How I Saved $13,000 in One Year Doing 3 Simple Things

This mom of three made some simple budget changes and saved around $13,000 in just one year.

Becoming a mother changes a person—including their financial priorities. This truth is something that Jamila Souffrant, founder of the hit podcast Journey to Launch, can identify with on a deep, personal level. Souffrant, heavily pregnant with her first child, was in the middle of a long commute home from work when she found herself in tears, longing for a way to change her life. She wanted a way to break free from a demanding job and find a way to be more present for her growing family.

Spoiler alert: She succeeded in her journey toward a better life, and finding ways to save money was a big part of her success. You can save money too, and learning from the habits of people who are great at saving money can be the best place to start.

Deciding to make a change

From Brooklyn to New Jersey and back again, Souffrant faced a long, tedious commute to and from work every day. The demanding schedule and even her job itself was something that she longed to be free of as she was about to be a first-time mom. “I just felt like something was missing from my job,” says Souffrant. “I wasn’t happy, and wanted more from my life.”

She saw saving and investing as a way out. If she could be more strategic and intentional about how she spent and saved money, she might just have the ability to change her life and possibly even retire early. So, she started to learn from other people who had taken this approach and experienced success—listening to podcasts and reading blogs.

Change #1: Spending less on food

One of the first changes Souffrant made was cutting back on the amount of money she was spending on food. In the past, she and her husband dined out regularly. She also had a habit of buying breakfast and lunch on the go during the work week. But when the two of them decided to adjust their food-related spending habits, they were able to save an impressive $600 per month with a few simple changes.

“We put a limit on how much we wanted to spend each month going out to eat,” Souffrant says. “But we still had it in our budget so we could enjoy ourselves.” She also started bringing her breakfast and lunch to work each day, and gave herself Fridays as the only day she bought lunch during the week. Over the course of a year, these changes added up to over $7,000 in savings. If you’re looking for ways to lower your spending, try this five-second trick to help you spend less money. And if you’re looking for more tips on reducing food spending, check out how this woman changed her grocery shopping habits and saved nearly $5,000 per year.

Change #2: Shopping for more affordable home and auto insurance

Another strategy Souffrant used to stretch her income was finding better rates on her home and auto insurance policies. “It’s a small thing,” says Souffrant, “but now we’re saving a few thousand dollars a year because I combined our insurance providers.” Between finding the right home and auto insurance provider, identifying hidden fees, and bundling services to score a discount, she was able to trim another $300 per month—$3,600 per year—from her expenses.

Change #3: Pausing vacations, unless they were budget-friendly

The third change Souffrant and her husband made when it came to cutting expenses was the way they approached vacation planning. She was able to save around $2,000 per year by putting a pause on all travel that wasn’t budget-friendly or free (meaning it was drivable and didn’t require a hotel stay). Souffrant was able to stay motivated despite the sacrifice of less glamorous vacations because she had a bigger goal—leaving her job and eventually retiring early. She told herself, “Maybe we’re not going on vacations even though we could technically afford it, because we’re going to be able to do this later on in a better way.”

Saving the savings

So what did she do with the extra savings she made from these three changes? Souffrant and her husband decided to invest the extra $13,000 per year they freed up in their budgets (and then some). “It was so fun to see how much money we were saving and investing,” says Souffrant. “And I just knew the reward would come.” Knowing that she wasn’t wasting money on anything she didn’t actually need was a nice touch, too.

The backup plan

Deciding to spend less and save more can be intimidating at first. And those feelings of unease can be strong if you’re looking to save and invest aggressively like Souffrant. So, to help deal with those worries, Souffrant created a backup plan.

“We told ourselves it doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” says Souffrant. “If we realize this is not comfortable or we’re not happy, we don’t have to do it anymore.” This permission to adjust if needed was a personal finance rule no one taught her, but it gave her family the confidence to try this new money-saving lifestyle, and the changes proved to be worth sticking with in the end.

Quitting her job

Souffrant is still working toward early retirement goals, but she was able to reach one big milestone sooner than she could have imagined. In 2018, after she had her third child, she was able to quit her job. A year earlier, Souffrant started the award-winning podcast Journey to Launch as a way to stay accountable and chronicle her financial independence journey. The podcast launch enabled her to earn more from her own business and change how (and where) she was able to earn money to support her family and their financial goals.

Paying it forward

Before she was able to quit her job, Souffrant spent a lot of time listening to others talk about how they were working toward financial independence. “I was excited to go to my car and drive because that meant I could listen to podcasts about people saving and investing and traveling the world,” says Souffrant. “It really motivated me, especially when I heard about a Black woman talking about the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement.”

Now that she’s sharing her own story and financial successes, Souffrant hopes to have the same impact on the lives of others. And the plan is working. Through her blog and podcast, she gets to meet more and more people who want to learn more about money-saving and investing moves she’s making. Check out these inspiring podcasts to encourage your own life goals.

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Michelle L. Black
Michelle Lambright Black is a credit expert, finance writer, and travel writer with nearly 20 years of experience. She's also the founder of CreditWriter.com, a judgement-free personal finance community for busy moms like herself. When she's not writing about credit and money, Michelle loves to travel with her family of 5 — usually to somewhere sunny and warm.