7 easy ways to cut monthly expenses
Do you run out of money before you run out of bills? Cost cutting can be the answer. Here, our experts share seven simple ways to do more with less:
Take small steps.
Consider an incremental budgeting plan, where you cut costs one item at a time. “Trying to do everything at once could be discouraging,” says Casey Gorman, a business analyst and member of the University of Phoenix repayment management team. She also recommends tracking your spending for a month to see where the money is going before deciding what to trim.
Review your monthly services.
Your monthly phone, cable and Internet bills can add up to $300 a month, especially if you watch premium channels or have unlimited mobile data plans.
“See if you can bundle your plans with one provider at a discount,” or switch plans, suggests Chris Conway, a financial expert and member of the repayment management team. “You can also ditch cable and watch TV shows for free using websites like Hulu and Crackle.”
Lower your insurance premiums.
Insurance is another expense most people overpay — especially car insurance, according to Conway. “Ask your agent for a discount,” she says. “Change plans or companies,” or consider choosing a higher deductible to reduce premiums.
If your car is 10 or more years old and paid off, consider carrying state minimum coverage only.
Extreme couponing isn’t just for reality TV — real people manage to save big money using coupons every day, Gorman says. She suggests using coupon sites like Groupon, Dealfind, MoneySavingQueen.com, CouponMom.com and Coupon Sense, along with Facebook’s coupon apps and your local Sunday newspaper.
Gorman also recommends joining points promotion programs at Safeway, Fry’s and other retail chains. These programs can help you earn gas discounts and free merchandise. “University of Phoenix Marketplace also has exclusive savings offers for our students,” she notes.
Eat and shop smarter.
Grocery shopping is ripe for cost cutting, says Gorman, who speaks from experience. She plans weekly menus, shops sales and takes advantage of Walmart’s price-matching program. “I have cut my grocery spending by $200 each month,” she says.
Also consider brown-bagging lunch more often and having potluck parties at home instead of dining out with friends.
Renegotiate credit card terms.
If you carry credit card balances, contact the issuer and ask for a lower interest rate. Better yet, take advantage of zero-interest, balance-transfer offers, though you should be careful not to run up any more debt after doing the transfer.
An effective way to cut your spending is to remind yourself what you’re saving for, Conway stresses. “Put a picture of your savings goal in your wallet so you see it when you reach for money,” she says. “It’ll make you think twice before buying something you don’t need.”