Buried in $120,000 of student debt and struggling to set aside any savings, Matt of "Distilled Dollar " and his fiancee decided to buckle down in 2014.
"It took us nearly a full year to escape living paycheck to paycheck," he writes on his blog. "It took about another year to inch past 10-15% of the recommended savings. Our third year was a breakout year."
They tripled their savings rate to 60% and managed to save $50,556 over the course of 2016.
The Chicago-based couple upped their savings through various strategies, which Matt, a licensed CPA, details in a recent blog post. Here are eight of their best money-saving tips.
"Live big in a tiny home," recommends Matt. "We live in a neighborhood where most of our neighbors are paying a higher percentage of their income towards rent. Of course, we could pay the same percentage and upgrade to a nice 2 bed/2 bath, but we're more than happy with where we live today."
He and his fiancee pay less than 15% of their income for their 700-square-foot condo in Chicago. They estimate that they save about $12,000 a year, "seeing as how we could easily afford paying an extra $1,000 a month," says Matt.
Negotiate your rent
"When we signed our lease, we went through the tried and true process of negotiation to lower the rent, " writes Matt. "We knew the market and knew our landlord's listed rent rate was extremely well priced. Regardless, we had our plan and it worked."
It never hurts to ask. In Matt's case, it yielded a $2,400 return.
This may be more feasible for some than others, but if possible, trade in your car for public transportation, a bike or your own two feet.
By moving to a place within walking distance to work, Matt estimates that he and his fiancee save nearly $9,000 a year. "This single decision has made me healthier, happier and wealthier over the past year than nearly any other decision," he writes.
Use Amazon's "Subscribe & Save"
Matt and his fiancee save about $1,000 a year using Subscribe & Save, a free Amazon feature (separate from Amazon Prime) that allows you to manage monthly deliveries. "The prices are more affordable than in the store, the delivery is literally to my door AND it happens automatically," he writes.
Cancel underused subscriptions
"I would venture to say most people have some type of subscription they barely use," writes Matt. For him, it was the magazine the Economist, which he'd been receiving since 2007. He took a minute to cancel the subscription and he now saves $97 a year.
Look over your last couple of credit card statements and figure out exactly what you're paying for each month. Ask yourself which you can cut back on.
"This one was the biggest 'aha' moment of the year for me," writes Matt, who estimates that they save $5,000 a year by going out less. "Not only did we start to cook more, but we found creative ways to save money at the grocery store.
"Plus, we are eating much healthier now too."
Check out more tips on how to trim your grocery bill.
Distinguish "wants" from "needs"
Matt and his fiancee saved a couple thousand dollars by cutting back on things like dry cleaning, massages, Starbucks and going to the movies.
To cut back on "wants," start by evaluating exactly where you spend your money. Try recording each and every purchase you make for a couple of months, whether that means writing expenses down in a notebook or using an app that will track your spending, such as Mint, Personal Capital or Level Money.
After all, you can't save until you know where your cash is going when it disappears.
Change your mindset
"We stopped a nasty habit we had of reading about great tips and then failing to implement them," Matt writes. "Avoid our mistakes. ... Literally, do something today from this list and start saving money. "