We can all use some extra spaciousness in our budgets, particularly after the holidays. So here are some ways to rein in your spending and reduce your monthly expenses!
7 easy ways to cut your monthly expenses
1. Request a credit card rate reduction
Credit cards are a constant issue with most American families; the average household owes more than $16,000 in credit card debt. That number can increase quickly with high interest rates and late fees.
If you pay your bill on time each month, credit card companies might be willing to negotiate an interest rate reduction. If not, you can look into transferring to a card that offers zero interest on balance transfers and has no annual fee.
But the most important lesson is to stop buying on credit until your financial situation is healthy enough to pay off your bill in full at the end of each month!
Read more: How frugal folks can save even more
2. Use timers and power strips
Do you have electrical appliances that are kept plugged into the wall but aren’t often used? Even when they aren’t in use, things like computers, Kindles and coffee makers draw small amounts of electricity that can add dollars to your bill.
Use timers to turn them off when they aren’t being used. Smart power strips can manage electricity flow based on a control device — for example, the Blu-ray player will only get power if the TV is turned on first.
3. Cancel memberships
With the new year coming up, people will be running to their local gyms to start redeeming their resolutions.
Last year, you got that gym membership with all the good intentions in the world — but how often have you really used it? If you aren’t going at least twice a week, you might be wasting money. In reality, most gym memberships are a bad deal for consumers.
The same theory can be applied to country club memberships or other smaller costs such as GameFly or Netflix. Try suspending your membership for a month and see if you really miss it before canceling.
4. Consider cheaper alternatives for watching TV
If you spend quality time in front of the TV, then looking into reducing your cable bill could be a smart move.
Streaming services such as Sling TV, Netflix or Amazon Prime can provide virtually all the same channels for a fraction of the cost. Many premium channels have their own app to stream shows, such as HBO GO. Subscribing to one or more of these services can be an easy way to reduce your cable bill — or cut it out all together!
If there are certain things about cable you just can’t let go, here are two ways to cut your monthly pay TV bill in half.
Oh, and if you decide to cut back on TV, you can also cut down on your electricity bill.
5. Cook at home
When you cook at home, you’re avoiding restaurants, which can be good for both your waistline and your bottom line. Cook enough to freeze some for future meals and/or take leftovers into work for lunch. (Yes, leftovers can be quite edible and tasty.)
In the same vein, make your own coffee and bring it to work with you instead of hitting Starbucks every morning. See more tips on how to save by cooking at home.
6. Write down ALL of your expenses
How many times in a month do you hand over a dollar and think, “Oh, it’s only a dollar,” or walk into a convenience store by force of habit to get a soda?
For a month, write down where you’re spending every dollar — every $1.50 pit stop at the office vending machine, every lottery ticket and every late fee. It will help you see what daily or weekly costs you can eliminate.
Also, start budgeting specifically for each area of spending. Here’s an easy way to get started.
You can also use an app to help you track your spending, pay off debt quicker and reach your savings goals. Here are a few to check out:
Read more: 19 ways to save more money in 2016
7. Save water, save money
A few easy steps can help you lower monthly water bills.
- Start with a shower reduction kit — it makes the water flow to your shower head more efficiently.
- Take quicker showers.
- Repair leaky toilets and faucets — this can help prevent enormous waste quickly. If you’re not using water, turn the faucet off, such as when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Reduce your lawn watering, or xeriscape to eliminate watering altogether.
Read more: How to save on bottled water