One of the easiest ways to solve a budget problem is to cut expenses to save more money each month. This guide is going to teach you 15 different ways that you can set aside extra cash by simply making a few minor changes to your spending habits.
It’s easy to overspend without realizing it, especially if you don’t track your funds and keep a running tally on what is left in your bank account. Along with the information found in this article, you’ll benefit more if you have a monthly budget plan and clearly understand how much money you’re bringing in and exactly how it’s being spent.
Coupons can be a way to directly save money on the things that you buy. However, it’s also important that you don’t allow coupons to make you buys things that you wouldn’t buy otherwise. A coupon to get a $100 discount on a new set of tires for your car is great when they’re bald and already need to be replaced.
Your goal with couponing should be to find deals for the products you’re going to buy in the near future. The internet can be a great resource these days, especially since a lot of companies will give you a way to download and print out a coupon directly from their website.
It’s an excellent idea to stay in shape, but you don’t need to be a member of a gym or fitness center to do it. If you do already have a membership and use it multiple times each week, it may be worthwhile keeping it if it is a central focus in your life. However, a lot of people will sign up for the gym and never actually go work out. If you have a membership sitting around going unused, you’re just wasting money each month by keeping it open.
Consider other at-home alternatives that could replace the gym. If you only go there to walk on a treadmill, take a look at how many months of paying for a membership would cost you the same amount as the treadmill. It could be worthwhile to cancel the membership and buy equipment to use at home.
For some people, the social interaction is key to working out. You have to be more motivated to work out solo. However, you don’t need a gym to accomplish this goal. Find a friend or two that also wants to save money. All of you cancel memberships together and then start working out with each other at home or in public parks.
20 years ago, almost everyone had cable TV. Today, it is a dying media. You can easily cancel your cable services and replace them with online streaming platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. It’s quite possible to save over $100 per month by making this switch.
Some people prefer streaming over cable TV since you can choose what you want to watch at any time instead of being forced to watch whatever is on the stations. If you want to be able to keep some of your channels, you may be able to use a receiver dish to pick up basic networks without the need to pay for cable.
Hulu is another possible alternative. They have a live TV service that lets you watch live channels and on-demand recordings of your favorite cable shows. While this service isn’t anywhere near as cheap as other streaming options, it’s still roughly half the price of a cable TV subscription.
Where we live is often our largest monthly expense. Houses aren’t cheap to live in, and even apartments have recently become quite unaffordable too. Just because these expenses have risen rapidly in the past couple of years doesn’t mean you have to sit back and allow it to destroy your budget.
Unless you’re married with kids, you probably have some flexibility in your living arrangements. Getting one or more roommates can drastically reduce the cost of renting a house while still giving you most of the same enjoyment and quality of life. Sometimes it’s possible to rent a smaller house and have your household members sharing rooms.
Another potential option isn’t for everyone but it can severely reducing housing costs. I’m talking about ditching your home completely and living in a van. A lot of people have converted cargo or sprinter vans into living spaces. Some of them are quite nice looking too. This can save thousands per month for your budget and gives you a freedom that you can’t get anywhere else. When you live near the ocean, this same concept can be applied to living on a boat too!
Telephones are another expense that can often have some room to make some cuts. Many people still keep a landline phone in their house for emergencies, since they’ll work without power. However, this is also a bit of an outdated practice. Cell phones are very rarely unable to make calls, and they can often still make an emergency call when you need it.
If you don’t want to get rid of your landline or don’t have one, you may need to make some changes to your cell phone plan. Take a look at your monthly bill to see what you’re currently paying. Depending on your usage, you may be able to reduce your bill each month by reducing your limits. If you’re on an unlimited plan, see how much data you actually use each month. You may be able to downgrade off of the unlimited plan for substantial savings without changing your usage habits at all.
Couples will often combine their finances when they move in together and/or get married, but many do still keep separate accounts and pay bills on their own. There are some instances where this causes you to waste money though. When two members of the same household have service with the same company but pay separate accounts and bills, they’re likely spending more than they would if those accounts were combined.
Car insurance is one area where this will apply. By combining two policies that have one car insured on each, you can actually save around 10% each month. With cell phones the savings can be even more drastic since the first phone on a plan will cost extra. Combining two cell phones onto one plan can easily save $40-$60 per month with companies like Verizon. Streaming services are another example. There’s no need for two Netflix accounts in the same house.
For those of you that want to remain single, you could still save money combining bills with a close friend. Cell phones are one perfect example, but there are many more possibilities if you are roommates at least.
When you forget to pay a bill on time, you’ll get charged late fees and possibly additional interest. As long as you are confident that the funds will always be available in your bank account, you can avoid missed payments by setting up auto draft to pay your bills when they’re due. You do need to be careful using automated payments though. If you constantly drain your bank account balance to zero, you’ll likely end up with more problems and fees from automated payments that fail to process, especially if you get charged an overdraft fee from your bank.
I usually prefer to pay my bills manually, just to be safe and stay in touch with what I’m spending. However, there’s one situation where I’ll still use auto draft. Some utility companies will actually offer you a slight discount of 5% or sometimes even 10% if you set up your account to get paid with automated payments. This definitely makes it worthwhile to use, even if the savings are relatively small.
Extravagant spending for birthdays, Christmas and other Holidays can put a major strain on a budget. In many cases, this could indirectly put the same strain on your friends and family members too. When you give lavish presents, other people may feel guilty if they don’t spend a similar amount of money on your gift. You can spend less money on gifts while still enjoying the holidays.
Have a talk with your family and friends about gifts. See if this puts a strain on their finances, and try to work out something that is best for everyone. You may even be able to agree to stop buying presents and simply spend time with each other instead. Secret Santa gift exchanges can be another excellent alternative that keeps costs low while still allowing everyone the tradition of gift giving.
In my house, we used to spend absurd amounts of money on holidays, especially Christmas. We stopped doing that in recent years, and it’s honestly wonderful. Not only do we save thousands of dollars each year, but it’s also much less stressful. Instead of the focus being on presents, the focus is on spending quality time with each other. This is honestly much more valuable than any gift could ever be.
Heating & Cooling
In a home, your electricity bill will often be your most expensive utility payment. The main culprit that contributes the most to that power bill is your heating and air conditioning system. There are a number of things you can do to reduce your spending here to potentially save hundreds each month. Old AC systems are inefficient and should be replaced with an energy saver model, but this can also be quite expensive upfront to make this type of switch.
One option that doesn’t cost a penny and can be put into action immediately is to simply adjust the temperature of your thermostat. By allow your how to stay warmer during the summer months and colder during the winter months, you’ll experience a drastic reduction in electricity costs.
I used to live near the mountains of South Carolina. Most people kept their houses around 70° – 74° in the summer. After moving to South Florida, that actually felt too cold and it cost a small fortune to keep the house at those temps during the warm months. Over time, I was able to make my house warmer and can now be comfortable when it’s 77° – 80° in my house (although I still make it cooler at night). Making a similar switch in your own home can deliver big savings to you too.
Another alternative is to figure out where air escapes your home. Old windows and doors will be the most common causes, but a lack of insulation in your attic or crawlspace could also contribute. Making your home more energy efficient in this manner can allow your system to stop working overtime and cut energy use. While this can be very effective to reduce power consumption, it’s unfortunately expensive to do the work needed. Replacing windows in a house can easily cost $20,000 – $50,000 or even more. Returns on these investments can take many years, so you need a lot of cash available now to be able to lower expenses as much as possible long-term.
Besides the cost of a house, the amount of money that you spend on food each month will often be your 2nd largest expense each month. This is the case more so than normal in 2022 with rampant inflation, especially on the cost of groceries.
Carefully track how much you’re spending each month to keep yourself and your family fed. It’s possible to spend a lot more on food than you realize. My family of five can consume multiple thousands of dollars worth of food each month if I’m not careful.
If you only shop at the grocery store and don’t eat out elsewhere but you still spend too much, you may need to change some of your buying habits to save. Try to focus on buying food for meals and avoid buying junk like snacks. Also be sure to examine food waste. If you’re buying too much at once and can’t eat everything before it goes bad, changes will be needed to reduce that waste.
You can also take a look at another article on this site to learn more about Tips to Save on Grocery Bills During High Inflation.
Eating out at restaurants and getting fast food or takeout can be one area where expenses can get out of hand. A lot of single people will not cook at home and only eat away from their house, but this is actually more expensive than it could be preparing your own meals. If it’s difficult to prepare a single meal at once, try storing a couple of portions to eat later in the week.
Even dining out for a special occasion like a birthday can be a drain on finances if your budget is tight. You don’t have to give up celebrations though. Try cooking a nice meal at home for your significant other instead of spending $100 or more at a restaurant. This can actually be more meaningful and special to them since it takes effort instead of just spending money.
Credit & Financing
When you have a bad credit score, any financing will cost you more money. The best credit scores get the lowest interest rates, so it can be worthwhile to save money by improving your credit. Unlike many other tips and strategies found on this page, you won’t be able to enact savings with this method immediately. It will take time to repair a low score, but you should see gradual improvements over time. Even a minor bump to your credit rating could potentially save you a lot of money on a loan.
If you already have a mortgage and a car loan, you may feel like it’s too late to improve your credit to get a better rate. However, you can actually refinance high interest rate loans after improving your credit. This can allow you to reduce your monthly bills by potentially hundreds of dollars each month, simply by getting a lower interest rate.
For a small number of people, you may already be in a position to take advantage of savings here. If you have old loans with bad rates but recently improved your credit, explore options with those loans to see if you can get instant money in the bank.
Cash Back Rewards
A lot of credit cards have cash back deals, especially when you have a higher credit score. There are many monthly expenses and bills that can easily be paid with a credit card, so you can take advantage of some extra riches by paying bills with reward cards. By saving money with credit card rewards, you can use that extra cash to cover other budget shortfalls.
Overall, the funds you get from this method won’t be massive. It could be $10 up to a few hundred per month, depending on how much you spend. However, it’s essentially free money and can be compounded to grow into even more by investing it.
The real key to this tactic is paying off your balance in full each month before the post date on your account. You need to avoid all interest charges with this approach or else the savings you receive will get wiped out by interest charges. When you can be vigilant about paying off the card each month, you can easily make some spare cash without the need to change your other buying habits.
Everyone likes to have fun. It’s how we unwind after a tough week at work or simply to help melt away stress. Social interaction can also be a key part of entertainment, since it’s a lot more fun to do things with other people compared with going solo in most cases.
The problem with entertainment is that it can be expensive. Commercialized ways of having fun like going to a movie theater, playing video games, and taking vacations can be a major drain on your income. When you spend too much each month to have fun, you could conserve a lot of funds by slashing these costs.
Cutting your entertainment budget doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun though. Play games at home, visit free parks, have friends over, and try free events in your area. Sometimes more creative methods of fun can actually create longer lasting memories too, so you might be surprised how much you and your friends end up enjoying spending less on fun.
One final area where a lot of people waste a lot of their Benjamins is on their vehicle. Buying a new car costs more than $700 per month on average these days, and you can even spend thousands each month with luxury cars. These are depreciating assets, which means you’ll never recover the funds you spend on them, and they’ll lose value over time as you use them more. To make matters worse, some people own more than one vehicle, so they multiply these costs.
Just the money to buy a car is expensive and usually wasteful. Maintenance and other costs to actually use your vehicle add even more to that equation. Right now, gasoline is making it very expensive to operate a vehicle.
There are a lot of ways be frugal with your vehicles. Buy cars that are a few years old instead of brand new. Focusing on hybrid or even electric cars can possibly save on gas spending, but be sure to do the math to make sure it’s actually worthwhile.
Couples have the option to pinch pennies even more by eliminating extra vehicles and sharing one. By getting rid of an entire payment along with the maintenance and gas costs for one car, you can potentially keep an extra $1,000 per month of your income.