Today more than ever people are trying to find ways to cut back and trim their expenses. Whether you are expecting a new addition to the family, expecting to retire in the coming months, or going through a divorce, the hardest part about adjusting is often changing your habits. A lot of people will say that you can create a habit in 21 days. However, a study reported by Psychology Today suggests that it takes on average 66 days to create a new habit.
And that is for something that is a daily routine decision like drinking a glass of water each morning when you get out of bed. Imagine how long it will take to establish new habits when more life changing events occur. So, give yourself some grace. New habits are possible.
Because we are creatures of habit it may take some getting used to, but once accomplished the rewards are endless.
Try to find places where you will be able to achieve some quick wins. If you are into the “quick fix” you need look no further than your refrigerator, as by using its contents more you can save yourself a bundle almost immediately. First, bring your lunch to work. Too many of us are in the habit of grabbing something at the local outlet versus making a sandwich or bringing some soup for lunch.
While this in itself is keeping the local businesses running, your pocket book is suffering. You may also want to enjoy more meals at home. While a meal out once in a while is not harmful, eating out or ordering in more than a couple of times a month can add up. The kids enjoy me cooking at home more than going out. They help, which gives us a chance to bond and we also eat much healthier.
Approach your food shopping as if it was a game. See how much money you can save. Set aside an amount ample for the supplies needed and then see how far under you can achieve. Get that Sunday paper, clip those coupons and do check the stores and the sales that are going on.
There is a lot of competition going on right now – use it to your advantage. New online pickup service is heaven sent. I save a ton of time and money by doing my grocery shopping online and doing free pickup. That makes it almost as easy as going to the drive thru and it’s a whole lot healthier.
The most important thing to remember before heading out is to compile a list of the items needed and stick to the list. More often than not, if you go out without a direction you are likely to pick up items that you could have done without. Also try and plan your meals ahead as this will reduce waste. Whatever you spend under your allotted amount, put in a jar and save it until you have saved enough for the item you wanted. This way it is not coming out of any other money.
Don’t go shopping when hungry. Try not to go with the kids if you can. Go when you’re in a hurry so that you can grab just what you need. Shopping online makes this easier as well. You can look at what you ordered previously or even add things to your cart as you run out. Makes things so much easier.
Utilities are another example of places where money can be saved. It’s easily achieved by simply turning off lights when not in use, using the dishwasher once it is full, lowering the thermostat, or buying a programmable one.
Programmable thermostats allow for regulation of your thermostat and lower bills. The same can be said for air conditioning. Using these tips will help to lower your utilities over the year. Install ceiling fans. Grab a jacket in the winter when it’s cold out.
While the amount of electricity and water you use may not be the same each and every month, there may be a way to make things more predictable. Contact your local utility company and see if they have a regulated payment plan. The way that works is you will typically pay a flat rate for your utilities based on the last 12 months of usage. That way you can usually estimate with a few dollars what your utility bill is going to be.
Another way to save is to reduce your cable and cell phone bill. It seems like there are endless channels available on cable today. However, most premium channels replay the same movies so look into your current package to see what can be removed. As far as cell phones go, if you have minutes left over each month, chances are pretty good that you are over paying.
Also, with all the new technology out there, there are many more options than traditional cable. I use Netflix for most of my “television” watching. Most of what I don’t get through Netflix, I can usually find online.
Cell phone plans seem to be changing by the minute. If your budget is tight there are plenty of plans available where you can buy data and talking plans. For example, if you have your own device, you can purchase an unlimited data plan and then if you don’t want to purchase a phone plan, you can use wifi to make phone calls. Wifi spots seem to be everywhere.
When you’re trying to adjust your budget, many people are looking for ways to cut their expenses. But what about finding ways to increase your income? Especially if you looked through your budget and cut as many expenses as you can.
There are tons of side hustles out there that you can try to earn some extra income. One of my favorites is blogging. I can work from home, set my own hours, and it is a relatively inexpensive way of starting a business.
If you have skills that lend themselves to a service-based business like coaching or consulting this could be another viable option.
If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of stuff lying around the house that you don’t use anymore (or maybe that you never used in the first place!) Consider selling it on one of the online platforms like Ebay, Mercari, or Poshmark.
These are just a few options to earning extra income. Do you have other suggestions? Please feel free to share them in the comments.
Cutting back requires a lot of determination and sheer will. Adjusting our habits is not always easy, but when approaching a life change, it may be necessary.