A 30-year-old who's saving half her income says kicking 2 daily habits helped her bank an extra $1,000 a month

Angela RozmynCourtesy of Angela Rozmyn

  • Angela Rozmyn lives in Seattle with her husband and son and works as a LEED building accreditation professional.
  • They're saving close to 50% of their income and plan to retire in their early 40s.
  • Over the last two years, Rozmyn reduced her family's food spending from a monthly average of $2,000 to $800 by cutting out weekday lunches and minimizing trips to the grocery store.

Angela Rozmyn used to spend upwards of $2,000 a month on food for her family of three.

It seemed justified, she told Business Insider. They live in Seattle, where local and sustainable produce, high-quality meat, and craft beer often commands a higher price. Add in food delivery and last-minute trips to the grocery store and it's easy to rack up a big bill, she said.

Rozmyn, 30, and her husband have plans to retire by age 45, which she chronicles on her blog Tread Lightly, Retire Early. They're homeowners who both work in construction and earn a combined income in the low six-figures.

But spending more than double the USDA's recommended monthly food budget for a family of three - $770 for a moderate-cost plan - was no help on their path to early retirement. By the time Rozmyn returned to work from maternity leave in late 2016, she realized her habit of buying lunch and frequenting coffee shops had "spiraled out of control."

Read more: A Hollywood producer who spent over a year following around early retirees has his own simple question to decide what's worth his money - and what isn't

Rozmyn instituted a monthly $150 lunch budget for herself. She ended up spending just $87 during the first month and eventually went six months without spending a dime on lunch during the week.

"Now I average maybe twice a month and only when there's a purpose (mini-date with my husband, lunch with a friend), not just because I didn't pack food or didn't feel like eating what I brought," she said.

But there was more work to do to hit to their goal savings rate of 50%.

Buying a home within walking distance of a grocery store was supposed to be a strategy for saving money, Rozmyn wrote in a blog post. Instead, they ended up at the store most nights picking up last-minute ingredients or prepared meals.

During a "no spend November" challenge, Rozmyn went to the store once a week instead of every day and started using leftover ingredients in the pantry or freezer to get creative with meals. She also started baking from scratch rather than picking up packaged sweets from the store, tending to a fresh vegetable garden, and marinating meats at home.

Read more: Many people who retire early prefer to spend their money the same way

Between July 2017 and January 2018, Rozmyn said their overall food spending - groceries, restaurants, and fast food - fell from $2,027 to $888 and they were eating better than ever, thanks to more home cooking.

"Now almost all of our eating-out expense happens on vacations and our weekend getaways because one of our favorite ways to travel is to eat through new cities, but even that is purposeful now instead of a free-for-all," she said.

Rozmyn says their savings rate is up to 48% now. Spending does increase during some months, she says, but things like an increase in property taxes or the cost of preschool are out of their control. Ultimately, it's about staying the course and making progress.

As Rozmyn wrote on her blog: "Any time I'm frustrated with our spending this year, I have to remind myself to re-read my words from just one year ago to keep my annoyance in check; our worst month this year is still better than the average for all of previous years."

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