Simple Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Expenses
Over the past few years, millions of Americans have been forced to find creative ways to lower their monthly expenses. With so many people either losing their jobs or suddenly becoming underemployed, the need for belt-tightening has never been greater or more urgent. Food and gasoline prices have continued to climb even while overall personal income has decreased. Many people are holding down two jobs just to try and make ends meet.
The truth is it's always a good idea to go over your budget and try to find ways to reduce your expenses. If you are currently facing a debt problem, it is even more important to cut your spending. Not only does this free up more money for real necessities such as food and rent (or the mortgage), it also can provide more money to put towards reducing your overall debt. And the sooner you are out from under crushing debt, the better off financially you will be.
Here are some suggestions for cutting back on your monthly expenses and finding extra money for the things you need most- food on the table, a roof over your head, and paying off your outstanding debt. Even if you are one of the lucky individuals who has no credit card or other debt, learning to live frugally can greatly improve your financial health. The more you cut those monthly expenses, the more money you can save and invest for your future financial goals. It's a win-win situation!
Ways to Save
- Insurance. Compare prices for your different insurance needs- home, health, auto and life. Many companies offer discounts when you bundle your policies together which can result in significant savings. Ask about other discounts which you might qualify for. If you have a teenage driver, there are generally discounts allowed for students on the honor roll and completion of a driver's education course.
- Cable/Satellite Television. Do you really need access to 500 channels? Premium movie channels can also be costly. Many programs are available over the internet for a much lower price. Movies can also be rented through kiosks and companies such as Netflix for less cost. Don't continue to pay for services you rarely use.
- Landline Telephone. Landline telephones have almost become obsolete. Nearly everyone uses their cell phone for both personal and business calls so consider doing away with your home phone if you are still paying for it.
- Reduce Your Food Bill. Many people have no idea how much they really spend on food every month. This includes both groceries and dining out. If you go out to lunch every day with co-workers the odds are you spend between $5.00 and $10.00 each time. That adds up to a whopping $25-$50 per week or $100-$200 per month. If you bring your lunch from home just twice a week, the savings will add up quickly. Generally, preparing food at home is much less expensive than eating out (and probably better for you). Planning meals and using coupons can result in big savings at the grocery store. Hint: Never shop when you're hungry.
- Re-finance your car. If you have a good payment history with your car loan company, consider asking them to re-negotiate the terms of your loan (lower interest rate). This can significantly reduce your monthly payments. If they won't work with you, contact other lenders and ask about refinancing your vehicle.
- Bank fees. If your bank is charging you a monthly fee, ask about totally free checking. Don't get hit with ATM fees- always use your bank's ATMs when you need cash. Most large retail stores, including grocery stores, offer a “cash back” option if you use your debit card for payment. Generally you can obtain up to $50 per transaction with no fee charged. Remember there are other banks and credit unions available! Take your business elsewhere if you are not satisfied with your current financial institution.
These are just some of the ways you can reduce your expenses and free up more cash to use towards saving and also paying down your debt. But don't think that just because you are learning to live more frugally it means you have to stay inside your house and never go out! Far from it!
Consider these ideas:
- Instead of paying for a costly gym membership which you never use, go for a walk or run at a public park or recreational area. It's free and you also get the benefit of being out in the fresh air.
- Check out your local public library. If you're a book-lover, join your nearest library and get the latest bestsellers and other classics free of charge! Some libraries offer movie rentals for a nominal fee. Magazines and newspapers are available also.
- Most cities offer a guide to local events both in newspapers and online. Weekends are usually filled with free festivals, art showings, and other events that might interest you. Take advantage of what's offered!
- Look into museum exhibitions and other cultural events. Many museums have certain days each month when the entrance fees are either free or greatly reduced.
- Instead of going out to dinner and a movie, invite friends over for a shared meal. You can either rent a movie or play board games. Having fun doesn't have to cost a lot of money.