How to Cut Expenses and Keep More of Your Money
Save Money Every Month
Do you want to save more money? Whether trying to make ends meet or save up for something special, the dollars you spend add up quickly. Here are a few ideas to help you save more of your money each month.
Not all of these tips may be right for everyone. Take a look and start using the ones that fit your lifestyle and savings goals.
- Reduce Your Monthly Recurring Expenses
- Plan Your Meals for the Week
- Cut Your Hair at Home
- Use the Library
- Cut the Cable
- Review Your Utility Bills
- Quit Smoking
- Bag Your Lunch
- Look for Free and Low-Cost Events
- Unplug Devices
How Much Can You Save?
By using the tips in this article, your total estimated monthly savings could be $200–$400 per month or more!
What are you waiting for? Start saving!
1. Reduce Your Monthly Recurring Expenses
A Monthly Recurring Expenses (MRE) is anything that you pay on a regular basis (typically monthly) such as utility bills, memberships, services, etc.
Most of the tips on this site are designed to reduce these expenses in ways that lead to big savings over time. Where practical an estimated monthly savings is listed with each tip.
2. Plan Your Meals for the Week
Estimated Savings: $50–$100/month (or more)
Pick a time when everyone is home and plan out your dinners for the next week. Once that's decided, figure out what ingredients you'll need and make your grocery list. This will help you only buy what you need and reduce the amount of spoiled food you throw away.
We started doing this last year and it really helps keep the grocery bills down. It also gets rid of the nightly "what are we going to have for dinner?" drill. We already know and (even better) have all the ingredients on hand. No more last minute trips to the grocery store.
3. Cut Your Hair at Home
Estimated Savings: $15–$30/month
Why pay $15 or more every few weeks to get the same simple haircut when you can do it at home for free? If you wear your hair short, then get your spouse, roommate or kids to cut it for you. The clippers will pay for themselves after the 3rd or 4th cut.
Helpful Hints: Buy a set of clippers that come with an instructional DVD and/or watch a "how to cut hair" video on YouTube.
4. Use the Library
Estimated savings: $8–$12/month (or more)
Borrow books and videos for free at your local library, which is a great free resource. If you really like the book and think you'll want to read it again, then go buy it.
Our county library system has a good inventory of movies and other videos (TV shows, cartoons, etc) and we check out a lot of DVDs. No Netflix or other online streaming subscription required.
Remember to renew or return the books on time so you don't rack up late fees. Many libraries offer free online renewal.
5. Cut the Cable
Estimated Savings: $40–$100/month
How many of your cable channels do you actually watch? Are they worth paying all that money for each month? I gave up cable 9 years ago*, don't miss it and still watch too much TV. If you feel you can't live without cable, at least drop the premium channels.
People in many areas can get good reception of the broadcast networks and public television. With the switch to digital signals, you may even get a better picture with an antenna than cable.
*Update: I live in an area that doesn't get strong digital broadcast signals and had to sign up for a basic cable plan after the switch to digital broadcasts. With some research, I found a basic cable plan for $10/month.
6. Review Your Utility Bills
Estimated Savings: $5–$30/month
Take a look at your phone, cable and internet service bills.
First, look to see if there are any items such as call waiting that you may not need but are paying extra money for. Highlight those.
Next look at how much you are being charged each month and compare that to your service provider's listed rate for new customers. You can usually find that information easily online. Are you paying more than a new customer?
Now call your provider. Ask them to cancel the extras you don't need and lower your monthly rate to match what new customers pay (if applicable). Also ask if there is a cheaper plan or bundle you can switch to.
When you call, be nice to the customer service rep and it will be easier to get your bill reduced.
7. Quit Smoking
Estimated Savings: $180/month (pack a day)
The average price of cigarettes is over $6.00 per pack. That's a lot of money to spend to ruin your health, give yourself bad breath and all the other harmful effects of smoking. Plus you're probably paying higher life and health insurance rates because of it.
Do yourself a healthy and financially smart favor...quit smoking now.
8. Bag Your Lunch
Estimated Savings: $100/month
How much do you spend going out to lunch every day? Probably $5 to $10 a day including snacks from the vending machine. Making your lunch at home could easily save you more than half that amount...and will probably be more nutritious.
Don't have time? Prepare it the night before. It only takes the time of a TV commercial break to fix a sandwich. That way it's ready when you are in the morning.
9. Pay Your Insurance Annually
Estimated Savings: $5–10/month
Many insurance companies charge a fee for you to pay your annual premium in monthly installments. If you can afford to, pay your premium in full and avoid the fees.
10. Look for Free and Low-Cost Events
Keep an eye out for free events in your community that will add some variety to your life and keep money in your wallet. Your local paper, TV morning news and local bulletin boards (church, grocery store, etc) are great ways to find out about these events.
Here are a few examples of things to watch for:
- Concerts - Free summer concerts are common at city parks and malls.
- Programs for Kids - Story hour at the library, a magic show at the mall, musical programs at the park, etc.
- Open Houses - Not the real estate kind...look for open houses at places like your local fire or police department, equestrian center, power company, etc. These are fun, free things to take your kids to.
- Workshops or Educational Tours - Check with your local parks department about free events such as guided nature tours. Many craft and building supply stores regularly offer free workshops for do it yourselfers.
11. Unplug Devices
Estimated Savings: $5–10/month
Many electronic devices like TVs and DVD players continue to suck up electricity even while they're powered off. Unplug them when not in use.
Take a look around your house and see how many other devices like alarm clocks are plugged in and using electricity. Do you need all of them? If not, unplug it.
Unplug any cell phone chargers or other battery chargers once the device is fully charged.
Before you go on a trip, unplug as many electronic devices as possible. Consider shutting off your hot water heater if you'll be gone more than a couple days.
How Much Extra Money Would You Like to Save per Month?
Were any of these money saving tips helpful for you? What do you do to keep more of your money? Please leave a comment below.