When you decide it’s time to make savings, you might think there’s nothing to cut and you’re stuck where you are.
But with detailed budgeting and some out-of-the-box thinking, there are always ways to reduce your monthly expenses.
Here are some of the things I’ve done to ‘trim the fat’ …
Change Your Cable Package
Cable remains one of the biggest US household expenses. Yet even if you’re not ready to cut the cord and rely solely on the likes of Netflix, calling them to say you’re considering doing so may be enough to get a discount.
It’s also worth looking at more affordable packages. Are you really watching all those movies and sports? I personally found myself watching highlights of games online.
Change Your Cellphone Plan
Many of us choose the best cell phone plan so we don’t have to think about it, but do you really need unlimited data and the extra costs that come with it? You’d be surprised how often you actually connect to Wi-Fi and how little you actually watch the video with your data when out of the house.
Check out a more mid-range plan or do the old “I’m considering leaving” trick and see if they can give you a small discount on your current plan.
Be Energy Efficient
Powering your home is a necessity but there are several things you can do today that can save you money in the long-run.
If you haven’t already moved over to energy efficient CFL and LED light bulbs, now’s the time as they can save you between $60 and $125 per bulb over their life-span.
Unplugging your electronics at night can save up to $100 annually, and you can save up to 3% on your heating bill just by turning down the thermostat by one degree!
A constant high level of credit card debt is never a good idea. Instead, borrow only when you need to and know you can afford it. Payday loans from reputable sites like ElcLoans can give you breathing room when facing unexpected expenses. The amounts are also small and you’re not locked into a long-term commitment, like other forms of credit.
Stop Dining Out and Buying Lunch
Whether you like evening meals at restaurants, buy your lunch while at work or are a takeout addict, you’re burning money if you don’t spend some of your days a week consuming food you’ve prepared at home with raw ingredients – or at least bulk bought supermarket products.
There’s always a cost in terms of time and effort, but making food can also be fun, healthier and you’re going to
Use Public Transport
A vehicle is a hard thing to let go of and many of us simply can’t do it for practical reasons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save on gas by using public transport, walking or cycling when possible.
If however you do live and work in a city without other obligations, relying solely on public transport is not such a stretch and imagine the amount you’d save by not having to make car payments or pay for insurance and gas.
Workout at Home
If you’re a workout fanatic, going to the gym has its obvious benefits – not least the range of equipment. Yet gym memberships can be quite the monthly cost, and for those of us that are just trying to burn calories and stay in shape, it might not be worth it.
Weights and other basic exercise equipment are not expensive and can easily be used at home. Furthermore, walking, jogging and cycling can be done outside in the glory of nature for free!
Buy Generic Branded Food and Household Items
Some brands we can’t live without. We legitimately like the taste or quality. But does this apply to everything? Make a list of what you buy on a monthly basis and ask yourself whether a generic unbranded version would really make a difference to you.
One area it will make a difference is your bank balance.
Use Coupons and Offers
Sunday newspaper coupons are still thriving and you can easily find printable and digital ones online as well. Every supermarket also reduces prices on select products every week.
If you give yourself some time, you can plan your shopping trip based around these offers and coupons to maximize savings.
Brew Your Own Coffee
Giving up coffee – that would be impossible – but brewing your own and bringing it to the office in a flask instead of using the machine or going to Starbucks will bring you savings every day.
A $4 latte might not seem much at the time, but that’s $1,460 at the end of the year!
For not much more you can buy 30 Oz of ground coffee from the store.
Sell Unwanted Items
That cocktail making set you got for Christmas but never used, those unworn clothes you forgot to return, your comic book collection that you never intend to read again, can all be sold online or the old fashioned way. All of us can find something we don’t want but somebody else might.
Unfortunately, when most people realize it’s time to get rid of their oldest junk, it’s literally just old junk.
Of course, some old junk can still make you some money on eBay or at a yard sale, but keeping in a constant mindset of selling unwanted and unused items asap will be more beneficial.
Finished that book? Get rid of it. Upgraded your cell phone? Sell your old one before it’s obsolete. Completed those video games a few times? Trade them in.
7 Items We Really Don’t Need But Purchase Anyway
The same advice has been given time and again – don’t buy what you don’t need. However, this wisdom is typically overlooked and under-prioritized. Here are the seven most common items we tend to buy, even if we really don’t need them or even want them:
Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it deserves any of your hard-earned cash or a place in your home. Ask yourself which is more useful a year from now: that coffeemaker on sale you’re never going to use, or the cash you’d end up spending on it?
Sale items drive us to buy items we never would have considered before because it has a good price tag on it. A general rule to follow is that if you wouldn’t buy it at regular price, don’t get it on sale either.
Around the end of every year, advertising campaigns are designed to appeal to consumers’ holiday obligations. These include ornaments, tassel-and-frill niceties, and little ‘must-haves’ that aren’t quite what your wallet thinks is essential. Instead, try buying holiday decorations after the season is over to get a great deal on items that you can use next year.
Smartphones and Tablet PCs
It’s nice to have advanced computer functionality and an internet connection in the palm of your hand, but it’s not always necessary. If you didn’t have to pay monthly bills for your smartphone, the savings could add up very quickly. Consider using a simpler cell phone for making calls and leaving the rest of your needs to your computer or laptop.
Going out to eat every day really adds up over time, although it can be very convenient and might not seem like a lot of money for each meal. If you don’t have time to cook every day, consider cooking meat or simple meals beforehand that can be kept in the freezer until you are ready to heat it up.
Also, use your crock pot more often, so you can throw in all the ingredients and let it take care of the cooking for you. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Spare Television Sets
Most households don’t need a TV in every room, let alone a 60″ plasma. Families can spend more time together in front of a single classic CRT TV if it came down to it.
With today’s technology, you can also access TV shows for free on your personal computer. Don’t waste money on extra TVs for bedrooms when you can walk to the living room or access the same shows on your computer.
Clothes and Shoes
It’s good to change up your style every now and then, but just having enough clean clothes to get from one wash cycle to the next is all that’s really necessary. Many closets are filled with dozens of shoes that are never worn and shirts with tags still on them. Although we always want new clothes, most of us wear the same favorites more often, so don’t waste your money.
Every house will have a few of these around, but if more storage is needed, it may be a better idea to see what can be tossed first. Optionally, you can find self-storage facilities to store the extras in one safe, convenient location.
The fancy ottoman with a hidden lid and TV stands with multiple storage units are priced considerably higher than those that don’t have storage options.
Getting a storage unit instead can also keep your valuable items safe from theft. If you are about to buy something you might not need, give it a few days and ask yourself again if you want it. Chances are, you wanted to buy it because it was on sale or you got excited about the idea of it.
Seven Things Worth Purchasing Second Hand
An excellent way to save some cash on many different types of products is to go down the second-hand route. Although there are certainly many things that really ought to be purchased new, there are also many types of products that when purchased used are, other than the lower price, almost identical to their new counterparts.
The second-hand market should, therefore, be one of your primary tools when attempting to live a more frugal lifestyle. Should you be considering purchasing more items second hand in the future, here are seven types of used products that you really cannot go wrong with.
Many people look down on the idea of second-hand clothes but in reality, many pieces of second-hand clothing are in near perfect condition. And despite this fact, they are typically sold at a fraction of what they would be sold for new.
There’s also the small matter of vintage clothing being very much in fashion right now. Why shell out a hundred dollars for vintage imitation clothing when genuine vintage clothing can be purchased for next to nothing?
If you’re an active participant in any type of sport, you are likely to be well aware of just how much some sports equipment can cost. The cost of new skis, for example, often prohibits people from even getting involved in the sport. And even supposedly cheaper sports, such as American football, can still require quite an investment to get fully kitted out.
Provided you are willing to forgo the shiny new variety of sports equipment however, you can save quite a bit of cash. And when it comes to seasonal sports, in particular, you can often find used equipment in almost perfect condition.
Provided you are willing to forgo the latest processors and graphics cards, you can save quite a bit of money by purchasing your new desktop, laptop or netbook on the second-hand market. And provided you know what to look for, some serious bargains can be found.
This is because most people don’t understand exactly what determines a computers value. And while you might need to format the hard drive, from a hardware standpoint, most second-hand computers are in pristine condition.
The latest video games, when purchased new, can cost upwards of fifty dollars. This is despite the fact that most of them get pretty tiresome after just a few weeks. The cost of being a serious gamer can be greatly reduced however if you are willing to purchase the latest games second hand.
And because most retailers of second-hand video games are incredibly picky about the condition of the used games that they sell, you are unlikely to even be able to tell the difference between the new and used variety.
DVD’s and Blu Ray
Another second-hand purchase that is unlikely to have any effect on pleasure is used DVDs and Blu-rays. The ridiculous cost of the new variety is considered by many to be the leading cause of online piracy but it’s not necessary to become a pirate to avoid such prices. Used DVD’s’s and Blu-rays typically cost a fraction of the cost of the new variety but just like video games, most of the time they are in perfect condition.
Although you are better off going down the used route when it comes to just about any type of book, never is this more the case than when looking for university textbooks. For a start, new university textbooks are incredibly expensive.
Then there is the fact that due to their nature, they are widely available on the second-hand market at seriously discounted prices. While it’s obviously worth avoiding those that are falling apart, provided you take the time to look for them, you can easily find used textbooks in excellent condition.
Out of every item on this list, used cars are of course the biggest money savers. Not only are they significantly cheaper than the new variety, but they also don’t depreciate in quite the same plummeting fashion.
Provided you know a little about cars, and you are willing to do your research, some real bargains can be found. And never has this been more the case than now, when more and more people are in need of a cash injection. The cost of used cars has therefore never been lower.
The Five Best Ways To Cut Your Bills In Half This Year
While you may not get a pay raise this year, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be better off financially by the end of the year. The trick is to learn how to reduce expenses and free up some of your hard-earned income.
Try these five tips and you’ll soon notice that there is money left over at the end of each month, allowing you to live more comfortably and increase the balance in your savings account.
Brown Bag Three Times a Week
A painless way to reduce your daily spending is to take lunch from home three times a week. You can put together a perfectly appetizing lunch using leftovers, fresh fruit, and other basics. Best of all, that brown-bag lunch will cost a fraction of what you are paying for that combo at the local fast food joint.
Have the Home’s Heating and Cooling Systems Checked Or Replaced
There’s a good chance that your home heating and cooling system is using more energy than necessary. Having it properly serviced will pave the way for reduced energy consumption. That will mean lower utility bills each month.
Even if you cool with window units and heat with a furnace, keeping them in top working order and making sure the temperature settings are at reasonable levels will save a bundle every month.
You should also consider replacing your old furnace and air conditioner with a new one that is more energy efficient, which will save you money on your utility bills.
Bundle Your Communication Services
Do you currently have separate accounts for your home phone, mobile, cable, and Internet services? Choosing to bundle all these services under one plan could reduce the monthly cost by up to half. While this means committing to a contract for a year or two, the money that you save by bundling will make it worth the time and effort to make the switch.
Reduce Your Home Energy Consumption
Keeping the heating and cooling system maintained is just one way to reduce energy consumption and save money. Take a good look at other ways to reduce energy usage. Don’t run the dishwasher until there is a full load. Consider washing clothing in cold water when possible.
Turn off the lights when no one is using a room. The minor changes don’t make a lot of difference on their own, but cumulatively they will make a significant impact on your monthly utility costs.
Consolidate Unsecured Debt
If you have several credit card accounts with balances that carry over from one month to the next, that means you are paying interest on those balances. Do yourself a favor and find a consolidation loan that carries a rate of interest that is lower than the best rate on any of those credit accounts.
You’ll benefit from having one bill to manage each month, and also incur less interest. That will make it easier to retire the debt sooner rather than later.
Saving money starts with learning how to reduce your current bills. Consider these tips to get you started on better money management to pocket more money this year.