One of the most fundamental ideas behind building wealth is ensuring that you are spending less than you are earning. Every dollar you are able to not spend, is a dollar you could be putting towards essential living costs or saving for your longer term financial goals (whether those goals are paying off debt, making a purchase, a down-payment for a house, saving for your children’s college, retiring early, moving to a single income household from a double, making stock investments or purchasing investment properties or any other investment you may have in your long term goals). Living more frugally can be a way to fast-track those goals. If you are looking for some creative ways to cut expenses and spend less money, I’ve pulled together this extensive list of ways to cut your spending down. Putting you one step closer to those goals.
Some of the wealthiest people in the world have frugal habits that they follow (even if they splurge in other areas). Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are both famous examples of this. Bill Gate drives inexpensive cars and wears a $10 watch. Warren Buffet eats a cheap breakfast usually under $3.17 and still lives in the same house in his hometown of Omaha Nebraska that he bought back in 1958 for $31,500.
“The biggest mistake is not learning the habit of saving properly.”Warren Buffet
The point of this being that you’ll have to determine on some level what you really value and think is worth spending your money on.
Here in the US, we are a very materialistic society, but it seems like the more material possessions we gain, the less content we are with what we actually have. If you are buying things for appearances or to keep up the Joneses, just keep in mind there are always Joneses who have more than the ones next door to you today. I say all of this to say that it doesn’t matter how much money that you make, every one should be cognizant of what they are spending and how it aligns with their long term financial objectives.
Track your spending (track, track, track)
The first step towards reducing spending is understanding how much you are actually spending and where that money is all going. If you haven’t been tracking already, it can be quite shocking to see how much you are spending on certain expenses. Especially the small ones that seem small, but actually add up quite quickly.
Cut any unnecessary subscriptions (and stop buying subscriptions unless they are absolutely essential)
The reason companies love subscription services is that they get to charge you on a recurring basis. They know the math that even if a monthly expense seems small, over the course of a year, it adds up to a significant cost. Examine all of your subscriptions and decide which ones are necessary.
If you aren’t using something consistently, look at options to pay per use as an alternative. If you do the math, sometimes it works out in your favor. Others you may just decide you aren’t using enough to be worth it. Ruthlessly prune those and resist adding subscriptions as much as you can in the future.
Renegotiate existing subscriptions or cost compare with new providers
For any subscriptions you do decide to keep. Do some price comparisons with other providers and either switch or negotiate a lowerpnthly cost wherever possible. Many companies will give you a great deal to prevent you from leaving them completely.
Examine your monthly expenses (Truly scrutinize them)
For any other monthly expenses that you may have that aren’t subscriptions, make sure you don’t forget to examine them as well. Any other services, utilities, insurance, or payments you have see what you can drop and what can be renegotiated for a better price.
Stop using your credit cards
Credit cards interest rates are outrageous. If you are carrying a balance month to month, you should absolutely focus on paying down those cards as priority uno. If you aren’t carrying a balance, it worth considering trying to spend more using cold hard cash where possible. We tend to spend much more cavalierly using electronic methods as opposed to when we have to get out money of our wallet. Just a human psychological trick, but you may find you can use it to your benefit to spend less.
Cut down on electricity costs (cut down your thermostat, schedule your thermostat, use fans when possible, replace lighting)
There are so many ways to cut down on electricity…I bet your bill even includes suggestions along with comparisons of how much you use compared to other homes. Some simple suggestions would be turning up the thermostat a couple degrees in warm weather. You can also consider using fans in the rooms where you spend the most time. You’ll be shocked at much cooler it feels with moving air and may be comfortable at much warmer temperatures than you realized you could.
Of course the simplest tip is to turn off any lights and electronics whenever you aren’t using them. Another great suggestion is replacing any old school lighting with energy-efficient light bulbs. This will be an investment up front, but will save you some money in the long term.
Reduce your grocery budget and stick to it
Another significant monthly expense we haven’t yet considered in this list is groceries. I previously shared a post on How I Cut My Grocery Bill in Half – How to Save Money at the Grocery Store, that’s a great read if you are looking to spend less on groceries each week.
Set no spend days each week
Set a day each week where you won’t spend any money. Commit to eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at home that day. Nix any trips to the store and just generally don’t spend. You can make it a game for yourself.
Eat at home
As much as groceries cost, eating out costs much more. And when I say “eat at home”, I don’t mean get takeout delivered. Having food delivered can be even pricier than eating at restaurants. Don’t even get me started on the delivery service fees on top of fees! Save yourself some money and make your meals at home. Chances are not only will you save some money, but you’ll probably eat healthier too. A win win.
Work out at home
This is one that many people got much more adjusted to with the pandemic. Consider whether an expensive gym membership is really worth it. There are so many great streaming services, free YouTube workout videos (I love Sydney Cummings), free workout programs or just at-home gym equipment. I’m not saying you have to give up the gym if you go there on a regular basis and absolutely love it. However, if your membership card is covered in dust (or you can’t even find it), you may want to start asking yourself about alternatives.
If you have owe on multiple lines of credit, it can often be beneficial to explore consolidating that debt. Oftentimes you can a lower interest rate (read that as money you no longer will owe) by combining multiple debts into one. Sometimes you can even get a 0% interest credit card rollover that will allow you to rollover that debt at 0% interest for a certain length of time. If you go that route, just be sure you can pay it off before the interest rate jumps up on you.
Consider driving a different car
If you currently have a gas guzzler or a car with expensive monthly payments, you could consider downsizing to something more modest like an entry level sedan (ideally used) instead. As long as you aren’t upside down in your loan (i.e. when you owe more on your car than it is worth), trading in for a less expensive model can help you to decrease those pricey monthly payments. If you live in a bustling city with good transportation options, you could even explore not having a car.
Consider downsizing your housing
Similar to the car, but a bit more aggressive…if you have a mortgage or pay rent that is just too high or unsustainable, you should absolutely consider moving. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are house poor and paying the majority of your income just towards housing. If you are spending more than 30% of your income on housing costs, you may want to re-evaluate. This has long been the benchmark financial advisors recommend staying below as anything beyond that leaves you with much less to live on comfortably. This is also one of those items on the list that can make a really big impact on your day to day finances. So be sure to carefully evaluate before making housing decisions and really understand what you can comfortably afford.
Wait a day (or even better a week) before buying anything non-essential
This is a great trick to prevent making impulse purchases that you’ll regret later. Commit to yourself to wait a set period of time, say 24 hours to think on a purchase before committing. If you still really want that item, then you can give yourself the green light to go ahead and buy. It’s really amazing how often you will decide that you don’t really need that item after waiting for a little bit. You’ll get better and better at talking yourself out of impulse purchases the more you practice this muscle.
Thanks for stopping by! Do you have a creative way for saving more money that I didn’t share? If so, please leave a comment down below. I’d love to hear from you. If you enjoyed this post you may also want to check out my post on How to Save Money at the Grocery Store.