Overspending: it's easy to do if you're living paycheck to paycheck where one extra emergency expense may send your financial situation over the edge. All solid financial plans involve methods for controlling and reducing spending. These less obvious, yet practical ideas may help reduce your monthly expenses.
The longer you allow your overspending to carry on, the deeper in debt you'll find yourself.
When you stop and compare what you're spending versus the money you bring in, you might be unpleasantly surprised to see how far in the red you are.
If that's the case, steps need to be taken to get a hold on your spending to prevent yourself from falling deeper into debt. In fact, all solid financial plans involve methods for controlling and reducing spending. The thing is, the typical ways of cutting down on spending can be tough and may impede the lifestyle you desire.
Luckily, there are practical ways to gain control of your spending and in some cases reduce your spending, so you can become more financially fit.
Practical Ways to Control and Reduce Spending
Reduce the Energy-Drainers in Your HomeYou could easily put money back into your bank account by reducing your utility bills every month. How? By conducting an energy audit around your home and looking for areas that are using more energy than necessary.
For instance, any air leaks in your home should be sealed up, which can save you as much as 20% on your energy bill each month[i]. Any incandescent light bulbs should be replaced with LED bulbs, the 51-wattage savings can save you as much as $72 over the life of the bulb.[ii] Multiply that savings by the number of lights in your home and that can add up quickly. Turning the temperature on your water heater down from 140° to 120°F may save you approximately 6 to 10 percent on your energy costs.[iii]
Are you leaving lights on in rooms when you’re not in them? Believe it or not, that could be a significant expense that if you change your behavior you might save you money without any negative impact to you or your lifestyle.
At the end of the month, little changes like these can have a significant effect on how much you're spending without affecting your lifestyle in the least.
Sign Up for Customer Rewards ProgramsIf you're already going to be shopping in specific stores on a regular basis, you might as well save some money on each visit. You can do this by signing up for rewards programs that can offer you discounts and even some freebies. Loyalty programs are extremely popular and aren't hard to find.
Generally, all you need to do is sign up with your contact information (often a name and email address are all that's required) and you can start enjoying savings at places where you are already shopping.
- Request a Reduction on Your Credit Card Rate
Out of all types of debt, credit card debt is typically the most expensive. When you consider the fact that interest rates on credit cards can be upwards of 20% and sometimes more, it's easy to see how much money can be saved with a lower rate. If your credit card balance is fairly high, consider calling your credit card company and ask for the rate to be reduced.
If you've been diligent with paying down your credit card balance each month and are in good standing with the company, they may just oblige. If they don’t agree to such an arrangement, consider getting a 0% balance transfer onto another credit card. 0% interest cards can be hard to get if you have poor credit, but that should not stop you from creating a plan to stop adding to your debt and if you can, start paying more than the minimum payment.
Cutting back on your spending doesn't necessarily have to derail your lifestyle.
- Plant Your Own Vegetable Garden
Produce can be expensive, along with just about every other type of grocery item. Why not grow your own vegetables to help offset the cost of groceries? Not only will you be saving money on your supermarket bill every week, you'll also have the benefit of eating 'organic' without the inflated cost.
In addition, having the opportunity to enjoy meals prepared with vegetables that you grew yourself can be a rewarding experience. To make this hobby a simple and financially savvy one, plant vegetables that are easy to grow and maintain, such as tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, and cucumbers.
- Increase Your Insurance Deductibles
The premium you pay each month for your insurance plan - whether it's auto insurance or homeowners’ insurance is largely tied to the deductible that you agreed to pay if you need to file a claim. The higher the deductible, the lower your premiums will be (with exceptions, of course).
If you are currently paying a hefty premium in exchange for a lower deductible amount, consider doing the opposite, especially if you don't have a history of making many claims. Increasing your deductible may lower your annual premiums, relieving the stress of paying your monthly bills. A word of caution, although the reality is the higher your deductible you will generally realize lower premiums, but it’s important to think about if you can afford the higher deductible if an accident occurs.
- Buy Generic Brands Whenever Possible
There are plenty of products available in generic or store brands that are often much more affordable. Of course, some generic products may have slightly different ingredients than their brand-name counterparts, but many others are at par. Check out the ingredients in both the generic and name-brand products to see how close they are in similarity. If they’re almost a match, go with the generic brand to scale back your shopping bills.
- Consolidate Your Debt
If you've got a variety of different loans - such as a student loan, credit card debt, car loan, etc. - look into consolidating your debt. This will allow you to manage just one monthly bill rather than many, which typically have different due dates and interest rates.
By consolidating your debt, you may be charged a lower interest rate compared to some higher interest debt like credit cards. With a lower interest rate comes lower monthly payments, allowing you to keep more money in your account while still chipping away at your debt.
- Take a Defensive Driving Course
This can be an inexpensive way to save big. Most insurance companies will reward you for taking and passing a defensive driving course. Depending on the state in which you’re a licensed driver, some companies may reduce your annual premium by as much as 10%.[iv]
Cutting back on your spending doesn't necessarily have to derail your lifestyle. Even the simplest changes and modifications can make a huge difference when you add them all up. By adopting the above tactics, you can realize major savings at the end of the month that will keep you in better control of your spending habits. A few changes to your budget can add up and help you pay down your debt and live a healthier financial life.