Cutting things from the budget will free up money for savings, retirement, travel, and of course reaching your FI number. The secret to personal finance goals is really not a secret anymore. If you want to save money fast, you need to spend less than you make. This means drastically cutting your expenses. This is much easier said that done for most people, including us. We have to work at it and stay aware. Below are a few examples of how to cut costs, and ways we really had to work at in order to lower our monthly expenses.
How To Cut Costs – 20 Ways To Save Money Fast
For us, we needed to cut things that were easy at first, start slow, then build up to the more “painful” items to cut from the budget.
1. Cut the cable
One of the first things we removed from our monthly expenses right after we move out of our first apartment together was cable. It was simple enough to do and I eventually got over watching HGTV.
2. Stop paying for streaming
We also canceled our Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services. We only have Prime for Amazon, which is really something we could cut if we no longer wanted to buy our items online.
3. Unplug all unused electrical devices
Phantom electricity use is a real thing. Angela talks more about it in her post on energy efficiency switches for your home. We made this a habit for the most part now. Except for my laptop charging cord which always stays plugged in.
4. Shut doors
Shut the doors to rooms of the house not in use. The guest room/office does not have regular use so we we will shut the door and turn the heat off in that room to conserve energy. We do the same for the cat room and the guest bathroom.
5. Change all lightbulbs
Change your light bulbs to energy efficient ones. It sounds easy enough and it really is. Costco has most of the bulbs you need. It is a quick afternoon fix that can reduce your energy bill.
Seriously, unsubscribe to just about everything. Having the pesky e-mails out of my inbox means I am less tempted to blow the monthly budget on something I don’t really need.
8. Meal planning
Meal planning has saved us a huge amount of money. Food waste is a problem for Americans and we try to avoid this by eating leftovers and planning out our food. We spend less on eating out when we plan the weeks meals.
9. Buy generic.
Generic medicine. Generic pasta. It all works the same for the most part and will save you money in every category of the budget.
10. Stop consumable habits
Break the habit of consumables. Like buying water bottles at the store. See if you can find solutions so you do not have to buy the individualized items. Invest in a Brita filter or new water bottle you can re-use.
10 Not So Quick Ways to Save Money Fast
To save more money and cut the monthly expenses we had to invest some time to get a good deal.
1. Automate your finances.
This will save you time and money and keep you on track for savings goals. Automation only takes your time from the start, but then you can just let your money manage itself.
2. Learn to DIY
I have several posts on how to DIY. From your pet grooming to your personal grooming, you can learn how to do it. If you can learn how to do it yourself, you can save money. (Sidenote, some things are still worth paying for).
3. Research and apply for a new travel credit card
Researching credit cards was NEVER something I would have done before I dived into personal finance a few years ago. I was that person who would apply for the offer in the mail. This worked out for me until I realized the potential of credit cards for travel hacking. Taking time to research and find the right card has saved us money in more ways than one.
4. Sell your unused Items
Probably one of the more annoying ways to cut your monthly expenses. OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace are great, but take a lot of you time. I communicate with so many people and trying to arrange the actual meet up is also ridiculous. It sounds whiny because it is. Sell your items and pocket the cash. This is worth it for the bigger things like furniture and weight sets. Don’t sweat the smaller stuff. Or just save that for a garage sale where you are sure you can make $300 for the day.
5. Get on a group cell phone plan
Do you have friends or family? I am sure you do. You can all pool together on one cell phone plan and get a better rate. We have ten people on our family plan and it significantly lowers the bill for everyone. It takes time to get everyone together and to split up the bill each month, but it has been worth it.
6. Shopping ban and breaking bad habits
This is a tough one to talk about because I have struggled with it so much. I did a shopping ban. I thought I broke a bad spending habit only to have it creep back up on me when my stress levels are high. My latte habit is managed more effectively and I’m more conscious of all purchases. I am no saint, but this is something worth working at to lower monthly costs.
7. Read a self-improvement personal finance book
Reading in itself is time consuming, but reading certain books can directly impact the money you spend each month. I like to read a money related book every couple of months to refocus and not lose perspectives on finances. I recommend Work Optional whole heartedly to get you started on a money mission.
8. Change up your commute
HisFI started biking to work and this does take some extra time along with some extra rain gear. However, not using the car means less maintenance and less money spent on gas each month.
9. Write down what you spend and actually make a budget
This is in the time consuming category because we went through so many budgets and budget apps before finding a system that worked for us. Now we use Mint to keep track of spending. We created our own personal budget in google sheets and update it once a week. We have also scheduled weekly money check ins on Sunday evening where we look over and talk about purchases. This is what works for us now, but may change the future. Being willing to work at it has helped to figure out how to cut costs even more.
10. Move to a less expensive area
This may seem extreme, but we are seriously considering it. Not only do we plan to live in an RV someday in the future, but this may also be in a lower cost of living area for a bit. Looking into geoarbitrage is about all we have done so far, but could be totally worth your time. This can make a large difference, but is the most drastic on the list of how to cut costs.
Reducing your monthly expenses is a popular topic within the Financial Independence (FI) world. How to cut costs from the budget is an option for some and mandatory for others. This list is not meant money shame, nor is it meant to be followed by all. These are things we have cut from the budget in order to reach our more recent money goals.
What are some ways you have cut your monthly expenses that I missed? Did it save money fast or did it take some time?
#3 and #9 from the quick ways to cut expenses are my favorites!
I’ve heard up to 20% of your electric bill results from phantom electricity. Whenever I’m making an extended trip out of town, I always make sure to unplug everything that isn’t necessary.
As for #9, this is a great tip, especially for FDA-approved products. Generic advil is legally required to have the same necessary ingredients as advil – same effects, but cheaper!
Take advantage of Veterans discounts!!