One of the most common personal finance tips and action items to people when looking for money in their budget is to “slash or cut your spendings”. This actionable tip, along with earning more money, seem to be the two ways to actually make headway on your goals, which is true. While you have no cap on earning more money, sometimes you can only slash your finances so much. But with some of these tips, they can be a lot lower than simply cutting your daily latte which can have you saving more in no time!
Take care of the obvious
I know I’ve already stated cutting out your daily latte is not the reason you can’t save money. And it truly is to some degree. But, taking care of one of the obvious finance tips may help you save additional money so we’ll go over it. Try to limit yourself to coffee out only once or twice per week. It should truly be seen as a treat and not as your go to method. There are dozens of ways to make coffee at home and even investing in your own Keurig will save you money if it’s just you having a cup of coffee.
Eating out should also be seen as a treat like coffee. I know when you are starting out, cooking can seem a bit daunting. But you can make a ton of meals at home for a fraction of the price it costs you in a restaurant or grabbing take away. You can also control the ingredients and calories so that these meals are healthier and more nutritious.
Cut stuff you don’t need
You also don’t need twenty subscription boxes or entertainment services, such as Spotify and Netflix. Yes, these are considered entertainment and not necessities. If you truly have only one thing you splurge on, and it happens to be ten dollars, that might be okay if it keeps you from going hog wild with downloading 100 songs a month from iTunes or overspending with your friends.
Look into cheaper plans
If you have internet at home, and at work, do you really need 10Gs of data on your cell phone plan? If you are never home or have other things to do than watch TV, do you need the exclusive cable package? If you answered no to both of these questions, consider looking into cheaper plans that may be offered by your provider.
It’s normal to get comfortable and not think about our recurring expenses that we may be carrying, such as insurance, cable, electric, etc. But unless you are already on a minimum bare bones budget already, you are probably paying extra on an expense and don’t realize it.
If you currently have full coverage insurance on your car or a low deductible, consider if your car is worth the amount you would replace it for. If you have an exclusive coverage plan for health insurance, consider getting a high deductible if you are never sick. $10 a month can add up to $120 a year which could go towards a financial goal you are working on.
Look into discounts
Since you are contacting your provider anyways, you might as well ask about any discounts that can apply to you and your situation. Some discounts that you may qualify for are:
- Students (if you are currently enrolled or even just graduated, you may qualify for a student rate);
- Military (even if you are not currently serving);
- Teacher (retail stores like Apple will allow you a certain percentage off);
- Public Service (firefighters and police officers mainly);
- Employer (Employers such as the Boys and Girls Clubs are national partners with AT&T. ADP, while not an employer, also allows discounts if your employer contracts through them for benefits and payroll.)
Ask about any and all discounts that may apply to your situation because you never know what your provider is willing to do for you. Be nice and courteous and do not demand.
Negotiate your bills
Along with asking for any eligible discounts, ask if there is a way to lower your bill. You may qualify for a plan that is not listed because you are a loyal customer. I received $20 off my internet bill for being a customer longer than 2 years. I have also received discounts off of my rent because I was there for three years without moving before. As a word of advice, never threaten to take your business elsewhere if you are not serious. Companies will note this in your file and may reference it again in the future. Also, make a note in your calendar if you need to call and inquire about a discount every year.
Consider changing your provider
If you are not obsessed with your current provider, consider taking your business elsewhere. If you live in a city, chances are that the market is overly saturated to begin with. Look for the best deals for what you actually need and not because it’s being offered on sale. Remember, you are trying to slash your expenses.
Look into alternatives
There may also be an alternative to your current service such as cell phone or cable that you may have not thought about. For your cell phone, look into providers such as Republic Wireless that go off of Wi-Fi hot spots instead of a cellular network. Instead of cable, look into Sling which provides sports and television viewing at a lower cost. Make sure you are looking at all possible alternatives that may be best for your situation.
If you are a young professional or a couple with no kids, you may consider moving. Moving can also be done with children but it’s always easier to move when it’s just you. One time, I was able to move my life belongings in two sedans and a pickup truck. Don’t ask about how though.
Rent and living expenses usually are the biggest items in your budget so it only makes sense to see if you there are anyways to make them cheaper. Some things to consider:
- Roommates. Splitting the rent two or three ways is always cheaper than taking on the full amount of rent by yourself. Consider living with friends or renting a room from an acquaintance that you are friendly with. One time I was able to rent a room from a friend after a breakup and saved over $5,000 over the course of a year. Sure, I didn’t have as much privacy as I do in my current apartment but it was a great arrangement for a year.
- Living in a cheaper part of town. Downtown living may be a desirable outcome for some of us but it might not exactly be affordable. Many big cities are experiencing gentrification which are causing what were once cheap rents to go up, to almost twice the amount as rent in other parts of the city. Sure, a spacey loft would be cool but so would an extra $400-1200 depending on what part of the country you may live in. Consider moving to another part of town. Neighborhoods close to universities are known for their cheap student rates and living in the suburbs may also be more economically friendly.
- Consider an older apartment or utilities included. An older apartment without all of the modern amenities may also be an option to help cut down living costs. Laundromats are a pain but you could save up to $100 not having a washer and dryer in unit. If you are okay with carpet and older appliances, as well as living in an older building that hasn’t been remodeled yet, you are also looking at cheaper rent. It’s important to know your first apartment or even your third does not have to look like an HGTV show.
The bottom line
By cutting out stuff you don’t need, looking into cheaper plans, negotiating with your providers, looking into alternatives and considering your living situation, you will be able to slash your expenses by hopefully a few hundred a month. Every little thing adds up and while penny pinching is exhausting, it’s pointless to waste money you didn’t have to in the first place.