I work from home as a programmer and I no longer have a life, so I never spend much on luxuries anyway. I am not ashamed to say that either since I used to travel the world as a male model and used to party with all of the hottest chicks I did cut some of my business expenses such as money spent on advertising. For my personal expenses:
1. Got rid of $50 dollar per month gym membership, I can just go to the park and workout at home.
2. Lowered the minute plan on my Blackberry by $8 dollars by getting ride of a plan I never needed - free family to family minutes and my phone is only used for business.
However I had to add an expense since my I have been unlucky my whole life. My paid off car continued to break down a lot so I decided to just get a new car. So now I have an added $300 car payment, but I love the car and expect to pay it off in a year so I can have transportation for the next 10 years or so.
Well I have implemented a weekly menu planner. I found that after work I was asking myself the usual question "what shall I make for dinner"? Only to find myself stopping at fast food joints (very unhealthy) and spending about $25.00 to $30.00 on ONE MEAL? This only takes like 15 minutes, I sit down and make the weekly dinner menu. This way when I go shopping on Saturday I already know what to buy. Another thing I do is only buy food for seven days. I found myself grabbing things off the shelve; oh I need that, Oh I could use that? Hello things to have an expiration date...... and it waste money you could use for other bills until your next paycheck.
For one meal I make an extra pound of hamburger meat, then split it for two meals (spaghetti & tostadas). the same when I make chicken, cook a little extra have some for Chicken Mole and the next meal chicken soft tacos.
We had been using our Amex card for all purchases to raise frequent flyer miles. My parents and in-laws are in their 80's and 90's, live on the opposite coast, and we have a family of 5. We need the miles for "instant trips" if you get my drift. However, we did let the balance get away from us. Their rate was rediculous, so I borrowed against my 401K to pay off the card.
I will be paying the interest rate back to myself, so I'm actaully increasing my retirement while paying of credit. Plus the money comes from pre-tax payroll deductions. I set the payment to half of what I was paying Amex which actually gives me a better cushion each month, and it will be paid off in a fraction of the time.
BTW, I have no jeopardy of losing my job, as I am a Federal employee and have been working for them for over 20 years. It's a win-win all of the way around. )
To cut down on expenses and "stash the cash" I have done the following:
*Turn off my home phone* It saves me $36.87 per month (excluding tax fees). My cell phone is usually my primary source of contact.
*Close my personal storage act and made room in my apt. to store those items* It saves me $36.09 per month
* Limit grooming( pedicure, manicure, Hair beauty shop) needs to once per month ( before biweekly)* It saves me $65.00 per month
* Use coupons for grocery shopping, car maintenance, and other miscellaneous items/needs* It saves me approx. $28.00 per month
* Entertainment (night clubs) only attend when admission is free and/or drinks* It saves me approx. $30.00 per month
* Pay only minimum balance to creditors (first time ever)* It saves me $650.00 per month
* Do not use credit cards only pay cash for purchase which in turn helps me to manage my spending* It saves!
* Limit meals outside of home* It saves!
* Any excess in my checking account after registry balancing goes immediately in my saving accountt to avoid spending the surplus* It saves!
Approximate monthly savings $1046.77.
I keep a tight budget that I update at least every week. There are set amounts for us to spend in each catagory, such as Gas, Food, General, and etc. All other expeses are listed as well and total up. I've cut our cell phone plan way back, have got very basic DSL Internet service, and do not have any other re-occurring charges month to month besides my FICO score watch (cause it's important!).
I'm focused on paying bills off and placing money in the bank, just like many other people are. Every receipt is returned and then filed away with the date it was put into our budget. All purchases are made with my Discover More card. This helps my credit score, since I pay on it 3 times a month, and I get at least 1% cash back on all purchases. If at possible at all, I will find deals and then shop online through Discover to get the 5-20% cash back. I've done this a few times and have really racked up the rewards. I honestly wonder if they'll keep this program up, my credit card is beginning to really save me money and in the last 3 months I've earned over $100 in rewards and paying no interest.
An example: I bought a weed whacker from Sears online the other night (old one died). They were on sale, then had a $15 online promotional sale, then had a 5% midnight madness sale. After all that I get another 5% back from the final sale price from Discover for buying it online by going through their website.
The most important thing is to follow those budgets and be serious about them! I've got a family of 4 and our food budget is $425 a month. Just a little over $100 per person per month and it's amazing how much you can get with that much.
1. I turned off my gas central heat this winter ($300 to $500) a month and bought an electric space heater for the winter saved between $250 to $450 a month.
2. Cut my internet speed on my cable bill. Turned off internet for a few months, and then negotiated a deal to turn back on as new customer for an extended period of time ($20 to $30) a month.
3. Cut home phone to basic one line service, no extras, ($40) month savings.
4. Reduced eating out tremendously from 5 times a week to less than 2 times a month, except when traveling and then I look for deals. Forgot how well home cooked meals tasted.
5. Groceries quit buying pre-packaged foods and started cooking from scratch. Buy family size items and break them down for me and my husband to eat.
6. Make everything go through the my needs test. Ever non-disposable item that is purchased in my home now must have been shown to be a need for at least 3 months, before we will buy it with cash. Have greatly reduced my discretionary spending.
7. Have made a budget and started tracking expenses.
8. Cut out sodas, chips and snack foods for tea, water, and no snacks between meals (have lost a few pounds).
9. Emptied and unplugged the freezer, in the past kept food on hand and did not eat, ending up getting rid of freezer burned items.
10. We now do our own lawn.
11. I do not get my nails, pedicures, facials, etc done.
12. Have shopped around for a cheaper hair stylist and get my hair done less often.
13. Traveling less, fewer vacations. and going to cheaper places at a more economical fare.
14. Driving less, shopping on the way home from work.
15. Buying more used items out of pawn shops and off of websites like Amazon, or Ebay.
***Hope someone is encouraged and enriched by this list.***
You just have to make a commitment as a final to cut down on expenses.
A compilation of two posts I made telling someone they probably had extra money in the house:
1-Get a notebook for you and for the spouse. Give out a set amount of money each week and ask that every cent be accounted for. Every week tranfer it to a master list.
After a month you have an idea where your money goes and how much you spend (people trying to lose weight use this, if you can stick to it it isa great motivation) now take a good hard look at it.
This will give you an idea where your money goes. Is a McDonalds coffee 3 times a week really necessary? No cut that out and you save $6.00 or $24 a month. I cut huge saving when I realized I drank 10 $1.00 sodas from the vending machine at work a week and could buy 12 for 7.18 at the grocery store and use a little cooler with a refreezable ice pak (10*4=$40 vs 3.5*$7.18=$25.13....the cooler and the ice pack was paid off in the first month. Same amount of beverage cheaper no degrading my quality of life)
2-List all your monthly bills and obligations, include a set amount for vehicle repairs and expected gas you really cannot do anything about that.
See where your money is going out at.
3- Save all you grocery receipts. Go through them. Are there generics you can trade out? Frozen or fresh for cheaper depending on season. Most people can save 50% of their food household goods budget by:
a) Buying Generics
b) Aggressive couponing (with products they actually use)
c) meal planning using guides like the book CHEAP, FAST, GOOD, by Mills.
d) grocery planning using circulars and online looking. This does important things- it allows you to buy cheap and it limits trips out shopping. Most people buy at least ONE thing not on their list. If you limit your shopping to x times a month you limit how many extra items you may buy.
e) Shop at multiple stores for your needs. One stop shopping means you are paying more for something that the discount store or store next door sells cheaper. I shop at 3 different stores- The Big grocery store, Aldis and a discounter named Marcs. I can buy coffee creamer for $1.00 a quart, at Marcs, same brand product for 3.59 at grocery store or house brand at Aldis for $2.79. Be aggressive- don't buy what you dont eat, or can eat as thrown away food is thrown away money But shopping can for 3 hours of work save you a considerable amount
f) get another notebook for shopping. It's your grocery log. Write down and log prices of the staples you typically buy at the stores you go to- that way you can remember that milk is chaeper at XXXX but carrots are cheaper at XXXX record price changes as you shop. You can also then compare and see where a sale price is actually cheaper.
g) start downgrading meals- you dont need steak or chicken so much, and you may find frozen chicken breasts at a better price then fresh.
h) Less prepackaged- mini carrots are great but regular ones are pound for pound cheaper. bagged salad mix is incredibly expensive. Do you really need Mesculin Mix?
4-All the money you save you need to do two things- Cut it in half- put half down on paying bills off and the other half to make your emergencey cash fund. Every dollar you save you need to view as INCOME that you worked for. You need to save it and pay off your debt.
5- If you buy more then 3 copies of a magazine a year a subscription is probably cheaper
6- Use your library for books, magazines and DVDs. In many places you can order them online and pick them up. Who needs netflix? (or magazine subscriptions honest I only have a few, the rest I take out from the library)< multiple memberships at different libraries can give you different products.
7- Costco or Sams club CAN save you money if you are budgeting hard core and if they have products you use. And if you shop well. My Costco card pays for itself just by one maintenence medication I buy there.
8-Look closely at your cell phone/cable bill. Down grade your high speed internet. Downgrade your cell service. Put the kids on a use budget.
9- Wal mart- they may be destroying America but some stuff they have is cheaper--but just because Wal mart sells it does not mean it will be cheaper then a sale price or regular price somewhere else.
Annd in responce to a question someone asked me:
I live in a one bedroom apartment
Granted some of these numbers might be location based, and what companies you choose business with but:
I switched from Time Warner with HBO/Showtime and highspeed to WOW and just highspeed, lowest speed they had, saved $45 a month.
Properly recorded my mileage to insurance company and saved 12.00 a month ( I drive less then 7K a year)
Switched to CFL in the lights, unplugged devices I do not use or use rarely and dropped my electric $8.00 a month. Went on my electric companies budget program so I pay the same amount every month.
Evaluated my Cell service, dropped minutes I do not use, dropped texts I never use(1500 to 200) and saved $25.00
Downgraded Netflix (trade off on getting rid of movie channels) $3.00 I pick up the slack with my local library.
My grocery buying, generics switch over and price log using, just did a price comparison and I average spending about $30 a week on food/household stuff (cleaners, soap, detergent, toothpast) if I one stop shopped at the grocery store that would be around 65 a week I spent. SO I save 35 a week. (those are costs on average over time as who buys deodorant weekly but you get the idea,)
pack lunch saves 18 a week
Soda on sale gives me brand names at generic prices.
No itunes downloads or CD buying, I library and rip saves about $10 a month. (really yeah thats 12 CDs a year)
$255 a month from what I was spending.
I'm commuting now, instead of driving a few miles away. Saves gas and parking fee