These days it seems like it’s not just us Budget Smart Girls who want to save some money. When the going gets tough here are some ways I’ve found to cut your budget.
What Can You Eliminate?Sit down and look at your bills, bank and credit card statements. Do you have any expenses that aren’t really necessary? Things like the weekly pedicure, the two meals you had at the fancy restaurant, the daily latte at the coffee shop? Circle anything that isn’t essential in your life.
Most things that fit into the non-essential category include added services, things like cable TV, text messaging on your cell phone. Do you really need them and do you really use them? How about eliminating voice mail from your phone service and switching back to an answering machine? And are you really watching all 100 channels on cable? Look for ways you can cut back on all the bells and whistles. And if you have more than one company in your area offering the same service, go ahead and do a price check. Even ask your current provider if they can beat or at least match their competitor’s price. It doesn’t hurt to ask and they can only say no.
Brown Bag It
What did you eat at lunchtime today? Are you relying on vending machines or the local deli? Try switching to a homemade lunch and see how much money you can save in a month. Another way to save some money is to take leftovers from the previous night’s supper.
Okay, you might not want to go completely vegetarian, but how about a compromise? You give up eating meat three times a week and opt for something cheaper like beans. Or if you are using meat, cut down on the amount and replace it with beans and vegetables.
Shop Less Often
I’ve switched to making a biweekly trip to the supermarket instead of weekly and have shaved off at least $50 to the food budget. The more times you visit the store, the more likely you are to buy things you don’t need.
Buy in Bulk
One of the best buys at my local supermarket and co-op is food that’s stored in their bulk bin sections. I often find lots of organic items at half the price just for the little effort of weighing and bagging my own food.
Buy Store Brands
Years ago I’d shy away from a supermarket brand item, but they’ve come a long way and many are even better than the big name brands. I can save at least 50 cents to $1 on items like cereal, fruit spread, soup, peanut butter. It might not seem like a lot, but it quickly adds up to more savings for you.
Don’t Buy It
Why buy a pricey item when you can rent it or share it. If you need a drill or a carpet cleaner just for one job around the house, why not check out your local rental center. Or ask family and neighbors if you could borrow it.
Yes, the price of gas isn’t going down any time soon, if at all, so let’s just accept that we have to find ways to save on gas. Can you join or start a carpool? Can you share a ride with some neighbors? Can you walk or even take the bike to the store? And combine trips. I write down a list of all the errands I plan to run and make sure they’re all done in just one trip to town.
Other Energy Wasters
And do you leave lights on when you leave a room? How about drying your clothes outside?
Have you got stuff sitting around the house that you haven’t used for years? Try a garage sale or even eBay.
EntertainmentYes, all work and no play….even when we’re on a budget we still need some recreation. How about borrowing books, CDs, and DVDs from the library? And check your local community for free events. The area where I live has free concerts and movies in the park every week all summer long.