When trying to determine how to cut household expenses, the first thing that needs to take place is to log what expenses are going out for two to four weeks. This helps gets an idea of what is actually happening. It’s easy to not count the daily coffee or soda purchases- because it’s only a couple of dollars, right? But, a whole month of the same behavior adds up, right? Or what about the occasional date night every Tuesday and Friday? Well, it all adds up. Also, the best part about keeping a log is to help get a clear look of what was spent during the week that could have been avoided. Maybe you were feeling stressed because of a long day at work so you made a quick stop to Walmart on the way home and spent a quick $100 on really nothing. Or, purchased a birthday gift on the fly and spent a lot more than what you intended. Well, all those purchases can go on the list for things to be considered when making cuts. But, here are seven things that you can do right away to help cut costs without feeling a hit in the gut.
- Shop secondhand shops
Yes, shop secondhand! I remember when this was something that was sort of frowned upon. But, with the economy being like it has for so long, this is actually a new “fun” thing to do. Everyone is looking for a “great deal” for a great price. I find things that are basically new at garage sales, resale boutiques, or even on Facebook garage sale sites. It’s not only fun, but also addicting. Plus, the best part is that I find things that are unusual and not necessarily sold in stores.
2. Cut cable or satellite
Welcome to the era of streaming. Find anything you want to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle, YouTube, Kodi, and many more apps for downloading movies, sports, TV series, biographies, and much more. Since streaming has become so popular, there are many devices that can be purchased that allow viewers a wider range of viewing- even movies that are currently out in movie theaters. Netflix allows viewing of mostly older movies and TV series, but they also have their own movies and series such as House of Cards, GLOW, Gypsy, 13 Reasons Why, Stranger Things, Bloodline, Orange is the New Black and much more. Hulu has movies and TV series that are mostly recent. For series that are currently showing, they can be viewed the day after on Hulu. They also have their own series such as The Path, The Handmaid’s Tale, Casual, Harlots, Freakish, Shut Eye, 11/22/63 and more. Amazon and the rest are much the same. Depending on what you want to watch, it will dictate the channel that will be best for you. The cost for steaming is $0-$149 a year. So, research the one that is right for you and cut that cable or satellite bill. *INTERNET IS STILL NEEDED to stream. (You could also get a connector for your phone to the tv to stream right off your phone for free – other than cost of phone plan.)
3. Cut home phone and shop for lower cell phone plan
If you are one of the few that still have a home phone and paying extra for it, then cut it and spend time getting cell phone plans that are reasonable and affordable. Things to look for in a plan is making sure the plan meets your needs. If you stream a lot of music, games, movies- then find an unlimited data plan. If you text more than actually talk on the phone-then maybe an unlimited texting and limited calling. But, the best plans, especially for families is a plan that’s unlimited in all.
4. Curb expensive entertainment
Baseball, football, concert tickets can be very expensive. Movies, dinner and other forms of entertain can also add up. On average, one night out can average between $50-$300 per night out. Slowing down on date nights or nights out, don’t have to ruin your life. There are plenty of free events throughout Ohio to enjoy, such as festivals and markets. Outdoor activities can also be fun and free, such as roller skating, biking, swimming, jogging, walking, tennis, and much more. Another replacement for social activities is game night at home with some friends or family. Or, just get together and have potluck dinners or something where everyone pitches in to create an exciting night.
5. Sell non-essentials
Have a basement full of unwanted items? A drawer full of items that never saw the light of day? A closet of clothes with tags still attached? Make some money on them. You don’t have to have a garage sale anymore to get rid of nice stuff. Post items on Facebook sites, Craig’s list, Ebay or other sites that apply to the needs of the item. Use the extra money to pay toward other bills to help pay them down.
6. Do home repairs or household chores on your own
Need a new roof? Use a housekeeper? Using a laundry service or dry cleaner? Why? Do these yourself. If you don’t know how to do something that needs to be done, check out YouTube for tutorials.
7. Regulate eating out
Eating out sucks up most of my paycheck very quickly. I sometimes eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one day- like most people. So, cook more at home. The benefits of cooking at home is that the food is healthier, portions can be more controlled and it’s always fun to create something of your own. Don’t think of it as seven days of eating at home, cooking and cleaning- think of it as one day at a time. Maybe just start with packing lunch two days a week, then three, four and always eat out on Fridays. Do the same for dinner. Eating breakfast is always important, so eating it is the only thing that’s important. Just cut back on the eating out. Seeing a savings here will be instant.
Be grateful for what you do have and never take anything for granted!
What other cuts have you tried? Tell me about it.