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Recently, I sat down and took a look at my budget. I tried to identify what utilities weren’t being used to the full extent of what I was paying for or were simply not something I needed.
What I found were two opportunities to trim my budget – saving me money, without really changing my lifestyle at all because I came to realize I didn’t need a land line phone and an extra television. While it wasn’t a huge savings, when I calculated how much it would save me in a single year’s budget, it was well over a couple hundred dollars. Such an accumulation of money is not something to nonchalantly give away, and I look forward to doing something that is more in alignment with my goals.
What I’d like to share with you today are ways to trim the excess from your life so that you are creating more quality and putting your hard earned money towards those dreams, goals and responsibilities that are at the top of your priority list. The first time I ever sat down to do this was more than seven years ago after purchasing my first house. What was important to me was being a homeowner, but I knew I’d have to tighten my belt a bit and that meant I had to become creative. Below is the list of ideas that I came up with:
1. Assess all of your utility bills and determine what you can live without (reduce the cable package, bundle your phone and internet, etc). Pay for what you need and use regularly, eliminate the rest.
2. Call your credit card company and negotiate a better rate if you are a card holder in good standing.
3. Transfer high credit card balances to a No Interest for a year or two card that doesn’t have an annual fee allowing you to pay it off quicker.
4. Buy magazine subscriptions for more than a year at a time. The savings is usually quite astonishing.
5. Visit the library and check out the books you’ve had your eye on at Amazon.
6. Clip coupons and make a grocery list.
7. Pay bills on-line (save the stamps).
8. Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
9. Use warm water when washing your clothes instead of hot.
10. Turn off the lights when you leave the room.
11. If you frequent a particular coffee shop, purchase a gift card at the beginning of the month and place a budgeted amount on the card. Hold yourself to this amount.
12. Cook at home.
13. Eat out only on special occasions or at restaurants where the meal is something you couldn’t make yourself.
14. Have the oil in your car changed and tires rotated every 3 months or 3000 miles.
15. Become creative with leftovers.
16. Have a book swap.
17. Have a reward card for places you frequent (hotels, coffee shops, movie rentals, etc).
18. Make water your drink of choice.
19. Forgo the gym membership and instead schedule a one time session with a personal trainer asking for exercises that can be done at home to achieve the results you desire.
20. Play board games – a tradition that has lasted because they are socially entertaining and free!
21. Lower the heat in the house by a few degrees and increase the air temperature in the summer ever so slightly.
22. Discover chores and tasks that you are paying someone to do that could easily be done by you or someone in your household.
So what are cost-effective strategies you have found to work for your budget? I’d love to hear as I truly believe that we are truly creative when necessity is knocking on our door. And the necessity in this case is why throw good money after so-so things or expenses when there are far better reasons to save it.