If you lost your job or experienced a financial emergency and had to dramatically lower your monthly expenses, what would you cut or cut back on? In The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, author Crystal Paine shares 10 ways to drastically cut your budget and lower your monthly living expenses. Here they are, with my take on them:
10 Ways to Drastically Lower Your Monthly Expenses
1. Downsize your home – Paine estimates you’d save $150 or more per month by downsizing to a smaller living space. This is easier said than done if you own your home – especially where I live in Michigan. But if you’re renting, you could definitely make the move and enjoy the savings.
2. Become a single car family – Could you make do with just one car? Or could you share a ride, take the bus, or walk/bike instead of driving at all? I know a family who just sold one car in order to save money, and two other friends who decided to park the car and ride the bus to work instead. You’d need to calculate the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance, etc., to see if this would make sense for you, but Paine estimates you could save $100 or more a month.
3. Stop eating out – This is an area that adds up pretty fast for me. I eat out just about every day for lunch, at a cost that varies from $3.00 – $6.00 (it depends on whether I eat at Sam’s Club or Subway). If I brought a lunch every day, I could save $120 a month, which is definitely something I should think about.
4. Get rid of cable – We just cut the cable last month, at a savings of $80 a month. We bought a Roku media player and got a Netflix subscription for $7.99 a month so now we can watch streaming Internet on our TV. My 15-year old son knew he’d miss watching NBA basketball, so he bought a subscription to watch his 5 favorite teams for $25 a year, I think, via the Internet (on a laptop or on our TV via the Roku). I miss watching my favorite cable news shows and haven’t found a way to watch those via the Internet yet. Hopefully someday!
5. Cancel all subscriptions and memberships – We could save over $120 a month if we cancelled our health club membership (about $1000 a year), our museum memberships (about $300 a year) and magazine subscriptions. We feel that our health club benefit is definitely worth the cost due to all the benefits we receive from it – we’re there 6-8 times a week! We visit our art museum at least once a month and the other museums 3-4 times a year, so we feel that those are worth it as well – not to mention the fact that most of our museum memberships are income tax deductible!
6. Cut the bells and whistles on your phone – We just cancelled our traditional phone service last month, along with the cable TV, after we learned that Magic Jack would save us $500 a year on home phone service. Instead of paying $40 a month, we now spend $19.95 a year with Magic Jack!
7. Eat more meatless meals – Paine estimates you could save $35 or more a month by serving 2-3 meatless meals a week. Of course, that all depends on your family size. My organic, crunchy, foodie wife has already been serving our family of 7 several meatless meals each week.
8 Quit using your dryer – We tried this 15 years ago – before we had kids – but it has never entered our minds since then. Paine points out that the dryer is one of the most expensive appliances to run and you could save $15 or more each month by hanging your laundry to dry instead. I have no idea how much our dryer costs to run, but it is a new energy efficient model that we bought, along with a new high-efficiency washing machine, two years ago.
9. Adjust your thermostat – We turn our thermostat down to 62 at night and keep it at about 68 or maybe 70 during the day in the winter. Paine recommends investing in a programmable thermostat, which would work great for a lot of families, but wouldn’t really make a difference for us since my wife homeschools our kids and there aren’t too many times when no one is home at our house.
10. Plan a menu and use coupons – Paine says you could save $125 or more a month by taking just an hour a week to plan your menu and sort through coupons. We use coupons from Costco from time to time, but not much from other stores, since the majority of our purchases are in bulk from health food stores or wholesalers. Tim over at Faith and Finance has a great e-book which explains how to save over $2,300 a year with coupons. Be sure to check it out.
I’ve enjoyed reading through this list to think of ways we could drastically cut our budget and lower our monthly living expenses. Some of these things, we’ve already done, others aren’t practical, and some are things we could do if we really needed to, or wanted to.
What else would you add to the list if you had to drastically lower your monthly expenses?
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