When unexpected changes in income happen or you find yourself in over your head financially, it’s important that you cut expenses in as many areas of your life as possible. It’s time to get serious about what you really need and what you really want.
These tips will help you spend less at home, on your car, and at work.
Examine your income and expenses and create a spending plan . After reviewing your financial situation, prepare answers to the following questions:
Phone service. J.D. Power and Associates says that U.S. families spend an average of $73 a month on cell phones — $876 a year. Review your cellphone plan and consider researching alternative, less expensive cellphone plans. For example, some companies offer no-contract plans that are cheaper monthly than an annual contract.
TV entertainment. Consider what you and your family could live without, if even for a while. Many TV shows are available online for free and there are many inexpensive movie and sports streaming options. If you already spend a lot on video streaming services, consider pausing your subscription until you're more easily able to afford the cost.
Subscriptions/memberships. Cancel non-essential job-related online accounts, memberships, and subscriptions.
Bold textFood. Get organized with a meal plan to cook the majority of your meals at home. Cut your grocery bill by serving some meatless meals or casual dinners such as grilled cheese and tomato soup to save on overall costs. And of course, use coupons.
Activities. If you or your family members are involved in activities consider taking a break from them for a season, or until you are financially stable again.
Health insurance. It is important to have health insurance no matter what your financial situation. Avoiding health insurance will cause you to have bigger bills down the road. View these tips on health insurance options.
Multiple vehicles. If you have more than one car, can you get by with a single vehicle? Consider carefully which car would be the better one to keep and which one to sell. Sell any other motorized vehicles you can live without: boats, ATVs, recreational vehicles, an extra car. The savings in maintenance cost, storage, and insurance, plus the money you’ll receive from the sale, can be significant.
Drive less. Group all car trips by geography so you’re driving less—and using less gas.
Service your vehicles. Although it seems counter-intuitive (you’re trying to cut expenses), keep up with regular, preventive maintenance on your car such as oil changes. Doing so helps your car run efficiently and can help prevent unexpected, more costly repairs.
Insurance**Bold text**. Raise the deductible on your insurance policies to lower your monthly premiums. Be prepared to pay the deductible though, if an emergency does happen.
Eat in. Skip restaurant lunches and pack your lunch—every day. Eating two lunches out a week costs about $15-25, and that can add up to $750-$1,250 a year.
Breaks. Skip the expensive breaks by bringing your own snacks. Plan ahead and purchase the soda from the grocery store or a wholesaler and store it under your desk at work or bring it in daily with your lunch. If coffee drinks are your vice, consider buying them in packages at the grocery store and make it yourself, or limit to once week.
Review credit reports. You can order your free credit report every year from each of the three main credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax) through www.annualcreditreport.com. Examine the reports and alert the agencies if you find errors. Follow each agency’s instructions for clearing up mistakes. It can take a while for the errors to be corrected, but be patient. Clearing up your credit reports is very important.
Alternative transportation. Consider using public transportation, walking or riding a bike to and from work. While it is often more convenient to drive the extra time could save you money.