A Few Easy Tricks to Help Reduce Monthly Expenses

If you are looking to cut expenses down you are on the right track when it comes to saving a few extra dollars a month, in addition to just taking a look at unnecessary expenses.  Sometimes items that you use (or don’t use) could be cut as well, so it might be a good idea to take a look at what might have thought were normal expenses, and see if you can tweak a little.

Cancel Your Gym Membership

So as soon as January rolls around, maybe even December if you want to get a jump on the deals, you write down your New Year’s resolution that you want to start going to the gym to lose a few pounds.  You get into a rhythm, start going regularly and you see the weight start to come off.  Well something happens where you have to miss a day, and then another, and it’s the whole week you haven’t gone.  Well it gets harder and harder to go back once you missed, and pretty soon you are paying every month and not even going.  Save yourself the $25-50 a month you are spending and start to run, or at least walk, cut the grass, and work on your landscaping outside now that it is nice.

Cut the Cable Cord

Speaking of the weather and being outside, what are you doing inside watching TV anyways?  What better time to cut the cable cord then now.  With all of the streaming like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, cable is becoming less and less like a priority with the rise of DVR and binge-watching, showing little need to watch live, and therefore increasing the need to cancel the always rising cable bill.  Without the need to pick specific channels to watch, it is less realistic to pay for all of the channels that are going to waste along with the money in your wallet.

Use Cash Instead of Credit

When you make a purchase and hand over your debit card there can be little thought about the money you have in your account and where you will be after the purchase, let alone use a credit card with virtually an endless amount of spending that could occur before you hit your limit.  In an effort to reduce purchases and at least give thought before handing over your card, try using cash instead of plastic.  You can then physically see the money leaving your hand, and only leaving you a certain amount until your next paycheck.

Skip the Bottle and Drink Out of the Tap

Yes, if you buy a case of bottled water from Costco it can only be a few dollars.  If you’re grabbing a couple for work, having after dinner, and taking one upstairs when you go to bed, you could be going through a case every few days, which if you add up over the course of a month or even a year, it could be huge savings if you could just take a water jug and fill up with the tap water as needed.

Now is the Time to Get Personal Finance on Track

I feel that I had a solid education growing up and into college.  I probably could have paid more attention and applied myself a little better instead of having priorities elsewhere, but when it comes to personal finance I feel like it was not that I was ignoring these life lessons; it’s that I was not taught.  This is not to blame my parents at all, I made my own spending and saving decisions, or lack thereof, but as I even studied business in college, I think there was a gap in what really should have been explained; how to set yourself up for financial success.  Whether you are already into your career or just beginning, it is never too late for a little financial improvement.

Create a Budget

If you do not allocate where your income goes, you could be on a spending free for all each month, so not only creating, but maintaining a successful budget is improvement for a little financial structure in your life.  While noting every dollar that is coming in, first take a look at what comes out first; your necessary monthly expenses such as rent/mortgage, utilities, car lease, and student loan payments.  Next comes items that you will need to set aside enough money for, such as food, gas, and spending money.  This is the tricky part, as you will need to figure out how much how much you should, and can, spend without being excessive.

Reduce Unnecessary Spending

This is where the excessive spending comes in, such as going out to bars and restaurants, shopping, and entertainment funds.  If you take a look at your last credit card/bank statement, go over line by line for purchases that were not necessary monthly bills, and circle each, adding up the total spending.  It will probably shock you, so the next step would be to see which items could have been avoided and work towards reducing unnecessary spending going forward.

Create an Emergency Account

While on a strict budget, any sort of unexpected expense can throw your successful planning out of whack, so you want to give yourself a little cushion.  You never know when you might have an auto repair come up, an unexpected home repair needed, or even worse, an unfortunate job loss.  For purchases, it would be nice to have the money readily available so that you do not have to put it on a credit card to try and figure out how to pay for it later.  Experts say you try and have three to six months’ worth of expenses available, though some will say six months may be too much and could have been better spend investing.

Contribute to Retirement as Soon as Possible

Although it may be the furthest from your mind, start saving for retirement as early as possible; you will thank yourself later.  Even if money is tight, if your employer offers a matching 401(k) program, at least put in the maximum company match, otherwise it could just be leaving free money on the table.