This is precisely when going through your expenses line by line can be the difference between skipping lunch in an effort to save and having a full stomach plus a little money left over each week to tap into your emergency fund. .
Here’s my line-by-line checklist to help you maximize your hard-earned money.
Renegotiate recurring monthly utility bills
Phone, internet, alarm system, home and auto insurance – all those regular essential bills are negotiable. The approach to getting better prices that I have found works best is to do some research online to compare prices. Then approach your current supplier with a competitive offer and ask them to match the prices. If they won’t or can’t for some reason, be prepared to move your business elsewhere. Even things like bank charges should be negotiated or eliminated.
Renegotiation takes time and the process is quite boring. But, based on first-hand experience, doing this job can add between $100 and $400 per month to your budget. So it’s worth rolling up your sleeves.
Cool subscriptions and much more
Wax subscriptions, streaming services, cable packages or specialty channels, virtual and physical fitness club memberships – what do you really need right now? With high costs for essentials, every non-essential expense requires consideration. I like to wonder what I can DIY or find for free that might help free up my monthly obligations. I turned to YouTube for styling tips, painted my own nails, and more. I also reduced my streaming to one for shows, one for music and a learning app for my kids – that’s it!
Withhold any purchases that could add an additional monthly financial burden
I know how anxious those high gas prices make you. But trading in your vehicle for an electric car that costs twice as much and will add a $900 payment to your budget isn’t the answer. Planning your routes more efficiently and taking public transport are much cheaper options. Eventually, it might make sense to upgrade to a more fuel-efficient car or go electric, but unless that expensive purchase is on your financial radar—and you’ve got the savings to show for it—hold on. I should add that vehicles are currently astronomically expensive due to supply chain challenges. This same logic applies to large home improvements like renovations or even buying something bigger, which will increase your budget costs. The name of the game is less monthly expenses.
Eat at home as much as you can
Have you been to a bakery or restaurant lately? It’s crazy how the prices have gone up. It’s your boost for preparing your coffee, lunches and dinners at home (you could benefit from learning to cook if you’re out of meal ideas). By following this train of thought, you can accommodate your friends and family rather than going out, having potlucks or lighting up that barbecue. If you need to meet a friend for a meal, reduce the event to coffee and a walk rather than a full meal.
It is essential to note that eating out once in a while is completely acceptable! Just make sure it’s not at the expense of rent or buying formula.
Plan your meals, trips and activities
Plan meals for the week to avoid over-buying at the grocery store. And read my latest column on nine ways to save on groceries. Use your loyalty points for groceries and gas. Map out your routes and combine your errands before you jump in the car. Take public transit where and when you can, or cycle or walk to your destination. Plan to attend free concerts, trainings, children’s activities and enjoy the outdoors – for free.
Embrace the second-hand and sharing economy
Clothing, furniture, children’s toys, bicycles, all of this can be bought second-hand or borrowed. On the other hand, sell what you no longer need by purging your house room by room and listing items that have good value. High-end clothing and sporting goods consignment stores are popular because people want to save money and help the environment.
Coach yourself every day
How will you plan for a financially successful day while staying within your budget (yes, that means you need to)? Even if you feel like the economy is totally against you right now, make it a daily ritual to think about your spending habits for the day ahead and how you want to stay on track or even reduce your expenses. While you’re at it, electronically transfer a few dollars to your emergency fund as part of this daily ritual. You’d be surprised how quickly those savings add up and how good you feel when you make your financial health a priority.
If you and your family are not doing well financially at this time, reach out to resources in your community who are willing to help you with food, clothing, and shelter.
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