Living the cut spending life style has been really good to me over the last 9 months. I have paid off all my debts, have no rent to pay, and have minimal bills that are easily covered and all on direct payment. It is amazing. It has been a lot of work and I have definitely made some sacrifices, but I am so very glad I made the change. I look back at the rest of my adult life and I just can’t believe I spent all that time with the unnecessary background worry about money.
With this in mind, I would love to help make your life happy and less stressful too, so here are 10 ways I cut spending that you might not have thought of, and if you have thought of them, you should put them into action.
Ways to Cut Spending:
1. Turn Off the TV:
This helps you cut spending in several ways: 1. You stop watching all those commercials designed to get money out of your pocket. 2. You save on your electricity bill. 3. You can save on your cable bill if you cut down your service or axe it completely (you can save $840 per year as shown in Saving $13,000 by Ditching These 7 Things by not paying for cable). Use the 35-49 hours of TV per week the average American watches to catch up on sleep, read a book on investing, positively reinforce this message by reading other blogs on personal finance, or even better, find a side job like blogging; I made 35 cents on my blog this month, not trying to brag or anything (polishes fingernails on shirt sleeve) LOL….
2. Invite Friends Over Instead of Going Out:
Hanging out at home is a great way to cut spending; tell everyone it is bring your own booze (have a couple of 6 packs of cheap beer in the fridge in case not everyone does BYOB, but nothing fancy) and get people over. If you can hang out in a bar, you can hang out at home – it is a 3rd of the price, and a lot of fun. I recommend the game Telestrations, you can make your own with a couple of note pads, or buy it online for a few bucks. It is truly hilarious especially when accompanied by a few bottles of BYOB.
3. Avoid Fast and Convenience Foods:
Spend some of that time you save from watching TV to make lunches and dinners. Lunches are where an unnoticed saving can be made here. I have recently discovered a really delicious lunch. You simply buy a can of store-brand black beans with garlic and herbs for $0.89, and a can of store brand Italian-style chopped tomatoes for $0.89, mix the two together, and you have two lunches for $1.78. It is nutritious, filling, low in saturated fat, low in salt, high in fiber and protein, and will keep you full until dinner, if you throw in a banana mid afternoon. Lunch for $89 cents a day can’t be bad. There are a whole host of canned veggies this would work with; try mixing it up, I plan on moving into cut green beans next week. Let me know if you discover anything good.
4. Quit Smoking:
I smoked heavily for years, I still love smoking, I loved every cigarette I ever smoked, and if they could find a way to make it healthy and cheap I would take it up again in a heart-beat. However, it is one of the most stupid things you can possibly do for both your health and your wallet. When I smoked, I averaged about 30 smokes a day. A pack of my brand (Camel Blue) is $6.80 at my local gas station; 30 smokes at $6.80 a pack is $3,713 per year on cigarettes. Is smoking really $3,713 per year enjoyable? For $3,713 you could travel Asia for 3 months (where you can smoke really cheap, FYI), pay down your credit card debt, make and extra payment on your mortgage, or invest it every year and watch it turn into $55,000 over 10 years (based on a 7% average return). $55,000 for not killing yourself sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Quitting is hard, but it is possible – trust me I feel you pain.
5. Clean Your Car Air Filter:
Having a clogged air filter can cost you $100 for every 10,000 miles you drive and cleaning it is super easy. Grab the manual from the glove compartment, find out where your air filter is (it will be very easily accessible), pop the hood and undo the clips that hold the lid on the air filter box. When you lift the lid you will be presented with what looks kinda like a honeycomb or the filter from you home AC unit. You just pull it out and thoroughly vacuum it. I suggest doing this outside if you can (this also works on your home AC filter). If it is damaged or shredded, you should get a new one; they are about $10 from any auto parts store.
6. Don’t Even Go to the Mall or Shopping District:
Steering clear of the opportunity to spend money will mean you cut spending. Unless you need something, NEVER go to the mall or shopping district in your town. Also, if you have to go and buy something you need, write down exactly what it is you are getting, take the right amount of cash with you, and leave you cards at home. This way even if you see something you want, you can’t buy it. If you do see something you “must have,” ask the store to reserve it for 24 hours, and if you still need it the next day, go back and buy it. This 24 hour rule should be a must for all on the spot purchases; by the next day you will probably have forgotten about it.
7. Rent Out Unused Space in Your Home:
This is a great money maker, I have been trying to find a driveway with a power supply to rent and haven’t been able to find a thing. There are a huge number of empty spaces around here, but no one see’s them as potential money pots. Put any space you have on Craigslist and you will be amazed what you could make. Spaces like: driveways, garages, bedrooms, attic spaces, basements, sheds, and even gardens are all spaces you can rent out. People will pay good money to use space you don’t use. I pay $100 per month for a storage unit. That is $1,200 a year that could be in your back pocket.
8. Fix Stuff Yourself:
Fixing stuff is often very easy and there are YouTube videos explaining exactly how to do most things. I changed out my own household water heater with no previous experience just by watching Lowes videos on how to do it. Doing it myself saved me $700 in parts and labor. You also learn a skill and gain confidence in your own abilities that will be with you for life. You can even make a few bucks, and save your neighbors a few, by charging them a $200 bucks to replace their water heater next time it goes out; you make some cash, they cut spending on the replacement, it’s win-win. Or make a deal with them for it; you change their heater they lend you their ride-on lawn mower, etc.
9. Use Your Local Library:
Libraries are free and full of awesome resources both on how to cut spending and invest your money, as well as loads of entertaining movies, books, audio books, and other fun or educational stuff to do in all that spare time you are now not watching TV, and all those nights you have friends over; some libraries even have board games.
10. Be the Planner in Your Family and Friendship Groups:
If you plan the activities for your friends and family, you are the one who gets to choose the activity and thus the COST. We could all go to the movies at $22 per person ($13 tickets and $9 drink and popcorn), or we could cut spending and go to the park and drink “non”-alcoholic cocktails on a bench for $10, or you can all come around to mine BYOB and snacks to watch a movie, $2 for popcorn and soda.
I am not saying you have to do all of these things (if you do, you are a saving ninja and should be very proud or yourself). However, I am sure there are at least a few times you saw something very expensive at the cinema that you knew wasn’t really your thing, or you paid someone to fix something you knew you could have figured out yourself with the Internet and a bit of trial and error. These are the little costs that all add up to what could be an extra CC payment or your retirement savings.