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9 Expenses To Cut From Your Budget NOW! – In early 2012, my family was faced with a dramatic shift in our finances. My husband and I were both working full time and could barely cover the bills between the two of us. It wasn’t a great situation to be in, especially because it wasn’t just the two of us. We had our young daughter to think about and provide for.
Wanting better for our family, we took a huge leap of faith. We packed up our belongings and moved 500 miles away for a better job opportunity for my husband. This meant two things: (1) I had to quit my job and (2) We would now be a single income family. We were totally out of our element.
Part of me was thrilled that I’d be able to stay at home with our daughter. The other part of me wondered if we could actually survive on half our previous income. We quickly learned that it was possible – IF we made some changes to our spending. We found ways to provide for our family by decreasing (or completely eliminating) items in our budget. If you find yourself in this type of situation, consider removing (or cutting back on) these 9 expenses from your budget.
1. New Clothes
My daughter was at an age when she was constantly outgrowing her outfits. She needed more clothes, but we couldn’t afford to budget much for this. So we started buying second-hand. It saved us so much money! Once Upon A Child became our new friend. We only went during special sales, and got gently-used clothes that were on clearance for an additional 70% off. She got entire wardrobes for less than $50. When she outgrew these, we sold the clothing in good condition back to Once Upon A Child, and used what we got back to purchase more clothes. There’s other ways to cut clothes from your budget, but this is what worked best for us.
With the emergence of streaming services, cable was something we could live without. We couldn’t justify paying $100 a month for what we were getting. So we said goodbye to cable and opted for Netflix. This move alone saved our budget over $1,000 a year. Later, we added an Amazon Prime membership, which gave us access to Amazon Video. Why not? Considering the membership cost less than what we would have paid for shipping that year, AND gave us more movies and shows to watch. It’s years later, and I can honestly say we don’t miss cable.
3. Extra Groceries
I’ll be the first to admit that I used to be guilty of this. Then I saw the light. I sat down one day and realized I was spending $600 a month on groceries for 3 people. I was shocked. Granted, this was including diapers and wipes, but still – $600 was way too much! We couldn’t afford that on a single income. I talked to my husband about it and set a new budget of HALF that amount. Needless to say, he was more than skeptical. He didn’t believe $300 was feasible. Ha, I’d show him! I made it my mission to trim our grocery spending. I stopped buying extra groceries that we didn’t need. Less groceries meant less food waste anyway, right? I also found an assorted number of ways to save money on groceries I was buying. Needless to say, I was triumphant. Our family had all the groceries we needed for the month – for only $300. My husband was blown away. We still use this same budget today as a family of 4.
4. Paper Products
One of the first things to go after losing an income were paper products. There wasn’t room in the budget for things like paper towels and paper plates. In reality, these were really only convenience items anyway. EXPENSIVE convenience items. We stopped using paper plates altogether and invested in a set of cloth napkins. These paid for themselves within a couple of months.
5. Eating Out
I know, I know – this may come as a bit of a pain point. But I promise there’s a silver lining. Living off a single paycheck meant eating at home most of the time. This doesn’t mean we never dined out. Just that we saved it for special occasions. We tried to give it a positive spin. Eating at home meant healthier meals. AND it allowed us a bigger budget for the essentials – like our bills. Decreasing how often you eat out (or eliminating it altogether) is a great way to get your budget where it needs to be.
6. Subscriptions & Memberships
We used to have 2 memberships: (1) the YMCA and (2) Kindle Unlimited. We had to say goodbye to these. But finding (free) replacements was easy. I started doing my workouts at our complex’s gym (which I could walk to). My husband signed up for Kindle Unlimited’s 30-Day Free Trial and after that, checked out books at the local library. We really didn’t lose anything, other than the bills attached to the memberships.
7. Auto & Home/Renter’s Insurance
In 2012, my husband and I rented. We were required to have renter’s insurance and already had auto insurance on 2 cars. Realizing it might be possible to get our auto insurance down a bit more, we pulled up our coverage and reviewed it together. There were several items included that we didn’t need. Anything that wasn’t essential was dropped and we bundled our renter’s and auto insurance together. This got us a discount. Later, we purchased a home and were required to have homeowner’s insurance. I went online and got quotes from 3 different companies. These each came back with different amounts. My husband and I reviewed the coverage and compared prices. We went with the same company that held our auto policies and received a discount. Taking the time to shop around was a small price to pay considering it saved our budget.
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When money was tight, my family quickly realized just how many free (and cheap) forms of entertainment were available to us. We didn’t have the money to fund things like concerts or zoo memberships, but I don’t feel like we did without. We found alternatives. Even if we couldn’t afford to spend $40 to take the family to the movies, we could still go to the theater during the Summer when $1 movie tickets came around. Even though we couldn’t get a membership to the zoo, we found a Children’s Museum that offered free admission once a month. We found free local events through our Community Bulletin and got free admission passes from the library. Do a little searching and you won’t need to budget much of anything for entertainment.
9. Excessive Phone Plans
During this time, I took a closer look at our cell phone plans. Did we really need that much data? I discovered that I was using so little data that I could safely downgrade to a cheaper plan. We had only been paying $45 a month for my plan as it was, but it didn’t make sense to pay that much when I was using less than 2GB in a 10GB plan. I downgraded to $35 a month and saved us $120 that year. I’ve never regretted it. Taking the time to compare your usage to what your plan has to offer is a great place to shave money off your budget.
And that’s it! Nine expenses to cut from your budget. Now it’s your turn to take action. Decide which expenses you’re willing to trade for financial peace. What can you live without? Be honest and rework your budget. Don’t have one? Check out my post on how to create a budget in 6 simple steps. Keep your budget organized and on point with my free Budget Binder HERE.
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