Cut it Out Already!
Chances are if you’re reading this you are already budgeting. If not, or if you are new to budgeting, refer to my Budgeting page and be sure to read my other budgeting related posts. If you want to save some money, pay off debt, and just aren’t seeing how it’s possible when you look at your budget, you’re going to have to take a hard look at a few categories and just cut it out! I’ll say it again; if you need room in your budget and don’t foresee winning the lottery or inheriting a million dollars any time soon you need to make some budget cuts.
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You may have already figured that part out but are wondering where to start. If you are looking for ways to simplify your budget and save some money you are in the right place! Here are 7 places to cut your budget.
1. Cut the Cable
You don’t need 150 channels in order to be entertained. According to USA Today, the average cable customer is paying $85 a month for cable! If you have a satellite you’re likely paying about $100 a month. That’s a lot of money! Read my post Emergency! Why You Need an Emergency Fund Now! and you’ll see that the average American family doesn’t have the cash to handle even a $1,000 emergency. $85 a month totals $1,020 a year – enough for that beginner emergency fund to get you started on your debt-free journey.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, but you won’t be bored at home if you cut the cable; there are so many affordable alternatives out there. My family has Amazon Prime and we own a Fire Stick. In addition to free shipping on our budget purchases, we get unlimited access to Prime Original entertainment offerings, movies, and TV shows. The best part is we get to watch at our own convenience! You can also use the Fire Stick for other apps and platforms, turning your TV into a SmartTV. Did you know Amazon has a trade-in program which gives you a 20% discount on the new 4K Fire TV Device when you trade in select Fire TV, Roku, or Apple TV devices? Click here for more details.
In the past, we had Hulu and have considered Netlflix. We watched Hulu on the Fire Stick and the kids loved access to Disney shows. We did cut the Hulu from our budget but have talked about bringing it back. Most entertainment subscriptions add up to $10 a month or less plus tax. You can even use Sling and only subscribe to the live TV networks you watch. That’s a $75 savings on top of cable! What are you waiting for? Cut it out already!
2. Quit Leasing Your Mobile Phone
You don’t actually need the latest and supposedly greatest smartphone on the market. You especially don’t need it if it comes with a $1,099 price tag like the Apple XS Max. Seriously, it’s a phone. You can buy yourself a Dave car for that price!
We don’t even have cell phone contracts anymore and it is great! I have a smartphone I paid for outright on a month to month unlimited talk, text, and data plan that costs $45 a month plus tax. That is just over half the monthly average of $80 most Americans pay for their service! I have no complaints about my phone or service.
You can even buy an unlocked smartphone online. Get out of your contract if you can! With so many options for wireless service without a contract, you’re sure to find the right plan for you.
3. Cut the Home Phone Line
Chances are you aren’t saving as much money as you’d think to bundle your home services. If you cut the cable you might as well cut the home phone out as well. Chances are you just use your cell phone anyway. If you aren’t willing to cut the cord completely there are also plenty of options out there more affordable than what the cable company offers.
We had a Straight Talk home phone line for a while, and it was under $15 a month with tax for unlimited nationwide calls and all the bells and whistles. Most even let you keep your number when you make the switch. We canceled ours since it didn’t get any use.
While we may add a home phone line when the kids get older and want to talk on the phone more, but we’re just not there yet. Bottom line, if you keep a home phone line you can find a better deal. You just have to look. Start with this Google search link.
4. Cut Back on Your Coffee Shop Habit
Yes, I went there. I love my coffee, but I just don’t love to pay $5 a cup for my daily habit. I drink homebrew instead. Every once in a while I still get myself a mocha as a treat and there is nothing long with a monthly catch-up with a dear friend over a fancy latte.
However, stopping at the drive-thru every day can absolutely kill your budget. And your waistline; look up the calorie count in your favorite cuppa if you need more motivation.
Do yourself a favor and drink some homebrew every morning. Treat yourself once a week, month, or quarter as your budget allows. You can get a decent coffeemaker for under $25. So just do your budget a favor and take a long hard look at what your coffee habit truly costs every month. If it fits in the budget, great. If you still need more breathing room cut it back if not out.
5. Evaluate Memberships and Subscriptions
I’m not saying you have to cut them all out, I’m just saying you need to look at them. Ask yourself if you’re getting any value out of them. Do you really save money going to the big box membership store or do you totally lose your mind (and your budget sense) when you walk in and see all the “amazing” and “exclusive” deals that await you when you walk in through those oversized doors?
Do you have any redundant subscriptions/memberships? Get rid of the one that offers the least value. For example, when we were looking for additional ways to cut our budget we cut out one of our two entertainment subscriptions. Hulu just doesn’t offer free 2-day shipping on anything and we could stand to spend a little less time in front of the TV anyway.
Are you paying for a membership you no longer use? Use it or lose it! Get your butt back in the gym or cancel your membership STAT.
6. Cut Back on Dining Out
If you find yourself hitting up the drive-thru on the daily (maybe ordering sous-vide egg bites with that latte) or reaching for a takeout menu almost every evening after work you may have a problem with this area of the budget.
Cut back to dining out once a week if you need to taper down. If you find you have no self-control in this area you may need to stay out of the drive-thru. or restaurants for a while. Do what works for you and your budget. Your wallet may not be the only one to thank you; your waistline and stomach may be a lot happier for it too!
7. Get the Junk Food and Convenience Groceries out of the Shopping Cart
Say hello to batch cooking and goodbye to the convenience section and the frozen meal aisles of the grocery store! Not only will you cut out extra spending, but extra sodium, calories, and other preservatives as well! You don’t have to cut them out altogether, but don’t plan your week around frozen and deli foods.
Cook a double batch of a favorite meal from scratch once a week and freeze the second half. The next time you’re too tired, worked late, or life threw some other curveball at you just before dinner you can reach for a home-cooked favorite from the freezer instead of a carryout meal. It may even help you spend less on medication and doctor visits if you change your diet.
Did you know you can make spaghetti and meatballs at home for around $3 a serving? This is a meal you can have on the table in under an hour (even less if you batch cook and freeze some meatballs). It’s filling, economical, and when eating proper portions and paired with a salad, it’s healthy. It’s not hard. It just takes planning. Stay tuned for an upcoming post dedicated to saving money at the grocery store.
What Have You Cut?
Already done these? Great! What other ways have you cut your budget? Let me know how you cut your budget!