These days it is more important than ever to cut the fat out of your budget. With a slow economy and an uncertain future, saving is crucial. Luckily, most people have a lot of room to make some cuts. Take a look at 4 easy areas where you can do some trimming.
There is usually a lot of fat in the entertainment budgets of most people. Sure, all work and no play is not a way to live, but you can make some sacrifices to save money.
First and foremost is cable or satellite. If you still have a subscription television service, cut that cord. Switch to a streaming service instead and change the way that you consume TV. Streaming allows you to watch television on your own time while also catching up on all of those old shows and movies. Even better is the fact that it costs a fraction of what satellite costs. The average cable bill is over 100 dollars while services like Netflix and Hulu are less than 10 dollars.
Next, take a look at how you have fun and look for cheaper alternatives. Like live music, check your local city governments calendar and look for free concerts in the park. Want to go see a movie, visit the dollar theater instead. There are all sorts of free or low cost ways to entertain yourself if you get creative and do a little research.
Finally, do you like dining out or going to the bear for a few drinks. It is a great way to catch up with friends but there are some alternatives. Remember that your friends are probably in the same situation as you. Team up and do pot luck dinners or take turns hosting BYOB get togethers.
The next easiest area to make cuts is with your food budget. This is not saying that you need to go hungry, but you can make some smart choices.
For starters, you should start brown bagging it to work. Fast food meals generally average 8 to 10 dollars and are as unhealthy as they are expensive. Take our lunch for 1 to 2 dollars a day and save almost 200 dollars a month. As side benefits, you might lose a little weight and will save all of that time you have been spending waiting in line.
Lunch is just the beginning with food savings though. There are two other meals in a day that you can save on. Do so by taking up meal planning. All that you need to do is plan out your meals for the week, all of them. Then, you can write out a grocery list of exactly what you need, minus what is already in your pantry. This allows you to cut out the waste. Since most Americans waste 10 to 20 percent of the food they buy, this is significant money.
Wrap up your food savings by switching to lower cost foods. Sounds bad, but you can still eat well with low cost foods. Staples like potatoes and rice can be serves for just pennies a serving. Even better is the fact that you can make dozens of different meals with these foods. You will cut expenses and never be bored.
Now, let’s turn out attention to your car or truck. You spend a lot of money in this category and there is likely some room for improvement.
First, you need to shop your car insurance. This is especially true if it has been more than 2 years since you have done so. Insurers like to nickle and dime your rates up over the years. You start out paying 150 dollars a month and before yo know it, your monthly rate is over 200 dollars. Get quoted from at least 3 insurers and you might be surprised at how much you can save, especially with new customer discounts.
After insurance costs, take a look at your car payment. Is there room for improvement? If your credit rating has improved over the years or if you financed at a dealer, you are likely paying more than you need to. Even a small reduction of just 1 or 2 percent can help you cut expenses greatly and there are usually no costs in refinancing.
Home expenses can be a bit trickier to save on, but the effort is well worth it.
If you want to save the most money, a big change may be in order. Renters have it the easiest if they want to save. If you are at the end of your lease, consider moving to a cheaper home. Sacrifice a few amenities or a little space for a potential monthly savings of hundreds of dollars.
Home owners can also save but it takes a lot more paperwork. Refinancing your home could save you a good deal of money by stretching out your loan a little longer or even saving you on interest. If you want to go to the extreme, sell your home and purchase a more affordable space. You could even use some of your proceeds to pay off credit card debt or boost your savings.
Besides your physical housing costs, there are other ways that you can save on home expenses. Shopping your home owners or renters insurance is one way. Another is to cut your utility expenses. Install a programmable thermostat or, if you are deregulated, look for a cheaper electric provider.
There you have it, 4 ways to cut expenses in the new year. Most of them will barely affect your quality of life but can save you big and let you improve your financial position. Take action now and make it a better year.