Examine your budget to find the least painful places for trimming first. Some of the best areas to start are entertainment, clothing and food.
A struggling economy or personal financial difficulties may make it necessary to trim your budget. Many people carry a significant amount of padding in personal budgets, making it possible to cut monthly expenses and simplify your life. With a strong desire to save money, you should be able to reduce spending. Imagine new ways to maintain a pleasant and enjoyable lifestyle filled with simpler hobbies and pastimes.
Consolidate debt and refinance, if possible. Inquire about refinancing home and auto loans to improve interest rates, which can save you money over the term of the loans. Consolidate other debts and loans, if possible, into one loan to simplify and save money.
Stop using your credit cards and begin paying off any balances as quickly as possible. Use only the cash you have available and do not make purchases with your credit cards unless you use them for convenience only. Cut up your credit cards if you will not be able to resist using them.
Cut entertainment expenses. Replace expensive nights out at restaurants and movie theaters with less expensive alternatives such as free local concerts, free movie checkouts from the library, picnics in the park, ice-skating on local ponds, nature hikes and family games.
Eliminate paid services and subscriptions. Get rid of movie memberships (use the library instead), health clubs (take a run or a jog instead), magazine or newspaper subscriptions (read them online), landscaping service (mow your own lawn) and housecleaning service (clean your own house).
Stop purchasing expensive retail and buy used items instead. Shop local rummage sales, resale shops, thrift stores and estate sales. Purchase used items over the Internet through auction sites or local chapters of Craigslist.
Simplify your cellphone expense by cutting back your contract or eliminating it altogether. Purchase a prepaid phone and plan and use your cellphone only for emergencies.
Shop around for insurance to make sure you are not overpaying. Call your own insurance company and then call two or three other companies and compare quotes. You may find that improved lifestyle and economic situations improve your insurance quotes. You also might consider raising deductibles to reduce premium payments.
Change the way you shop for groceries. Instead of shopping several times a week on the fly, plan a menu and shop for the menu from an organized list. This will help eliminate eating out, expensive take-out and last minute convenience shopping, as well as saving you time and effort. Purchase grocery items in bulk when they are on sale and store extra food in a chest freezer and on pantry shelving. Start packing lunches also, instead of purchasing lunch at work or school.
Tips & Warnings
- Liz Pulliam Weston, in her book "Easy Money: How to Simplify your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life," recommends a "buy nothing month." Commit to purchasing only necessities such as perishable foods, gas and other absolute needs. Get creative to meet the family's needs, cooking from the pantry and freezer, using the library for entertainment or simply going without. At the end of the month, you should have an idea where and how you spend money.
- "Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life"; Liz Pulliam Weston; 2007
- Photo Credit Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images