You understand the value of creating a budget, and you’ve been introduced to useful strategies for controlling your money, such as managing spending through the “envelopes” system.
But money-saving strategies can always be used in combination to increase the benefits you enjoy on a daily and monthly basis. Even if you have some basic cost-cutting and savings habits in place, there are always creative ways to cut back even further. Here are six savvy strategies to lower your monthly expenses.
1. Consolidate your debt.
Debt consolidation can reduce your interest rate and your monthly payment, giving you a clearer path to debt repayment that reduces your monthly expenses while improving your long-term financial planning.
There are several different methods of debt consolidation, such as folding debt into a mortgage or taking out a personal loan. You might also take advantage of a promotional balance transfer to move credit card debt to accounts offering a limited-time APR reduction—or even an interest-free period during which you can pay off your debts gradually.
2. Unplug electrical devices when not in use.
Even when electrical devices aren’t turned on, they’re consuming small amounts of electricity by draining energy from your connected outlet. Across all of your outlets in your home, this can lead to a lot of unnecessary energy waste that gets charged to your utilities bill.
By unplugging these devices, you can reduce your home’s energy consumption, saving money on utilities while reducing your overall environmental impact.
3. Get into meal-planning for lunch and dinner.
Takeout, fast food, and restaurant dining can take a big bite out of your spending budget—and quickly. Too often, people make these purchases out of impulse or because of a lack of planning.
The simple solution? Embrace meal-planning as a strategy for mapping out meals, cooking ahead, packing homemade lunches, and stocking the ingredients you need to make meals at home. With a little foresight, you can replace costly takeout with cost-effective home-cooked meals.
4. Split cell phone service with friends and/or family.
A cell phone bill is a necessary expense for many consumers. But you can still trim down this monthly cost, even without cutting back on your cell phone services, by adding more people to your existing plan.
Most cell phone plans are structured to feature a base cost that is fixed regardless of how many people are on the account. If a $100 base fee is split among four people instead of one, each person’s share of the fixed cost drops from $100 per month to just $25. This can be a win-win for you and everyone joining your plan.
5. Cancel recurring subscriptions and bills.
Monthly subscriptions, even in small amounts, can lead to big annual costs—and they’re easy to overlook if you’re not paying close attention. Review the charges to your checking and credit accounts to spot any charges that represent goods or services that you don’t need or that you can easily get rid of.
Maybe you have a streaming service you rarely watch, or a home delivery service you haven’t gotten much value out of lately. Cutting these costs can add up to big savings over the course of a year.
6. Embrace thrifting as a hobby.
Buying secondhand can help you save money, but it can also score you hidden treasures and quality items you couldn’t afford to purchase new.
Many people get into thrifting as a way to save money but end up enjoying it as a hobby. As a cost-conscious way of shopping and a cheap form of entertainment, thrifting might be the creative solution you need to cut spending across multiple categories.
No matter your incentive for improving your savings habits, small changes and lifestyle tweaks can add up to make a big impact over time. As you focus on big-picture changes that will increase your ability to save, remember that a little creative problem-solving can also put more money in your savings account.
Discover more tips to increase savings and improve your financial security—download our guide, Financial Planning During Uncertain Times.