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8 Expenses to Cut and How

8 Expenses to Cut and How

Are you looking to simplify your life? Do you have financial issues? Are you still paying off debts with no end in sight? Hey, me too! Part of my methodology includes plugging expense holes, and shunting that money towards my debts. Here are eight expenses to cut and how:

  • Make Your Own Morning Coffee– I have a tiny little one-cup machine with a steel filter. Why? Because it’s silly easy to operate and clean. I buy really good coffee by the pound, and so a pound of coffee costs $6.50 or so US. Buying coffee at the coffee shop is $2.50 or so for a large. That means, I save after only 3 uses, and it doesn’t really slow down my getting out the door, especially if you think about how much time it takes to wait in a drive-up line.
  • Use Your Public Library– Libraries have changed. Most libraries are now connected into a big sharing consortium, expanding the collection of what you can take out and what they’ll have that you might want. Further, most now have an online catalog that you can use to browse and request from home. Libraries now frequently stock DVDs (mine favors Hollywood movies, and the one in the next town features mostly highbrow independent stuff). Heck, my library just launched a big commercial digital audiobook download deal, so I can get books on my computer from my desk.

    How often do you reference a book after reading it once? Make that your point. Are you going to open it many times over the years, or is this a read once, use often kind of information dump?

  • Get Netflix– Going to the movies isn’t a great plan if you’re trying to save money, but renting movies is a hassle too, right? At least in the States, this is a much better option to going to brick and mortar stores for movies. They deliver the movies to your mailbox. You can’t get a late fee. Oh, and you can choose from getting just one disc at a time, two, three, or even larger numbers, for those of you who get to watch tons of flicks at once. BONUS: using one of your Netflix slots for a kids movie lets you save money, too. Kids will watch a movie 200 times, and then never need to see it again. Right?
  • Bring Meals From Home or Find a Cheap, Repeatable Meal– We tend to bleed cash on feeding ourselves, and rarely do we really savor or notice the food anyhow. It’s just a meal that we consume in between doing other things. If you can bring meals from home, that’s the least expensive, and it’s also the bet way to ensure that you know what you’re getting. I’m currently taking frozen dinners that cost only $2.00 a meal, and that’s cheaper than any sandwich I can buy. If you have to eat out, trying finding the healthiest, best value meal you can find, and stick to it or slight variations. The more adventurous your meal seeking gets, the more it will likely cost you.
  • Drink at a Friend’s House, Not a Pub– The cost of a dozen bottles of beer shared between a few friends will always be less expensive than a single drink out at a pub. Surely, one of you has a place to go for the casual entertainment experience, right? Okay, you might not be able to meet attractive members of the opposite sex there, but even if you spent a few days at one of your homes, that’d save some cash, true?
  • Reconsider Your Driving Habits– Are you a leadfoot? Are you the kind who goes on an hour or more jaunt just for something to do? With gas/petrol costs being so high thanks to some interesting world stage situations, considering how often and how fast you travel will help you cut a few bucks in the short term. BONUS: Get out your bike and kill two birds with one stone. Work that spare tire back off the ole belly.
  • Sum up all Your Entertainment Expenses– When you look at each one separately, it probably doesn’t seem weird to pay $15 a month for Netflix, $10 a month for XBOX Live, $60 or so a month for Cable TV, $100 or more a year on various magazines, not to mention all the ways you spend money when you go out, including clubs, pubs, bars, concerts, shows, events, and dinners. These are all entertainment. If you’re working on your debt, tally up all those expenses and look at them in a big sum per month. How much does your entertainment budget really cost, and does that relate to how much money you’re putting towards your debts and other expenses? Maybe it’s time to reconsider.
  • Go on a Clothing Fast– There are a hundred reasons why you need that new shirt, or that clever belt. You might need those shoes because they’re quite a bargain. But take a good long look at your closet, at what you already have. Do you need more right now? How often are you buying clothes for fashion’s sake versus need? Are there ways you can stretch your budget by coordinating differently? We buy clothes on impulse more often than just about anything. Pay close attention to this, and consider a clothing fast. Promise not to buy clothes for one month at a time. Say, “I’ll go all of August without buying a single article of clothing.” At the end of August, assess. Do you really need anything? See if you can go September, too.

Sure, you’re deserving of a good life. This isn’t as much about deprivation as it is examining the life you’re leading. If you’re working on your finances, and you’re serious about putting them in order, there are even more holes than those I’ve listed above that could use plugging. With a little bit of tweaking, you’ll recover money at a fairly decent clip. This adds up. If you tally up your savings from all eight tips above, it could quite easily be $200 or more back in your finances a month. $2400 a year? That’s a nice tidy raise, eh? Congratulations.

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–Chris Brogan is working hard on his expenses over at [chrisbrogan.com]. Well, not really. He’s writing about self-improvement and creativity.

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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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