Alright it is time to cut some expenses! I encourage you to take a long, hard look at all your expenses and ask yourself, “Do I really have to have this?” Often times you will find that you really don’t and that giving it up for a short while (whatever it is) is well worth getting more of your debt paid off!
1. Car Insurance
Believe me, if you haven’t shopped around for car insurance in a couple years, it is worth your while. I really was sure that I had the lowest rates I could get (after all I run a website about personal finance), but then I checked out Geico and found that I could save $330 a year for the same coverage. I was so blown away that they could save me $330 that I didn’t shop anywhere else.
Six months later my old insurance broker called trying to get me back and she had found another insurance company who was $200 cheaper than Geico. And again it was for the same coverage. So just to repeat – I thought I was paying a good rate, but by shopping around I was able to knock over $500 off my car insurance bill. (Start by getting quotes here)
2. Save money on gas
While everyone wants gas prices to go down, you can cut your monthly gas bill by taking some pro-active steps. Check out these 75 gas saving tips, grab a few of them and start working them into your driving. And for some more advanced techniques you can learn how to hypermile as well.
Save money on your phones
3. Cell Phones
Grab your most recent cell phone bills and look at them to see what you are actually paying for.
- Are you paying for internet service that you are not using?
- Are you paying for 1000 minutes a month, when you are only averaging about 350?
- Are you paying for text messages that you are not using?
Before you call your cell phone company, check other Cellular companies to see how their rates compare. If it is still worth your while to stay with your current provider, then call them up and talk to them about the changes that you can make.
4. Home phone lines
Ask yourself a tough question, “Do I really need a land line? Would it be possible to use my cell phone for all calls?”
If the answer is no, you may want to look into Skype or Magicjack. I have used both and have saved a ton of money from it.
If you have a land line solely for the purpose of having a DSL internet connection, I would recommend calling the phone company to adjust your phone plan. I was not using my land line at all and was paying $25 for it. I called them and got the plan lowered to a pay-per-call plan which only costs me $7 a month.
If you can get by without a land line, call and cancel it. This will probably save you $20 or more a month just by making a phone call.
5. Save on the Internet
I am not suggesting that you get dial-up. That is just cruel and unusual punishment 😉 . But, if you are paying for the premium package, should you consider one of the slower packages? Many people won’t notice a difference in how fast the web pages load.
Again, it may be worthwhile looking at the options available for high-speed internet service. I saved about $20 a month switching from one company to another.
Save money on Food
This is one of the easiest fixes for most people. I know I am saving hundreds of dollars a month by not doing what I used to do with my food purchases.
6. Make going out to dinner something special
Not only will you save yourself a lot of money, but it will be more fun when you do go out. Have you noticed that when you do something all the time, it just isn’t as fun anymore? This is a great way to “add fun” and save money.
A couple going out to dinner just two times in a week could easily spend $300 a month. If they knock it down to just one time a week that is $150 savings.
7. Make it yourself
You really can cook. I don’t care if people told you that you were a bad cook, don’t listen to them. You aren’t bad and it is not that hard. There are tons of meals that you can make that require little more than an ability to set a timer and read directions. Start at Allrecipes.com; they have lots of cool features that I won’t get into here – just check it out.
8. Bring your lunch
This is one of those rubber-meets-the-road sacrifices. But it pays off handsomely. If you are paying $10 to go out to lunch each day, you are spending $200 a month. If you bring your lunch 3 days a week, you should easily be able to save $100 a month.
9. Eat what you have
Buy food that you are going to eat and eat what you have. I cut my grocery bill by 50% from my wasteful years by eating the food I had and not wasting any. I could not believe how much money I was wasting by letting food spoil. Just putting a little bit of thought into your grocery list each week will be an easy way to save money.
10. Clip coupons
Most of the food we buy doesn’t have coupons, so this has never been too much help for me. But, there are some people who take pride in buying a grocery cart full of food for $25 and 100 coupons. Even if you aren’t a pro, beginners can save $50 a month without much difficulty.
11. Drink water
I saved myself $30 a month just by quitting my Pepsi addiction. A Starbucks addict could probably save $100 a month by switching to water.
12. Save on your energy bills
A lot of energy-saving tips require you to buy something in order to save money in the long run. While I am all for that, the purpose of these tips is to give you more cash in your hand now so that you can pay down your debt.
13. Pay your bills on time!
This is obvious, but some people (like myself) need the obvious restated sometimes. 😉 Late bills often incur a fee that is nothing but a waste of your precious money.
If you find yourself forgetting to pay your bills on time, set up a free Google calendar and you can put reminders of when each bill needs to be paid. You can even set it up to email you to remind you to pay it on the correct date. While this is a shorter term fix, I prefer to set up a schedule of bill payments in order to make bill paying easier.
14. Save at the bank
Grab your recent bank statements and examine them for ambiguous fees. If you see any and don’t know what they are, call your bank and ask them to explain it. I worked at a bank for years and I know how good they can be at coming up with creative names for their fees.
If you find out that you are paying fees for your basic banking needs, I recommend switching. There is no reason you should be paying fees for falling below a minimum balance or anything else. It is your money. Take it somewhere where you have control over the money, not the bank.
Most credit unions will not have many (or all) of the fees that bigger banks may have. I currently use Capital One 360 as a savings account.
15. Save on purchases
If you are working on getting out of debt, you should be thinking long and hard about any sizeable purchases. But, if you must, then make sure you are getting the best price in the world on the item. The internet has taken comparison shopping to a whole new level.
Yea, there are a million places you can buy things online, but I have found that I almost always find the best price at one of these three places:
Other tips to cut your expenses
- Buy greeting cards in bulk at the Dollar store or the party store. This will help you to save a lot of money and you won’t have to make an extra trip every time you need one.
- If you are an avid reader and spend a lot on books, trying using the library again. Remember the library? Another option is to buy them from Amazon used. I have a couple books on my Amazon wish list that cost less than a nickel for a used copy. And here are 5 ways to save money on books.
- If you have an emergency fund built up, you may want to look at increasing your deductibles to save money.
This article is part of our FREE 3-week email course to help you save hundreds of dollars, get out of debt, & better organize and manage your finances. Get the rest of the lessons here.