The need to cut out expenses comes up when you begin to create a spending plan. You begin to lay out all of the things that you spend your money on and suddenly you realize how much money you are spending in particular categories. The revelation can be mind boggling! This is why I tell people to track what they are actually spending versus coming up with an arbitrary number to assign in their spending plan. The history of your habits will help you to move forward to change your spending behavior.
So how do you decide what is considered unnecessary spending? It all depends on your priorities and values. You may have a large food line item in your spending plan, but this may be due to specialized dietary needs/restrictions that you need to follow. Your entertainment category may be larger than another person’s plan because there may be more expensive activities you like to partake in. Choosing how to spend your money is an individual decision each person has to make. However, there are always ways to cut back in areas that may be easier to get out of control.
Here are a few categories where it may be easier to cut back and suggestions on how to spend less:
Food expense. This is an area that we have discussed in previous tips, but it bears repeating again. Food is one of the largest expenses in your spending plan that you have the most control over on a day-to-day basis. Take a look at your bank account and see what you are spending during the month on food. Start cooking more at home. Be sure to plan your meals around what’s on sale and what’s in season.
Eating out/entertainment. This category is a huge part of a single person’s spending because it is the way we socialize. However, there are more cost-effective ways to have a social life without breaking the bank. Use cost saving apps like Groupon or Living Social for activities and dining that you can enjoy at a fraction of the cost. Love to go to the movies? Then check out Movie Pass where the monthly fee is less than the price of a movie ticket and you can enjoy one movie a day in the theater. Suggest a potluck night in with your friends and have a board game night.
Cable/Streaming services. We have all heard about cutting out cable to save money. But when you are replacing it with several different streaming services, the costs can add up. Determine which services you are really using by tracking how often you are viewing each one during the month, then cut out the ones that you aren’t using that often. If there is one show that you particularly enjoy, consider buying it separately on iTunes rather than subscribe to the entire service.
Gym memberships. I may be dating myself, but I think of the Friends episode where Ross and Chandler attempt – and I mean, ATTEMPT, to go to the gym and cancel their membership because they never use it. Why is this so hard to do?? Is there guilt associated with knowing you should be exercising but you haven’t been? If you really think you are going to use the gym, give yourself thirty days to prove that you will. If you still aren’t using the gym very frequently, cancel the membership and consider other ways to exercise, including free online fitness routines like Fitness Blender or just plain old walking outside around your neighborhood.
Cell phone plans. There are so many options today to find inexpensive cell phone plans. Know when your contract period is up (if you have one) and start shopping around for other plans. As your life changes, your plan and data needs change as well. It’s always good to see what kind of plans are out on the market that can better suit your needs at a better price!
Salon expenses. Haircuts and coloring can be a burden on your spending. I am certainly not going to suggest going to a less expensive salon! You should be going to a hairdresser that you feel comfortable with and who knows how to cut YOUR hair. However, you can still cut back (pun intended!) on your salon expenses by going less frequently. Rather than going every 6 weeks like I used to do, I now go every 8 weeks instead. If you have a style that doesn’t require as much upkeep, you could extend that period longer. Also, talk to your hair stylist about inexpensive ways to keep your hair healthy so you won’t require as many visits.
What are areas that you have been able to cut unnecessary spending?