May 15, 2014 by Alicia
This post contains 7 places where you can trim the fat off your spending. Here’s the deal, though. You won’t be willing to cut anything unless you have a goal you are working toward. Not to mention, it is SO MUCH EASIER to let go of those extra things in life when you know it’s for a good reason (i.e. paying off debt or saving for a house). Check out Part I of the series to read about setting goals.
1. Stop eating out so much. Boo! I know, I hate this tip. But it really saves a lot of money. The easiest way I’ve found to help curb our eating-out spending is to plan my meals. It gives me an easy and cheaper alternative to eating out. Think about the money you can cut from this budget line and apply it to your goals. It can add up!
2. Eat out smart. When you do eat out, do it frugally. We get TONS of coupons in our junk mail. Usually to places like Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chinese restaurants, pizza places, Subway, etc. Use them! We also signed up for promotional emails from Chili’s and Ruby Tuesdays. Chili’s frequently sends out coupons for free kids meals, free appetizers, free desserts, etc. And if you have kids, eat out on “kids eat free” days at restaurants. TGI Friday’s here has kids-eat-free-Tuesdays. IHOP has it every day from 4-10 p.m. Steak ‘n Shake has it on weekends. Just google “kids eat free” in your area to find all the deals. Here is a great resource for my local friends.
3. Cut the cable cord. We are teetering with this one right now since our contract is almost up. Cable is really not necessary unless you care about live sports, and even a lot of those are streamed live online. Do your homework though to find out how much your cable company is going to charge you for just internet service. (It might be a better deal to reduce to the basic cable package bundled with your internet than to cancel cable altogether.) But if you’re working toward a goal, imagine how much an extra $50-$100 a month can help!
4. Cut coupons with a plan. I’m not a crazy coupon-er by any means. But I have a few places I check to get some good ones. I don’t spend days and days clipping and sorting. I don’t have time or patience for that. I flip through the Red Plum & Smart Source inserts that come in the mail and clip the things I know I’ll buy. I check out Coupons.com once a month when I meal plan. I use The Krazy Coupon Lady because her site freakin’ rocks. It matches things on sale at stores and tells you what coupons exist on the same item so you can double dip. It also tells you where to get that coupon. I also like Penny Pinchin’ Mom because you can type in a brand name and it will bring up all existing coupons with that brand name and show you where to get them. I do this with any brand name items on my grocery list before I go to the store.
5. Cut back or eliminate going to the movies. Does this even need to be said? An average evening movie ticket is at least $9 x 2 =$18. Red Box movies are $1.20 and you can watch in your pajamas and pause it when you have to pee. Not to mention snacks at your house will be MUCH cheaper than at the movies. Also- check out your local library. Ours has tons of current movies and television series on DVD to check out for free.
6. Shop around for insurance. This goes for home insurance or car insurance. Shop around, make some calls, or do instant quotes online. This especially means something if you’ve been with the same company for a while. If you can get accurate cheaper quotes elsewhere, you can call your current provider and make the case that you’ve been a loyal customer and ask them to match it. This is the best of both worlds because you get a better rate without the headache of changing everything.
7. Stop shopping. If you can’t tell, I can be a sucker for a good deal. But spending money on something you don’t need, even though it’s a good deal, is still a waste of money. We lived with my in-laws for a few months when we moved to Ohio and had two houses to sell in Tennessee. I only brought enough clothes that fit in two suitcases for 5 months. When we moved out and I got all my clothes back, I realized I had more than enough. I made a goal to not buy any clothing for the following 365 days. (No, I will not be reaching that goal. I had a baby during that time and my weight changed drastically so I did buy a few things to actually fit me.) But what I did do was stop browsing the clearance racks while I was out. Those 75% off signs were SO tempting. But paying 25% for something I do not need is still a waste of money. Just stop looking. This includes shopping online! Unsubscribe from getting “deal alert” emails from any stores to help curb the temptation.
There are obviously many more ways to cut expenses, these are just a snapshot. The point is, you have no one else to blame for your spending. Be a good steward of your resources. Sit down with your credit card bill, or bank statement, and see where you are spending your money. Set some goals, make a plan, and eliminate things from your life that are not necessary. “When you base your life on principle, 99% of your decisions are already made.” – Dave Ramsey.
This post concludes our Saving Series! What did you think? What was your favorite part? What have you done to cut down your own expenses?
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