If you are really serious about taking your financial situation to the next level, start by taking a good hard look at what you spend on average each month. That’s because you have more control over your spending than any other part of your financial life. No matter how much money you make, if your spending is out of line with your resources, you’ll struggle, friend.
It makes sense therefore to squeeze as much as you can out of your spending – especially if those cuts don’t have a significantly negative impact on your lifestyle. Here are the top five ways to wring more out of your budget to create more wealth for yourself and your family:
1. Cut Your Cords
If you still have a home phone line, I have news for you. The ‘80s are calling: They want their technology back! We got rid of our home phone five years ago and I love it. Of course, the money we save is great, but everyone in our family saves a ton of time, as well. We don’t have to track each other down to relay messages. People who want to speak to someone specific in the family just calls the person’s cell number. Cool beans.
If you want to take this to the next level, go over your cable TV bill with a fine-tooth comb. For some people, cable is a lifestyle and I understand that. But many people have cable just because they haven’t taken the time to disconnect or scale way back. Do you really need all those channels? Call your provider and find out if there is a package that is less expensive but provides most or all of the channels you really care about.
2. Go Out for Coffee
If you go out for lunch or dinner often, switch to coffee dates instead. You’ll save a fortune if you do. My experience tells me that dining out is one of the most expensive budget items people have.
I know that going out is very important to some folks. I respect that. If a big part of your social life involves going out, don’t stop enjoying yourself. But you might be able to have just as much fun over a cup of coffee or tea while spending a fraction of what a main meal costs. Bottoms up!
Audit your property and auto insurance every year. Go over your policy with your agent and have them justify each and every line item. Be careful not to become complacent. Your situation changes and so does the insurance industry. Once you understand the coverage you have and the associated costs, shop your insurance with other competing companies. Go through this exercise annually. You’ll be amazed by the savings you uncover.
And these savings are a pittance compared to what you might be able to sock away by revamping your life insurance portfolio. Many people have too much of the wrong life insurance and that is a huge drag on their budget. Take the time to really understand how life insurance works and make sure every insurance dollar you spend works hard for you.
4. Real Cost of Home Ownership
I think that real estate is a great investment. But many people underestimate the real cost of owning a home. Property expense includes the mortgage, of course, but it goes much further. Don’t overlook your taxes, maintenance and repair. Once you really understand what it actually costs to live in your home you may decide to do nothing differently – or you may decide to make some major changes. You won’t know until you get all the information.
The bottom line here is that it’s critical to understand the real cost of your financial life and base your behavior around that reality rather than relying on fuzzy math or wishful thinking.
5. Expect Miracles
I can’t tell you exactly why this occurs, but magic happens when you start tracking your spending. I’ve seen this time and time again. Once people start watching their actual expenses they become more mindful of costs and start saving money. It’s magic. It’s beautiful. And you can count on it.
You can use any number of budget trackers, of course. It doesn’t matter how you do it. It just matters that you actually track your spending on a monthly basis.
Some of these steps will save you more money than others. It doesn’t matter. Take advantage of them all. Anytime you can save money without seriously depriving yourself, it’s a good thing.
What are some of your favorite ways to cut spending? Share them in the comments!