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Reducing Your Expenses When You Think You Can't Cut Anymore

Updated on May 4, 2010

I have found that many people think their hands are tied when it comes to reducing their expenses. They assume they can't go any lower on their budget. I am here to tell you that you are probably wrong. I have yet to meet someone who couldn't trim their budget in some way. Even the most frugal of people have a backup plan in case of a job layoff or something. If you are serious about reducing your expenses - either because you have to or because you want to in order to meet a financial goal - this hub is for you.

First of all, take a hard look at your expenses. A really hard look. Do you know where your money is going each month? Did you have to grab that magazine when you were waiting in the checkout line? There is $5 you could have in your pocket. Do you really watch all of those movie channels you pay for each month? Drop whatever you can. And if you are in a serious financial crunch then regardless of whether you watch cable or not, drop it anyway. Even if you have teenagers, they will get used to it. We get the very basic of cable to the tune of $13 a month. We can watch plenty of stuff online for free and don't miss the real cable at all.

Let's take a look at all your bills though, not just cable. Some bills are essential, but there are ways to reduce them. For phone and internet talk to your current carrier and see if they can offer you a lower rate. Even if you get it lowered just temporarily it will help you out. For more set bills, shop around. I have several options for where my gas supply comes from and the rates vary tremendously. I also have several options for trash pickup as well.

Some bills are set in stone, such as our water/sewer bill and our electric bill. The only way we can reduce these bills is to use less. It isn't that hard to do really. I can always find ways to reduce my electric bill when I think about it a lot. Pay attention to lights left on, water left running, etc and you will find ways to cut I am sure.

There are many areas of our budgets that are flexible. In drastic situations you can put a moratorium on all spending. Yep even for food. See how long you can go eating just the food you have in your house. We could last a month or so. If you really need to cut your spending, then all clothes shopping needs to cease. No haircuts, unless done at home, no manicures, no eating out, etc. Whether you have to reduce your spending of you want to, these areas should be the first to be cut because they are typically where people overspend the most.

Take a hard look at each and every thing you spend money on. Do you have a newspaper subscription? You can cut that easily. We have reduced ours to Sundays only and we pay less than a third what we paid before. What about magazine subscriptions? These types of things that get paid yearly tend to sneak up on us. The more subscriptions you have the more money you pay. Have you ever totaled it up? While it might be just $15 here or $10 there, over the course of the year you could be spending hundreds of dollars on random subscriptions. See if you can drop any of these. Some you may want to keep, others you may not renew, and others you can cancel mid-subscription and get a refund for your unused amount.

Use what you have before buying anything new. Just because you ran out of ranch dressing doesn't mean you have to run out and buy more. Use the other kinds of salad dressing you already have or make your own with balsamic vinegar and oil. Did you run out of your favorite toothpaste, but you have other kinds in the cabinet. Use those for awhile. Don't buy anything unless you absolutely have to. For me this usually means reducing my grocery and toiletry budget to $25 a week for our family of six for awhile and mostly using what I already have. If I can do that then you can do it too.

When you live on a tight budget it can be frustrating and hard, but it can be done. There is almost always an area you can tighten up. Weekly and monthly expenses can creep up quickly and before you know it you are overspending. Take a hard look at your spending and your budget and figure out where you can reduce. It will help you meet your goals faster and that is always worth it.


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    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      Great tips here! We cut down on grocery bills by planting a garden and freezing leftovers from it. We also bought a rain barrel for $50 and it's been saving us tons of water for the garden and plants watering. There are plenty of ways to save if you think hard :) Great hub! Hats off to you!

    • MarloByDesign profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      I think I am the only American without cable and it is fine with me! I use rabbit ears and the digital converter boxes...but I save so much $$ every month.

    • profile image

      Amie Warren 

      8 years ago

      I grew up poor, so when I was poor again, I had no problem cutting things to the bone. I don't have cable or even t.v. I find plenty to do or watch for free online. I don't feel deprived.

    • animal-backpacks profile image


      8 years ago from Brighton

      Excellent hub. I have trimmed my budget to extremes the past year or so and find myself far happier today than I ever was when I was on a good wage buying stuff I didn't need. When you plan out your budget to the nth degree it can be quite fun and you can end up taking great pleasure in your own ingenuity.


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      thanks so much for the advice

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      These are great suggestions - if you haven't already done them! We have cut all these already and still feel like we're drowning. I haven't bought much clothes in the last few years - I'm still wearing clothes form 4-5 yrs. ago. But now all my clothes are wearing out, my shoes, my undergarmets - when you had no budget for clothes - you can't cut your budget for clothes. And how do you creat one out of nothing? I cut my hair about once a year now - for the last 3 years. I feel I have lost all sense of style and alot of self-esteem! We have no land-line, no cell-phone, internet - only because of my husbands business, I haven't had the heat on for 2+ months and we are looking at having to heat our house with our decrepid wood stove (um, fire hazard anyone?) next winter, we have a $600 mortgage - cheaper than what we could rent for - even with up keep and taxes it's cheaper than rent would be. I don't know how to cut further - other than to cancel our electric service and water entirely! I'm very worn out and frusturated and tired of being broke - every month it gets harder and harder. I've been looking for work, but can't find anything - uh! I see friends asking for food boxes "because they need them" yet they are still going out for drinks, dinner, buying from catalogs etc etc. It's frustrating - we need food boxes - because we have cut EVERYTHING already and can't make it - that's when you know your broke!

    • ceholmes profile image


      8 years ago from Chicago

      "My budget is tighter than tight but I will survive" -- I hear ya!!

    • myshing profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      Great hub! Thanks for the very helpful tips.

    • dobo700 profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, we all need some help when it comes to money.

    • mylene81 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great advice. Now let me go check what I need to cut off my budget.

    • Manna in the wild profile image

      Manna in the wild 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Some nice tips there. Thank you.

    • Karen Banes profile image

      Karen Banes 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Great hub. I 'heart' saving money too. Use what you have is great advice. Many of us have so much we go out and buy new stuff without realizing we already have the same (or equivalent) product at home.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      very good hub, check mine out about budget dinners

    • Wayne Orvisburg profile image

      Kenneth Wayne 

      8 years ago from Alabama

      I'd like to point out an issue with coupons. I know people can save with them, but a lot of times, you can get a generic version for less than what you pay even with the coupon.

    • YU_First 1 profile image

      YU_First 1 

      8 years ago from Uganda

      I am those keep for a rainy day types and always keep extra for a rainy day. Finishing everything to the last drop sometimes leaves depressed and very worried. How do I overcome this?

    • JustColl profile image


      8 years ago from Durban, South Africa

      Excellent and informative hub with great ideas which can be accomplished. I am delighted. Having lost a large part of my income and trying to get by with elderly parents who are on pension these suggestions will definitely be of great help.

    • GALAXY 59 profile image

      Galaxy Harvey 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      A great hub with some very good idea's for working out your budget. Lots of useful information and a good read too.

    • CJ Williams profile image

      CJ Williams 

      8 years ago

      Great hub. I've been through this process and it is amazing how much you can reduce that 'ole budget if you are willing to sacrifice. Thanks!

    • True Blue Tips profile image

      True Blue Tips 

      8 years ago

      Great Hub! I always use to run into trouble with my finances until a few years ago when I started an excel spreadsheet tracking my income and expenses. I set it up much like a check book so I have income in one column, expenses in the next and balance in the third column. At the beginning of the year I put in all my pay check amount for every 2 weeks and also the expenses I know I will have. For instance my rent, phone, cable, etc are all expenses I have each month. I also set aside money for gifts, savings, clothes and opened bank accounts at the same bank and then each pay check I transfer the money online. The most surprising thing for this simple plan is that I have more money because I can plan for it and I know where it is all going, something I didn't know before.

    • Digital Alchemist profile image

      Digital Alchemist 

      8 years ago from New York, NY

      Love this hub! No matter what people say, they ALWAYS can cut some expenses out of their current spending patterns. It's amazing to me how many people who are on a serious budget console themselves with spending money as a "treat" or an "I need to relax", so they go out to dinner a few times a week, or go out to drinks with their friends. Go out for drinks and get a water! You'll save yourself $20+ each time, and your friends won't mind, they just want your company.

      I agree with thehomewriter above: get a prepaid cell phone! My wife and I each have had a T-Mobile prepaid phone (the best one in my opinion, because once you become a "gold" status level, you can roll your minutes for 1 calendar year by just putting a few dollars more on. This is a huge concept), and we've averaged less than $5 per month per phone over the past 3 years. That's a huge savings!

    • The Loan Arranger profile image

      The Loan Arranger 

      8 years ago

      Some good points there, especially the Cable (and Satellite in the UK)and the left on appliances.

    • ExpandYourMind profile image


      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Great hub! I didn't realize until a couple of months ago, that appliances use electricity even if they are not turned on. Now, my second TV, etc stays unplugged.

    • mwatkins profile image


      8 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

      thank you so much for the reminder that we can cut back 'more yet.' I have a ton of ways to cut back as a result of a job loss by my husband that forced us to be creative for 4 months. TV went away, but our internet connection stayed and we enjoyed the lack of 'noise' so much that we never got it hooked back up and used the free stations for any TV Fix that we wanted! Great tips - thanks!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      What a helpful hub. I've come to the time in my life where being frugal is not an option, but a must. I thought I had cut back as much as possible, until I read this hub. This is on for my personal bookmark. I also rated it up and Dugg it. Very good Jennifer!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      the little bills are the killers among the bills .. they can add up to a huge pile !

    • ramkkasturi profile image


      8 years ago from India

      This is a good hub.Yes there is a lot of waste in daily life, for example cooking extra food and throwing half away, leaving television on, fans on a.c on when no one is there, printing everything only on one side of the paper, using phone where email can be used etc. One has to use their mind. Thanks for reminding us.


    • JerseyGirl profile image


      8 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Great hub. Yes, it's very easy to spend a little here and a little there on non-essential items. At the end of the month, it all adds up.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      good tips thanks

    • thehomewriter profile image


      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Another place to cut expenses is your cell phone. I used to have a plan that cost me $50/mo for 450 minutes. I was only using about 150 minutes, and after a year was losing 300 (saved) minutes each month. I switched to a pre-paid phone. Whereas I used to spend $150 over 3 months, now I spend just $25 over that same period. I picked up two extra phones for my children, so now I'm up to $25/mo ... but still, that's for THREE phones.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Good hub, lots of practical advice, now to start!

    • entertianmentplus profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Very helpful.Thanks for sharing.

    • JenDobson27 profile image


      8 years ago

      This is the perfect hub for many people at this time. As the economy still looks rather bleak people have to cut back in every way they can just to make ends meet. Thanks for the great information!

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image


      8 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      Great hub! You're right about people thinking they can't cut their budget anymore. Right now, I'm looking to cut my personal expenses(not business) and found the only thing I really could was gas money. I already cut all snacks, meals & drinks while out, movies, dances or anything social that required money. There really are ways to cut your budget when necessary.

    • pisean282311 profile image


      8 years ago

      nice and helpful hub...

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      My budget is tighter than tight but I will survive.

    • HealthyHanna profile image


      8 years ago from Utah

      This is true. But, I think as we cut expenses during a personal economical crisis, there comes a time to figure out how to make more money. I am not disagreeing, I am agreeing, but, just don't get stuck in 'living without'. We all have so much potential, and I don't think the God of the universe expects us to go without. Look at lean times as a time to regroup and do something different.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Funny, when I was working, we wasted money without thinking about it. Nice suggestions.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      I love your practical suggestions. And I have found, by making myself use those toothpastes etc. that I bought, I think twice before I buy something on impulse or just because the price was good.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      8 years ago from Guwahati, India

      As necessity is the mother of invention, similarly shortage of money brings the mother of protection to manage without new invasion.


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