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How To Cut Expenses -- FAST

Updated on December 18, 2011

What Does It Take to Be Solvent?

Solvency is the ability to manage what is coming in versus what is going out. When our budgets get out of whack by our expenses exceeding our income we become insolvent.

As we are all aware this can happen quickly in our lives and sometimes through no fault of our own. The business we work for closes or lays us off, an unexpected medical expense comes our way, or any number of life's problems that we face.

What many don't realize is there are typically a number of wasters in our monthly expenditures. Things that are their strictly because of convenience or maybe items we are not really thinking about and how they add up to some serious money.

Consider this as an example. My wife and I will eat out in a restaurant one to two times a week. Neither of us consume alcohol, but we do like a Diet Coke. Many restaurants charge up to $2.50 to have a fountain soda. For my wife and I that would be an addition $5.00 at each meal or up to $10 a week. This can easily cost us $40 per month, which is 3/4 of a tank of gas for either of our vehicles.

This also leads me into my first idea on saving money.  Eating out cost a lot more then eating in.  In times of financial uncertainty don't spend the extra cash going out.  I am amazed how that when my wife and I go out to eat (at a cheap restaurant) it still costs us $25 or more (while we are drinking water).  That money really adds up!  We were at another restaurant not too long ago and without alcohol or soda it still cost us nearly $100.

If you really stop and look I am sure you can easily find some money wasters that can save you a tank or two of gas each month. Below you will find several ideas to get your thinking started.


Banks and ATM's

Have you ever wondered why banks are in the biggest buildings in town?  I mean, really, all they do is provide me a checking account.  Well in all reality banks are a powerful entity that probably understands money better then any other entity.  They are also masters at nickel and diming a person to death.

I spoke with an individual not too long ago that was paying $5.00 a month to get their checks returned to them.  I asked this person, "How often have you ever needed one of those checks?"  Their answer was, "Never!"  I then proceeded to ask why they spent $5 a month or $60 of year for the privilege of storing paper they don't need.  Their answer, "Just in case."

With the modernization of online banking you can now access most of your checks back several months.  If you go beyond a certain point you may have to pay of fee, but I go back to my question, "How often do you really need them?"  Don't pay this wasted fee!

What about your ATM card?  Aren't they wonderful and so convenient?  I remember once while I was in Bangkok, Thailand and needed some cash.  I was able to walk over to an ATM machine and get the cash out of my American account immediately.  It was great!  But every time we use a bank's ATM that is not our bank we are charged a fee.  In fact, studies show that many people will use the "closest" ATM instead of driving to their bank.  While you may save a little in gas depending on the size of city you live in you can easily spend up to $5 each time you do this.  The reason is because the bank you are withdrawing from charges you a fee in addition to your bank charging you a fee.

I was recently in Redondo Beach, CA.  I went out to this little diner on a pier to enjoy a nice breakfast while the waves crashed around me.  It was great food in a great location.  The only problem was this little diner didn't accept credit cards!  And guess what?  I had no cash on me.  There was a hotel up and across the road that had an ATM in the lobby.  In order to get the $20 I needed to pay for the breakfast I had to pay $3.25.  I am not sure what my bank has charged me on top of this.

There are reports that state that people make five to ten of these transactions a month.  Again, one could easily spent $25.00 to $50.00 per month in unnecessary charges.

Make Me A Millionaire!

It's funny how I never see people who drive Mercedes Benz lined up at the lottery window.  We all know that the chance of winning is beyond pitiful, yet many people drop their hard earned ticket on that chance of a lifetime to change their destiny.

You are far better off saving your money and using it wisely. The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries reports that more than $70 billion (YES with a "B") lottery tickets were sold in 2010.  That's a lot of tickets especially when you consider that the average "player" spends $10 to $20 per week.  These individuals can be spending more than $1,000 per year or looking at it another way, flushing more than $1,000 down the toilet every year.  Here's another easy way to save $40 to $80 per month or fill your gas tank up one more time.

I Love Starbucks

Yes I do!  I use their rewards card and I made gold rather quickly and have never lost it!  Of course, I can afford what I drink.  For one I just like the taste of coffee so I'm not buying all those fancy (and fattening) drinks.

I know a person who was making about $50,000 per year and they were really struggling to get by.  They couldn't figure out where all their money was going.  A friend of theirs who was good with money set up a tracking system whereby all this individuals money was accounted for.  At the end of the month it was determined that they were spending $400 per month at Starbucks.  That's insane!

You may not be spending this much, but according to national statistics the average bill when stopping by your favorite gourmet place is just over $8.00.  If you only "treat" yourself once a week you can easily spend $30-$40 per month.  Again, we just about filled our tank with gas one more time.

While I am all for treating ourselves once in awhile is it really worth the expense if something has happened in our life that has caused our budget to get out of line?  Instead, go to Costco and get you some good coffee that is a fraction of the cost.

Let's Have A Smoke

I know that this is a life-style decision and it is also addictive, so cutting this expense may be a lot harder then the rest.  But on the other side of the equation this expense if probably much higher then the others also.

We all know that smoking is bad for your health (not to mention your odor), but my goodness they are EXPENSIVE also.  I guess these little critters can vary in cost from place to place, but from the little research I've done a person can easily pay $3 to $5 per pack depending on the brand and much more in some cities like New York.

If you are a "pack-a-day" smoker then you are literally blowing $21 to $35 per week out your nostrils.  Not only can this cost intensive habit have very negative effects on your health it definitely has negative effects on your wallet.

If quitting is really not an option why not focus on cutting your habit in half?  All it takes is smoking one when you would have smoked two during your break and finding times to eliminate one here and there during the day.  You still get your fix, just not quite as often.  This really can save you a ton!

I've Gotta Have It Now

Impulse buying can cause you to throw more money down the toilet then a lot of other things. Consider this: Why would companies spend millions of dollars in research to determine what makes you and me buy? Answer: Because it's cost effective!

We are all creatures of habit. If we really all bore our souls to one another we would find that we are more like one another then different. Infomercials are powerful little critters because if you act now you won't just get ONE, but THREE of our little gadgets that don't work for only $19.95 (just pay separate shipping and handling).

When we are standing at the counter in the grocery store and we read the head line that the number one pop diva has done something so traumatic that modern man might not survive, we just can't resist that AND a candy bar.

Those who are prone to watch these types of programs or get bored easy can easily fork out a lot of money on items that they never use. If you can't say no then turn off the TV and take someone more disciplined with you to the store.

Work Those Abs!

I'm all for living a healthy life.  In the end it will save you a lot of money.  But don't deceive yourself.  If you haven't gone to the gym in the last three months your wasting your money on membership fees.

Many rationalize this by saying if they quit and decide to rejoin later they have to re-pay the introductory fee again.  I have two thoughts on that:

1. Wait until they have one of their specials (all gyms do) and re-join at that time.

2. If the initial member fee is $150 and the monthly fee is $50 then simply wait a minimum of three months before you rejoin.  You've at least broke even. 

I Want All of It!

I could not begin to count the number of pieces of junk mail I receive in my mailbox to get my phone, cell phone, internet, and TV at a remarkably great price by bundling them all together.  I once decided to really sit down and do the math to see if it was a deal.  In the end I was going to be paying about $40 per month more then the way I currently

I don't know how many stations I have with my Dish TV, the reason I don't know is because I watch less than ten of them.  Why pay for hundreds of channels that you don't watch?  Why have unlimited text on your phone when you only send 150 per month?

Most of these companies will also give you a better rate to keep you as a customer.  I know that when I felt I was paying too much for my TV I called to cancelled. They immediately went into save a customer mode and dropped my rate by almost 50%.  That was about three years ago and they have never raised it since.

In Conclusion

These ideas are simply ideas.  But I think you can see that there are several ways that you can IMMEDIATELY cut some expenses out of your budget.  With a little digging around your particular budget you might find some others items.  If you do post them in the comments below as this may be something that another reader can use.


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    • grayghost profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Hub! Take care of the little things and the big ones will start falling in line too. I like all your suggestions. And as a new retiree on a much lower, and "fixed" income we have started looking at our entire lifestyle this way.

      We call these savings "income increases". Reducing the cable bill by $60 a month was the same as though we increased our income by $60. Taking the time to clip a $1 coupon for a grocery purchase was really the merchant putting $1 in our wallet. We have increased our monthly "income" by several hundred dollars by taking care of most of the small stuff. It really is amazing how much we were wasting.

      Thanks again for a very useful hub!


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