Cutting Your Monthly Expenses - Quick Ways to Stretch Your Income

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When you are short on cash, one of the quickest ways to solve this problem is to cut your expenses. This problem has happened to almost everyone at some point. Most people actually live paycheck to paycheck - not saving any money each month. Whether you are in a bind this month or you want to start saving money, cutting your expenses is the first step.

The biggest expense for most people, after mortgage or rent, is food. This includes groceries and eating out. Logically, this would be the best place to start cutting your expenses. If you are low on cash each month, the first thing to go should be eating out. Many people actually eat out every day! I have a hard time fathoming this, but it is true. I can't imagine spending $5 on breakfast $7-10 on lunch and $15-20 on dinner each day. For one person that is a total of $27-$35 each day. If you eat out like this all month you will average $900 a month eating out. Yikes!

So rethink how you eat out. If you are used to eating lunch out every day then it will be hard to cut it out completely, but you can cut back. The more you can cut back the better. If you can cut back to eating lunch out one time each week you will save $28-40 a week. Think of what other things you could spend that hard earned money on and that is motivation enough. Restaurant food is extremely expensive compared to groceries so the more you can cut back the better on your wallet. As far as groceries are concerned, I have found that combining coupons with store sales or buying store brand items is one of the best ways to save money at the grocery store.

Utilities are the next biggest area in most people's budgets. If it is winter turn the heat down, if it is summer turn the AC up. For every degree that you turn your heat down in the winter you will save, on average, 3% on your energy bill. Start thinking about how you use your appliances. Do you use your dryer for everything? Why not start hanging things up to dry? Every time you run your dryer it costs around $.75. That doesn't seem like much, but if you wash one load a day and use your dryer for everything you are spending $22.50 to dry your clothes each month.

Turn your water heater down. Water heaters are designed to heat the water much hotter than is needed to kill germs. Lowering the temperature will save money, decrease the chances of someone being scalded, and still kill germs. Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when it is full. If you have to pay a per gallon rate on the water you use, using less can be a big money saver.

Take some time to evaluate your cable, phone and internet plans. We just switched internet providers and are getting several months free and then a reduced rate for the rest of the year. Even after the year is up and the rate becomes full price, it will still be $7 cheaper each month than what we were paying. If you are not locked into a cell phone plan shop around. There are many options that do not require a long term contract like Straight Talk. You can pay a low monthly rate for unlimited everything. Cut back on the number of television stations you get to save money each month.

If you have credit card debt contact your provider to ask for a lower interest rate. Making sure that you have a good payment record will benefit you in this area. Credit card companies want to keep your business. If they have you as a balance carrying customer, they are making a good bit of money off of you each month. So they will usually lower your interest rate to keep you as a customer. It might be just a temporary thing, but a reduced rate for any amount of time will help you get ahead on your monthly bills.

How about other spending areas? What is your weakness? Is it clothing, books, computer equipment, getting your nails done, or going to the movies? Take a close look at how you are spending your money and you will be able to see very quickly where a good chunk is going. Cutting back in that area will free up cash each month for other expenses or to go towards debt or savings. Whatever you are spending money on, try reducing that amount. It will always help the situation and is an immediate way to increase your cash flow.

Most people can easily trim their monthly expenses. Taking a close look at how you spend your money will help you to see the areas that you can reduce your spending. Reducing your expenses will mean that you have more money in the budget each month - which is really like increasing your income. Spend it wisely!



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Comments 20 comments

johnr54 profile image

johnr54 8 years ago from Texas

This reminds me of what my uncle used to say was the key to getting rich "Spend less than your make". He noted that too many people try to make more than they spend, which is a never ending battle.


helen 8 years ago

debtors prison here we come


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago

Hi Jennifer,

These are great ideas. I have combined my phone/cable tv/computer bill for one fee, which saves me approximately $65 a month. My tv package has what I want, and I've tried to have them remove channels from that as I never watch them, but as it's 'part of the package' I have to live with it.

I've installed sensor lights on my deck and front porch. Often, I turn the AC off when I go to bed, as I find nothing worse than coming home from a long day at work to a hot stuffy house.

I buy the majority of my books 2nd hand. Two weekends ago I purchased two full paper bags for $10, saving well over $100. The area I have the most difficulty with is Ebay, since I LOVE unique, old things. My plan for that is running a yard sale in the early fall and hopefully ridding myself of a lot of, although loved, unnecessay clutter.

Again, thanks for the great tips!

Trish


Faye 8 years ago

My daddy always told me watch your pennies and your dollars will watch themselves.

Faye


Rita 7 years ago

Generic medications are a great way to keep your prescription drug costs down. I’ve seen ads on TV for Caduet. It has two ingredients. One is Amlodipine and the other is Atorvastatin. With my RxDrugCard I can get 30 tablets of Amlodipine for $9 and 30 tablets of Simvastatin for $9. I’ll bet they are charging more than $18 for this new drug! The unthinking public is going to pressure their doctors into giving them something just because it’s new, when something old or generic would do the job for cheaper.


Kulsum Mehmood profile image

Kulsum Mehmood 7 years ago from Nagpur, India

Hi Jennifer, Great ideas in economics. A penny saved is a penny earned.


Florida Keys profile image

Florida Keys 7 years ago from Jewfish Key Florida

I turn off my hot water heater until I have used the available hot water and then turn it back on to heat another batch. Water heaters are well insulated and keep the water hot for a long time. A large part of your electric bill is heating and reheating your water. Also turn off the computer when not in use, seal leaks around windows and doors, open your curtains and blinds during the day in winter to get free heat, and a ceiling fan to blow heat off the ceiling in winter. Whew...it's a full time job isn't it.


Dorrene R profile image

Dorrene R 7 years ago

Good advice. I love saving money.


pddm67 profile image

pddm67 7 years ago from Queens, New York

Good advice. I make my coffee at home now instead of stopping at the coffee shop. Save $10 a week. Have already replaced my old lightbulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs and always hand the children's clothes to dry instead of putting them in the dryer (they don't shrink and last longer). Rock on :-)


Jane@CM profile image

Jane@CM 6 years ago

I wish more people could read your article. It is so easy to cut back, yet people still need their quick fix mocha's or lunch at McDonald's.


EZSayIz24K profile image

EZSayIz24K 6 years ago

Saving money is no longer a 'poor people' attitude - it's common sense. Great article.


Laura in Denver profile image

Laura in Denver 6 years ago from Aurora

A bit of belt-tightening never hurt anyone. Cheers!


free online live profile image

free online live 6 years ago from Wanderer

Very insightful indeed. Thanks for such a neat article.


Sharry 6 years ago

I great way to save money is by cutting back on your expensive cell phone bills Find a plan that works for you that you can afford. I did. I switched to straight talk where i get unlimited calling and texting for only $45 a month. There was no contract and they are part of the Verizon network so the service has been great!


abonded4life profile image

abonded4life 6 years ago from Kitchener ontario

good advice, already doing most of it


bonnebartron profile image

bonnebartron 5 years ago from never one place for too long

Goodness knows this is the time to find ways to save!


Marzime 5 years ago

This is a wonderful hub! I was aware of some of the points but you certainly broaden more ideas for me. I went away on vacation recently for a month and half. I lived out of a suitcase. I came to realize I don't need so many cloths options so now I don't shop and I gave half of mine away that always stood in the closet. I felt if I am not using them then someone else can. I always do "spring cleaning" and still held onto things saying I will wear it one day - never happens! Was a great feeling to give and gave me a more appreciation for want I do have. I am saving a lot more now! Thanks for sharing and hope my short story can be a light switch to help others in need.


Nico 5 years ago

After all, we should all remember one thing: the typical 'millionaire' is the everyday person who is smart with his money, lives below his means and focuses on savings first!


LaniK profile image

LaniK 4 years ago from Minnesota

Good common sense, yet we all need reminding with the relentless driving forces of advertizing. Good hub!


janderson99 profile image

janderson99 2 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

Grocery shopping is the killer. People have to understand the marketing tactics that are applied and develop counter tactics.

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