How To Trim Your Budget
Would you like a little more breathing room in your budget?
Whether you follow a very strict monthly budget where you allocate each dollar to specific goals or follow a more loose budget where you meet your savings goals and live on the rest, I am sure you wouldn’t mind reducing your expenses.
Over at CareOne Credit there is a great article with 101 ways to trim your budget. While I don’t agree with all of the suggested tips, I thought that I would highlight a few of my favorites.
- Be realistic. How many people do you know that have started a diet and failed? One of the primary causes of failure is that they go to such an extreme at the beginning of the diet that they cannot possibly sustain that long-term. The same holds true with budgets. If you need to reduce your expenses, be sure to stay realistic and create a plan that you can live with month to month. When you try to cut everything at once, you will face a difficult road to stick to your budget.
- Be honest with yourself. I’ve mentioned before that my wife and I did not begin to truly eliminate our debt until learning to be honest with ourselves. When you lie to yourself about your financial situation, you are only hurting yourself. Don’t keep your head in the sand and do your best to be honest with yourself.
- Install a programmable thermostat. While I think this is a great tip, I do know it may not hold the same value for everyone. In our situation, my wife has been a stay-at-home-mom and therefore it is rare that there is a time of day when someone is not home. However, we still are able to take advantage of the programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperatures at certain times of the day or over weekends when we are home much less.
- Cut down on dry cleaning. We have actually saved a decent amount of money with this tip. There was a time when I would take all of my dress shirts to the cleaners every week to be washed and pressed. As much as I enjoyed not having to iron all of my shirts, I realized that I would sooner use that money for other purposes and cut this expenditure.
- Get your hair cut at a teaching salon. Other than my wife, we have not had an expense for cutting hair in a very long time. We’ve been able to cut this expense from our budget because my wife is a licensed stylist. Although I am a rare breed that actually wishes I would go bald, so all she really has to do is adjust the clippers as low as they will go and buzz off all my hair. If you’re not adventurous enough to try haircuts at home, going to a teaching salon can save a considerable amount of money – particularly for the ladies!
- Sleep on it. We’ve used this strategy to curb impulse buying for quite some time and it really does work wonders. In many cases you will come to the realization that you don’t need (and possibly don’t even want) the item in question once you have delayed that instant gratification.
- Bring your lunch to work. This can be a huge area to save money. In addition, don’t feel that you have to limit it to lunch as you can also save money on breakfast. I’m guilty of eating out for lunch more often than I should and I know this is an area where I can cut back if we have a need to reduce our expenses.
- Skip snacks at the theater. There are a few ways to save money if you go to the movies and skipping the snacks is one of the most cost-effective. If you simply cannot make it through a movie without a snack, stop off at the store before the movie and grab a box/bag of candy. You might need to stuff it in your pocket depending on the theater’s policy but it sure beats paying through the nose for their candy. Another way to save money at the theater is to see a matinee instead of the “primetime” showing. The theater by us has even cheaper tickets if you go before noon so check the theaters near you.
There are many more ways to trim a little bit out of your budget but the above tips are a few that we have implemented at one time or another in our lives.
What are your favorite tips for reducing your budget? Let me hear them!