Different Ways to Cut Your Expenses

CFL light bulb - Cut energy costsEverywhere you turn these days, people are talking about the economy, financial difficulties and what to expect of the times ahead. Most people have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle and are finding that, in one way or another and whether they want to admit it or not, their lifestyle is needing some adjustments to accommodate increasing prices. Change, in the direction of having less, is ALWAYS a difficult concept. But denial and procrastination will end up biting many people in the derrière because they chose not to take the necessary measures to cut their expenses and prepare for the road ahead. The road which many "in-the-know" people admit is only going to get rockier and steeper.

So, be wise and forward thinking. Look for ways NOW in your everyday life where you can cut corners. Take the money that you save from cutting these corners and tuck it away. Use it for things that you know you will need in the future, or invest it in something stable, such as gold. The dollar is unstable and not a wise way to save, going forward.

What do you have to lose? A marginal degree of comfort, perhaps. But in the future you will be quite grateful for your sacrifice. Likewise, should these predictions end up being incorrect, then GREAT--You've put away a nice, little nest egg! It's a win/win situation. Better safe than sorry.

In this article, we will list numerous different ways to cut spending. Some will be obvious, some perhaps not so obvious. You might choose to try only one suggestion or, maybe you'll try them all! One thing is for sure -- the more methods you try, the more you will save. Some things may sound drastic or beyond your capabilities. Do what you can for now and, as times get more desperate, you'll find yourself more flexible to the more difficult suggestions.

#1) Disposable income (excess income that is not eaten up by the necessities of life such as food, housing, utilities, gasoline, etc. -- what's left after you pay all of your bills) is the first and easiest area to cut back on, obviously. Take the time to write out a budget and see exactly what your disposable income is. Then take that amount and divvy it up. Write down how much you're willing to spend each month on things such as eating out, entertainment, clothing, etc. Take some portion and save it. Many people don't really track exactly where their money goes and are surprised once they see it itemized out. After you break it down, cut a small portion off of each item. If you need to go out to eat 3 times a week, change it to twice or even once. Eating out is a very costly endeavor any more and much can be saved from cutting back in this area.

#2) Make your home more energy efficient.

This can be done in many ways:

Major appliances are electricity hogs. Dishwashers, stoves, washers & dryers and refrigerators make up the bulk of your electric bill. Therefore, try making some adjustments in this area.

--Refrigerator--Turn down your refrigerator and find its comfort zone. Meaning, the lowest setting that will keep the food cold. Keeping these settings higher than necessary will only make your refrigerator run more often.

--Washer/Dryer--Decrease the length of time that you wash your clothes. With the exception of extremely muddy or soiled clothes, an 8 or 10 minute wash cycle is plenty sufficient to wash your clothes. Another cut back is to stop using hot water wash and switch those to warm water wash.

--Electric Stove--If you only have one or two people in your household, consider purchasing a toaster oven and use it in place of your regular oven. If you have a family and this is not an option, consider using the oven more efficiently. By this we mean preparing meals which require the oven all at once. Then refrigerate or freeze them, taking them out over the course of the week (another good use of menu planning). Thereby you reduce the number of times that your oven needs to be heated.

--Dishwasher--This will sound impossible to many Americans as we have grown accustomed to this major convenience. But try washing your dishes by hand. Dishwashers run for an incredibly long length of time and take a lot of electricity to power. Don't have time? Enlist the kids!

Along with appliances, adjusting your heating and lighting can cut major dollars off your electric/gas/oil bill. Aside from not leaving lights on when not in use, change out your incandescent (regular) light bulbs for the extremely efficient CFL bulbs. The up-front, extra cost of installing these in every light in your house will be repaid many times over during the life of the bulb which can be up to ten times longer than a regular bulb. They make these in all shapes and applications.

When heating/cooling, adjust your thermostat 2-3 degrees different than your normal comfort zone (lower for heating and higher for cooling). Watch the dollars fall off of your bill and back into your pocket!

(To give you an idea of savings as a result of the suggestions listed SOLELY under #2...We conducted a test. We replaced all of the light bulbs as stated above, chose a shorter wash time when doing laundry and opted to hand-wash our dishes. With all other household behavior remaining constant, the electric bill went down nearly $100 dollars per month. That's $1,200 per year saved with minimal sacrifice. If we had added the other suggestions, it would have amounted to even more. That is next on our list. We're sure you could find a better use for a $1,000+ when the times get tough. And the larger the house, the more you will save per month.)

#3) As overly organized as this may sound to some, try making a menu for each week. Plan out your meals first, then make a grocery list from that menu. Many people stuff their fridge with all kinds of food, only to throw a lot of it out due to spoilage. They walk through the store mindlessly tossing things in their cart that look good at that moment, then find themselves staring into the fridge/cabinets a couple of days later trying to figure out what the heck to eat. Also, allow for only a modest amount of junk food on your list and resist adding more to your cart when you get to the store. Not only will it save you money--it will save you inches and medical bills! A huge cost at the store is for drinks. Soda, beer, etc., really add up. Multiply how much you spend (without a second thought) on these each day and multiply by 30. You'll be surprised, probably!

#4) Simply look around your house and assess your daily activities. Things that you do without thinking could be opportunities for cutting back.

--Become price conscious and compare when shopping. Some items may be cheaper when purchased at one store, while other things are cheaper at a different store. Also, larger-sized packaging is sometimes, but not always, the most cost effective method anymore. Many people automatically reach for the "Jumbo" size of things, assuming that to be the smart thing to do. So, look at the price tags in the grocery store and check out the per unit cost and compare. Lastly, try buying store brands instead of name brand items.

--Turn off your computer and printer when not in use.

--This will likely be a harder pill to swallow for women than for men, but...try going an extra day between showers. America is the most obsessed country when it comes to hygiene. Not that we feel that you should walk around stinking and offending others...but people in this country go to great lengths to be almost clinically clean. Rare is the European who bathes every single day. And imagine -- they're still alive! Like we said...some of these suggestions you will be willing to try and some you will not.

#5) If you have a traditional, tank-type water heater, turn it down to 120O -- especially if it's electric. Some people have their water heaters set to 130O, 140O or even 150O. With traditional heaters, that means it is constantly turning on. Even when you're gone all day, it's working to keep that water at the higher temperature. It would be like setting your A/C to 65O on a 24/7 basis when you're gone 9+ hours a day -- an unnecessary temperature that results in wasted energy and higher utility costs.

#6) You can always plan on your child's rapid growth. Since the concept of your child "growing like a weed" is an absolute given...be SMART! Catch those end-of-season clearance sales and purchase clothing for the upcoming year(S). Shoes, coats, pants...you know that they will need them. Purchase them for a fraction of the cost and tuck them away in storage or the back of the closet. You'll be stunned how quickly you're pulling them out because they are ready for them. When times get tight, you'll be sooo relieved to not have to run out and spend your money on clothing.

#7) Stop smoking. In some states, Americans pay as much as $6 per pack of cigarettes. It takes very little time to calculate the $100-$200 per month that the average smoker could save by kicking this habit. Your money, literally, is going up in smoke -- to the tune of up to $2,400 per year, or more if you're a chimney. We aren't saying this is an easy one, but we practice what we preach and speak from experience. Anyone can do it if they TRULY want to. And, of course, you will feel so much better and have less medical issues.

Happy Savings!


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