I didn’t want to pay the $50/month for a Y membership…so I started *working* for the Y. It’s low pay, but a) it gets me to the gym b)I like doing it and c)even if you only work a few hours a week/month, if you’re on the payroll the membership is free. I teach swim lessons, but obviously there are lots of jobs. You might be too busy, but it really hasn’t cramped my style too much and I love saving that money (and even making a little extra!).

  7. Kim says

    My husband and I are regular Red Box customers. Funny you should mention “Knowing”. We rented it last weekend… talk about a let down!

  8. says

    I love the tips you guys have listed! I’m totally stealing some for myself. My husband may not be overly thrilled by the “eat everything we have in the house before grocery shopping” line I’m going to pull out tonight!

  9. Tiki says

    ps – What I really like about it is that they don’t appear to be big chain restaurants, rather, smaller locally owned places.

  10. says

    we are huge fans of love it!

    speaking of food…

    we are pulling the ropes in on our spending too. one thing i’ve done that has made a HUGE difference:

    find some good recipe sites (i like – brought to you by the amazing Pioneer Woman – but there are literally thousands out there that have awesome recipes.) and then i use to organize recipes and you can even do a weekly “menu” and the site will put your shopping list together that you can print out and take to the store, how awesome is that?! total money-saving – i noticed a big difference in just one week. i wasn’t buying stuff for a “potential meal” that i might make eventually. less mess in my pantry and more money in my pocket – it’s a win-win!

  11. Michele Daggar says

    Great heads up about Pandora & RedBox. itunes and Netflix are our major sources of entertainment, since we do not have cable or a satellite dish. Pandora is terrific.

    My husband was notified last month that his salary would be reduced by 20% every month. Not exactly news we wanted to get. Sorry you guys are in the same boat.

    Your tips have been helpful, although your site is so inspiring I want to re-decorate and go shopping a lot more than I should.

    Great job Youngsters!

  12. Kendi says

    Ok, so I just hopped on to check out their situation and I happened to find one of my favorite restaurants! I have ordered 2 $25 gift certificates for only $4! This sounds too good to be true! And those were my husband’s exact words when I forwarded him the order confirmation!
    Thanks so much for the suggestions!

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