Cutting down on living expenses can be difficult. We each establish habits that involve spending and changing those habits is often difficult. Begin slowly if you can and keep in mind that each change you make in your spending will eventually lead you to a more secure and free financial lifestyle. I have followed these tips and have been able to live well with over $20,000 in income-changing from a 70+ hour week to freelance work that allows me to enjoy my time, my family, and pursue my own interests.
1. Stop eating out. Resist the temptation to go through the drive-through. Have easy to prepare and healthy foods at home and remind yourself they are waiting for you as you pass those tempting restaurants as you drive by. Use the crock pot to have something ready to go as you and your family get home-prepare the night before, and plug in when you leave for work. Don’t stop for that morning coffee at the gas station, either. Have a travel mug and take your coffee from home. This alone can save you over $10.00 per week per coffee drinking adult!
2. Shop the dollar stores first. Often name-brand toiletries are available at extremely cut-rate prices. Shop for shampoos, soaps, even cosmetics and perfumes first at the dollar stores. While you are there, look for cleaning supplies-they really do work as well as the name-brands and they are many dollars less then the brands you will buy at the grocery or drug stores.
3. Make fun times for family using coupons, discounts, and local park facilities. Most communities have a budget theater. Wait for your films to get to these theaters and you will spend much less than half the cost, even if you do get popcorn, to take the family to these theaters. Find the coupon booklets that come through your mail. Usually a restaurant in town will have a buy one get one free coupon for a meal. Make this your restaurant experience at half the cost. Go to the park! When the weather is good, make up a simple picnic and get the family or yourself out to the park! Even think of bringing along something for exercise. This can be a great outing and will cost you almost nothing.
4. Shop carefully and wisely. Beans and rice dishes are healthy, nutritious, and can cost less than $2.00 or $3.00 to make up for the whole family. I have become a vegetarian and it has saved me so much money while allowing me to painlessly lose over 20 pounds. Fast food sure isn’t tempting, anymore. Cutting out even a few “meat” meals a week will save you money, add variety to your diet, and give you added health bonuses.
5. Check out the local internet swap or freecycle pages. You can recycle your own items free and gain things you may want or need for just the price of gas to pick the item up! It is a wonderful venue for many in the US, check to see if your community participates by looking up freecycle.com.
6. Set a timer for your shower, try to get clean for a bit less time, saving both water and the cost to heat the water.
7. Up the thermostat in the summer by three degrees if you use air conditioning. Take it down by three degrees in the winter. Just try it, your body will adjust to the changing temperature.
8. Use coupons and plan your shopping before you enter the grocery store.
9. Plan all of your errands and plan your driving route to save your precious gas, a huge expense for so many of us these days.
10. Learn to “do it yourself” rather then hiring the painter or decorator.
11. Car pool to work if you can. You will save an enormous amount of gasoline a week by using carpooling or mass transit.
12. Let go of those things you don’t really need. Learn to give yourself a manicure, pedicure, find someone to give you a massage. Find products that work like a facial from a salon. See if you can’t find the right directions to color or highlight your own hair or have a friend help you.
13. Shop thrift and garage sales first for clothing and shoes. Sometimes you will be surprised at the value you can get for a very small investment.
So many other tips could be given for saving money through cutting living expenses. Look first at the essentials, and pare back one step at a time. You can do it, I did!