Cutting back on your expenses doesn’t have to change your life. In fact, making just a few adjustments in your everyday habits and making an effort to develop and follow a simple plan can save you thousands of dollars a year.
Cut Expenses and Save Money
Here are 10 easy ways to cut your expenses and save money – or 10 ways to help you pay off your debt.
1. Stop paying for publications
Cancel subscriptions to magazines and daily newspapers and visit your local library to keep up with your favorite periodicals. The library is also a great resource for borrowing the latest bestsellers, saving you money at the bookstore. With many new hardcover books costing upwards of $25, check out your used book store or thrift store as well to find what you are looking for at a fraction of the cost.
2. Cut back and/or bundle phone and Internet services
Take a look at the cost of your cell phone bill combined with what you pay for your home phone, Internet and cable/satellite and decide which services you need most. Do you have a large amount of unused minutes going to waste on your cell phone account? If so, change your cell phone package. Do you find you rarely use your landline? Perhaps you can close that account and rely solely on your cell phone. Do you subscribe to a cable or satellite service you rarely use? Reduce the package to basic services and save hundreds of dollars a year. Bundling, or consolidating your telecom services using one company, can also be an excellent way to save hundreds of dollars a year.
3. Cancel memberships you don’t utilize
Check your credit card statements for memberships to clubs you no longer use, from gym memberships to movie rental companies. Cancel the ones you don’t need. Some organizations, such as high school/college reunion sites, ancestry research and electronic greeting card memberships will automatically charge membership fees to your account each year, which is a waste if you don’t utilize them.
4. Plan and budget your meals weekly
Compose a menu plan for the next six days, taking into consideration buying and cooking in bulk and using food for multiple meals to avoid waste. Not only will you save money, you will save time. Be sure to save those leftovers for lunch the next day at work, saving possibly hundreds of dollars per month on restaurant food.
5. Sell items you no longer use
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Sort through your closets, attic, basement and garage and turn clutter into gold. List your items, from furniture, toys and dishes to collectibles and clothes for sale on eBay or Craigslist or hold a garage sale to generate immediate cash.
6. Alter your landscape to require less water
Water has become a commodity in recent years, and many communities have converted to xeriscape landscapes. Xeriscape plants require little or no maintenance and can typically survive without supplemental watering. Also take advantage of the benefits of mulching your gardens to maintain moisture and reduce water consumption and replace costly grass with rock gardens in hot regions.
7. Utilize coupons and sales
Coupons can pay off big-time at the checkout line. Check out Sunday newspapers for a large collection of weekly coupons as well as online coupon programs, such as Coupon Mom or Groupon. Watch for weekly grocery store advertisements which list special buys for the week and either plan your menu around the sales or stock up on staples. Consider purchasing a coupon book which offers big discounts at parks, retail stores and restaurants. Remember, too, that many stores honor coupons for competitors, so don’t throw away the sales flyer for a store you don’t normally shop at. The story you do normally visit might honor that other store’s coupon. If you’re not sure, ask.
8. Turn off pre-programmed utilities
Using an automated timer to run a sprinkler system or a pool pump when it’s not needed is like throwing money out the window. Turn pre-programmed timers to the manual position and simply check to see whether your grass is dry before watering and confirm the pool water really needs filtering. If you pre-program your air conditioning and/or heat, reduce the times to when you are home to eliminate waste.
The high cost of gasoline makes it more expensive to travel to work, school and run errands. Try carpooling everywhere you can, whether it’s to the office or a night on the town with friends. Consider riding a bike to work or use public transportation for routine commuting to pinch pennies.
10. Stop spending for one weekend
It seems like simple advice, to just stop spending money, but cutting back can be a real challenge for some. Try to reduce your consumption rate and go one weekend without making any purchases. Go through your refrigerator and pantry and cook using only the foods you have on hand. Weekend entertainment doesn’t have to cost money; head to the beach, read a book, rent a low-cost movie and forgo the cost of the theater or play board games with your family. Once you realize the savings, you may want to try an entire week.