Monthly expenses keep creeping higher and higher all the time. We think an extra fee for a premium plan that only costs a few more dollars each week won’t matter. Until suddenly, we realize that our monthly expenses have increased 25-50% and we don’t even know how that happened.
You may think there’s not a lot of wiggle room in your budget, but that’s exactly why you need to put money back into it every month. Fortunately, there are plenty of pain-free ways to cut expenses and enjoy a little more financial freedom.
Save On Recurring Expenses
One of the first places to cut expenses is on the big recurring monthly bills that we all have.
Scrutinize your cell phone bill.
The average cell phone bill is over $1200 a year. You can easily lower that cost by getting a great smartphone with a prepaid or contract-free wireless provider. Also, review every charge on your bill. Is there something that you’re not familiar with? Question it. Are you paying for extras you don’t need? Cancel them.
For example, if you can afford to pay out-of-pocket for a new phone when your cell phone breaks, you might not need that mobile insurance the salesman said you “had” to have. Are your data charges too high? Connect to your home internet service when you’re there and free Wi-Fi services when you’re out. Not only will this lower your data charges, you may realize you can cut down the amount of data on your plan, saving you some additional money. If you frequently travel internationally, look into alternatives to charging expensive international roaming fees, such as running texting applications on Wi-Fi.
Here are some good alternative cell phone companies to help you get started.
Review your home phone bill.
If you rarely use your home phone, you may be able to cancel it altogether. If you do need a home phone option, take a look at an internet phone provider (VoIP), which may provide much cheaper plans. And if you still need a traditional landline for, say, your home security system, look at canceling some of the extra options like voicemail and call waiting to save on things you don’t need or use. Additionally, you may be able to get a discount when combining phone service into a cable and Internet package.
Is there room to cut expenses on your cable bill?
Take a look at switching providers from one to another to get in on a promotional deal. Take a look at your bill and see if you are being charged for channels or packages you don’t watch. If so, cancel them. It’s less expensive to rent a movie than pay for several movie channels if you rarely watch them. Instead of paying for cable, buy a digital antenna that will get you the basic cable channels for free. Or cut out cable altogether and save hundreds with online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. If you keep cable, try to avoid a contract so you can maintain long-term flexibility.
Look at switching auto insurance carriers.
I recommend re-evaluating your car insurance needs every year, because insurance companies regularly change their prices. Additionally, if your living situation changes (you move, get married, switch jobs, etc.) you should obtain new quotes. One of my friends had a high monthly car insurance payment because she commuted 60 miles to work each day. When she switched jobs to one less than 5 miles from her house, it didn’t dawn on her to price new insurance rates until nearly a year later. As it turns out, her car insurance company offers a discount for drivers who live 5 miles away from their employer. Additionally, you may also want to look into new quotes for life, home, and other types of insurance.
Save On Money Leaks
Sometimes recurring expenses aren’t the main problem in our budget. There are times when money just seems to disappear (go down the drain, if you will) because we spend it somewhere without thinking about it. Here are just a few common examples of these money leaks, but chances are you could identify a few more in your monthly budget.
Do you stop for coffee every morning on your way to work?
Cut back. Go to the coffee shop once or twice a week, or even better, only for special occasions. Buy a great micro-roast coffee to make at home instead, and try new coffee recipes too. You’ll likely find that you can drink better tasting coffee at home for just a fraction of the cost.
Do you spend money on craft items or kitchen gadgets you never use?
Whatever hobby you enjoy, you may find yourself spending a lot of money every month to buy the “latest and greatest” thing. You don’t need to cut it out completely, but cutting back on how much you spend can help save in unexpected ways. For example, shopping at yard sales, thrift stores, or online barter-and-trade sites can help you buy your hobby supplies at a fraction of the cost!
Are there any cost-cutting tips we missed? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to try Clearpoint’s budget calculator, which will help you find new cost-cutting opportunities.