Need to cut your spending? We did too and these categories were the easiest to cut without feeling too much pain.
The 5 Easiest Budget Categories to Reduce
According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a family of 4 spends up to $1284 a month on food at home. That is a crazy amount of money and I can assure you that my family of 4 spends over half that amount and we eat pretty well.
If you are trying to reduce your expenses, groceries should be the first thing you attack. They are by far the easiest & quickest category to reduce in a household budget.
And my absolute #1 way to save money at the grocery store is to PLAN OUR MEALS. If you make this one simple change, you will reduce your grocery spending substantially. Meal planning really is that effective. When you walk into a grocery store with a plan, you eliminate impulse & duplicate purchases. You will not only save yourself money, but also time.
Resources to read:
2. Dining Out
We used to spend hundreds of dollars a month going out to eat at restaurants. In fact, there was a time that I rarely cooked over the weekends, because we ate out so often.
Restaurants can be a huge drain on any budget, but there are ways to enjoy a meal out without spending a lot of money. We are now more committed to save money and we eat mostly at home, BUT we do enjoy at a few meals out each month.
I shared our strategies in this post, 15 Smart Ways to Save Money when Eating Out.
- Cable & Land Line – Due to a humongous price increase and a company who didn’t want to negotiate, we cancelled our cable & land line a few years ago. We have not regretted that decision and you can find out how we manage to Watch Really Great TV Without Cable while saving $50 each month.
- Water – Unless you have a well, you probably pay for your water. Here’s 7 Tips to Conserve Water and Save Money.
- Heating/Cooling – According to Energy.gov, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home. And during the warmer months, they encourage you to increase your thermostat while you’re at work and/or away from home.
4. Gym Membership
I’ve been an avid gym member for over 20 years, so I will never tell anyone to give up their gym membership if they truly use it. Yet there are ways to skip the membership and still get a great workout.
- My husband volunteers at our local YMCA for a free family membership. It saves us $67 a month. Read How to Get a FREE Gym Membership for more details.
- Get outside and ride your bike, walk, or run. We have a local park that has a mile long circuit course. Find a partner to keep you accountable.
- And there’s no excuse if it’s raining, many malls have measured walking loops and welcome walkers.
- Find a fitness video series that you enjoy and rent from the library or purchase.
Shopping the sale racks at your favorite store is always an option, but there are two ways to find even better deals on clothing.
- Thrift: I regularly stop by my favorite local thrift store and find crazy bargains. I only shop on Wednesdays, when the store has a 50% off everything sale. I am very particular about brands and quality, yet I regularly find new or gently worn name brand clothing, snow gear, shoes, household stuff, and books. I keep a list of needs with me so I’m not buying stuff we don’t need.
- Thredup is an online consignment shop for women’s and children’s brand name clothing. So far, I have had a good experience. They’re standards are pretty high, so the chances are good that what you buy will be in top condition and if it isn’t they specify in the description. You can also sell them your unused clothing, but they have a 50% acceptance rate. If you use my referral link, you’ll get a discount off your first order.
- Borrow: For one-time special occasions, ask friends if you can borrow instead of buying new. My mother recently borrowed some luggage from us for a plane trip. She hasn’t flown in 20 years and probably won’t fly again for sometime, so she didn’t want to buy a carry-on suit case. Another example is when a friend was attending a black tie affair. I don’t know about you, but we don’t go to too many black tie affairs. However, I happened to have a cute pair of strappy dressy shoes and I was happy to lend them to her. I think I’ve worn the shoes 5 times in the 10+ years I’ve had the shoes.
- Keep it Simple. – I worked in retail for almost 13 years and I had an over-stuffed closet to prove it. I have since parted with much of it, because I found that I was only wearing a small percent of what I owned. I love nice clothing, but I’ve now adopted a more minimalist wardrobe. If I don’t wear something within a season, I donate it–unless it is an occasional use type of piece like the dressy shoes above. I also stick to classic, inter-changeable pieces. I’m a big fan of Banana Republic, J. Crew, Gap, and Limited. All of which I regularly find at the thrift store.
Are you trying to reduce your monthly expenses? Following these tips, how much can you cut your spending by? Also what tips do you have to reduce the 5 categories above? Let us know in the comments.