Trimming your expenses on an already tight budget might seem like an impossible mission. However, it’s easy to ‘forget’ about services or habits that in the long term can end up costing more than we think.
Read on to find out some easy tricks to help trim your budget today.
Utilities represent a huge portion of my budget each month. Here are some ways you can cut your utility costs for the month:
- Negotiate New Rates
Set aside a few hours one day and christen that period your “new rate” time. Get out your recent bills and customer service numbers for each utility, and start making calls.
Make the call to your providers and explain that you need a lower rate – or otherwise, you’re going to seek a different provider. This works much better if you’re currently outside of a contract term. For example, you can wait until my cell phone contract has expired, and I’m much more likely to get the best rate.
- Unplug Electronics
Even when your electronics are in the “off” position, they still leech electricity, which costs extra each month. Invest in an energy saving power strip for your TV, computer, and other equipment, to automatically cut off power when not in use.
- Eliminate Unnecessary Costs
Try rethinking what the word “utility” really means to you. It should be reserved for things you truly require in order to live. Can you cut your home phone and use cellphones instead? Can you get rid of your expensive cable package in favour of cheaper Internet-based TV services, such as Netflix or Stan? Once you do some research, you may find more money-saving opportunities than you previously thought existed.
Here are some ways that you can cut costs:
- Buy in Bulk
Figure out what your family eats a lot of and compare prices at a bulk store to see if more food translates to less money.
- Cut Down on Midweek Trips
When I don’t plan meals properly, I end up visiting the grocery store multiple times during the week, which is a complete spending trap. Without a set shopping plan, you’re likely to grab more impulse items and spend more on groceries overall. Cut down on midweek trips by creating a meal plan and shopping directly from it.
- Price Match
I have a busy schedule and don’t coupon very often, but price matching is quick and easy at the majority of big box and national retailers. As long as your store price matches ads, you can just bring along the ads from competitors and show them to the cashier during checkout. I actually find that this cuts down on my shopping time, because I don’t have to go from store to store to get the best deals.
I also love Walmart’s Savings Catcher app – when you shop at Walmart, simply scan your receipt into the app and it automatically price-matches anything to other retailer offers. If there is a better price out there, you’re refunded the difference on an e-card.
Activities and Entertainment
There’s no need to get rid of all your favourite (and your family’s fav activities), but thinking outside the box might help reduce their costs.
- City Activities
If your city has a recreational department, your children can participate in lower-cost activities and sports as opposed to private leagues.
While private teams can be expensive, council activities are often subsidised and run by volunteers to keep costs low and increase enrolment. It’s a great way to keep your kids involved without the high price of private activities. Just remember that there may be some trade-off – private leagues, teams, and activities may have more experienced instructors.
- Free or Low-Cost Events
Check your community for other reduced-cost activities, such as free museum days, two-for-one admission at the zoo, and so on. That way, you can cut back on cost without sacrificing any of the fun.
- Group Deals
Whether you want to try a hot new restaurant or sign up for a painting class, group deal websites can often give you the experience on the cheap. The venue essentially releases a block of tickets, a gift card, or admission to a daily deal site like Groupon or LivingSocial which then releases the discount to the public. As long as you purchase responsibly, group websites can be a great way to have fun without spending a ton.
Always check the fine print though. Blackout dates, expiration dates, rules on transferring vouchers, and other stipulations should always be completely understood before you hit the “purchase” button.
Car and Transportation
Cars cost money. From gas to maintenance, everyone should set aside part of their budget for transportation each month. It is possible, however, to slash those costs by improving your gas mileage and being a more cost-conscious car owner. Try these tips to lower your auto expenses:
- Shop Around for Car Insurance
Believe it or not, changing your car insurance is pretty painless. Compare price quotes online and see if you can save some money.
- Consolidate Your Trips
While it may seem like no big deal to run out to the grocery store and stop by the bank at different times, those separate trips can make a big difference in your gas mileage. When you run errands, make sure you consolidate your excursions so you’re not driving back home each time you leave a retailer or appointment. As an added bonus, you’re putting fewer miles on your car too.
- Walk or Bike
If you can walk or ride a bicycle to a destination, do it. Not only does it save on gas, it’s a super-healthy way to stay in shape.
- Locate More Affordable Petrol
Also, remember that it’s perfectly fine to use the lowest octane unleaded option – unless your mechanic or car manual specifies otherwise.
If you’re planning on heading to a restaurant today, check out these money-saving tips beforehand – maybe you can even score a free meal.
- Go Out for Lunch Instead of Dinner
Many restaurants offer lower-priced lunch menus, so you can enjoy the experience of eating out without forking over the dough for a higher-cost meal.
- Skip the Drinks
Drinks have as much as a 40% markup, so consider opting for water instead. It’s savvier to have a nightcap when you get home and skip the pricey beverage out altogether. If you miss the ritual of ordering drinks at a restaurant, go for something cheaper, like sparkling water and lemon.
- Utilise Discounts
Many restaurants offer a slew of discounts and coupons, from early bird specials to seniors, students, and even frequent diners. Ask about possible discounts or visit the restaurant’s website ahead of time to see what you could save.
Clothing eats up a huge portion of your budget if you’re not careful. Even if you love to shop, carefully checking for the best deals, avoiding impulse buys, and operating within a budget can all add up to good savings in the long-run. Don’t shop without some of these money-saving tips in mind.
- Download Coupon Apps
Never shop for clothes without first checking couponing apps like SnipSnap and RetailMeNot. When waiting in line to checkout, I run a quick search from the app to see if the retailer is offering any current in-store deals. The coupon is scanned right from my phone and it’s a great way to save money, even on unplanned shopping trips and purchases.
- Rent Special-Occasion Wear
What’s the point in buying a tux if you only plan to wear it once? Whether you’re talking about a suit or a dress for a special event like a wedding or prom, clothing rental websites can help you dress the part without wasting cash on clothes you’re only going to wear once.
- Check Online Clearance
Clearance racks are like shopper heaven to someone on a tight budget. However, if you find that they yield limited sizes, check the retailer’s online clearance instead. In-store clearance inventory is limited to what’s on-hand and in storage for that location, but going online means pulling from a number of different storehouses and locations. You can get better deals and more sizes by checking the retailer website before you attempt to buy in-store.
Becoming Money Savvy
Pruning your budget on a regular basis means saving more and spending less, so why not start today? See how much you can save on your budget in just a few hours – you might be surprised, and become a little addicted to the thrill of the save
You might also like:
- Stay On Top of Your Finances – 8 Money Mistakes to Avoid
- Credit Card Balance Transfers – What, When and How
- 10 Steps to Boost Your Money Game
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