No matter what your income level is, learning how to budget and save a little money each month is a valuable skill. If you’re dealing with a change in income, mounting debt or have exhausted your emergency fund due to an unexpected need, then saving will help you regain financial health. If you are struggling to find extra cash in an already tight budget, try giving some of the following items or habits a go, and put your money towards your savings instead.
1. Your Cable Service
Cable bills can be quite pricey and take up a good portion of your monthly utility budget. You can easily cut this expense by dropping your plan and taking advantage of the many streaming services available today such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. Even with a subscription, you’ll likely pay far less than you would to the cable company. Here are some options besides cable TV: http://www.advantageccs.org/articles/options-besides-cable-or-satellite-tv
2. Eating Out
This may be a tough one if you are used to hitting up your favorite restaurants for takeout. You can save quite a bit by making all of your meals at home, including breakfast and lunch. If you still want a night out, eat the majority of your meals at home and go out for dessert like ice cream as a special treat.
3. Tossing Leftovers
If you’re making meals at home, try making several meals at once in larger portions. You can freeze extras for another quick go-to dinner or pack leftovers for the next day’s lunch. By stretching those meals, you’ll also be stretching your dollars. Weekly meal planning is another great way to save money.
4. Expensive Coffee Runs
Your daily coffee habit may be costing you more than you think. Instead of stopping at your local chain for specialty drinks, bring your favorites from home. In fact, put that money into a jar instead. You may be surprised by how much you have saved at the end of the month. To save even more money, try kicking that caffeine habit altogether. You will also start to see your health improve!
5. Your Gym Membership
This can be difficult to justify especially if you use your gym regularly, but let’s be honest here, most people don’t. Belonging to a gym is a non-essential when it comes to taking a hard look at your budget. Choose physical activities that are free instead like working out at home, walking, running, swimming, and biking to name a few. Any number of options will keep you in shape and can even be enjoyed with friends or family.
6. Unplanned Shopping Sprees
When you’re trying to find extra cash in your monthly budget, it’s crucial that you give up any shopping that isn’t absolutely necessary. Put simply; be absolutely certain that whatever you buy is something you truly need, not just something you really want. Impulse buys are the number one budget breaker. Click Here to learn some tips on how to stop impulse buys!
7. Ignoring Your Utilities
Yes, most of your utilities are essential. However, they still provide an opportunity to save. Check your bills and see how much you are spending on electric, water and gas bills. Figure out some ways to save a few dollars. Turn your air conditioning down, take shorter showers and be sure everyone is on board with turning off lights. Little changes add up.
8. Your Landline
If you have a cell phone then you really don’t need a landline. It’s simply an additional phone bill that you don’t need to pay, especially if you’re trying to save. Hardly anyone still owns and pays for a landline because almost everyone has a cell phone these days. It’s just an unneeded item that you can easily cut from your budget to save money.
9. Relying On Your Credit Card
Credit cards can be a great option in a pinch and may provide benefits if you pay them in full each month (reward points). However, if you don’t, the additional charges can add up quickly. When you are first trying to save, pay for everything upfront and with cash. It will force you to deal with what you have in the bank and live within your means. If you need help getting your credit card debt under control, give us a call today. We’ve helped almost one million people become debt-free since 1968!
10. Thinking You Can Forgo Budgeting
Give up the notion that you can estimate what you’re spending each month. In order to save money, you have to know exactly where all your money is being spent. It’s only then that you can truly gauge the best things to give up to find that extra cash. Budgeting is the first rule to proper money management and it’s a lot easier than it seems.
Saving doesn’t have to be scary or feel like you’re sacrificing all the fun in life. Start with one or two places to cut back and see how good it feels to have money in the bank for a rainy day fund. Just by making small cutbacks, you can watch your savings grow!
Lauralynn Schueckler is the Online Marketing Specialist at Advantage Credit Counseling Service. She is the author for Advantage CCS’s Blog called Dollars & Sense. Advantage Credit Counseling Service is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Contact Advantage Credit Counseling at 866.699.2227, or visit them online at www.advantageccs.org.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.