From the grocery store to the gas station, I know we’ve all felt the pressure of price increases lately. When expenses out of your control begin to rise, it’s a good time to review the expenses you can control and reduce where you’re spending money. You have to control your money so that it doesn’t end up controlling you. Here are a few ways to stretch your household budget.
Track Your Spending Habits
You must first track your spending over a 30 or 60 day time frame to begin understanding your spending patterns. It will probably be an eye-opener. It’s all too easy to hand someone your debit card and never think about the transaction again. Spending $5.00 here and there tends to add up more quickly than you think!
Then begin going through your expenses at the end of each week and note where you spend the most money. Is it on coffee before you get to work? Do you buy your lunch every day? Do you stop and get a coke on the way home each day? Take a deep dive and determine what you need to spend money on vs. what you want. It might take a minute to get into the habit of reviewing your expenses each week, but it’s worth it to learn how much money you could save by changing a few patterns.
Eat at Home
Preparing meals at home can save a ton of money! It’s also healthier and better for you. Plan your meals for the week. Then pick a time during the weekend to prep everything so that you don’t have to chop and slice when you get home from work. Prepping makes all the difference and will help you stick with cooking rather than just giving up because you’re tired and order take-out. If you absolutely hate preparing and cooking, several meal-in-a-box companies will send you meals right to your doorstep. Now the cost for meals in a box will be higher than the cost of going to the grocery store, but if the expense isn’t too far off, and it’s something you’ll stick to, then it might be worth it, and it’s still less expensive than eating out every day.
Evaluate Your Subscriptions
We all have monthly subscriptions for cable or streaming services, internet, cell phones, music apps, you name it. Once a subscription gets set up, most people stop thinking about it because it’s auto-drafted, and the money just goes out of your account, and that’s just how life works. Take note of your monthly subscriptions and see if you can bundle some services, change the service to a less expensive tier, or just get rid of it. There are apps that will do this for you. Remember, $5.00 here and there adds up when you’re saving just as quickly as when you’re spending it.
Reduce Insurance Premiums
Another way to reduce monthly expenses is to look at your car insurance and make adjustments. You may be able to update your current insurance based on your driving record to get a better rate without switching providers. Raising your deductibles can also save some money on your monthly premium. If your current provider doesn’t have any savings options, there are so many other companies out there; just take some time to shop around to find the same coverage for less. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners can be a good resource for shopping companies, and there are plenty of services out there that will make the comparisons for you. Just be careful, as soon as you enter your information into some sites, your phone will begin to ring!
Debt Consolidation to Lower Interest Rates
Consolidating your credit card debt into one monthly payment only works if the interest rate is low and you STOP USING YOUR CREDIT CARDS. If you continue using your cards after consolidating your debt into one payment, then you’ve just given yourself an additional high monthly fee and you’re going backward. Check with your bank first to see if they have any consolidation options. If you have a good banking history with them, you might get a better interest rate than if you go to an outside company whose sole purpose is to siphon from suckers.
Lower Your Housing Expenses
There are a couple of options for homeowners to lower their mortgage payments. The first option is to try and refinance for a lower interest rate. The second option is not widely known, and most mortgage companies prefer it that way. Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required for those who buy a house with less than 20% down, and it’s factored into your monthly payment. However, once you have 20% equity in your home, your lender should remove the PMI. With home values rising all over the country, the value of your home may have grown enough to give you that 20% equity that you need to cancel the PMI. If that is the case, call your lender and ask them to cancel your PMI and they absolutely must comply. The third option for lowering housing expenses is to downsize. Do you still need as much house as you’re living in or can you live in less and save more?
It’s easier than you think to reduce your expenses, and there are many more ways to reduce spending than what I’ve listed above. Any steps you take towards saving $5 rather than spending it will ultimately pay off.
If you are considering downsizing or looking to make a move I am always here to offer advice. Contact me today and we can discuss your real estate goals – firstname.lastname@example.org | (830) 305-5248.