When it comes to your household budget, are you taking control of your spending? Your major expenses and monthly bills are well accounted for, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, student loans, and car payments. But there are smaller expenses that are draining your bank account in ways you aren’t aware of, that is until you add them up and see the financial impact. There are most likely many things you would like to save for so we have some suggestions for where to look for those money leaks.
Food & Beverage
You’ve heard this one before. You can save thousands of dollars a year by eating out less. Starting with your morning coffee. A few dollars a day might not seem to be a budget-buster, and brewing your coffee at home might not taste as good as the one from your favorite cafe, but give it a try for the payoff you’ll see every month.
Workday lunches can be the biggest culprit for a lot of us. It’s often much more convenient to run out for a bite to eat for lunch than to bring it from home. Maybe leftovers from last night’s dinner aren’t as appetizing the second time around or maybe you ran out of bread for a sandwich. Maybe time is a factor and making lunch is the last priority as you rush out the door in the morning. Whatever the reason, planning ahead for lunches will put more money in your pocket.
The same goes for meal planning at home. Try to think about dinner recipe ideas week to week and then shop for groceries accordingly. That will make cooking every day a lot easier. On a related note, being conservative when buying perishables is another money-saver. It’s a tricky balance between purchasing what you’ll actually consume without excess and taking advantage of what you think is a great deal on bulk produce.
How often do you watch traditional TV channels anymore? If you do more viewing online, you can consider canceling cable and pay much less for services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Roku but still have access to the movies and shows you want.
Subscriptions & Memberships
Make a list of the monthly or annual fees you’re paying for subscriptions and memberships and decide what’s really worth the value. Are you going to the gym often enough to justify that membership? Maybe it’s time to cancel your magazine subscription because all the issues are just piling up unread. Do you unintentionally have more than one Netflix account in your household? It’s silly to pay for the same thing twice. Think carefully to recall things you don’t even remember you signed up for — an online subscription service that you forgot to cancel when the free trial expired and you haven’t noticed the automatic withdrawal from your checking account.
Bank & Credit Card Statements
That brings us to why you should take a closer look at all of your bank and credit card statements. Check them every month for withdrawals and charges that don’t look legitimate. Being more vigilant will also allow you to keep an eye on the reality of your spending. Seeing all of those debit and credit transactions in black and white might show you what you actually spend is higher than what you *think* you spend and prompt you to change some habits.
Conserving use of your furnace and air conditioner can save more than you think. Be smart with the thermostat all year long, setting it a few degrees cooler than normal in winter and warmer in the summer, and you’ll notice a difference in your bill. This time of year, with summer on its way, use blinds or shades on the sunniest side your home to keep the house cool so the A/C doesn’t have to work as hard.
Apps to Manage Your Money
Free apps such as Mint or Every Dollar are great tools to help you set a personalized budget and stay on top of your finances. With the Mint app, you can track your bills and investments, check your credit score and more. Every Dollar walks you through creating your budget in 10 minutes and even helps you get out any debt you may have in a systematic way. Both of these apps can help you track your spending so you can set goals like saving for a down payment for a house.
If we’ve inspired you to review your budget with these ideas, then we are sure you can find additional ways to trim and save money. Stick to your financial plan and your goals will be more attainable.