Like most Americans we live paycheck to paycheck, so by the time we pay the necessary monthly bills, put some in retirement, maybe some in an emergency fund, there’s not much leftover after you set aside a budget for food and gas, probably leaving very little for spending money. If you are careful you can open up a few extra dollars each month by reducing the amount you’re spending on expenses and purchases, and it might not be as hard as you think to make a few easy changes. Unless you decide to take on another job and bring in more income, which probably isn’t optimal in your busy life, then freeing up extra money each month may be your best bet.
Reduce Going Out to Eat
Sure, it’s nice not to have to cook and let someone else clean up afterwards, but it comes at a price. Especially if you bring a family out to each, you can spend a week’s food budget on one meal. If you can reduce the amount you are going out to eat and prepare and eat meals at home, you will see the savings add up. If you can hold yourself to even going out once a week, or on special occasions, you will be able to maximize money every month that is not going to overpriced restaurant food.
Save Additional at the Grocery Store
While cutting out going out to eat is important, you also need a plan when it comes to grocery shopping. First you never want to go on an empty stomach, as everything will look good and you will quickly fill up the cart. Same goes with a shopping list, you want to make sure you take inventory before you go so you can only buy the essentials when you go out. Beyond that, using coupons along with your shopper’s reward cards for additional sales and fuel points will also save a great deal of money at the register check out.
Cut the Cable Cord
There are so many shows out there now, probably the best time in our lives for TV, so you really can’t go wrong with any of the streaming services that you really don’t even need cable anymore. With $10 a month streaming services such as HBO, Netflix, or Hulu, you could almost get all three services and combined would still be cheaper than a whole cable package that you probably hardly use only but a few channels that are available, of which you DVR every show anyways. For the free local network channels, you can get an HD antenna to pull those in.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards
The rewards are one of the best reasons to have a credit card, one that I’ve switched over and use my card for every purchase I make and watch the rewards pile up. Sure, it takes a lot of discipline to stay within your spending budget so you can ensure you can pay off the balance when it comes due, but just by making the normal purchases that you would make in a month anyways, why not use a credit card and earn free money, whether it’s miles, points, or dollars, that otherwise would be left on the table.
Avoid Ticket Service Charges
Going to concerts and sporting events are one of my favorite activities, but it can get expensive real fast, and it’s not even the face value ticket price, it’s the service fees on top of it. These days, it’s not surprising to see a $35 ticket have $15 in services changes which now makes it $50 out the door, which turns an affordable ticket to check out a band you may like, to deciding whether $50 is worth going out for. If you go to enough sporting events and concerts, the service charges can add up quickly. If you want to avoid, go directly to the box office and you can look forward to only pay the face value ticket price.
Take Advantage of Deals
Just because the Sunday paper subscription might be winding down, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t deals out there anymore. Whether it is using Groupon for discounts off restaurants, concert tickets, or clothes, there are plenty of online deals that you can take advantage that don’t always involve clipping coupons. Sure, word of mouth gets you in the restaurant, but those on the fence need a little extra push and that may be the reason to get you in and hopefully enjoy another restaurant you can add to the list in your area.