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5 Painless Ways To Cut Costs And Enhance Your Budget

5 Painless Ways To Cut Costs And Enhance Your Budget

Everyone wants to cut costs and enhance their budget, but nobody wants to cut spending on the things they enjoy most. The good news is that, with a little thought and preparation, you can actually save money without actually doing very much at all! The key is to plan to cut out the extraneous costs that you do not seem to notice when they are eliminated, hence the word “painless.”

Here are four painless ways to cut costs and enhance your budget in the process.

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1. Use Timers for Heating

Many people don’t use a timer for their central heating or hot water. If you’re heating your home to the same temperature while you are asleep or away from home as when you are in, you are spending unnecessary money on your heating bill. By simply setting a timer on a programmable thermostat to warm up an hour before you get out of bed or return home in the evening, your bill could be cut considerably.

The same goes for water heating. It costs a lot to heat a water tank, and most families only use it for a few hours each day. Set the timer to warm the tank an hour or two before you plan to use it, and you will in turn save energy and money.

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2. Make a Budget

It may sound like an incredibly tiresome thing to do, but if you don’t set up a budget, how can you possibly stick to it? It’s amazing how many people don’t realize how much money they have coming and going. When you write your monthly expenditures down, it will be much easier to determine where you can make easy savings that don’t affect your daily life too much.

You can take this a step further by visiting www.saveonenergy.com, where you can easily compare rates from top-rated energy companies.

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3. Nix Your Home Phone

Many families pay out every single month for a land-line, but rarely use it. With such inexpensive cell phone rates and Internet services, people are using their conventional home phone lines less and less. If this sounds familiar, it could be time to ditch it altogether.

The same applies for cable channels that you never watch. There is no reason to stick with a package that you selected five years ago if you don’t watch most of it anyway. There are loads of options available today, and changing over to a new package could save lots.

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4. Pack a Lunch

If you added up the amount of money spent on lunches at work or family days out over the course of a year, you would probably be astonished. Make sandwiches, and salads, and pack leftovers from last night’s dinner to take with you, and you can save considerably compared to eating out. Think ahead, save money, and eat healthy. Many times this can have a direct impact on your finances because many office-based restaurants take advantage and boost prices because of their convenient location.

5. Carpool

This may seem like something that comes off as common sense-driven, but not all people understand the benefits of carpooling. If there are 3 people in your carpool whom all live close to each other, you can cut your gas costs during the week by a vast amount. If you have a long commute to work, think about all of the things that you could do with this extra income sitting in your bank account.

Saving money is actually easier than you think. Simply make a budget, decide where all your money is going, where you would like it to go, and what you can cut out. Your cash-flow situation will vastly improve, and your wallet will thank you.

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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