When you look over your budget and realize that you’re spending more money than you’re making, you have two options. Your choices are to find a way to make more money or to work out a way to spend less money. Although increasing your income may be outside of your realm of control and is something I’ll be discussing in a future post, finding some pad in your monthly expenses can be as easy as looking through your list of expenditures and making a few simple adjustments. I’m not suggesting this will be entirely painless. However, if you undertake a thorough accounting of your expenses, you are sure to find a least a few you can eliminate or cut back on that will have the least affect on your current lifestyle:
Tips for Spending Less
Review your cable or satellite television bill
No, I don’t mean that you have to give up cable channels entirely, although dropping cable would make a huge difference in your monthly budget. Instead, consider removing a few extra services you subscribe to. Do you really need HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime? Just cutting a couple of movie channels can save you as much as $250 each year. We recently downsized our Dish Network subscription. We noticed the price had been slowly creeping up over the last few years and most of the channels we weren’t watching anyway. Netflix or Redbox are other ways to feed your movie habit at a much lower price.
Downsize Dining Out
Even though it’s been mentioned a lot, the cost of take outs and going out for dinner really adds up. If you can’t imagine the thought of giving up dining out, then at least set some boundaries for when you do so, i.e. only go when you have a coupon, eat lunch only, once per week, etc. Small changes can lead to big savings. Scary as it sounds, cooking at home really does lead to substantial savings in your grocery budget.
Can You Adjust the Thermostat?
By allowing your home to be a couple of degrees warmer in the summer and a couple of degrees colder in the winter, you can cut some of the expensive heating and cooling costs that have been plaguing homeowners so much these past few years. Combine this with other strategies to cut your electric bill and see savings on your home utilities.
What’s Going On With Your Phone Bill?
There are often extra charges hiding there for services that you don’t even use. Call waiting, long distance calling plans, and caller ID service charges can really add up. As cell phones continue to grow more and more popular, you may even find that you don’t need a regular phone line at all.
Food Costs are Going Up – Are You Ready?
Evaluate the items you are purchasing at the grocery store. Certainly, if your family really enjoys name-branded cereal more than generic-branded cereal, you should purchase your regular box of Frosted Flakes. You’ll probably find, however, that your family couldn’t care less about the brand of ketchup or bread that you purchase. These little savings can quickly cut your grocery bill down to a more manageable size.
Budget cuts like these are great ways to get your budget under control without feeling like you’ve deprived yourself too much. Alone, none of these little sacrifices will save your family’s finances, but together these changes will really help you find some extra cash in your monthly budget.