We are now going to take another swipe at expenses to reduce the monthly costs even further. Our goal in this phase is to reduce expenses until you can balance your budget, and then you will be able to eliminate your debt and save even more. Look at each of your expenses in your worksheet. Is it something you can do without or even reduce? Take your time to really think about it. What can you do yourself to reduce or eliminate another monthly expense? Keep working line by line, reduce or eliminate the expenses that mean the least to you first, until the budget is balanced (at a minimum). Everyone has different priorities in their lives. One person will feel extremely deprived without all the cable channels, while for another it will be not big deal. My grandmother would never give up getting her hair fixed once a week, but would be willing to give up almost anything else to save a buck. Concentrate on your (and your families) priorities. This way to will be able to enjoy live as much as possible and still be able to make your financial situation look better. If you can further make reductions comfortably (even if only temporarily) you will be able to use that amount to reduce debt and increase savings. By no means should you leave this step without a balanced budget. Make sure your expenses are less than or equal to your income. Throughout this site you will find many ideas you can use to further reduce expenses (like saving energy and cost saving kitchen tips) and make your spending go farther (such as frugal shopping tips, coupons, and online shopping codes). Every little bit helps and no matter how small it makes a difference.
Some reduction options to consider:
- Reduce dining out – Reduce dinners out, pack lunches, when you do go out enjoy it fully. Depending on your current lunch routine, you can probably save at least $5 – $10 per day.
- Think twice before going out for that latté or spending that extra $1 in the vending machine – You can make your coffee at home, and pack those drinks and snacks to take with you. If you think and pack ahead, you can have more control of your diet and be able to have exactly what you want for those daily snacks.
- Consider carpooling – With the price of gas these days, you can really make a dent in the rising gas bill.
- Cut back on the new clothes – We all need clothes, but consider cutting back if this is a large expense for you. Stop by a thrift shop and look around. You can find great bargains, but may need to look around a bit.
- Reduce the premium cable channels
- Reduce reoccurring service expenses – For hair cuts, pedicures, manicures, lawn services, etc, add and extra week or two to your current frequency. For a service that is now done every month, think of trying to hold out for 5 or 6 weeks
- Do it yourself – Can you or a family member reduce or eliminate a service by doing something yourselves? Think about lawn care, home repairs, pool care, ironing instead of dry cleaning, etc.
- Can you reduce your magazine subscriptions? – Subscriptions are only cheaper than buying the magazine at the stand when you are interested in every one. If it’s a craft magazine for instance where you will only be interested in a few pattern per year, consider only picking up the ones you’ll really enjoy.
- Netflix instead of the video store or movie theater – This is one subscription that I fully believe in. My family and I are able to enjoy many movies for a low monthly charge and no late fees. I have only had good experiences with this company. They quickly turn around the moves and strong customer service if you have any problems. When trying to reduce expenses this is an easy way to get a lot entertainment for a small cost.
- Free entertainment – Check your local paper or their web site for free activities, art shows, free concerts, etc that you’ll enjoy.
- Revisit the library – If you read a lot this is a great option to buying all the books then having to get rid of them. Most libraries not only have books, magazines, and news papers; but also have audio books and DVDs.
- Reduce grocery costs try generic – In most cases you will not see a difference with items like canned tomatoes, beans or corn. Try it you may like it. Some stores even have generic organic brands.
- Go Vegetarian – Most people won’t want to do this every day, but occasionally will save on the food bill. Meat is often the most expensive item we purchase in the grocery store. Try a meatless meal or two a week can really help out. Beans, cheese, eggs, and tofu are great meatless options.
- Raise your car insurance deductible – Do you really need full coverage, or a $250 deductible? If you have your emergency fund and can cover it, consider at least raising your deductible.
Think creatively and make cuts where you can comfortably first.