Whether you just set a new budget for the New Year or you simply want to save some money, there are plenty of ways you can cut your living expenses on a regular basis. Today we’ll take a look at five examples of ways to cut your everyday living expenses, some of which are incredibly simple and others that might take a bit of getting used to (but which can give the greatest rewards).
Here are five ways you might be able to cut your living expenses.
1. Consider a new residence or take on a roommate.
This is one of the more difficult changes and not realistic for everyone. But if your expenses are significantly higher than your income for whatever reason, it might be time to move. A lower rent apartment or a smaller house might be the long-term solution you need. Or, if you have extra space you could consider taking on a roommate. If you have something like a separate in-law suite that isn’t being used you might even consider renting it out.
2. Trim your cable TV costs.
Many people overpay for cable television services. It’s possible you have a package with more channels than you actually watch. Consider downgrading to save money. Or just call your cable company and ask if they can make you a better deal. Many companies will, especially if you mention that you’re willing to cancel altogether (they don’t want you going to online TV) or that you’re willing to switch to a competitor. Or, just go ahead and make the switch to online TV. I’ve been doing that for several years and I’ve never missed cable. You can use paid services like the instant watch feature of Netflix. Or you can use free sites like Hulu or even television network sites. Other than live sporting events, there isn’t much you can’t find online or with DVDs and Blu-ray these days. And actually, even some sporting events might be available online with subscriptions. Want to save even more? Consider renting movies and TV series from your local library instead.
3. Shop the sales (and use coupons).
You don’t have to give up your favorite things all the time just to save money. Instead look for ways to save on the things you really want. For example, check sales circulars each weekend in your local newspaper. Or visit your favorite stores’ websites for online coupons and other discounts. Or clip coupons for things like groceries. Better yet try to coordinate your coupons with current sales to maximize your savings. Do you need to do this with everything? No. But if you make an effort you can save a good bit. When I started using coupons a few years ago, I was able to save around $20 every week on groceries and other necessities. That really adds up (and makes me wonder why I ever stopped!).
4. Organize swaps with friends and neighbors.
What’s better than saving a bit? How about getting things for free? You can do that by organizing swaps. What are swaps? They’re just what they sound like. You get together with other people — such as friends, family members, neighbors, or a community group — and exchange things. For example, you might exchange your gently used clothes. You get something that’s new to you and at no cost. You can also do food swaps. For example you and a neighbor might each cook two meals — each large enough to feed both of your families. Then you would swap half of everything you cooked, meaning you only had to cook two meals but you get a total of four. That lets you save by buying some groceries in bulk or based on sales and coupons you have, but still gives you variety.
5. Use shopping lists and carry cash.
Sometimes cutting your living expenses isn’t about changing what you buy. It’s about changing simple habits instead. For example, start using a shopping list when you go to the store. Go in, get the items on your list, and then leave. Don’t peruse every section or aisle in a store hoping to find ideas of what you want to buy. Know before you go. Another option is to carry cash rather than focusing on credit and debit cards. That forces you to keep your spending within a strict limit — the cash you have on hand. If you want something else you then have to go home to get your debit or credit card or get more cash, and that means you have to also spend time really thinking about that purchase to decide if it’s worthwhile.
Whether you want to save a lot of money or just a little bit each month, there are many things you can do to cut your living expenses. Look at your current spending habits as a starting place. Where do you spend too much? Where could you cut back? Everyone’s current budget is different, as are their goals. Decide what yours are and look for ways to make them happen. You’re bound to find at least one living expense you can decrease to get you on your way.