There’s no doubt that cutting expenses to the bone can be tricky, especially if you are already on a tight budget. The thought of reducing your spending even more than you already have can seem like a headache.
Fortunately, with the tips and tricks in this guide, you can manage your expenses and find a place to balance your spending and living.
What Are Unnecessary Expenses?
The first thing that I always recommend to friends who are learning how to cut expenses drastically is to make a list of unnecessary items. Even when on a budget, I’m sure there are items you’re purchasing that you might not really need. For example, on weekends, maybe you treat yourself to a takeout meal, which definitely falls into the unnecessary category.
The most challenging part is determining which expenses are necessary and which ones aren’t. Some families say that spending on entertainment is unnecessary, while others think organic groceries aren’t necessary.
It really depends on what you value and prioritize in your life.
What Areas Should You Target When Looking for Possible Ways to Cut Back on Spending?
Conducting an audit of your expenses is a solid first step when it comes to deciding where potential cuts can be made.
Every family is different and prioritizes different things in their life, but here are some ideas of common places to look when trying to cut back spending.
The number one area of focus for anyone looking to reduce their living costs is to consider their credit cards.
Yes, credit cards are convenient for when you’re making big purchases but don’t have the cash on hand. The problem is, they can also come with high-interest fees.
Without the ability to pay down your balance immediately, interest accumulates, forcing that one time purchase price into a suddenly much more expensive item.
Food has to be hands down one of the more expensive budget categories for most families.
And with the increasing cost of food, it’s even more important than ever to be more strategic about your grocery purchases.
A solid first step in when trying to cut grocery costs is by making a plan for what you are going to be eating.
When you utilize a meal plan, you are able to take advantage of not just sales at your local store, but you can also plan your meals with an eye on cheaper meals.
Check out this list of cheap groceries when you are on a tight budget.
In today’s technological day and age, more and more families rely on subscription services for an assortment of goods. You can find wine-of-the-month subscriptions, movie and TV show subscriptions, and even grocery subscriptions. Although subscription services help you save time and effort, they are also expensive over time.
It’s incredibly easy to sign up for three or four subscription services for TV shows and movies. Even though each service costs less than $20, four can add $80 per month to your already tight budget.
Takeout & Food Delivery
We’ve all had days where we don’t feel like cooking, and a burger from down the street sounds much better. The problem with fast food or any other type of takeout is that it’s convenient but also costly.
Do not look at the immediate cost of the meal but the total price when combined with groceries. Even though your burger meal costs less than $10, that’s still extra $10 on top of groceries.
If you were to stop for takeout multiple times per week, you could easily double your grocery budget in no time when you consider food you planned to cook, along with the price of your takeout or dining out.
What Is Cost-Cutting Strategy?
If you want to be able to make a significant dent in cutting costs you’ll need a proper strategy.
Before you even begin to reduce your spending, you’ll want to have a solid plan in place.
It’s important to set aside some time for working through your expenses and then addressing each item, as it could require research, phone calls, and negotiating.
Where Should Budget Costs Be Cut?
Let’s look at the top areas to cut budget costs for your new cost-cutting strategy.
Step 1: Cut Utility Costs
As a homeowner or renter, one of the more significant chunks of spending is utilities. These items include electricity, water, garbage pickup, gas (for some areas) and more.
While it may feel a little daunting trying to come up with ways to lower your utilities spending, it doesn’t have to be crazy difficult.
For example, lowering your energy consumption can be as easy as remembering to unplugging unused small appliances until they’re needed. Even switching light bulbs to more energy-efficient ones can significantly reduce your energy consumption.
For water, be strategic when using high-water consumption appliances, such as dishwashers, and manage the length of time spent in the shower.
Something as simple as reducing the number of laundry loads you do daily can lower your water consumption.
Step 2: Cut Rent and Mortgage Costs
Whenever I bring up cutting rent and mortgage costs, people often wonder, “How?” One way is by finding roommates, especially if you live in a property that allows for more than one tenant. You can then split living costs between two people, giving you more room to save.
Alternatively, there are a couple of other options for you to consider. Negotiating your rent to be lower may be possible if you have a good rapport with your landlord.
As a more drastic option for cutting household costs, you could consider moving. If you’re living in an expensive property, perhaps when your lease is up it might be time to move.
Look around and see if there are smaller homes that still meet your needs but for a lower cost.
Not to mention, smaller properties also mean lower property taxes and reduced utility bills monthly.
Step 3: Cut Travel Expenses
Travel expenses is a bit of a broad term that encompasses many activities.
In this instance, though, we are talking about our daily commute.
Daily commute is a common everyday expense, and depending on where you live or where your job is located, these expenses can add up quickly.
Not only will you have to account for the cost of gas but vehicle maintenance as well. Even for individuals who rely on public transit, the cost of subways and buses can be pretty expensive over time.
One option to save money could be to carpool with a coworker or family member.
With remote work becoming more and more popular, it might be possible to add a day or two a week to remote work.
Definitely, a conversation to have with your boss.
One last option, that may feel a little drastic is to pick a more budget-friendly vehicle. The cost of insurance, gas, and car payments can all add up to a sizable chunk of money.
Maybe consider something that’s a little more gas efficient with a lower price tag.
Cutting Expenses to the Bone: Final Thoughts
When you are already on a super tight budget, it can be easy to feel like there’s nothing left to cut. But with a little strategy and creativity, it might be possible to find opportunities to save more money each month.