Creative Ways To Cut Back on Spending

When the going gets tough, sometimes you need to reduce your expenses to live a more affordable lifestyle. While it may seem difficult to find reasonable things to eliminate, a little digging will help you realise that there are things you can remove from your daily expenditures that will keep more money in your pockets. As you begin to evaluate things, try thinking outside of the box and utilize these strategies to meet your financial goals.

Transportation

1. Use Public Transportation
If you live in a city with lots of cheap public transport options, this will save you bunches. Instead of shovelling away money on a car payment, insurance, gas, and maintenance, you can put that money toward bus or train fares. Most places can give you package deals for monthly fares, which will prove to be a huge discount over the course of time.

2. Carpool to the Office
Next time you’re at work, talk to a few of your co-workers to see which ones live within a close radius of you. If you’re lucky, you may be able to work out a plan where you take turns driving one another during the week. This alone can cut your car’s gas consumption and upkeep requirements in half.

3. Compare Gas Prices
Look for places within your immediate area that offer competitive gas prices. Often times, the closer you are to the center of a city, the more expensive gas is. Try finding alternative locations that may be a bit off the grid; they often have gas prices that can be a few cents less than your current station.

4. Use Ridesharing Apps
Ridesharing applications like Uber and Lyft are useful alternatives to public and private transportation. Instead of calling a costly cab, split a ride with someone travelling the same direction as you. UberPool and Lyft Line allow you to share your ride with multiple people, which can exponentially reduce your fare.

Food

1. Stop Eating Out
Instead of wasting money on fast food meals every day, try to make your meals at home. If you can, prepare them in bulk so you don’t have to spend as much time cooking throughout the week and can just grab and go. Once you stop, you’ll realize how much money you were spending on outside food.

2. Compare Grocery Prices
Don’t get stuck on one grocery store in particular. Many times, popular grocery chains have higher prices, so try to shop at local markets to get better deals. There may even be farmer’s markets in your area that provide better foods and ultimately a healthier lifestyle.

3. Monitor Your Rations
Another creative way to get more use out of your food is to eat smaller portions at a higher frequency. Instead of eating three big meals a day, it may be more cost effective to eat several smaller ones and drink a lot of water during the meal. Small snacks between meals can also help you stop investing so much time and money into larger rations.

Home

1. Sell Old Items
Getting rid of old furniture, clothes and decorations can clear up some space in your home and put a few extra dollars in your pocket. Look around for items that no longer get use and bring them to your local thrift store, consignment shop, or Goodwill. You may be able to walk away with some cash to pay off outstanding debts.

2. Unplug All Electronics
Make it a habit to turn off and unplug electronic devices that aren’t in use, whether you’re at home or not. Even when turned off, plugged in devices tend to use vampire power, which adds to your bill without you knowing.

3. Use Power Timers & Strips
Power strips reduce energy consumption because they consolidate outlet usage throughout your home. Power Timers serve a similar purpose, as they can be set to shut down at specific times.

4. Install A Programmable Thermostat
A lot of times we have the air conditioning and heating systems at unnecessary temperatures in our homes. Programmable thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat or the ecobee3 Smart Thermostat learn the temperatures you prefer, automatically shift to them, and shut down when you’re not home.

5. Find A Cheaper Home
If you’re realizing that it’s getting increasingly difficult to keep up with your apartment or home payments, it may be time to consider looking for a new place to live. Apartment Guide is a useful website that can find affordable apartments in your area, and sites like Zillow and Trulia can help you find a cheaper home. If you’re unable to sell your home, consider renting out a room if you don’t mind some extra company.

Debts

1. Refinance Your Home & Car Payments
If you can, sit down with your bank representative or lending institution and talk about adjusting the plan you have established to pay off your home or car. If you’ve been making payments on time for the last few years, you may be able to lower your interest rate, which will in turn decrease the total you have to pay back.

2. Adjust Student Loan Repayments
Contact the borrowing service that oversees your student loan repayments and see if you can reduce your monthly payments. Most programs allow you to work out a minimum, income-based, or pay-as-you-earn plan. Most creditors have flexible plans, and understand that the majority of United States citizens are working hard to pay back the historically-high student loan debt.

3. Minimize Credit Card Debt
Use your credit card as little as possible when making purchases, limit the amount of times you swipe in a month, and try to negotiate a lower rate with your card holder. Also, try to pay back bigger chunks of your credit card balance at a faster rate. While paying off your entire balance at once can actually hurt your score, it’s important to remember that the longer it takes you to pay the balance, the more you end up paying with interest. Check out a few strategies to reduce your debt here.

Miscellaneous

1. Buy Used Clothing
Instead of shopping at the mall or directly from retailers, take a trip to your local thrift store and look for some discounted clothing. While thrift stores sometimes have the stigma of providing low-quality clothes, most of them actually offer largely-overlooked items at a great price.

2. Minimize Entertainment Costs
When going out on the weekends, try to find events, bars, or lounges that are free, and if you can’t, be reasonable about how much you’re willing to pay for entry. Once inside, limit the amount of drinks you buy or have a few drinks before you get in. Staying home is always the cheapest option, so to entertain guests try finding a board game, a movie, or a new album to play.

3. Reassess Memberships & Subscriptions
Cancel any subscriptions that you find yourself wasting money on. If you are subscribed to a publication that you’re not an avid reader of, it’s likely not worth the money. In terms of memberships like the gym, it may be a good idea to keep it, but if you’re not going more than twice a week it’s likely not worth the investment.

Once you’ve take some time to review your expenses and understand exactly where your money is going, it’ll be easier to reduce your cost of living. Sometimes you have to get a little creative when deciding how to cut back, so make sure you look at every possible angle before you make a decision.