Lowering your monthly expenses can add a little breathing room to your budget. You may be interested in lowering these costs due to a change in your circumstances or because you are interested in increasing the amount you can contribute to your savings account. Regardless of the reason, there are several ways to lower your expenses each month without dramatically changing your lifestyle.
Track Your Spending
It is hard to save money for the future if you don’t know where it is going. Tracking your expenses allows you to see exactly where your money goes. Once you do this, it is easier to recognize areas where you can save. You don’t have to be fancy. There are many apps, both free and paid, you can use to track your expenses. You can also use an excel spreadsheet or a notebook. Record every expense, from utility bills to impromptu cups of coffee.
Refinance Student Loans
Lowering your monthly costs allows you to save more money. Some monthly expenses, such as your rent or mortgage, are fixed, but others have some wiggle room. You may be able to save on utilities by adjusting your thermostat. You may find some money for savings by refinancing your student loans. A flexible payment with lower interest rate means being able to funnel this extra money into savings that adds up quickly.
When you look at the money you spend each month, pay attention to your food budget. There are probably places to save in both the grocery and eating out category. Sit down at the beginning of each week and make a plan. If you routinely eat lunch out, plan to take lunch at least four days a week. Allowing yourself the treat of eating out once a week can be a good reward and help you stay on track. If you routinely pick up dinner on your way home from work, plan so that you have meals already prepped and waiting when you get home.
If you do good about eating at home, but your grocery bill is higher than you feel it should be, look for ways to save. See what is on sale for the week before doing your meal plan. If you eat meat, aim for one or more meat-free days a week. Substituting beans for meat for a few meals can drastically cut your grocery bill. Cook smaller portions or plan to eat your leftovers. Food waste is a large and affordable portion of most people’s grocery bills.
Eliminate Impulse Purchases
Online shopping makes impulse buys very easy. If your expenses include a surprising number of impulse buys, make an effort to cut down. One easy way to do this is by leaving your purchases in the shopping cart for 48 hours. You will probably find that many of the items you thought you needed were impulses, selected in response to an email alerting you to a sale or as a way to lift your spirits. If you still want to make that purchase after 48 hours, consider whether you would prefer to transfer the same amount into your savings. Seeing your savings increase directly may be all the incentive you need to resist temptation.