Reduce Your Expenses – Simple Guide!
Are you looking for ways to reduce expenses so you can spend less and save more?
If at the end of a day, week, or month you think where did all my money go then you need to start looking at your spending and see where you can cut expenses.
Living payday to payday is not fun!
You want to be able to have some money left over at the end of the month so that you can save it for more important things like an emergency fund, retirement or even a vacation.
Most of us don’t realise just how much money we’re wasting on a daily basis. Many unnecessary costs can actually be reduced or cut altogether.
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Write down all your expenses
First of all, you want to know what your monthly expenses is to figure out exactly what your current monthly expenses are.
Many people don’t realize how much they’re spending. That’s because it’s easy to spend £1 here or £5 there and not think anything of it. We may not think we’re buying anything lavish, but at the end of the month we’re left wondering – where did all of my money go?
If you want to learn how to drastically cut expenses, the first step is to write down ALL your fixed and variable (discretionary) spending.
An easy way to figure this out is to look at your previous bank statements to see what you spent. Or you can simply track your spending for the next month.
Fixed expenses – These are expenses that you MUST pay each month, such as rent / mortgage, electricity, gas, water, savings plans, debt payments (credit card, car payments, student loan, personal loan) and so on.
Variable spending – These are non-essential expenses, such as dining out, vacations, entertainment, lunch with friends, gifts, clothes, manicures and pedicures, and so on.
If you’re currently having trouble paying your monthly bills, you’ll want to figure out the absolute minimum amount of money you need to cover your essential living costs.
If you are currently working towards paying off debt, then you’ll want to include debt payments in your essential living costs too.
I know it’s not easy to cut your monthly expenses and it can be tempting to stop debt repayments. But try to make at least the minimum payments on your debt. Continuing to pay down debt can help reduce your monthly debt payments.
Once you’ve determined your monthly fixed and variable expenses, compare this with your household’s income. If you’re currently living without a source of income, see how much cash you have set aside in your savings account or emergency fund.
Determine your financial goals
Most people want to reduce their monthly expenses because they want to save and accomplish more with their money. Knowing your goals can help you align your budget around achieving them.
The best part is your goals can be anything you want. Perhaps you want to pay off credit card debt, save money to purchase a car, or build an emergency fund. The more specific you can get, the easier it will be to break down your goals into manageable steps.
Ask yourself – what do I want my finances to look like a year from now? But starting today, you’ll begin planting the seeds for a successful financial future.
Want help setting goals? See my post for setting SMART financial goals:
Create a realistic monthly budget
Now that you’ve determined your essential living costs and figured out ways to reduce your non-essential spending, it’s time to create a new monthly budget.
For those who currently don’t have an income, you’ll need to see how much cash you have set aside to make sure it’s enough to cover your essential living costs.
Would you like to know more about creating a budget? Then see our post below:
Reduce your expenses
Now you have followed the above steps, here’s are 10 tips to help you curb your spending, cut your expenses and live on less than you make.
Negotiate your bills
Unfortunately, you can’t cut them completely but chances are you can lower them. Most people miss this one because they think bills are bills and there’s nothing you can do about them, but that is the farthest thing from the truth.
Start by calling around to make sure you have the best deal.
You can also cut your heating bill by 3% for every degree you move your thermostat.
Many companies offer a discount if you sign up for autopay. Make sure to ask because sometimes they only apply the discount if you ask for it.
We also cut our internet bill in half by asking about their current promotions. This alone saved us £360 this year. Once you start adding up all savings you found on bills, you’ll find several hundred pounds/dollars in savings
When I was first learning how to live on a budget, Sky TV was one of the first expenses I cut.
The truth is, most of the time with Sky you’re paying for a bunch of channels you don’t watch. Streaming means you’re more likely to use what you pay for every month.
For example, we have:
Altogether, I pay about £25 for these channels compared to the £75 I used to pay for Sky. That’s a massive saving if £600 per year!
If you haven’t made the switch from Sky/cable to streaming yet, that’s 600 reasons to give it a shot.
I have been guilty of this, having a gym membership I never used.
The money would be coming out my bank account every month, while I’m trying to convince myself I would start to use it.
You need to get rid of it – ASAP
If you haven’t been using it regularly and consistently for months on end you are not going to do it now.
According to This Is Money, Brits waste a collective £25billion a month each year on subscriptions they don’t use or want, and a massive 12% of that is on gym memberships alone!
That’s a whole lot of money!
If you don’t use your gym membership, look at alternative ways of exercise instead. I have invested in resistant bands and an exercise bike. I prefer this way, and there are plenty of workout tutorials on YouTube to follow.
If your finances are tight, then this one has to go!
Stop paying credit card interest
If you’ve got credit card debt with an interest rate – ditch it right now. Get it switched to a 0% deal like yesterday! Credit card interest rates are extortionate if you don’t manage them right.
That being said, 0% credit card deals are great for slashing the costs of any debt you have if you use them properly.
Just make sure if you’re switching to pay it off – cut the new card up and set up a monthly payment to make sure you clear the balance by the end of the term.
I used this trick for years as a gradually cleared the debt I built up at Uni and didn’t have to pay a penny of interest on it as a result. If I couldn’t clear the debt by the end of the term, I switched to another deal to avoid paying interest.
Take a look at this page on Money Saving Expert to find the best current deals.
Shop with a plan
If you head to the grocery store with a plan in mind, your shopping trip will be more successful and less expensive.
Many people are unsure of what they have in their cabinets and fridge, let alone what to make for dinner. Make a list of meals to have for the week. Then, see what you need to complete those recipes in your kitchen and pantry.
It’s also a good idea to stock your pantry with essentials when sales are going on.
Supermarket ads can also be incredibly useful. You might have to store hop on a weekly basis, but shopping with the sales can save you a lot of money in the long term.
People love brands names, but in my opinion, the majority of the time, you are paying just for the name!
The money you save week in week out is massive!
As long as I look good and feel comfortable in my clothes and shoes, that’s all that matters to me, not what branded name I’m wearing.
Want to know more about saving money with groceries? Then see my posts on cutting back grocery spending:
Resist impulse purchases
Have you ever walked into a shop to get something small, such as shampoo and you ended up leaving with a bunch of items that weren’t on your shopping list?
Don’t feel bad if you said yes. It’s called impulse spending and marketers are really good at encouraging consumers to make impulse purchases. This is an unplanned decision to buy a product (or service) right before the purchase is made.
Nearly 78.2% of Brits have succumbed to the temptation to impulse online shopping, according to a recent survey. While it might seem like an impulse buy here and there is harmless, it can sabotage your goals such as paying off debt, building your emergency fund, or saving for a large purchase.
Want to know more information on how to complete a no spend month and save a huge chunk of money? See the below post:
We have all been caught out on this one. Mobile phone companies offer free phones to entice you into a two-year contract that you are then bound to. Emails flooding your inbox trying to persuade you to upgrade to the latest smartphone can be oh so tempting, but before you succumb, as yourself the following questions.
Do I really need a new phone? (Need, not want!)
What will it really cost me over the course of two years?
Do I really need 100GB of data a month?
Would a prepaid mobile phone be the better financial option?
You’ll know from your answers, what you should really do. It’s all about being sensible and not living above your means for the sake of having the latest smartphone.
Eat at home as much as possible
Eating out is a nice treat for every now and again, but when you get into the habit of dining out because you can’t be bother to cook, it becomes and expense game.
After a long day a work, when you’re tired, it’s just the easier option. I’ve done it before, we’ve all done it at one point of time. The thought of cooking after a stressful day is a chore, but there are ways around this.
Batch cooking food is a great way to give yourself a break from the kitchen. For example, you could cook a batch of meals at the weekend and then freeze them. Each day you will then have a meal prepared without having to cook from scratch.
I do this with my workout meals for the week, it saves me a lot of time.
For a family of four, just by eating out a few times a month, you are talking about a few hundred pounds/dollars per month, if not more.
Supercooks is a website that helps you re-create recipes from leftovers.
Just list out the ingredients and let SuperCooks tell you what to cook! Never again will you have to stare at those leftovers in the fridge and wonder what to do with it.
Stop using disposable items
Some of the products you use from day to day are only used once, then thrown away. Paper towels, for example, are handy when you want to clean up a mess in a hurry, but reaching for one after every spill can become an expensive habit.
I don’t know about you but when there is a roll of paper towels in my house, I go through it like crazy, I wash my hands A LOT (a habit from working in the hospital years ago) and if I had to dry on a paper towel at home daily, I would be buying tons of paper towels.
Instead of paper towels or napkins, use hand towels. Using them will create a bit of extra dirty laundry, but will also cut out the cost of these disposable ones altogether.
You can also eliminate other items like dryer sheets by switching to wool dryer balls and sandwich bags by switching to reusable sandwich bags.
Bottled water is expensive! Spending £4-£5 on water every week when you could be using tap water/filtered water, will lead to savings that could be used towards something else.
Buy this reusable bottle and use it at work too.
It is mind boggling how expensive bottled water can get. If you have a fridge that has filtered water then even better, if not, tap water is great too!
If you are family of four getting through a 24 pack of water in less than a week is probably the norm. You could be saving £10 a week on just water.
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Reduce your expenses – Final thought
Whilst these items individually may not seem like they can make big changes to your monthly budget, making small changes can, in fact, help you to save a few hundred extra dollars each month.
Those extra pounds/dollars can really help you make a dent in your debts.
Don’t be discouraged by having to cut back on expenses.
It’s better to look at your long-term goals and use that as your motivation to keep pushing forward to your financial freedom.
One thing I have realised is that you should never turn your nose up at small savings because eventually, they do add up to make a considerable difference.
Let me know what tips you have for cutting down on expenses!
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