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10 Household Expenses You Should Cut Today

10 Household Expenses You Should Cut Today

Putting a leash on your budget can be as hard as putting a leash on an elephant – sometimes the overall situation seems so overwhelming you get demotivated before you even start. I won’t go so far as to say that cutting household expenses is all about motivation, that would be too presumptuous on my part, but in fact financial difficulties cause problems with motivation and provoke depression. This is why it is recommended as soon as you notice you are under financial strain, to start dealing with those problems immediately.

Most people think cutting their budget will cause a very negative impact on the quality of their lives and they will have to sacrifice a lot of the commodities they really enjoy. This is not necessarily true, since modern living includes a lot of things we can easily do without, or we can find a quality replacement for.

Cable TV subscriptions

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Sitting in front of the TV

    Let’s be honest, nobody has the time to watch TV all through the day and all those premium channels you are paying for are going to waste. Pay-per-view shows and movies might seem pricey, but in the long run, you get the bang for your buck instead of constantly paying for subscriptions you are not using. Also, you can use the internet to watch shows online for free or for a small fee.

    Branded cleaning products

    Most people take buying household products as a necessary expenditure. However, there isn’t much of a difference, in terms of both chemistry and effectiveness, between a mid-priced detergent and the top-of-the-line highly advertised brand-name detergent. Of course, you need to clean your home but you don’t necessarily need to buy the cleaning products in stores. DIY household products are much cheaper to make, better for your health and are eco-friendly – talk about saving and increasing your quality of life.

    Overdue fees

    Bills that stack up to high heavens are the worse kind of household expenses, and can destroy your budget in a matter of months. Don’t forget to make regular payments since sanctions and penalty fees pile up and are the source of sorrow for many people. If you are not able to meet a certain important payment, it might be a better option to bite the bullet and ask somebody who is close to you for a loan. At least they won’t make you pay them back with interest.

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    Landscaping and gardening

    Women gardening

      If you are house owner, you probably know landscaping services can cost quite a bit.They are not one of the most important household expenses – you can do all of these things yourself, without calling for professional help, but it takes effort and a bit of research. As far as tools go, you can buy used tools or borrow them from neighbors – just make sure you return them when you are done using them.

      Subscriptions and memberships

      Some premium memberships can help you save money in the long run. On the other hand, some people get hooked by these and start hoarding every subscription and membership they can get their hands on, but this can be a waste if you are not using the benefits you get from them. Try finding the ones that actually give you discounts on things you need.

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      Credit monitoring services

      Identity theft is on the rise and more and more people are falling prey to all kinds of frauds and phishing scams on a daily basis. Credit monitoring services are a nice option to have if it is free, but in most cases, it does very little apart from notifying you your account has been accessed.

      Extended warranties

      Most common, regular warranties cover a period of 12 months which is enough. If you feel it is a good idea to pay for an extended warranty, go for it, but try to be realistic and avoid panicking yourself into this decision. These days, you can find reviews and comments about products all over the internet and they can range from short, sentence-long general impressions to in-depth reviews. Use them! If you pay extra for a warranty you end up never using, than you’ve wasted your investment.

      Simple household medicines

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      Natural remedies

        Allergies, low fevers, coughing and so on are just a few common medical conditions you don’t really need medicine to overcome. Different types of herbal tea can help with overcoming and dampening the symptoms caused by different conditions. Some health issues – e.g. diarrhea or constipation – can be resolved with a simple diet change. If you can catch a fever in the early stages, you can often prevent it from taking hold with plenty of liquid, rest and herbal medicine. Combine these household medicines with preventive measures like a healthy diet and exercise and you have a very cheap way of keeping your family healthy.

        Buying in bulk

        How much of your food goes to waste because it goes unused past its expiration date? If the answer to this question is “some” then you don’t need to buy it in bulk. Don’t buy things because it is cheap to get a lot of them. Always ask yourself: “Do I need a lot of them and will they spoil easily?” Certain items can be stored away for long periods of time – canned goods, toilet paper, household chemicals like laundry detergent, tooth paste, etc. You can easily stack up on a year’s supply of these, e.g. when you get your tax return, and never have to worry about them again.

        Always buying cheap

        Buying cheaper doesn’t always mean you are getting your money’s worth. Buying poor quality goods means you will be buying them again soon. In some cases, even used and second-hand quality items last longer than new ones which were poorly made. There is a difference between cost-effective and cheap, and this is something you’ll need to learn about through trial and error.

        Saving many is mostly about being informed and self-controlled. You will need to make an effort to change habits and find alternatives for things that cost too much. Also, make sure your efforts are helping your budget. A lot of times, people don’t stop to think saving methods through and realize it is actually costing them more instead of saving them money.

        Featured photo credit: Sad, depressed young couple paying bills. via shutterstock.com

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        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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        Last Updated on September 2, 2020

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

        In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

        4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

        Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

        1. Be Clear About the Objectives

        Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

        It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

        Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

        2. Keep Goals Realistic

        It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

        It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

        3. Account for Inflation

        Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

        Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

        For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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        4. Short Term Vs Long Term

        Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

        As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

        By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

        How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

        Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

        • Ensuring healthy savings
        • Making smart investments

        You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

        Ensuring Healthy Savings

        Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

        This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

        1. Track Expenses

        The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

        Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

        If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

        2. Pay Yourself First

        Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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        Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

        The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

        Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

        3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

        Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

        Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

        At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

        Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

        You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

        4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

        In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

        Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

        • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
        • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
        • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

        The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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        5. Talk About It

        Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

        Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

        6. Maintain a Journal

        For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

        If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

        When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

        Making Smart Investments

        Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

        1. Consult a Financial Advisor

        Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

        Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

        2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

        Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

        Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

        As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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        3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

        Einstein once remarked about compounding:

        “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

        Use compound interest when setting financial goals

          Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

          Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

          4. Measure, Measure, Measure

          All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

          If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

          Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

          The Bottom Line

          Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

          and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

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          Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

          Reference

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