Paycheck Chronicles

Fifty Ways To Cut Spending Fast

Oh my gosh!  I found a bunch of ways that I can easily cut my spending!Unless you've got a ridiculous amount of money, you've probably found yourself in a place where you need to cut spending.  Sometimes, it's a temporary thing to get through a rough patch:  a sick dog, a vacant rental house, or an expensive school field trip.  Other times, you're spending more than you're making each month.  Either way, you either got to increase income or decrease expenses.  While increasing income may be a better long-term strategy, if you can cut spending, you can make changes right now.

Not everyone can cut in the same places.  It's very individual.  You may be able to do some of these things, but probably not all of them.

  1. Use coupons whenever possible.  Almost everything has a coupon available:  oil changes, hair cuts, groceries, vet services, everything.  Check your newspaper, local coupon magazine, and online websites like Groupon or Living Social.  Check the individual store's website for store coupons.  I try to never, ever buy anything unless I have some sort of coupon.  Obviously, I can't manage that, but I'm surprised at the discounts I can find.
  2. Make your own coffee.  If you drink a lot at work, get a cheap coffee pot there, too.  And skip the pricey Keurig.  The pot is expensive, the cups are ridiculous, and they're bad for the environment.  The coffee isn't that great, either.
  3. Request an interest rate reduction on debt.  If you're paying a high rate on credit card debt, call and ask for a reduction in your interest rate.  If you can't get your rates down low, consider whether you are disciplined enough to do a balance transfer to a card with a promotional rate.  Long term, paying off debt will free up a ton of money in your month.
  4. Change your drinking or smoking habits.  These are both expensive indulgences.  Not only will you save money, but you'll probably improve your health as well.
  5. Call your cable and internet companies and bargain for a cheaper rate.  Considering cutting cable and using internet-based television services like Netflix.
  6. Install compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED light bulbs to cut your energy costs.
  7. Turn your thermostat up or down, depending on the season.  Wear the appropriate clothing to keep warm or cool.
  8. Volunteer at cultural events to get free admission.   Ushering is a great way to see a show for free.
  9. Combine errands and utilize technology to eliminate trips.  Use the mobile deposit app to deposit checks.  Have stuff delivered if it is free (or cheaper than driving to get it.)  Put your kids on alert that you won't be making emergency runs around town unless it's actually an emergency.
  10. Eat out of your pantry, fridge and freezer.  Make menus around the foods that are already in your house.  Bonus points if you use something that's been lingering a little longer than appropriate.  See how low you can get your weekly grocery bill.
  11. Slash your electricity usage.  Turn off lights, unplug chargers, and turn down your water heater.  Hang your clothes to dry.
  12. Switch to a cheaper cell phone provider.  Off-brands like Republic Wireless and Ting are substantially cheaper than their more-known counterparts.
  13. Cut down on children's activities.  Kid's sports and arts are expensive, and the gear can cost many times more than the activity itself.  It seems like every child is involved in multiple things.  Perhaps your child could take a season off, or do just one activity at a time.
  14. Use window coverings appropriately.  Open them to let the sun warm your house during the day, then close them at night to keep out the cold.  During the summer, keep sunny windows covered.
  15. Buy used.  Clothes, appliances, furniture - many things are just as good pre-loved.  Heck, some things are even better.  Check thrift stores, consignment shops, Craigslist and Freecycle.
  16. Drink water, from the tap.
  17. Consider lower-priced brands.  Many products have cheaper versions that work just as well.
  18. Do your own work.  Cut back or eliminate everything you're paying someone else to do.  This might include house cleaning, lawn mowing, gutter cleaning, and dog poop scooping.  If you've got the skills, change your own oil, do your own home maintenance, and prepare your own tax returns.
  19. Cancel gym memberships, if you're not using them.  Some people really use their gym, and that's great!  More people join a gym and then hardly ever go.  If you can't cancel your contract, see if you can suspend it for a few months.
  20. Be sure you're signed up for the rewards card at every place you shop.  You might get free or reduced price products or services.
  21. Skip a trip.  Do you have a regular trip that you make each year?  Could you skip it, just this once?  This is a fine balance for many people.   Our family typically travels to visit the grandparents, and I'm not willing to give that up.  Do what works for you.
  22. Cut back on meat.  Enjoy meatless meals, or choose menus where meat is a condiment, not the main course.  This might include pastas, salads, egg dishes, or grain-based casseroles.
  23.  Go a little longer between haircuts.  For men with job requiring short hair, this might mean a haircut every eight days instead of seven - even that small amount adds up.  For people with longer hair, you could probably skip hair cuts altogether for a while.  Cut back or eliminate luxuries like manicures and massages.
  24. Stop eating out.  This might include packing lunches, making dinners at home, and skipping pizza night.
  25. Carpool.  In most places, there is a clear flow of people from home to work each day.  Find someone with a similar route and halve your transportation costs.  Find three or more people and save even more.
  26. Use public transportation, if it is available and cost efficient.  In his last job, my husband could take the bus, or drive and take the Metro.  The bus was $10 per day, the drive-Metro option a day cost over $20 a day.
  27. Use the cheapest prescription option for your coverage.  For my coverage, the US Family Health Plan, generics are free for 90 day prescriptions, so I always ask my doctor to write my prescriptions for 90 days.  Some things, like shampoo, require some tricky wording.  Have the pharmacy tell you exactly what it must say, and then ask them to call your doctor and ask for that wording.  Most doctors are glad to help you with this.
  28. Shop around for your pet care.  Some vets are significantly more expensive than others.  If you know what you need, call two or three offices and ask about their rates.
  29. Investigate consolidating student loans.  Consolidation is not the right answer for everyone, so you'll have to do some research and math.  Another option is to apply for an income-based repayment plan.  This may add to the overall cost of your loan, as lower payments mean you'll be paying more interest over time.  But if cash is tight right now, a lower payment might help out.
  30. Comparison shop for your insurances.  Different companies can have dramatically different premiums, just be sure that you are getting the same coverage.  Note:  it's frequently cheaper to have all your insurance with the same company.
  31. Avoid using ATMs with a fee.  Plan ahead to use your bank's ATM.  If you must use an ATM with a fee, be sure to take out enough money to get you through the week.
  32. Invite friends over instead of going out.  Whether it's happy hour, dinner, or movie night, you'll save a bundle and you might even have more fun.
  33. Stick a note on your credit card, your debit card, and wrapped around the outside of your cash.  It can be a picture of the reason you're saving, a motivational quote, or just the question, "Do you NEED this?"  Whatever will stop you to think carefully about your purchases.
  34. Cancel your satellite radio subscription.  If you really can't live without it, you're in luck.  Sirius/XM is notorious for calling you back and offering you a discount deal.  Otherwise, just call and ask for a discount.
  35. Set up a babysitting co-op with nearby parents.  It can be formal, with credits and hours tracked, or informal.
  36. Check with your energy company to see what sort of money-saving programs they have.  Some companies charge different rates at different times of day.  If they do, run your clothes washer and dishwasher during less expensive hours.  Others will offer discounts for cutting consumption on certain peak energy days, or letting them cycle your air conditioning when it's super-hot.
  37. Watch movies at home instead of the movie theater.  Between ticket prices and snacks, a night at the movies can easily cost $40 or more.
  38. Have small kids?  Investigate kids eat free offers for local restaurants.  While eating out may not be the cheapest option, you can cut the cost significantly by choosing restaurants that offer good deals.
  39. Get together your friends and have a clothing, shoe, makeup, toiletry, and household goods swap.  Bring everything you don't want to one location and shop each other's stuff.  Donate the leftovers to a local charity.  You'll clean our your closets and cupboards, and hopefully come home with a few new things.
  40. Consider mystery shopping for things you're going to buy anyway.  You'll be reimbursed for purchase costs, and may make a little money, too.
  41. Keep your vehicle tires inflated properly.  Every 2 psi below the recommended inflation will cost you about 1% in efficiency.  You can't see that a tire is low until it is 10 psi or more below the right amount.  Warehouse clubs like BJs often offer free air.
  42. Take a break from classes that cost money.  This might be anything from yoga to painting to car repair.  If these things are keeping you sane, consider a compromise:  cut a class a week, or switch to a new company with a promotional deal.  If you really love your provider, ask for a discount.
  43. Check out the clearance or dent-and-damage sections of your supermarket.  Sometimes the deals are okay, but sometimes they are fabulous!  One local store marks meet 1/2 price the day before the sell-by date.  It's still perfectly good, and will continue to keep well in the freezer.
  44. Use smaller amounts of products.  Many things can be cut with water and are still just as effective.  Cleaning products and toiletries are easy and obvious places to cut back.
  45. Skip some professional sporting events.  If you're a season ticket holder, consider going to fewer games, or downgrade your seats for a season.   Explore deals for discount tickets, such as two for one deals.  If you do go, limit your purchases from the snack bar.
  46. If you must shop online, be sure you're getting cash back from one of the many rebate sites.  Ebates is my favorite, but they're all good.
  47. Drop your subscription music service.  Even if they're only $10 a month, they are not really necessary.
  48. Use your library!  Books, movies, music, online books, and language programs are just some of the many offerings of most libraries.  I've become addicted to downloading books.  No more waiting for Amazon to deliver, plus it's free.
  49. Talk to your friends and family about limiting gift giving.  Our family has three parts, and we handle it three different ways that are all less expensive than buying gifts for everyone.  One part does gifts only for the children, one part does a Secret Santa, and one part does a white elephant gift exchange.  We enjoy them all, but I think the white elephant is the most anticipated.
  50. Switch to a no-fee bank account.  There are tons of options.  Credit Unions are almost always a better choice than banks, and Navy Federal Credit Union is open to all branches of the military.
Sometimes it can seem impossible to save money.  Hopefully, this list will inspire you to find the places where you can cut spending and save a little cash.  Let me know your additional ideas in the comments! Show Full Article

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