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30 Ways To Cut Your Monthly Expenses

30 Ways To Cut Your Monthly Expenses

A while ago, for one month, myself and a then work colleague lived money-free—I cut expenses by 100%, pretty much! The job I was in at the time paid for my accommodation and transport, so all I had to worry about was food. On the second day of the experiment, however, we met a ‘freegan’ who regularly collected food thrown out by all the supermarkets in town. So, following her lead, we went along, filled up her truck with perfectly packaged food, including toothpaste and other essentials, and lived money-free for the month.

Now, I’m not suggesting you go and rummage around in supermarket bins for a month to cut expenses, because, for one, I think it’s illegal in many parts of the world! Still, there are many other ways you can cut your expenses and have lots of your monthly income left to spend, save and enjoy.

1. Write down all of your expenses

How many times do you hand over $1 or £1 for something and think, “Oh, it’s only a dollar,” and then repeat the same process every day for a month? Be mindful of where you’re spending your pennies and write down everything you spend for a month—you can then see where to cut costs in the future. Trust me, this one really does work.

2. Cut out the takeaway coffees

Get yourself a nice flask and make your own coffee. If you’re serious about cutting your expenses and you still buy a takeaway coffee every morning, buying a flask will save you at least $80 a month.

3. Cycle or walk to work

I know many of you probably have long train or car commutes, but 10km is still do-able on a bike, right? And if you’re a little on the lazy side, invest in an electric bike to help you up those hills in the morning. Ditching the train or car for a bike is a serious money saver; plus, you’re getting fitter at the same time!

4. Shop in thrift stores (at least some of the time)

You can get designer items for pennies; you can find cheap tat and upcycle it for next to nothing, and find one-off clothes you’d never find on the high street. So, if you’re looking to update your wardrobe or buy new stuff for your home, check out the cheaper alternatives first.

5. Buy the unbranded products in the supermarket

You may only be saving pennies per item, but there really isn’t much difference in the taste—do not be seduced by pretty branding! The only difference, for example with unbranded tinned tomatoes and branded ones, is the lack of salt and sugar and you can add that yourself. Why pay loads extra for it?

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6. Take your own lunch to work

Yes, it’ll take up a few extra minutes of your evening, but wouldn’t you prefer to have an extra $100 at the end of each month instead? Over the course of a year, that’s a saving of over $1,000.

7. Bulk cook your meals

Set aside a few hours on Sunday and make a load of different dishes to prepare you for the whole week. Pop them in the freezer and you won’t be tempted with takeaways or packaged meals midweek.

8. Compare gas and electricity prices

Are you really getting the best deal with your gas and electricity? It only takes a few minutes to compare deals on an online comparison site.

9. 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 is 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.

10. Keep a penny/cent collection

Throw your loose change into a jar, then count it up at the end of each month and see how much you’ve saved—over time, you’ll be surprised by how much money you’ll make.

11. Use Freecycle

In the UK there’s a scheme called Freecycle, where you can give away your unwanted furniture, or anything else you no longer need, for free. Obviously, in return, if you need any household essentials—kitchen table, bicycle, bookshelf … you can just log on to the site and see what’s available.

12. Ditch the large overdrafts

If you’ve got an overdraft of $1,000, chances are you’ll spend it each month if you’re not careful with your money. If you’re scared to lose the overdraft completely, halve it and see if it makes you any more cautious with your money.

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13. Clear out your unwanted stuff

Have a car boot sale, sell your unwanted things on eBay … if you’ve been living in the same house for over a year, chances are that unless you’re super-organized, you’ll have at least a few things that are worth selling to make some extra money.

14. Share car journeys

If you drive to work alone every day, see if there are any other people who live near you so you can share journeys and cut your costs on petrol. It’ll pay off in the long run.

15. Re-evaluate your insurance

Whether it’s life, health, or travel insurance, shop around, compare prices and make sure you’re getting the best deal for the least amount of money. Remember though, that cheapest does not always equal the best.

16. Change your phone deal

Do you really need all those minutes and extras? Is there a cheaper phone deal that will save you money in the long run? Shop around and see what other phone deals are out there.

17. Do not take out any pay day loans

The adverts may be appealing, but the interest rates on pay day loans make these companies no better than con artists!

18. Dry clean at home

If you’re a regular at your dry cleaners, cut costs by buying a home dry cleaning kit and a spot remover pen.

19. Take another look at your internet bills

Can you get a better deal elsewhere? Do you live in an apartment block? If so, perhaps you can share an internet connection with those around you—providing you trust them.

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20. Make more gifts for people

Now that we’re coming up to the festive season, rather than splashing out on expensive gifts for people, cut expenses and make your own cards and presents—at least for some people. The gesture won’t be forgotten. Plus, everyone knows the gift of time far outweighs the gift of money.

21. Cut back on expensive cleaning products

There are loads of ways you can make your own cleaning products; for example, vinegar and baking soda work wonders for cleaning your drains; spray lemon juice on surfaces to get rid of stains and streaky grease marks; and use vinegar to scrub up wooden flooring.

22. Simplify your beauty regime

We can all be seduced by fancy creams claiming to minimize pores, get rid of wrinkles and leave our skin looking healthy and plump; but, in reality, all your skin needs is a good diet, plenty of water and hydration. Try ditching expensive creams for almond or coconut oil. It’s really cheap and will leave your skin looking incredible.

23. Cancel your gym membership

Get on your bike, jog round the park, and lift weights at home. You could even organize regular work out sessions for free with others who want to ditch the gym. You don’t need to pay to be fit!

24. Turn your lights off

When you leave a room, flick the switch and cut expenses on your electricity bills. If you live with forgetful people, place little stickers by the switch to give people helpful reminders.

25. Replace bulbs with energy saving ones

Cut expenses and save the environment at the same time. It’s a no-brainer!

26. Pay for things with cash only

Allow yourself a certain amount of money each week and spend only that amount. Unless you’re constantly checking your finances, there’s no way you can keep up-to-date with what you’ve really spent if you keep paying for things with your credit or debit cards.

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27. Tell your friends and family that you want to cut expenses

If you’re ever tempted to spend more than you intended, tell everyone you spend time with what you’re doing. Or even better, arrange for a group of you to all cut expenses at the same time.

28. Get savvy with deals

Sign up to Groupon, or get Amazon deals sent straight to your inbox, and save heaps of money on theater tickets, holidays, restaurant meals, and much more.

29. Take care of your teeth

Brush your teeth twice a day and don’t forget to floss. If you don’t take care of your teeth now, you’ll pay the price in expensive dental bills years down the line.

30. Be grateful for the money you have

Change your attitude towards money and be grateful for what you have rather than complaining about not earning enough or having enough of it. You’ll be surprised by how much a simple change of attitude can help you to manifest more money and help you cut expenses.

If you think there are any useful tips missing from this list, please leave a comment below.

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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