With the start of the new year comes lots of resolutions. A very common resolution is the desire to get one’s finances under control. Budgeting is a crucial part of overall financial fitness. To jump start your savings, here are a few ways to cut your expenses without feeling like you’re sacrificing:
1. Make a weekly menu plan and stick to it. We have saved so much money by using this method. On Sunday night I make our menu for the week and put a copy of it on our fridge. That way the whole family knows what is for dinner and it cuts down on the stress of the dinner hour. I can also make sure I use up any leftovers I will have and I can plan my menu around what is on sale.
2. Buy items in bulk to cut costs. Consider joining a Costco or Sam’s Club. If you don’t need massive amounts of an item but you have friends who might – have them chip in to buy bulk meals, toiletries, batteries, etc., which allows you to divide up the cost while each getting the amount of the item that you actually need and not letting it go to waste. I also use this strategy when stockpiling foods. I only stockpile what I know we will use and am careful to check expiration dates.
3. If you like to go out to the neighborhood pub or nightclub, eat BEFORE you go out rather than splurging. It will help you to have the right mindset when making choices of when to spend and when to not. I know that if I am hungry I am more inclined to make different choices than when I am not. Find out what nights your favorite hangouts have special deals. Again, the idea is to make your spending intentional, and not emotional.
4. Use your TV to make you fitter, not fatter, and cut expenses at the same time. Instead of the gym, work out at home using exercise tapes from the library or exercise shows on TV.
5. Use online coupon websites to save money.
6. Cheaper groceries: pasta, rice, ramen noodles, potatoes. Meat is expensive; starchier foods are filling and much cheaper. My crockpot has been a lifesaver and a budget saver on more occasions than I can count.
7. Coffee is cheaper than lattes – about half the price! If you are addicted to coffeeshops, have a small coffee or tea and consider the latte an occasional luxury.
8. Buy used books rather than new. Use the library more.
9. Walk or bicycle everywhere you can to save money on gas.
10. Review your insurance, your phone bill, your cable TV bill, your internet bill, your cell phone bill, and any other bills that you have, to see where you could trim costs. It’s highly likely that you could save as much as a few hundred dollars a month. We do this every January and evaluate what stays in the budget and what gets cut.
11. Ask your credit card company to lower your interest rate if you’ve been paying on time.
12. Consider either quitting the gym or asking that they pause your membership for a few months to save some money. And consider doing the same with your cable bill. Cutting expenses for a few months may allow you to catch up, pay off late bills, set aside an emergency stash, and give you a little breathing room so you’re less stressed about your expenses.