This “ 6 Ways to Cut Unnecessary Living Expenses “ post provides the readers the areas that they can cut if they want to decrease their living expenses without sacrificing their needs and wants.
I can’t count how many times I’ve made great attempts to reduce my household expenses. Initially, reducing my family’s expenses was hard. We went over a couple of times and didn’t know where we went wrong or how far we could go on when we knew we were failing consistently in following our budget.
Like a lot of things in life, the road to successfully cut unnecessary living expenses is bumpy at times and is presented with trials and errors (and a lot of them). My family has been on that road and experienced the feelings of desperation and frustration as we walked and drove through that road.
Cut Unnecessary Living Expenses in These Areas
Here are some of the unnecessary household expenses that you and your family can cut and still live comfortably. If you are looking for areas to cut down, this list can or will be beneficial to you and your family.
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1. Entertainment budget
Entertainment is one of the areas that you can touch to cut unnecessary living expenses.
If you happen to have a budget for entertainment, then, this is the best place to start cutting down on expenses. It’s hard to do it knowing that entertainment provides you and your family satisfaction and time to bond together. Generally, aside from rent, food, and utilities, the entertainment budget takes a big chunk of the family’s monthly budget pie.
This entertainment budget covers expenses for going to the movie theaters, subscribing to newspapers and magazines, going to the basketball games, among others. If you are looking at cutting down on expenses, this is where you want to start. If you have cable subscription, you may want to cut the cord and subscribe to cable alternatives. According to the Liechtman Research Group, the cost of cable subscription has increased by 39% since 2010 and is now at $99.10. Instead of subscribing to cable, you can choose Netflix that starts at $7.99 and/or Hulu that starts at $7.99 as well.
If you ever decide to completely cut your cable subscription and don’t feel the need to use Netflix or Hulu, you can always find free shows from the television networks’ website. You can even buy Roku, which costs around $35.00. You can search and download free channels from roku.com or pay a fee for each channel you want to subscribe to, which costs around $0.99 per channel.
If you like to go out watch movies with your friends and/or family, you can rent out movies from Redbox, the cost of which starts at $1.50 per DVD. If you are used to eat out, you can buy ingredients from the grocery stores instead and cook the foods that everyone can enjoy.
2. Food budget
Food is another area that you can touch to cut unnecessary living expenses.
Does your family like to eat out from time to time? Do you have a sweet tooth that you can’t help but to satisfy? If yes, then, you may still cut your food expenses while still meeting your desires. But how? The answer is simply making everything at home.
The internet is a vast repository of recipes that you can use to re-create the foods you like. The best part of creating your own foods is that you exactly know the ingredients are. You can also re-create the foods to include or exclude the ingredients you like or dislike.
You can also reduce your food budget by using coupons. You don’t necessarily need to buy newspapers to get the coupon inserts. There are websites where you can get coupons for free (i.e. Coupons.com) or for a fee (i.e. The Coupon Clippers).
3. Gas Budget
The last time I check, the gas price in my area for 87 grade is $1.76 per gallon. I can’t stress enough how much savings I have made on gas these past couple of months. Even when gas prices are falling or at their lowest prices, gas is still a major budget category for families. I want to share ways that you can still cut your spending on gas even more.
If you live in a city, you may choose to ride the bus or other forms of public transportation. If you do grocery shopping once or twice a week, you may think of cutting it down to twice a month. If you work close to your home, you may consider riding a bike or sharing a ride with someone who works where you work and split the gas cost.
Aside from these, there are grocery stores with gas rewards program. You may avail this free rewards program and save a few cents per gallon here and there. In addition, you can apply for gas cards that provides gas discounts and other rewards to card holders. I personally like American Express Blue Preferred Card and Chase Freedom.
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4. Cellphone budget
Cellphone is one big chunk of the budget pie that you can touch to cut unnecessary living expenses.
When you are using less data than what your plan is currently at, then, you may think about cutting down on your data plan. This will free up some money that you can use for other important necessities. It can also free up money you can use towards your savings.
You can also scout for other wireless plans that best fit your needs.
I like Republic Wireless because you get reimbursed for any data that you don’t use in a given cycle. If you have a 2 GB data plan and you only use 1 GB, then, Republic Wireless will reimburse you for that 1 GB. It doesn’t get any better than that. This means you only get charged for what you use.
If you don’t like the idea to switching wireless carriers because of the two-year contract, then, you can choose to go for prepaid plans or go-phones. Many carriers are now offering these prepaid or go-phones that are cheaper that their post-paid counterparts.
Just for example, Straight Talk Wireless has unlimited text, talk, and web access for 30 days for only $45 while AT&T has 15 GB shared data plan for $100. Just think about the savings that you’ll have every month. Calculate the total savings in a year over a number of years and you are looking at thousands of dollars in savings.
5. Energy consumption budget
Energy consumption is one of those necessities that can cost you a lot of money especially during winter season. Having said that, there are ways that you can adopt to lower your energy consumption cost.
According to the Energy.gov, by just turning your thermostat 10-15 degrees back for 8 hours, you can save around 5-15 percent a year on your heating bill. In addition, you can invest in more energy-efficient light bulbs like LED bulbs. You can also visit your utility company’s website and find out if they have rebates, energy audits, and other programs that will help you reduce your energy costs.
If you have old appliances, you may find the need to replace them with energy-efficient ones. They may cause money in the short run (just because you have to buy them affront) but you can expect savings that can outweigh the costs you initially incurred.
6. Shopping Budget
Shopping definitely one of the top areas that you can make adjustments to cut unnecessary living expenses.
Budget for shopping can be a big chunk of a household’s budget especially if you have growing children who don’t seem to stop growing day by day. There are a couple of ways that can help you save money while still get the pleasure out of shopping.
You may want to go to closeout, discounted stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx for merchandises that are deeply discounted. You can also go to big online retailers such as Ebay or Amazon that host an array of products at low prices.
You can also go to thrift stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army or yard sales for bargains. While most of the products in these stores are used, you may find that you can save hundreds of dollars compared with buying products from the malls and outlet stores.
Trying to cut unnecessary living expenses can be daunting and may seem impossible to accomplish. The best thing that you and your family can do is sit down and assess your budget and situation. Figure out which money-draining activities aren’t really necessities and can be cut easily without sacrificing your overall needs and desires for comfort.
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