Monthly expenses can have a huge effect on your life. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck or struggling to save up for your future, then you have probably given a lot of thought to your monthly bills and how you can cut back on them. Even those small monthly bills eventually add up, so you really need to consider ALL of your expenses, not just your fat ones. Look and see our twenty easy ways to cut down monthly expenses.
1. Write down all of your expenses
More often than you realize, you hand over a dollar or two for something and think “it’s only a dollar.” But those dollars add up more than you think. To be more mindful of what you’re spending, write down everything you spend for a month and you can then see where to cut costs in the future. This will work, trust me. All you need is a pocket-sized notebook to keep in your purse. You don’t know what you’re actually spending until you see it all in front of you.
2. Cut out the takeaway coffees
If you’re like me, then coffee is a part of your daily routine. While coffee is fantastic, it can be pricey. Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks will empty your wallet pretty quickly, so the best way to cut back is to switch over to take away coffee. Find a nice to-go mug and a home brew coffee that you like and start making your coffee in the morning. Not only will you save money, but you will also save time in the morning.
3. Cycle or walk to work
This one can be trickier if you have a long commute, but cars are money guzzling machines, so it may be worth it to work out how to get to work with a cheaper route. Buses, bikes, trains, carpooling, and walking are all good ways to get around driving to work. You might even find yourself getting some exercise in at the same time.
4. Shop in thrift stores (at least some of the time)
You can find designer items for way less than normal prices in thrift stores. You probably won’t want to get everything at thrift stores (intimates and shoes are a little questionable), but you can find some nicer things or a cheaper alternative for Halloween costumes.
5. Buy the unbranded products in the supermarket
This one might not feel like it is making a difference, but you are! You may only be saving a couple of cents on each item, but there usually isn’t much difference in the taste. There may be some groceries that you can’t change out, but read the label and see for yourself. Brand name and generic almost always have the exact same ingredients. If you want even more savings at the grocery store, try apps like iBotta and Shopkick that gives you points and coupons for buying particular brands while grocery shopping.
6. Take your own lunch to work
This takes a little more time than some people want because you have to prepare your own meal before you leave your home. But wouldn’t you prefer to have an extra couple of bucks (up to $100) at the end of each month instead? That can be a pretty large savings by the end of the year! Invest in a nice lunch box and start cooking!
7. Bulk cook your meals
Set aside a few hours on Sunday night and make a load of different dishes prepare you for the whole week. Pop them in the freezer and you won’t be tempted to head out for lunch during the week.
8. Cut out the pricey drinks
Perhaps you don’t drink much, but for a lot of people, spending a good proportion of their monthly salary on expensive boozy nights out as part of their monthly regime. If this rings true, try cutting back or going alcohol-free for a month to see how much you save.
9. Buy nonperishable items in bulk and use coupons
A lot of people never think to buy the “club” sizes of foods, thinking they don’t need that much, or they don’t have the room for it, but the price of some of those foods per unit can be a real savings for you. You should keep an eye out for coupons and codes of food or other items that you use a lot. Try using the coupons.com site for updated daily deals on hundreds of items. Simply search for what you need (and don’t buy what you don’t need, even if it’s on sale!) and if a good enough coupon presents itself, buy it in bulk. Then you’ll have a few weeks or months of stuff for a great deal!
If you think you might be eligible to refinance your home at a lower rate, contact some lending institutions and inquire. Even if you’re underwater on your mortgage, you may still be able to consolidate all or some of them. Locking in a lower interest rate can not only save you money over the life of the loan but can also lower your monthly payment and increase your monthly cash flow.
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11. Consolidate your student loans
This can be a big one for people with a lot of student debt. If your loans are locked at a high-interest rate, figure out whether it makes sense to consolidate all or some of them. This isn’t really an upfront saving, but it would make your money go further in the long run since you would pay off your loans quicker. If you want to save money, you should consider refinancing your student loans as well.
12. Install CFL or LED light bulbs
You might want to consider switching your lights to either CFLs or, better yet, LEDs. These different bulbs are way more energy efficient than the regular bulbs you probably have in your house. On average, an LED bulb will save you 66 cents a month in one bulb, so if you change all of them in your house, you could be looking at roughly $50 of savings a year, which is not bad considering those bulbs will last for years.
13. Install a programmable thermostat
We’ve got the technology now that allows us to have programmable thermostats. With these, you can automatically change the heating and cooling of your home when you’re not at home when you’re asleep, and so on, saving significantly on your heating and cooling bills. You can also set it to heat or cool your home right before you arrive home from work. This is especially useful for people with erratic schedules or anyone worried about their pets at home during the day.
14. Unplug all unused electrical devices
My mom started doing this a few years back, and it initially drove me insane. However, it has ended up saving on electricity, so I can’t argue with her on it. Everything that is plugged in draws us electricity, even if it's not in use. Now, it obviously doesn’t pull out as much, but it still has a tiny amount going through, so unplugging things can actually lower your bill.
15. Utilize timers and power strips
Along those lines, consider using power strips and power timers to turn electrical devices on and off. These things can help control the tiny amount of electricity that plugs draw out. They have switches or timers that will shut down the plugs access to electricity. This way you won’t have to unplug all your things to save money.
16. Lower the temperature on your water heater
THIS IS A MAJOR ONE. You might not know, but your water heater is a major drain on your money. Hot water heaters use roughly 15% of your energy on your bill, and it doesn’t need to. People typically have their water temperature up higher than they need it. If you turn down your temperature to 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit, you can save a portion of your energy bill per month. See more about this here.
17. Cancel club memberships
People hold on to gym memberships a lot longer than necessary. They might try to convince themselves that they will eventually get back to the gym and use it, so it’s worth keeping. The reality is that you may not need it, and you shouldn’t pay for it if you’re not actually using it. If you aren’t going at least once a week, you should cancel your membership. It’ll save you $10 – $80 a month.
18. Reduce or eliminate your cable bill
Netflix and Hulu may end up replacing cable television in the next few years. There’s a good chance you find a cheaper way to gain access to your favorite shows if you try hard enough. Consider downgrading or canceling your cable altogether if you are already using streaming services.
19. Request a credit card rate reduction
If you have a lot of credit debt, try calling your credit card company and see if you can get a rate reduction. Paying less on your interest can make a big change in your monthly budget. This is usually only something you can do if you pay your bill on time all the time. The key here, though, is to stop buying on credit until your financial situation is healthy.
20. Shop around for homeowners and auto insurance (or bundle them together)
Most insurance companies also offer a good discount if you bundle your homeowners and auto policies together. If you currently use two separate insurers, ask what kind of discount each would offer if you bundled the plans together. Additionally, make sure you check every so often with other companies about their rates. They may be able to give you a better offer, and your company might even try to match other offers if you get them.