10 Tips for Cutting Expenses Now

by mac on October 14, 2008

It’s a tough economy out there.  The stock market has tanked, our nations banks are obtaining a government handout (from your tax money), job losses are mounting, and those still with a job have seen their raises shrink or stagnant.  Add to this much higher gas prices and even basic food prices.

What can you do to stretch your budget to pay all your bills and maintain your standard of living?  I’ve come up with the 10 best tips to do just that.

1.  If each family member owns a cell phone, drop your land-line.  This may not work for everyone, but most people now own a cell phone, communicate via email, im, and text message.  Dropping a landline could save between $25 to $40 a month.

2. Drop cable/satellite tv. Now this would be a toughie for most people.  But this is also one of the largest expenses that you don’t need.  Most prime-time programming can be found on the internet now.  The Office, Lost, My Name is Earl, The Daily Show, etc….all episodes can be found online and free.  And most can be viewed in high definition (if your computer can handle it).  If you have a high definition tv, you have even more incentive to get rid of your cable bill.  HD content can be found for free over the air now…all you need is a cheap antenna to watch your Sunday football games in the best quality possibe (even better than cable or satellite).

3. Subscribe to the Sunday paper.  The Sunday paper is full of useful coupons for groceries.  Everybody needs to eat, right?  Spend the ~$2 each week and save much more than that in clipped coupons.

4. Buy a coupon book.  Yes, there is a theme here…coupons will save you money.  Many fundraising groups sell coupon books for their organizations.  Some, like the Entertainment/Happenings book, have a huge amount of buy 1 get one free (BOGO) coupons, mostly for restaurants.  Go to these restaurants, hand them a coupon just before or when you get the bill and save quite a bit of green.

5. If you have the room, buy in bulk.  Same’s Club or Costco have excellent deals waiting for you if you can afford, and have the room for, buying in bulk.  You need to pay an annual membership to each of these stores, but if there’s one near you, I’d recommend checking it out.

6. Monitor those “deals” sites and jump on a deal it is reported.  Two sites I recommend are http://fatwallet.com and http://slickdeals.net.

7. Save energy to save not only the planet, but your wallet.  Turn lights off when you’re leaving the house, buy more efficient (flurescent or led) lighting, turn off your computer (or put it in sleep/standby mode) if it won’t be used in the next 30 minutes.  Same goes with anything that uses electricity.  Buy a programmable thermostat and schedule the temp to decrease at night in the winter, and increase in the summer and do the same when no one is at home.

8. This is related to #4.  Eat out LESS.  It is so easy to spend $40 for dinner for a family of 3…even with a coupon.  Don’t get me wrong though, you should get out of the house for dinner every now & then, but make it more of the exception, and not the rule.  For those working an 8 to 5 day, bring your own lunch!  Leftovers, sandwiches, or salads work great for a quick meal.

9. Always balance your bills.   You will find mistakes every so often on your bills, and usually all it takes is a call to customer service to get your hard-earned money back.  Pay your credit card bill a day late?  Call the credit card company and ask for them to remove the (usually $39) late payment penalty.   Find out you’re still paying for a monthly service that you canceled months ago?  Remove it retroactively and get a full refund.   Check every credit card transaction as you may find some smaller purchases that you never made…it is so easy for bad people to obtain your credit card information these days, so be vigilant!

10.  And lastly (for now), PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARDS!!  That is the biggest money waster of all for a lot of people.  Unless your interest rate is 4.9% (I am the lucky owner of a card with this fixed rate), you’re probably spending too much on credit card interest and fees.  For now, concentrate on paying off these credit cards…it may be difficult at first, but you’ll be the better for it in the long run.

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