Are you looking for extra room in your budget? Maybe you want to save a little extra money for the holidays or a special occasion. Or perhaps you’re trying to pay down debt. It’s understandable that we want nice things, especially in the age of social media where there’s pressure to look like your life is perfect. But if you’re serious about cutting down on unnecessary expenses, we’ve come up with five ways to help you get started.
- Go through your finances
In order to see where you’re spending your money, you’ll want to go through your bank statements and credit card statements. Looking at the past month may be most helpful, since you’ll see a full cycle of your monthly bills. If you can go back further, that’s even better because you may have certain bills that only come around once a year, like a subscription or membership fees. One other way of doing this is to track what you spend every day and how much, either by writing it down, putting everything on a spreadsheet, or even using an app.
- Define wants v. needs
This can be a tricky one, since the line between wants and needs can be blurred. Ask yourself, “do I really need this? Will I survive without it?” The answer might surprise you. One controversial cost, for example, is a gym membership. Many people start out with good intentions of using it but don’t, so the money goes down the drain. On the other hand, you do work out a lot and live in places with extreme weather, so a gym membership might be something you actually do need. But consider this – can you get a less expensive membership?
Another example would be you have cable, Netflix, and Hulu, but you don’t use all three. Which one of these can go? Or, you can’t survive without your morning cup of joe, but is that five-dollar latte from Starbucks really necessary? You could brew your own coffee at home for much cheaper. Once you’ve decided what you need, what’s practical, and what you’re actually getting use out of, you can start slashing unnecessary expenses from your spending.
- Decide how much to spend each month
It all comes down to budgeting. Some monthly expenses are fixed, like your rent, your car payment, or your insurance. Once you’ve evaluated how much of your budget those take up, it’s time to decide how much you’re going to spend on other necessities like groceries. Even while grocery shopping, you can decide whether or not you actually need to buy that twelve pack of Pepsi, or splurge on those cookies – and the answer is likely no. Come up with a budget that you’ll adhere to and look for sales. One tip is to make a meal plan for the week and make a list when you go to the store that you’re going to adhere to. Factor in other expenses to your budget like clothing and gas. Can you carpool to work? Or can you take transit instead? You may be surprised at how much money you can save when you ask yourself these kinds of question.
- Still, allow yourself to have fun
You work hard for your money, and you deserve to use it to have fun. Cutting down on unnecessary is important, but make sure you create a budget that allows for some fun time, whether it’s going to the movies or going for Happy Hour drinks at the bar with co-workers. If you know ahead of time there’s something you want to do, then make sure to budget for that in your monthly expenses.
- Call Billshark!
One final way that you can cut down on some of your unnecessary expenses is to call Billshark. If you decide to stick with cable or want to lower your phone bill, you can give them a call to see if they can help you by negotiating with your providers to lower your bills. Some things are still necessary, like your utilities and electric bills, but they may be able to help you with that as well. The benefit is that they may be able to help you save some money and cut down on costs for monthly expenses.
The Bottom Line
Saving money is important. You may not realize what your hard-earned money is going to until you take a long, hard look at your finances. If you’re spending more than you should each month and getting into debt, these tips can help you. One more important thing to remember is that you also want to check your credit – especially if you’re spending everything on your credit cards. High credit utilization on revolving accounts can hurt you, so check your free credit score today with credit.com.