Trim Living Expenses – The cost of living is something that seemingly begins to rise, even though there has been a bad economy with many not getting pay rises and such things to line up with these rises! That means many of us need to take a serious look at trimming the fat off our living expense, a task that at first can seem incredibly daunting!
Trim Living Expenses
I’m sure if you have never seriously sat down and worked at trimming your expenses you probably think that you already spend as little as you can. The thing is when you actually properly go through them you may be stunned at how much money can be trimmed. It’s not all easy and takes some sacrifice but being able to survive with money left, or at least able to cover expenses, month to month is always worth it.
I wanted to go through a few steps that I recommend and then hopefully get your input.
The first step is writing down every single expense, and I mean everything! Through a normal day you can take notes and adjust the breakdown of the course of a few days to try and get this list comprehensive. Of course doing it in excel or google spreadsheet may help editing.
Once you are all written down it is best to organise things into categories such as rent, bills, food, entertainment etc etc. Already you will be getting a picture of where you should not be spending!
Essential cats can be marked with one color (rent, bills etc etc) and non-essential another.
You need to tackle your non-essentials first. Some may be able to be cut outright, such as a magazine subscription where you can read most of the content online anyway. You may find there are some things you feel can’t be given up so look at alternatives or cutting down. Say you have coffee with a group of friends on friday mornings, look at a cheaper drink options (smaller size or different menu item). Say you go to the cinema once a week, look at moving it to a deal day or when or where there are cheaper prices. Ideally these expenses should be completely cut out at first, at least for a few weeks.
Even if you find you can save plenty on the non-essentials it still pays to tackle the essential.
Go through bills and see if you can swap providers, upgrade or downgrade things (such as cable or your broadband speed). See if you can get deals by getting more than one service through one provider and even call up companies asking for cheaper rates, it doesn’t hurt to try!
Shopping can almost always be cut. If you have / make time you can home make some of your foods you normally buy packaged. Splitting your shopping between multiple store can save a lot too. For example veg may be cheaper from a saturday morning market and canned goods could be cheaper in a store a little out of town (factor in gas or travel costs of course). Also go through and see if shopping more seasonally can help you or switching brands.
Things like your rent and insurances may be harder to bring down but moving could be a long term living expenses saver. You may be able to register your car insurance at your parents home (i’m not sure if this is legal so some input would be great?) or see if swapping insurance providers can save.
Basically you are going through your finances with a fine comb.
Day to day with the breakdown in your mind you will find yourself asking “do I need this?” before a purchase and hopefully it will cut down on unnecessary and impulse purchasing further trimming your costs and improving your living expenses situation.
I wrote more on this subject in the post Cut The Fat – Losing Things You Don’t Need
Trim Living Expenses, Your Thoughts?
So that is my basic approach, something I try and do a few times a year to keep on track. The next step after getting things under control, in my opinion, is working out a serious budget and trying to really bring down any debts and bring up any savings. However different things work for different people so I would love to hear your thoughts and hopefully learn some more great tips.
If you are in serious money problems then it may be worth reading into the FTC’s Money Matters pages and searching through the posts on this blog and all the other great personal finance blogs out there.
Thanks for reading.