10 Ways to Reduce Monthly Expenses Without Much Effort
Whether you make $45,000 a year or $250,000 a year, finding ways to reduce your cost of living is vital for long-term financial stability.
We know what needs to be done, but many of us struggle with how. We’re already strapped for time, and adding one more thing to our “to do” list is not appealing; no matter how much money we’ll save. So, I put together a list of things that are easy to implement into our daily, weekly, and monthly routines AND help to reduce monthly expenses over time.
1. Unplug electronic devices that aren’t being used
Without thinking about it, our devices are driving up our monthly electric bills by being plugged in all of the time. To help reduce your monthly electric bill simply unplug any devices that aren’t being used, and unplug the cords once the device is fully charged. There’s not a lot of upfront effort, but you’ll definitely see a reduction over time.
2. Use a water filter pitcher and reusable water bottles
This is a small change that can help reduce your monthly grocery expenses. Use a water filter pitcher like Brita and reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water from the store. There’s a small upfront cost to get the filter and bottles, but you’ll get your money back almost immediately from the savings you’ll see in groceries.
3. Replace light bulbs to energy efficient and keep air filters clean
Using energy efficient bulbs is a very quick, inexpensive way to save money on your electric bill each month. You can buy them inexpensively on Amazon or at your local Walmart. On that same note, you’ll also want to make sure your air filters are clean. This allows your heating and air systems to work smarter instead of harder; saving you money each month.
4. Use a programmable thermostat to keep temperatures steady
Keeping your thermostat set at a certain temperature will allow your home to stay cool or warm without much effort from your heating and cooling systems. Use fans to keep cool in the summer months, and blankets to keep warm when it’s cold.
5. Make sure your bank accounts are free
This may seem pretty obvious, but many of us are being charged monthly maintenance fees on our bank accounts. Review your statements to see if you are being charged, and contact your local branch to see how the fee can either be eliminated or avoided. If all else fails, switch to a bank that offers accounts for free like Ally Bank.
6. Use reward programs and digital coupons for things you already plan to buy
You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to save money on purchases. Use free reward programs and digital coupons to save money on things you already plan to buy or on places you already plan to go. Many grocery stores have apps that offer exclusive coupons based on previous purchases. My favorites are Target Cartwheel, Just for U (Albertson’s), CVS Caremark, Walgreens, and Retail Me Not.
7. Make a list before going grocery shopping
Food is the black hole where all of our extra money goes. Making a list before stepping foot into the grocery store can help shave hundreds of dollars off your grocery bill each year! You can jot down the things you need on a notepad, or take it a step further by using a simple grocery budget planner.
8. Plan meals and meal prep
Eating out is the biggest culprit of overspending! This is a cost that can drastically be reduced just by knowing what you’re going to eat ahead of time. If you don’t have the time or energy to cook several meals at once, at least write down five meals you can make throughout the week. That way, you don’t have to think hard about what to eat, you’ll just pick a meal from the list.
9. Do weekly or monthly maintenance to big ticket items (cars, appliances, equipment, etc.)
Many large, unexpected expenses occur from the lack of regular maintenance. To help reduce these costs, try to keep up on the maintenance for things like cars and appliances. Keep the proper amount of air in your tires, clean the air filters, schedule regular oil changes, etc. Doing the little things will allow your cars and appliances to last longer; reducing costly repairs and replacement costs.
10. Review subscriptions and cancel ones that haven’t been used in at least three months
We live in a time where there’s a box and a subscription for everything! They are very tempting because they save us time by delivering items directly to our front doors. There’s nothing wrong with having them, but make sure they’re being used. If you have subscriptions or boxes that you haven’t touched or used in at least three months, cancel them. If you find that you really need them, you can always sign back up.
A version of this article first appeared on My Fab Finance — a leading financial education and lifestyle blog for millennials who want to become financially free and do more of what they love.
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