A woman who felt “powerless and overwhelmed” watching her bills rack up every month has turned her finances around – saving herself around £400 ($500) a month with just a few savvy tricks.
As the monthly expenses came out, Hillary Qualtieri found herself constantly worrying for herself, her partner, Xander Cabral, 32, and their three cats.
The 46-year-old retired from her hairdressing job early to “care for my physical and mental health” and the stress of money troubles was now starting to take a toll.
When one bill came in at $700, (£552), she knew it was time to do something about it.
“The stress of the bills has been awful,” Hillary, from Arnold, California, told NeedToKnow.co.uk
“[When I saw the $700 bill], I feel powerless and overwhelmed.
“While I have been able to pay the bills in full, I’m living off of a set amount of money that is dwindling at an alarming rate.
“This is not sustainable.
“The cost of food and bills has inflated to an extreme degree.
“I often feel like crying when I’m walking out of the grocery store because I just had to spend so much money on a basic cost of living.
“I fear I may have to return to work when I am definitely not in a position to do so, health-wise.”
Determined to take matters into her own hands and do what she could to cut costs, Hillary reviewed her spending and has since come up with eight tips that she claims now save her hundreds every month:
Make all your coffee at home.
Price compare supermarket brands and avoid buying name brands.
Clothes shop at thrift stores, charity shops, and discount outlets.
Buy in bulk where possible.
Ditch pricey meats.
Always eat the leftovers.
Share streaming services.
Cut the lights.
Hillary said: “I always buy cheaper store brands instead of name brands when grocery shopping.
“If I need new clothes, I’ll try to find what I need in a thrift store or somewhere cheaper.
“I’ve eliminated fun and frivolous purchases of clothes.
“I only buy what I need, not what I want.
“I buy in bulk from Costco.”
As for food and cooking, Hillary now skips red meat and makes leftover dinners.
She said: “I’ve completely stopped buying steak and cook meals mostly with chicken or ground beef.
“It is definitely more affordable.
“We eat all our leftovers.”
Don’t forget about the tech, either.
If you have a friend or family member who uses the same streaming services, share accounts for cheaper rates.
She said: “I share streaming services with my sisters.
“I don’t go out for any kind of entertainment.”
Light usage can make your bills skyrocket depending on what you’re using and how long for.
She added: “The house goes mostly dark between 4pm and 9pm, peak pricing hours.
“All the lightbulbs have been switched to LED, we only have a light on in the room we are in.”
Hillary, who is now saving herself a good chunk of cash per month, says that while she and her partner don’t spend money on frivolous things, they have plenty of fun at home.
She added: “For the most part, we enjoy being cooped up together; we have fun and enjoy each other’s company.
“Doing everything at home can feel a little dull and repetitive from time to time, but it hasn’t strained our relationship.
“We both have hobbies we enjoy doing at home.
“There is a part of me that misses going to movies and restaurants and living a more normal existence, but the hermit in me is content to be at home.”