There are plenty of ideas out there about how to cut back on expenses, especially unbudgeted expenses. Here we have ten of the most popular tips for how to cut back. Some may work for you, while others do not. The important thing is to try them out and see if it helps.
Track Your Spending
The first step to cutting back on unbudgeted expenses is to figure out what they are.
- Where are you spending money?
- What is a need?
- What is a want?
- What is an impulse?
Needs are expenses like rent, food, and necessities. Needs can include clothing but only if it is something necessary. Not an impulse buy or want.
Wants are things that you can live without but buy anyway. This may include movie tickets, books, eating out, and anything else that isn’t necessary for survival.
Impulse buys are things you buy without thinking about. Such as when you are at the store, you see something cute, it is on sale, so you buy it. Often you may find yourself saying something like “but it is such a great deal.” or “who could pass up that deal.” Resist the urge to fall into these traps.
Create a Budget
Once you know where all your money is going, it is time to see where you can cut back on your spending. In the following sections, you’ll find details on some everyday spending habits and how to cut back.
- How much do you need for rent?
- How much do you need for food?
- How much do you need for bills?
- How much do you need for Credit Card Minimum Payments?
- How much is left over?
Meal Plan and Cook at Home More Often
Meal planning can help cut costs in multiple ways. If you plan your meals ahead of time, you will have a grocery list when you go to the store.
This is key! Stick to your grocery list as much as possible.
A meal made at home is always going to be cheaper than one purchased from a restaurant. However, it would help if you were realistic about your meal planning. For example, do not plan to eat the same thing every night. That will only make it harder to stick to the plan since you will get bored.
Also, do not plan complicated or fancy meals. Steak or expensive seafood may be delicious, but it is often out of budget. Try to stick to meals that have ingredients that are within budget.
Buying things like rice, beans, and other dried foods in bulk can help because they will last a long time, and you get a lot of food from them.
Rethink Your Subscriptions
Look at any subscriptions you have. What kinds of things are you paying weekly or monthly for, and are you using them?
If you are not using them, then you should cancel your subscription. You can always start again once you are out of the tight spot you are in now.
Reduce Your Water and Electricity Costs
You can cut your bills by at least a few dollars if you turn off lights during the day or whenever you are not in the room. In addition, you can save on water by taking shorter showers. Only turn on AC or Heater when the room is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Shop Second-Hand or Buy Clearance Items
If you must buy clothing, books, or household items, try to buy them second-hand. You can often find great deals on gently used items.
Another option is only to shop the clearance section when you require something “new.”
Places like Ross, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, and Big Lots often have great prices for new items.
Use Coupons, Coupon Codes, and Shop Sale Items
Check your weekly mailings for clip coupons. Also, check out apps for your preferred stores and digitally “clip” coupons to use when shopping. The key here is to remember to use your coupons at the store.
Shop Around for a Cheaper Phone Plan or Insurance Plan
If you are having trouble paying your phone or insurance bill, do some shopping around to see if there is something better. You may find that your plan is best. However, you may also find better options out there if you find a better, cheaper plan switch as soon as possible.
Go Cash Only
One way to control your spending is to go cash only. This means you give yourself a certain amount of money to spend each week—for instance, one hundred dollars. You are then not allowed to use cards to pay for anything.
If weekly doesn’t work, you can also do Bi-weekly or monthly. Or you can create Jars for certain expenses throughout the month and put money in. You can only spend what is in the jar for each type of expense.
Put a Freeze on Your Credit Cards
If you find you keep using your credit cards and spending what you are paying down, consider if you can put a freeze on the cards. If you need those cards to pay for an emergency, keep only one open.
Try only to spend the money you have. Not the money you think you will have when your paycheck comes in. That way, you can avoid using your paycheck to pay off your debt.
Image by Undrey via Shutterstock.com.