Learn ways to cut your budget and monthly expenses! Save money, pay off debt, gain your financial freedom, and spend more time with the family!
When we were newlyweds, we were faced with taking a hard look at our finances. We had a baby on the way and had to cut our monthly expenses. We were ruthless, leaving no bill or expense unturned. In the end, we found ways to reduce our monthly expenses, cut our budget in half, AND create an emergency fund.
Here are some practical & simple tips that helped us save money, pay off our debt, and gain our financial freedom!
HOW WE CUT OUR BUDGET & EXPENSES IN HALF
1.Take a hard look at your monthly expenses.
First, see where your money is going. If you don’t know what you are spending your money on, you won’t know where to cut expenses.
Leave no stone unturned, no purchase unaccounted for.
- Print off bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Dig up receipts
- Old bills
- Open the checkbook you may rarely use –
- Whatever you can get your hands on.
Use it all to help you write down every single thing you’re responsible for every month.
Just being aware of what your current monthly expenses are is a HUGE step, so you can cut the budget. All of these line items are essentially now items in your household budget.
2. Reduce the obvious expenses
Once you know where your money is going, it’s time to start reducing– starting with the monthly expenses that are not necessary. You may even be unaware of some of these expenses, like these listed here.
For us, some of these monthly expenses were in areas we grossly overspent, like:
- Dining out
You can still have weekly date nights, they just may look a bit different than before (we would split fajitas, savor free chips and salsa, and share a cup of coffee together).
Ideas on how you can cut budget:
- Combine cell phone bills, or change carriers altogether, like we did. $35 a month for two cell phones with unlimited talk and text? Yes, please, and thank you!
- Snip the cable– We knew that cable wasn’t necessary, but it was a small token of entertainment that we enjoyed. We switched to satellite service AND reduced the plan to the bare minimum. This saved us another $50 each month. (We ended up canceling satellite service altogether about a year later.) Same goes for all those streaming services.
- Old memberships that you no longer need or use? Have a gym membership? Work out at home and save!
- House cleaning or dry cleaning for anything other than what’s absolutely a must. Consider making your own cleaning products to save money where practical for your lifestyle.
- Clothing/Gifts/”Miscellaneous” Items
- Shop around for a lower house and/or car insurance rate
- Look for coupons, rebates, discounts, and sales
- Free entertainment– This is where the library comes in! They have an endless amount of books and movies and music, etc! National parks have trails, and local playgrounds are always a free way to spend time!
- Check for lower internet service rates
- Shop once a month and plan your meals. This helped us when we initially created our budget.
Review your monthly expenses line by line and ask whether or not it’s needed, and cut it if the answer is no!
3. Reduce Even More
You’ve now made some serious progress at this point. If you find that you need to cut your monthly expenses even more, then you need to get creative!
- Trade in cars. It might sound counterintuitive to do this, but it meant lower monthly payments – which was the short term goal. Just by trading in our two cars, we saved $380 each month. Another reason for trading our cars though was to choose models that were more efficient with gas. This would save at least $50.
- Smaller trash cans. Since we weren’t making that much trash with just the two of us, I called the waste management company and asked if we could have a smaller trash can. I learned that not only did the smaller trash cans cost less each month, but that a recycle bin was free. This meant we could increase our recycling each month AND lower our trash. This saved us $20!
HERE ARE A FEW OTHER IDEAS THAT MIGHT HELP YOU THINK OF CREATIVE WAYS TO SAVE MONEY:
- Once you save enough in an emergency fund, increase the deductible of car insurance to lower the premium.
- Contact your energy provider and see if they have plans that allow you to pay a bill each month that’s equal to the average bill over the past year. This didn’t lower the bill, but it helped to make it consistent each month.
- Although controversial for many (and a very hard decision for us to make), we found a new loving home for one of our pets. He was a puppy (8 weeks old) destined to be a very big dog, and the money needed every month to care for him just wasn’t there. We found him a new home with a family who lived on a farm – who happened to be a co-worker!
- In the end, all of these changes helped us reach our goal. We cut our monthly expenses by 50% and we were able to live off of just my husband’s income!
What are basic living expenses?
The basic living expenses are food, water, housing, transportation, health care, and child care.
Where to cut monthly expenses?
You need to start off by taking a look at everything you’ve spent and see what is necessary and what isn’t. Whatever isn’t necessary, you cut! Cook at home, stretch meals, and save, save, save! Check out my 100+ ways on how to save money also for more tips.
How to plan for monthly expenses?
It’s best to write everything out. That way everything is in front of you with all of the numbers that are recurring, and you can see what you can reduce.
THE BIGGEST HURDLE TO REDUCING MONTHLY EXPENSES
It’s important to realize that the biggest hurdle we had to overcome wasn’t number-related. It was our mindset.
- We thought we deserved nice things because we made nice money. But we didn’t really own any of it and felt chained to the bills that came in every month.
- Once we wrapped our heads around the bigger goal (including our desire to buy a house in cash), and got over our egos, cutting our monthly expenses and living with the aftermath from that became easier.
- In the end, our sacrifice was worth it. In 2 1/2 years, we paid off our debt and saved enough for a small emergency fund! You can too!
More Ways to Cut Budget
- How to Stick to Your Grocery Budget
- 7 Simple Ways to Afford Real Food on a Budget
- How to Make a Frugal Grocery Budget
- How to Save Money with a Pantry Challenge