Today more than ever people are trying to find ways to cut back and trim their expenses. Whether you are expecting a new addition to the family or expecting to retire in the coming months, the hardest part about adjusting is often changing your habits and mindset.
Because we are creatures of habit it may take some getting used to, but once accomplished the rewards are endless. If you are into the quick fix you need to look no further than your refrigerator, as by using its contents more you can save yourself a bundle almost immediately.
If you find yourself having to live on less these days, you are not alone. While this may not comfort you, there are some things you can do that will make the most of your income and relieve some of the stress.
The hardest part about change is the adjustment that goes with it. Gather your bills together and get started.
Face Your Purchases
It can be a hard lesson to learn exactly what you are spending money on, but it is very important to list every dollar spent because you then become truthful with yourself about what is going on with your money.
Research your bills for the last three months. Find the median amount you pay for each bill.
Next, go through other things you spend money on such as impulse buys and daily purchases. What each dollar is spent on matters, even a pack of gum. We spend the most money on these types of purchases.
After learning exactly where each of your pennies and dollars goes to, then you can use the information to create a budget for yourself.
There are some things you can change right away that will reduce your monthly bills. This will be different for each of us and that is ok.
Do It Yourself
List all the things you pay someone else to do. Include everything from lawn care to dog walking to lashes and wigs. What can you do by yourself? Now, depending on your time, talents, gifts, and abilities, you may not have any other option but to pay someone else to do something for you. but, what are you paying for just for convenience?
Reduce Utility Usage
Utilities can always be reduced. By simply turning off lights when not in use, using the dishwasher once it is full, having shorter showers, and lowering the thermostat, you will find that your utility bills can be drastically reduced. Use night lights and even a candle if you can. We use highlights in every room. We use motion sensor lights in the bathroom, hallway, and laundry room.
Basic cable today offers more than the standard thirty channels that existed years ago. Basic cable also offers the option to watch on-demand movies, and even a free movie channel where you can select a movie to watch. If you cannot afford on demand, there are several places that offer rentals for just a couple of dollars, or even cheaper.
Check places like your cell phone provider, I seen some people get free access to streaming services, this can help save you money.
Check with your employer, some offer perks and discounts to many things, ask about what they offer discounts on.
Check out your state, there are many things to do for entertainment that does not cost lots of money. Some things to do are free, besides gas and whatever you bring for your own food and drink.
First, bring your lunch to work. Too many of us are in the habit of grabbing something at the local outlet versus making a sandwich or bringing some soup for lunch. While this in itself is keeping the local businesses running, your pocket book is suffering.
You may also want to enjoy more meals at home. While a meal out once in a while is not harmful, eating out or ordering in more than a couple of times a month can add up. Also try and plan your meals ahead as this will reduce waste. Whatever you spend under your allotted amount, put in a jar and save it until you have saved enough for the item you wanted.
Bringing your lunch to work is a great way to keep your pocketbook full and your expenses low. Shop the weekly fliers for grocery sales and plan your meals accordingly.
Take leftovers, when available to work to avoid wasting food. When it comes to food shopping, be prepared. Set aside an amount ample to cover your food and stick to it.
Did you know the average household wastes roughly $60 worth of food every month? That can be an extra $60 going towards debt or your savings account! Stop wasting food and money. If you tracked every plate of food thrown away, you would be surprised how much money you wasted.
Generic products give you the same quality but at a fraction of the cost, allowing you to really stretch your dollar.
So get that Sunday paper, clip those coupons, and do check the stores and the sales that are going on. There is a lot of competition going on right now, so use it to your advantage. If you use coupons and discounts, you can easily purchase a whole year’s worth of shampoo and conditioner for $15!
Approach your food shopping as if it was a game. See how much money you can save. Set aside an amount ample for the supplies needed and then see how far under you can achieve.
Bonus Tip 1 for Groceries: If you bought generic brand over name brand, save the difference between them. For example if you normally buy Barilla pasta and bought Walmart brand pasta and the difference is 55 cents, add that 55 cents into the savings jar.
Bonus Tip 2 for Groceries: I know I have said this in other posts but it is always a great reminder. Any money saved from discounts, sales, and coupons also needs to be saved into your savings jar. For example, you saved $25, that whole $25 needs to go into your savings jar.
At the end of the month, add up everything you have saved in your jar, enter the amount into your savings lanner and then put it into your savings account. Remember, every little bit counts.
Minimize Your Need To Borrow
Credit Cards were designed for unexpected expenses and convenience, but now that most banks offer a debit card with a Visa/MasterCard logo, the convenience has been removed.
Look over your credit card debt and review your monthly bill there are probably a lot of items that you can do without purchasing. If you have several cards, keep only one or two for emergencies and cancel the rest.
Create a savings envelop or savings account with your bank, name it Repairs. Add money to it each week and any time something needs to be repaired, you will have the money and not have to use credit cards.
Save Money Any Way You Can
Surviving on a low budget does not have to interfere with your quality of life. Whatever your circumstance, whether it be temporary or permanent, these tips should give you a chance to utilize your resources to the fullest.
Get that Sunday paper, clip those coupons, and do check the stores and the sales that are going on. There is a lot of competition going on right now – use it to your advantage.
The most important thing to remember before heading out is to compile a list of the items needed and stick to the list. More often than not, if you go out without a direction you are likely to pick up items that you could have done without.
Cutting back requires a lot of determination and sheer will. Adjusting our habits is not always easy, but when approaching a life change, it may be necessary.