Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further
With rising inflation and out-of-control gas prices, budgets are tight for just about everyone right now. So if you’ve been looking for ways to reduce your expenses, you’re definitely not alone.
That can take some creativity, so we’re here to provide the necessary inspiration. These are some of the best ways to reduce your expenses quickly.
Cancel subscription services
The first step to reducing expenses should be to cut back or eliminate your subscription services. Go through your Mint app or credit card and bank statements to make a list of all recurring expenses including:
- Streaming services
- Food delivery apps
- Gym and fitness memberships
- Grocery and meal prep services
Make sure to go back at least a year, because there may be some services that only renew on an annual basis. Once you have a list of all the services, write down how often you actually use them. You can also go a step further and divide the monthly cost by the number of times you use it in a month.
Then, rank the services in order from most important to least important, or from highest cost-per-use to lowest cost-per-use. This will help you prioritize which you should keep and which you should get rid of.
For example, if you have an obé fitness membership that you only use once a week, you may be able to cancel it and use free YouTube fitness videos instead. If you have multiple streaming services, consider which you actually watch on a regular basis and which you can cancel. Remember, you can always reactivate those services later on.
You should try to cull services regularly, especially if you often sign up for free trials and forget to cancel them.
While you’re checking for recurring expenses, you should also see if your current bank charges you any regular fees. If you’re still paying a monthly maintenance fee, then you need to switch banks.
Online banks like Capital One don’t charge monthly maintenance fees and provide higher interest rates on their savings accounts. Some online banks, like Ally, have even waived overdraft fees.
You can sometimes negotiate a lower price with your internet, cell phone or cable provider just by calling and threatening to leave for a competitor with lower rates. Do some research and find which companies are offering the best rate. Then, call your current provider and ask them to match or beat the offer.
Pro-tip: Use Mint’s bill negotiation feature to help lower your bills.
If the company refuses to lower their prices, then you should consider actually canceling and switching to a new company.
Refinance your loans
Even though interest rates are going up right now, you may still be able to refinance some of your loans for a lower rate. If your main goal is to simply reduce your expenses, you could also consider refinancing to a longer repayment term, which will result in a lower monthly payment.
Here’s how that works. Let’s say you have a $60,000 private student loan with an 8% interest rate and a 10-year term. If you refinance to a 5% interest rate and a 10-year term, your new monthly payment will be $92 less. But if you refinance to a 6% interest rate and a 15-year term, your monthly payment will be $222 less.
If you have a credit card balance, you should consider moving to a card with 0% APR which will let you pay off the balance faster while saving on interest. Most 0% APR offers last between six and 21 months. Try to choose the longest available offer so you have more time to repay the balance.
Shop based on grocery sales
Grocery prices have been one of the categories hardest hit by inflation. The first thing you can do to save money is to start looking at the weekly sales from your preferred grocery stores. Then, create a meal plan based on the sales.
If you spot a particularly good deal on something you buy frequently, then you should purchase a large amount and freeze the excess. For example, if chicken breast goes on sale, buy as much as you can afford and then freeze individual portions. That way, you can take advantage of the deal while avoiding any potential waste.
Reducing how much you throw away can save you hundreds of dollars each year. Consider buying frozen fruits and vegetables, which last longer than fresh produce and have the same nutritional benefits.
Look for free items
The next time you’re in the market for something, see if you can find a free or low-cost version through your neighborhood Facebook group, the NextDoor app or Freecycle.org. For example, if you’re looking for fitness equipment, you can make a post that says what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to pay. You may be surprised at how many people respond.
Your neighborhood or city may even have specific Facebook groups for buying, selling or donating items. Join as many of these as possible. If you’re a parent, you can also find parent-oriented Facebook groups where you can find free baby and kids items.
Shop for clothes at consignment stores
If you need to buy clothes, one of the easiest ways to save money is to shop at a consignment store. Consignment stores are like thrift stores, but they only carry gently used clothing items and accessories.
Many consignment stores have strict limits on what kind of brands and designers they carry, so you can find high-quality clothes at much lower prices – without digging through racks and racks of worn-down, unwashed items.
Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins. More from Zina Kumok
Browse Related Articles
College Budget Template & Free Tools [Step-by-Step…
Savings Calculator + 15 Ways to Save Money
How To Save Money in College: 66 Tips for Students in 2…
Chapter 03: Managing Living Expenses with a Budget
Chapter 01: How to Start Saving Money
What is Retirement Planning?