Creative Ways to Cut Down Your Expenses
By: Ashley Cairns
At some time in life, we’ve all experienced this; we check our bank balance and are left in disbelief that it’s correct. Surely not. I must’ve been paid wrong or a bill has come out twice. That can’t be right. Ring any bells? If, yes, welcome to the club. The club of trying to find ways to not spend so much money. Which is often a lot harder than what it looks. In fact it’s one of the most common challenges people today face, especially when purchases can be made by the click of a button. Most transactions are cashless and monthly subscriptions easily rack up without us paying much attention to them. But when you add up all come the end of the month, it can become quite easy to see where all of your money is going. This article is about ways to cut down your expenses.
You might ask, why is A Change For Better trying to help me with my spending?
We’re a counselling service, not a financial service. This is correct, we’re not spreading our wings and moving into the finance sector. But what we are, is passionate about helping people to reduce anything that might impact their mental health. In New Zealand alone, Mental Health Awareness Week highlighted that 69% of people had money worries and on top of that 10% of those people had taken days off sick due to the impact of their money worries on their health. Financial stress is a key antagonizer to anxiety and depression and one that people often hide from family and friends until it is too late. Financial stress is a spectrum and not everyone is going to be faced with large debts or credit cards hitting their limits, but money worries can start from not being sure if you have enough money to last the month.
So, what’s the best way to cut down on expenses? How can you spend less, not more?
Start off with cutting down online expenses
When I’m looking to cut back on some of my spending I find the best place to start is to look at your online expenditure. For example, do you use Amazon Prime? If so, do you really need everything delivered so quickly? Are you finding that you spend enough on Amazon that your Prime fee covers the delivery fees you are saving on?
If so, then fair enough; Amazon Prime gives you value for money. If you find that you are spending more on the subscription than you save, though, you are simply paying for convenience. There are many online payments that we make – Patreon subscriptions, Spotify, Netflix, that kind of thing – that you could either cut down or do away with entirely.
Take a look at how often you use each online expense and subscription and determine if you could reduce or remove that subscription expense long-term.
Think about your ‘treat’ expenses
I like to always look at what I am spending on what we can call ‘little treats’; things like an extra pack of doughnuts from the store, or an 8-pack of drinks as opposed to a 6-pack. All of these little expenses over time add up, and reducing your expenditure on ‘treat’ expenses can soon help to cut down expenses dramatically.
I find that one of the most common expenses for most people is fast food. A coffee in the morning, or a fast food lunch as opposed to preparing something healthier and fresher. You should look to take that into account, as it can make a big difference to how much you are spending on frivolous purchases.
Expenses for treats can often run into a lot of money across the week. Spend a week as you normally do, with all of the usual treats but keep all the receipts or make a note of the cost and then add it all up at the end of the week for a shock!
Also, consider entertainment expenses
A good way to help cut down drastically on entertainment expenses is to look at the number of things you are spending for entertainment purposes. From buying lots of video games to subscribing to numerous TV online services, do you really need access to them all?
Often, the sheer volume of choice makes us spend more time looking than we do actually watching something. So, try and change that around; instead of having both Netflix and Disney+, change from month to month. It’ll re-focus your appreciation of available entertainment, and you’ll find that you have less choice so are more likely to actually choose something to be entertained by as opposed to shuffling your options.
This is a great way to help reduce expenses without having to actually reduce your options per se.
Now, look at cutting back on life expenses
The best piece of advice I can give you to cut down expenses, though, is to use aggregators. So, take a look at each kind of insurance that you pay; using an aggregator, could you get something more affordable with a different provider?
What about your mortgage? Could you re-mortgage and get a more affordable deal than the one that you are receiving today?
Always be sure to look at life expenses in terms of mortgage costs, insurance costs, petrol costs etc.
You might even find that trading in your current car for a bike or an electric car could help you to get a better deal long-term in terms of expenses. It’s not just your entertainment and your treats that is eating up your money; you could simply be getting bad deals on insurance and other costly expenses that we incur. Take that into account, and it should help you to start making some smart changes to your expenditure.
I recommend that you take a look at my other articles on financial health. These articles can be the next step that you need to start making some more commanding choices about your financial future.
Now that you know some smart ways to cut down on those expenses and make a genuine change to your expense spending, you know where to make the next incision. The challenge for you, then, is making more small but significant financial changes. Every little helps, as they say, and this will ensure that you can start spending less, not more, on those day-to-day products you love using.