Ways to Save Money Around the House and Cut Your Monthly Expenses
These days, almost everyone is looking for ways to cut costs and save money. We're learning more about creating budgets and sticking to them, and we're also becoming more conscientious about the environment. Many money-saving ideas are also energy-saving ideas, so while you're saving money, you can also be helping the environment.
To save money around the house, first you need to look around your home and see where you're spending money on a regular basis. Write down all your monthly expenses and create a budget. Are you spending a lot in a certain area and wish you could cut back? Or are you spending money in areas you could cut out entirely? Many people are so used to the way they live, that what's obvious to some people will be overlooked by others. If you're looking for ways to cut costs around the home, see if you can relate to any of the following ideas and find ways to save money.
Save money on utilities
This is one of many areas where you can not only save money, but also help the environment. Simple things like turning off lights when you're not in a room, switching your light bulbs to energy efficient ones, not running the dishwasher or washing machine unless you have a full load, turning off machines/appliances when they're not in use, and unplugging appliances can save you money on your monthly electric bill and water bill. Also, if you can afford to replace old appliances with more energy efficient ones, the money (and energy) you will save is worth the investment.
Other ways to save on your water bill: make sure none of your taps are dripping or leaking. Take showers instead of baths, and make your showers as short as possible. If you have young kids, they usually like lots of water in the tub, but they don't need it. Instead of filling the bathtub up half way or all the way, fill it 1/3 of the way, and if your kids take daily baths, unless they're the type who get really dirty while they play, see if you can reduce the number of baths they take.
Save money on home phones and cell phones
Go over your phone bill and see if there's any way you can reduce the cost. Do you have a long distance plan that you're paying for that you rarely or never use? Could you get rid of it? Do you need the extras like call display, call wait, call answer and other similar features? All those extras can really add up. You could you get a small external answering machine instead of paying for call answer on your phone every month (I bought my digital answering machine for about $10 five years ago). If you feel you need all these extras, see if your phone company offers bundles or packages where you save money for having extra features. You could also look into plans for combining phone, internet and television, or even changing service providers if you find one that's much cheaper than your current provider.
As for your cell phone, there are many ways you can save money. Pay-as-you-go cell phones are a good option for people who don't use their cell phones often and wouldn't get the benefit of having a full, possibly expensive plan. If you have a large circle of friends and family, see if you can get on a family plan together and save money. Regardless of your cell phone plan, make sure you know the details - are you paying for features you don't need? Do you need unlimited texting? Unlimited talk time? Unlimited picture messaging, internet access, etc? Do you need call display, call wait and call answer? Once you know all the details of your plan, you can see if there's anything you can change to save money. Most cell phone companies offer deals online and all the details are there for you to read, which may be easier than trying to get through to a real live person on the phone.
Save money on subscriptions and memberships
Do you have magazine subscriptions? Can you live without them? Do you take the newspaper but rarely actually read it or just read a few pages then toss it in the recycling? Chances are, you could find that same news online for free and cut off your newspaper subscription. Things like magazine and newspaper subscriptions don't seem like big expenses but they're not necessities, so if you're really trying to cut costs, getting rid of them could be a good idea. Book clubs, DVD clubs, and CD clubs that lure you in with inexpensive sign-up offers, then require you to purchase a certain number of items in a certain amount of time could also be cut out. Head to your local library and get yourself a free membership. You can find not only books, but also magazines, newspapers, and many libraries now offer a large selection of CDs and DVDs for lending as well.
Do you have a gym membership? Do you actually use it, or do you just say you're going to use it but really the only loss happening is the one from your bank account each month? If you use your membership enough to justify it, you can probably find other ways to cut costs, but if the membership is just a place holder in your wallet, get rid of it and save yourself the money. There are plenty of exercises you can do for free, like walking, jogging, calisthenics, and yoga just to name a few. If you need motivation, why not create a walking plan with a workout buddy? You could also consider investing in a few pieces of exercise equipment that you will use regularly - they don't even have to be big or expensive pieces of equipment, you could get some dumbbells or kettle bells, a resistance band, a step to do step-ups, a medicine ball, or a large fitness ball.
Save money on entertainment
Do you rent movies or video games? This may be another area where you think that it's not costing you much, but if you do it regularly, it can end up costing you a lot of money, and they're not a necessity. See if you can cut them out completely or limit yourself to once a week or once a month. If you're lucky enough to have a local library that offers movies, take advantage.
Do you have every TV channel known to humankind? Do you watch them all or at least most of them? Could you live without them? Some of those extra channels and packages can cost a small fortune and many people probably don't even watch half the channels. See if you can cut back to basic cable, or if you're the type of person who has a TV for the sake of having a TV and you rarely watch it, get it cut off entirely and save yourself the money.
Do you go to the movie theatre regularly? This is another non-necessity, but if you feel you can't live without it, chances are your local theatre has a cheap night - find out when it is and plan your movie nights for that night. If they don't have a cheap night, try to cut back to every other week or once a month. Also, save yourself some money on expensive concession stand snacks and take your own, or eat just before you go to the movie so you're not hungry.
If you feel like you're the type of person who can't live without renting or going to the movies, playing video games, or having every channel available, it's time to broaden your horizons. Find a hobby other than being a couch potato. Get out and do other things - go for a walk, find an inexpensive hobby, get together with friends, or volunteer at a local organization.
Save money on expensive hobbies
If you have expensive hobbies, that could be one of the first places to cut costs. Do you have hobbies that require supplies that need to be replenished regularly, like with scrapbooking, or sports that require expensive equipment? If it's something you love, you shouldn't necessarily have to give it up, but if it's costing a lot of money, you could consider giving it up temporarily - skip a season of your sport, use up supplies you have lying around, etc. There are plenty of things you can do that are inexpensive or free - go to the library and pick up a few books, get into an exercise routine, spend some quality time with your family, or pick up an inexpensive hobby where the supplies don't cost much, like knitting or crocheting.
Save money on transportation
Do you spend a lot of money on gas every month? You can't help the money you spend getting to and from work, or on outings like grocery trips, but do you make unnecessary trips that waste gas? For example, if you go to the grocery store a few times a week, cut down on gas (and grocery costs) by shopping once a week or even once a month if possible. Can you walk, ride a bike, car pool or take public transit? Not only could it be better for your finances, it's better for the environment. In some areas, especially if you live in a rural location, this might not be an option, but if you live in the city, take these things into consideration. If you already take the bus to work every day, figure out if getting a bus pass would be cheaper than paying cash or buying tickets. The same goes for the subway. It's a big step for many people to be without a car, but there are many financial benefits in opting for public transit instead of a car: no monthly car insurance, repairs, maintenance, gas, license renewals, e-tests, etc. Weigh your options and see if it would be possible for you to get rid of your car entirely, or at the very least, simply use it less.
These are just some ideas for how to save money and cut your monthly expenses. Take a look around your entire house and every aspect of your budget and see if there are things you can live without, get rid of, or cut back on. You might want to assess your spending habits and see if there are ways to cut back in your day-to-day costs as well.
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