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In this episode, Chelsea talks about different lifestyle swaps that can save you tons of money in the long run.

This video is sponsored by Blue Apron. Check out their new wellness recipes and lock in your next order — sign up by 2/28 and get $100 off over your first 5 boxes:

Money saved from eating vegetarian:,than%20meat%2Deaters%20per%20year

Desirae Odjick blog post:

Cheap proteins:

How to save $ on meat:

Spending challenges video:


"Endowment effect":

Savings apps:

Food waste stats:

Watch more of The Financial Diet hosted by Chelsea Fagan here:

The Financial Diet site:

Hey, guys. It's Chelsea, from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is sponsored by Blue Apron. And today, I want to talk about the small and maybe sometimes unintuitive changes that we could all make to our budgets to potentially save us thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Often, it is difficult to make these sort of changes because they may only save us $1 here, a few pennies there, in any individual choice. But when we think about how often our choices accumulate and how much the accumulation of choices represent huge variations in our budget, we start to realize that all of the seemingly innocuous decisions that we're making throughout our day actually can have a huge cumulative impact. So I wanted to break down today a few of these simple changes that you can start implementing to potentially save you thousands a year. And I would recommend when you start one or more of these changes to actively track them. You can use plenty of different habit tracking apps, including some that actually show you the dollars saved with not making or making an individual choice. A familiar example of this might be not smoking-- for every week you go without buying cigarettes, this is how much you're saving. But you can do that with tons of choices throughout your life. And we'll link you to some resources for that in the description. The point is, once you make these changes, don't just look at any given day. Start looking at the patterns they create in your life and how much they save you. So without further ado, here are eight small changes you can make in your life to potentially save you thousands.

Number one is go meatless a few days a week. A study from the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition found that those eating a vegetarian diet save, on average, $750 a year. And friend of TFD, Desirae Odjick, recently documented how she saved $100 a month just by no longer eating meat. Now this is not to say that you have to go completely vegetarian. But just focusing on a few days or meals a week, switching up your protein sources with things like eggs, beans, lentils, plain Greek yogurt, bulk-aisle natural peanut butter, and other non-meat protein sources can be a super easy way to start reducing the overall cost of your food budget, while having positive impacts on the environment. You can also start focusing on getting more affordable cuts of meat, which will allow you to buy higher-quality meat without spending an exorbitant amount of money. And also perhaps challenge you to be a slightly more creative cook. For example, switching out chicken breasts for chicken thighs, which is, for my money, the way superior cut of meat anyway. Cooking with things like pork shoulder or short ribs. And opting for things like tinned fish. I just had a bunch of tuna salad today-- was delicious. And it's pretty easy to pick more ethically-sourced tuna or even cans of sardines, which I find to be an abomination, but my husband loves eating with a straight fork. The point is, even when we do opt for meat, there are ways to reduce the expense of a piece of meat and to be more creative with how we prepare it. But overall, even just a few meals a week, opting for something that is meat-free is a great way to help your budget in the long term.

Number two is opting for a balanced meal kit delivery service instead of takeout. Takeout is a wonderful occasional indulgence. But for most of us who have had the experience of dining out largely removed from our day-to-day life due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's easy to become over reliant on delivery or takeout options as a default. And if you are tipping like you should, plus often paying all of those various surcharges, the expense of getting meals regularly delivered can quickly spiral out of control. So if you're wanting to cut back on takeout and delivery expenses but don't want to have to spend tons of time meal planning, you should check out Blue Apron. Blue Apron's meal kit boxes come with everything you need to cook delicious, balanced meals with none of the hassle of meal planning or grocery shopping. You're sent exactly the ingredients you need for each of the meals you've selected, in only the exact increments that you need. TFD's Creative Director, Holly, has been a loyal Blue Apron customer for nearly five years. As she puts it, "I was hooked from the get-go. As someone who loves food, it was a very simple way to cook delicious, high-quality meals without the effort of grocery shopping or meal planning. And while I don't personally subscribe to a specific diet, I find that even the more 'indulgent' Blue Apron offerings are well-balanced meals that leave me feeling satisfied but not gross. They all have a solid focus on protein and a significant vegetable component." Blue Apron meals start at just $7.49 a serving. So you can get restaurant-quality meals for a fraction of the cost. Plus, their new wellness plan offers balanced, nutritionist-approved recipes designed for your holistic health, including 600 calorie or less carb-conscious dinners, and more, with meals such as miso ginger rice bowls, provencal-style baked tilapia, and sheet pan chipotle pork roast. Click the link in our description to check out their wellness recipes and get $80 off your first four deliveries.

Number three is do a 30-day challenge to cut out one specific indulgence. In the personal finance world, you will often hear people touting doing a no-spend challenge, where for a week, a month, or even a year, they basically challenge themselves not to spend on anything non-essential in that time frame. And while this can be super helpful as a reset for many of us and is also the way many people live without having an option, for others it's the kind of radical lifestyle adjustment that can easily backfire. When you feel like you can't spend money on anything, you can easily start feeling deprived. And deprivation can often put us on a terrible cycle. So instead of cutting out all discretionary spending for a period of time, focus on eliminating just one indulgence for a limited window. To pick one, take a look back at your recent spending. See which extra category you spend the most on. And challenge yourself to go a month without it. And pick something that's legitimately unnecessary. We're not telling you to stop going to therapy for a month. But rather to cut out alcohol, online shopping, book buying, Uber or Lyft rides, et cetera. And if you need any ideas, we did a video on different things you can try cutting out of your budget for a month instead of going on a spending freeze. We'll link you to that in the description.

Number four is take advantage of your employer-offered health benefits. Right now, find out if you have an HSA available through your employer. And if you do, take the time this week to opt into it. "A health savings account, or HSA, is a tax-advantaged account created for individuals who are covered under high-deductible health plans to save for qualified medical expenses that are over and above an HDHPs coverage limits and/or exclusions. Contributions are made into the account by the individual or individual's employer and are limited to a maximum amount each year. The contributions are invested over time and can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses, such as medical, dental, and vision care, as well as prescription drugs. And with the CARES Act enacted into law in response to the coronavirus pandemic, HSA funds can now be used for over-the-counter medications without a prescription, as well as certain other health-related products." When it comes to healthcare, never spend a dollar more than you actually have to. And the best way to insure that is by knowing what your options are.

Number five is cancel any unused streaming or subscription services. When we sign up for a free trial of something and don't actually cancel before the free trial is over, we're often sucked into the cycle of just getting used to having this thing and therefore being less incentivized to get rid of it. We also, in many cases, may have signed up for something that we simply forgot we did. But if you're finding yourself with subscriptions that you didn't have before but now feel that you can't do without, there's actually a name for this. It's called the endowment effect, which is "a circumstance in which an individual places a higher value on an object they already own than the value they would place on that same object if they did not own it. This type of behavior is typically triggered with items that have an emotional or symbolic significance to the individual. However, it can also occur merely because the individual possesses the object in question." By simply having something available at our fingertips, we tend to overvalue it, even if we don't really use it that much. So if you're only going to watch one particular show on a streaming service, for example, it may be cheaper to just individually buy that show on a platform like YouTube or Amazon than to actually buy the entire streaming service just to watch it. And it can feel like there's so many things we want to stay current on when it comes to the zeitgeist in movies and TV because quite frankly, what the hell else we have to do these days? But chances are, you're not going to get around to watching all the stuff that everyone's talking about. And there's probably a more thoughtful way to access the movies and television that you actually want, without opting into a ton of different services. Like me, the comrade who still uses her friend's dad's DIRECTV login so I can access A&'s streaming service. Listen, I pay for YouTube TV, but it doesn't have all the shows I want. I can only pay for so many streaming services. And lastly, don't forget that for certain of these streaming services, you can always choose to opt in when your show is on and opt out when it's off-season.

Number six is prioritizing a zero-cost personal goal. Anything that is time-consuming, enjoyable, and free is going to be an automatic money saver. Because it just soaks up a lot of free time that you would otherwise use in ways that might encourage you to spend money. So set a personal goal that is not tied to money, like reading a certain number of library books in a given year. A few other zero-cost personal goals-- getting to a certain level on Duolingo; using the craft supplies you bought yourself but never got around to doing anything with; rearranging your furniture and home decor; creating a gallery wall of things you already own and have been meaning to put on your wall, like greeting cards, or magazine cutouts, or photos of you and your friends; easing into a running routine with apps like Couch to 5k; partaking in an ongoing board game tournament with your partner or roommates; using some of the workout equipment that has been gathering dust in your home; et cetera, et cetera.

Number seven is use a savings account with a round up feature. The "round up" savings function was popularized with apps like Digit and Qapital, which allow you to round up purchases to the nearest dollar and to save the spare change. And Qapital also allows you to set rules for your savings account so that you can trigger a transfer to savings when you do something like spend on a guilty pleasure. And more and more traditional banks are offering features like this to allow you to possibly save money more and more. And automatically turning your worst spending habits into somewhat good choices. As we've said many times on TFD, one of the best ways that you can ensure that you're saving more and reaching your goals faster is by automating as much as you can and making the process of putting money aside painless. You of course, should still be actually saving money. And we do still recommend doing that by automatic transfer from your paychecks or deposits. But there's no reason you can't also be doing that with your card, possibly, because chances are in the moment you won't actually notice it. But you will notice it as it accumulates, as we talked about at the opening of this video.

Number eight-- have a recipe arsenal for food that's about to go bad. One study purchased in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics found that the average American household wastes just under 32% of its food. So say you have a food budget of $100 a week. That's $5,200 a year. And if you're wasting 32% of it, that means you may be throwing out $1,664 worth of food every single year. And this is not to shame any one individual. We all know that the majority of food waste does come from restaurants. But cutting down on your own waste can help save money, which is another way services like Blue Apron can come in. Because they send you exactly what you need to make the meal and nothing more. So to combat your food waste, have a recipe arsenal on hand that can help you find uses for all of that produce that's about to turn, pantry items that you've been meaning to get rid of, and various other things in your fridge that you know are still good but likely won't be if you wait a couple more days. But especially the produce, because nothing makes you feel worse about yourself than having to throw away a bunch of untouched produce. Here are just a few great clean out the pantry meal ideas anyone can use-- hearty soups that use any kind of leftover vegetables and proteins, banana bread and other quick breads, granola mix/bars with leftover nuts, dried fruits, grains, et cetera, smoothies, freezable breakfast sandwiches or burritos, fried rice and stir fries, slow cooker chilis, skillets and casseroles, et cetera. No matter where you're going to start with finding extra room in your budget, the biggest thing is to start making those little changes that can seem kind of pointless on the surface but add up to big things in the long term. Good financial habits start by thinking beyond today.

And don't forget to check the link in our description to learn more about Blue Apron's new wellness recipes and to get $80 off your first four boxes. (QUIETLY) $80. And as always, guys, thank you for watching. And don't forget to click the subscribe and join buttons and to come back every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Bye-bye.