Looking for more ways to cut your budget? This is for you!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about budget cuts. I get a lot of comments and messages on Instagram; and a few of them just break my little heart! These messages are from those that feel they have done every single thing they can think of to find extra money in their budget, but there is just nothing left to find. These people have cut ALL unnecessary spending, only paying the bare minimum to live and they STILL can’t find any extra money in the budget.
If you can relate to this in any way; I want you to know that I hear you. Financial stress is one of the scariest and hardest things to go through. This article is for you.
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1. Make a Budget
If you don’t already have a budget, make one! This step seems obvious, but it is a step often skipped. It’s easy to assume your spending is minimal enough that a budget won’t change anything (I know this, because I use to be one of those people!).
I’m here to tell you that your budget is EVERYTHING when it comes to overspending! Even if you think your spending is already under control, I can guarantee you will spend less if you have a budget in place.
Don’t know how to make a budget? Read my article, Zero Based Budgeting, and grab yourself my free budgeting cheat sheets below! These two resources will give you everything you need for a successful budget.
2. Check Your Budget ONE MORE TIME
I know that you have probably looked through that budget a bunch of times this week. But, I want you to look one more time.
Try to look at your budget with a new eye. I have found when I am desperate enough, we can usually find something else to cut from the budget.
Here are a few ideas to look for:
Do you have any subscriptions you can cancel?
Often we are willing to cut out the cable, but leave Netflix. Now would be the time to consider cutting out the other TV subscriptions, such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. Instead, rent movies from the library for free, or spend your time doing something other than watching television.
Other subscriptions to cancel are: subscription boxes, magazines, etc.
In today’s day and age it is hard to function without a smart phone, I get it! However, I do know a lady who does is able to do it! This sweet lady has a cheap flip phone, and a cheaper phone bill because of it! Could you consider getting rid of that smart phone and the huge monthly data plan?
If canceling your phone plan completely doesn’t feel right, consider switching phone providers to a more affordable option.
We are currently using Tello mobile. Our unlimited talk and text plan only costs us $5/month. It’s the best thing ever!
If you truly feel that you MUST have a smart phone (no judgement, I totally feel that way!), consider getting rid of your internet service. If you’re not streaming movies, and you have internet available on your phone; this can be a great solution to get an extra $50 a month.
My husband and I went without internet for about 9 months, and it was hard, but we got use to it. The library was an absolute lifesaver during this time. Once a week my laptop and I would take a trip to the library, plop down on a chair, and use their free WIFI to take care of all of my internet needs.
It wasn’t easy, but we made it work, and you can too!
I get it. You’ve got places to go and things to do; and unfortunately fuel is expensive.
I’m not going to suggest you stay home and never go anywhere (I mean, you’ve gotta earn a living and live a life, right?).
What I am going to suggest is to look at ways to consolidate your driving. Consider shopping at a store closer to you, or buying online instead (use free shipping!). Plan your errands for only once a week, and try to only drive to one area and get everything done in just that area.
I was talking to a friend a few years ago, who was very poor, and I mentioned to her about a free kids playground she could take her kids to (it was on the other side of town, about 15 minutes away). She told me that fuel in her car is just to expensive, and so she tries to not drive that far away.
It was such a good example to me about watching every penny spent. I have been much more mindful of unnecessary driving habits ever since.
- Related: How To Save Money On Gas
Adjust the Temp
Turn your house thermostat down a few degrees in the winter, and up a few degrees in the summer. Research shows that you can save at least 1% for each degree change. We shoot for 68 degrees in the winter months and 78 degrees in the summer. Honestly, we aren’t always perfect at this, but we try!
Another easy tip is to adjust the thermostat while you are sleeping, or if you will be gone for work all day. If you don’t need that extra heat, there is no sense in paying for it!
Groceries are one of the biggest expenses in most budgets; food is expensive! But, it’s an area that can always be improved, if you are willing to put forth the work!
Here are a few ways I have been able to spend less on groceries:
Make a meal plan each week.
Making a thorough meal plan will save you money in two ways. It decreases the temptation to eat out, and helps you plan meals based on what you already have at home (so you won’t impulse shop at the grocery store).
Cook from scratch.
If time is an issue, consider spending one day a week cooking a few meals to keep in the fridge or freezer to eat throughout the week. Weekends are perfect for meal prep days.
Buy in bulk.
Watch for grocery sales offering you a huge discount when buying in bulk. I love to buy my meat in bulk, and then freeze it in dinner sized portions. This requires some time and effort, but can be a big money saver!
A few other cheap items to buy in bulk are: snacks, cereal, canned goods, and paper supplies.
Use Cashback Apps
Cashback apps are one of my favorite ways to earn a few extra bucks. Download as many as you can onto your phone and use each of them every single time you shop. Here are a few of my favorite cash back apps.
3. Pay with Cash
Do you use cash for purchases? If you don’t, I highly suggest you start! Paying with cash is one of the best secrets to spending less and saving more.
I prefer the cash envelope system to help me keep track of my cash and spending. It’s simple really. Instead of pulling out my credit card every time I shop, I use my cash from the envelope instead.
It truly helps me to see where my money is going….and once the envelope is empty, I can’t buy any more in that category for the month.
If you are feeling a little hesitant to use cash envelopes, consider trying them for one week. If you can see a difference in that week, try it for another week. Baby steps!
4. Negotiate Your Bills
Your bills are negotiable! Many companies are willing to work out a lower price when asked and given good reason. We have negotiated a few of our bills with success every single time. I always remind myself, “It never hurts to ask. The worst thing they could say is no, so why not try.”
Many of your bills are just non-negotiable (like your mortgage), but there are some companies worth calling and asking for a cheaper rate. You will see the most success with your:
- Cable TV Service
- Cell Phone Provider
- Medical Bills
- Internet Provider
- Insurance Premiums
Keep in mind these tips during the negotiation:
- Know your competitors prices, and don’t be afraid to mention them during the phone call
- If you’ve been a long time customer, mention it!
- Be polite, but firm in your request.
- Don’t be afraid to ask multiple times. You’ll be on the phone with different people each time, chances are you’ll get someone who will listen to you eventually.
- Threaten to leave as a customer; this is when they really begin to listen.
5. Increase Your Income
After following the above steps and you still can’t find extra money in your budget, it might be time to consider increasing your income.
Here are a few tips to help you do this:
Ask for a Raise
Prepare a statement to bring to your boss. Explain why you are an asset to the company. Give concrete examples to show exactly how you have helped the company to be successful and earn more money.
I know it’s not easy to change jobs. It’s hard to start back at square one, get out of your comfort zone, and learn a new job. But, look at the big picture. If a job change will bring you closer to your financial goals, than it is probably worth the switch.
Find a Side Hustle
A side hustle is a job you can work in addition to the job you already have. You might do this job during the weekends or evenings. Anyone and everyone can have a side hustle, and I know many people who have multiple side hustles! I LOVE side hustling!
If you’re needing some side hustle ideas check out the article, 12 Legit Side Hustles for Stay at Home Moms, for a few ideas. Many of these side hustles are for ANYONE, not just stay at home moms!
Sell Unused Clutter
Look around your house. I bet there are a few items you haven’t touched in months (maybe even years….). You can easily sell this unused clutter to earn extra money.
6. Go to the Extreme
If you are looking for even more extreme ways to cut costs, consider downsizing your home and car.
If you have a current car payment, sell that vehicle and buy a cheaper one with cash. I know this is not the cool thing to do, I know it’s much more convenient to have a newer car. But, I also know that being debt free is important!
The older vehicle will only be temporary. Once you have saved up enough cash, you can buy a newer one again.
And lastly, move somewhere more affordable.
I know this will be difficult, but I also think it just might be worth it!
You can reduce your rent or mortgage by moving somewhere smaller and more affordable. Look at the bright side…smaller also means less to clean (I like less cleaning!).
I believe whole heartedly that when there is a WILL, there is a WAY. You can do this! Find a support system to help you through. I’m always an email away!