Having trouble making ends meet? You’re not alone. According to Forbes, nearly half of Americans expect to live paycheck to paycheck this year. If you’re strapped for cash, it might be time to look at your spending and cut things from your budget.
We’ve been in this exact same position. Several years ago, my husband and I were in the first year of our debt snowball. We had scaled back some when it came to our budget, but in August we were informed that our health insurance costs were going way up. We calculated that our combined take-home pay would be $150 less (that was even with a raise!). I was determined that we would find a way to cut back on our expenses so we didn’t feel the pain of losing $150.
My husband and I immediately sat down and thought of anything and everything we could cut from our budget to help us save at least $150. After a short while, we were able to find that extra money in our budget. This allowed us to continue to make progress on our debt free journey.
If you have found yourself in a similar situation and need to find extra money each month, consider scaling back (or cut out completely) on these 8 expenses.
We saved $70 each month when we finally said goodbye to cable! This was the first thing to go after our health insurance costs skyrocketed. In fact, we got rid of cable before it was common to live off of Netflix and Hulu. People thought we were weird. We confirmed their opinions when we put a large antenna on our roof so we could still get local channels for news and such.
Classy, I know.
Regardless, we not only saved an extra $70 each month, but we also had the tv on less. HGTV and ESPN weren’t on in the background all the time.
We talked more and read more. We played more and were less distracted. If you still have cable, I’m a huge proponent of saying your farewells. Your wallet (and family time) will thank you! To read more about how cutting cable benefited our family, click HERE.
2. Cell Phones
Years ago, you had to use one of the big-name cell phone companies if you wanted to have good service. Thankfully, things are different these days!
There are many cell phone companies, such as Mint Mobile and Republic Wireless that have received high ratings lately. In fact, switching to a smaller cell phone company could potentially save you hundreds each month, and thousands each year. These companies are perfect for large families with several lines!
Before you switch, do your research. Check out the best cell phone company for your area to be sure you’ll have great reception at home. Chances are you’ll be able to find a company and cut back on your budget significantly.
3. Home & Auto Insurance
My husband and I shop for better deals on home and car insurance nearly every year. Several years ago we saved $397 each year by switching our home insurance to a different company.
Here’s the crazy part: the deductible is exactly the same. No joke! We have the exact same deductible, but we pay almost $400 less per year. That’s $33 each month. I know that $33 is not a ton of money, but if you add it up to other savings then it helps you save some serious bucks!
Next time you have 20 minutes, sit down and get a quote from 3-4 insurance companies. Sometimes you can even save more if you bundle your home and auto insurance together. By simply shopping around for insurance each year, you’re bound to cut back on your budget.
4. Lunches Out
Can I be honest here? Lunch out is one of my guilty pleasures.
I love picking up lunch for myself, however I don’t make it a habit. Why? Because spending $5-10 for lunch even three times a week can be extremely costly. You could save HUNDREDS of dollars each month by simply bringing your lunch to work.
To help make bringing lunch to work a no-brainer, consider preparing your lunches in advance. Take time on Sunday to prep and pack lunches for the entire week. This makes it easy to grab your lunch and go in the morning. Another option is to make dinner and immediately pack yourself leftovers for lunch BEFORE you serve anyone. This is exactly what we do for my husband!
5. Memberships and Subscriptions
We saved $65 each month when we canceled our gym membership. We didn’t originally cancel our memberships because we wanted to save money. It was a completely selfish decision to stay home, get fat, and eat more food.
Did I mention that I was pregnant when we canceled our membership?
It has been 9+ years since we have had those memberships and at times I wish that I could go back to the gym, but I just cannot currently justify the cost and time away from my kids. Instead, we have invested in a few sets of dumbbells, a chin-up bar, and a few workout DVDs to use at home. We are still able to get a good workout without the monthly cost of a gym membership.
What other memberships or subscriptions could you cancel? If you have any magazines, you can most likely read those online for FREE through your local library! Take a look at any of these extra costs and ask yourself if they are really necessary. Are they worth the extra money that you could be saving or using to pay off debt? Be honest with yourself!
It’s easy to spend a lot of extra money each month on entertainment. It’s especially easy to spend that money if you have children that you feel like you have to entertain on the weekends. Did you know that your local library has DVDs to check out? And they aren’t lame movies; they are new releases and tv series. Instead of spending $40 at the movies, stay home and watch a movie that you borrowed for free! You can even make popcorn, buy candy, and cuddle on the couch.
If you completely love the entire movie experience, then see if your town (or a town nearby) has a dollar movie theater. These theaters usually show movies that have left the main theaters but are not yet out on DVD. Each ticket is usually $1 or $2 and you still get to see a movie on the big screen.
When it comes to other free entertainment ideas, check your town for any parades, festivals, or free classes. Explore a new park or go hiking outdoors. Fly a kite or go fishing for a few hours. Entertainment doesn’t have to cost a lot of money (or any money at all)!
Need more ideas for family fun on a budget? Check out 30 Cheap Family Fun Night Ideas.
I love buying new clothes.
And yet, when my husband and I sat down to complete our first budget, I had $0 to spend on clothes. It was like that for many months until I just broke down. I wanted clothes BAD. They felt forbidden, so I did what any adult in control of their actions did. I cried and went on a shopping spree. I would show that stupid budget who was the boss! After that shopping trip, I talked with my husband about giving me a monthly clothing allowance of $100 each month for clothing. We settled on $20 a month. Not a win for me, but also not a loss!
Over the years I have had to learn how to control my shopping sprees. It’s not easy and I’m not great at it, but I definitely don’t spend as much money on clothing as I used to!
Have you considered giving yourself a clothing allowance? If new clothes aren’t your jam, have you considered giving yourself an allowance for what it is that you spend money on? Maybe it’s eating at fancy restaurants? Or maybe it’s purchasing home decor? Could it be that you buy your children gifts and clothes too often? Find the leak and plug it up!
Give yourself a set amount that you can spend each month and save up your money over several months to make a big purchase. You’ll become more disciplined and you will save money all at the same time!
8. Extra Groceries
When I started my first teaching job I felt like a millionaire. Here I was with the biggest paycheck I had ever seen and I felt like I was on top of the world!
Turns out I was under a ton of debt, but I was so unaware and in denial about that.
So what did I do? I went grocery shopping at WholeFoods and spent over $120 each week on groceries. For one person. And I still went out to restaurants at least 4 times per week! Let me put this into perspective for you. I currently budget $150 each week for groceries for 4 people. And I don’t usually spend that entire amount!
The difference now is that I don’t buy food on a whim. Instead, I sit down every Friday night and make my meal plan for the following week (I know, I know. I’m wild and you’re totally jealous). I look at my grocery store’s ads and I check my coupons. I inventory the food in my pantry and I write out our family’s meals based on what is on sale and what I already have. These meals are not glamorous (cooking has never been my favorite way to spend time). But guess what! They feed my family and provide them with (most of the time) healthy ingredients.
So sit down, write out a meal plan, and buy only the food you need. You have no idea how much you can save if you stick to your plan! Learn more about how to save money in your budget with a meal plan. This article includes a free meal planning printable!
The Bottom Line
So there you have it! 8 ways to cut extra money from your budget. Take the time to sit down and choose what expenses you are willing to live without. What can you get rid of? Which of these items are not as important as your financial peace? Add up the expenses (even the small ones) and see just how much money you can save!
Need some guidance along the way? Sign up for my FREE 6 Day Budgeting Basics Email Course. It’s filled with free printables, lots of information, and the tools to help you succeed. Happy budgeting!