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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 January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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