There are many benefits to developing frugal living habits. Perhaps unexpected expenses require that you cut corners. Or you’d like to start saving toward your first million. Whatever the reason, here are some suggestions for ways to cut down on living expenses.
The first place to look is the roof over your head. If you own your home, look at refinancing. An adjustable rate mortgage with interest only payments or fixed interest payments to start will lower your monthly outlay. Or you may be able to refinance to a lower fixed rate.
Renters who aren’t locked into a lease can consider shopping for a less expensive place. If you are leasing, consider subleasing when your contract allows it, and move to cheaper quarters. Try to barter a lower monthly payment if you don’t want to move. Offer to improve the property (paint, landscape), or exchange professional services (like accounting) for rent reduction.
Whether you rent or own, save some cash by downsizing. Consider whether you really need all of the space in your current residence. For instance, if you are single, or newlywed without children, a studio may work just as well as a one bedroom. And the savings can eventually be put toward the purchase of a home.
Sharing rent or mortgage expenses is another option. Take a boarder or get a roommate. If you choose this option, screen your tenant thoroughly. Run a credit check and verify references of previous landlords to avoid potential problems.
Check with all utility companies to see if you qualify for reduced rates. Most gas, electric and phone companies have special programs for low-income residents. Visit the websites for your gas and electric companies for conservation ideas.
Autos are expensive. If you live in a large city with reliable public transportation, you may want to lose the car altogether. In addition to saving yourself some money, you’ll be doing the environment a favor. And your car payment, insurance payment, gasoline and maintenance costs will all disappear.
But if this is not feasible, try driving a less expensive, fuel-efficient vehicle to reduce transportation costs. Auto insurance runs considerably less on small economy cars. And imports generally have lower major repair issues.
Shop around when your auto insurance policy comes up for renewal. Be a careful driver during the year to keep your rates low and avoid the extra expense of tickets and accidents. Ask friends and family for insurance recommendations. One of the least expensive policies I ever had was through Wawanesa, and was recommended by a co-worker.
Save money on gas by keeping your tires properly inflated and your load light (empty your trunk of unnecessary items). Plan your errands so that you can combine several into one trip, or take care of them on the way home from work.
Food can be a major expense. Try packing a lunch most days. You will save the time, gas and wear and tear from going through the drive-thru, and you may lose a few pounds too. When you dine out, try splitting an entre with a companion and drinking water instead of soda.
Leave your appetite at home and bring your coupons on your grocery shopping trips. You’ll buy more if you shop hungry and coupon savings can be substantial. Some stores even double them. Believe it or not you can find high quality groceries at the 99 cents only stores. My husband regularly finds items for a 75-80% discount from supermarket prices. Just be sure to check freshness dates.
When clothes shopping, buy basic pieces that will last for several years, rather than fashions that will look outdated in a few months. Shop sales and clearance racks and use coupons. Outlet malls and discount department stores are good places to find bargains.
Take a preventative approach to medical and dental health. Brush and floss twice a day and visit the dentist for a cleaning every six months. Many health problems, including certain bacterial infections, can be avoided by good oral hygiene. Eat a well balanced diet and take a multivitamin daily. Most, if not all, health conditions have their root in poor nutrition. Exercise vigorously and frequently. Avoid a serious illness and you avoid lost wages and unnecessary medical expenses.
One of the first places people cut back is entertainment, but life still needs to be enjoyable. Check out the latest bestseller from the public library rather than dropping $30.00 at Borders. Go see a matinee or visit the local discount movie theater and bring your own snacks.
A careful look at your situation will reveal the most effective areas to adjust your spending. Whatever your circumstances or goal, following the above suggestions can help cut down your living expenses.