We’ve all had the “moment”.
It could be a higher than anticipated credit card bill. Or an emergency expense. A loss of job or hours. Or the desire to save more for retirement, kid’s education, or long-term savings.
The point is, that “moment” happens. And pretty soon after that moment, you feel the pressure to figure out…
“How Are We Going To Cut Costs?”
I’ve been there. I watched our income be cut in half and then a few months later, be cut in half again. It’s a horrible feeling. Knowing you have to make changes, but unsure where to start.
But I’m bringing good news! Knowing how to cut your costs doesn’t have to be difficult. (However, prioritizing which costs to cut can be more challenging.)
Here are 9 Tips For Cutting Costs that our family used when we were required to cut our budget. You can apply each tip to any category or expense. From eating out, to electric bills, insurance, car payments, hair cuts, groceries, clothing or your cable bill – all of these tips are applicable to any expense, in any situation.
The Best 9 Tips For Cutting Costs That Work On Any Expense
1. Cheaper alternative?
Is there a cheaper alternative to item/service? Can you get by with making your own coffee vs a stop at the local coffee shop? Can you get your haircut at Great Clips vs a stylist? Can you find cheaper car insurance with another provider? Can you watch Netflix instead of regular cable?
In most cases, with a little research, there is a cheaper alternative to almost anything you buy. For example, I may go to the big-box store to try on 50 different pairs of running shoes, but most likely, I will write down all the pertinent information and try to find them online for less.
2. Share the expense.
Is the ongoing expense something you can share with another person? Making this work is a little trickier, but it is still a way to cut costs. If you are part of a membership service, like Amazon Prime, you can share that membership with several other people for the same charge. I’ve known people to do this with trash service, Costco or Sam’s Club Memberships, wine clubs, etc.
3. Take a break or adjust the usage.
You may not want (or be able to) give the expense up, but is it possible to either take a break or adjust the usage? Instead of going to the hair salon every six weeks, what if you went every nine weeks? Can you set your thermostat down three degrees in the winter and up three degrees in the summer? Can you cancel cable in the summer when you are too busy to watch it anyway?
Adjusting the usage is a great way to lower the costs, especially if the cost is per experience vs a routine on-going cost. Taking a one or three-month break is also a great way to save money QUICKLY without having to give up something you love forever.
4. Negotiate the cost.
Everything is negotiable. Period.
Your cable service, cell phone service, insurance, hair cuts, credit card payments, lawn service, remodeling, and big purchase items (new furniture or set of dishes) are all negotiable. While this doesn’t apply to everything, it does apply for almost every service-orientated expense. If you are long time customer, ask for a discount. Even a short-term discount can help your finances immediately.
5. Referral Program or Coupon available.
Almost everything has either a coupon or a referral program. I can get $25 off my internet bill for every person I recommend. A new client for my hairdresser means a free hair cut. My favorite grocery store has $5 off $25 coupons on a regular basis.
If you are curious if your cable provider, hairstylist, or lawn service has a referral program, ask. For coupons, make sure you are checking out Groupon (for eating out deals), Coupons.com (for grocery coupons), Savings.com (for online coupon codes) and ValPak (for local services).
6. Do It Yourself or Barter.
Can you teach yourself to do it? Do you have a skill you can barter for a skill you don’t have? I love getting gel manicures, but hated paying $20 every two weeks. I bought some nail supplies on Amazon and started doing my nails at home. My dentist needs social media help and I’m pretty knowledgeable about it. I get free dental work and she gets her name out on Facebook and Twitter. Be creative. But you may find you can keep a beloved service if you are willing to do a little work in return.
7. Buy at the right time. Track price or pre-buy.
I’m a big believer in having and using price book. It allows me to track prices and only buy when the item is at its lowest or almost lowest price. Tracking prices helps me save up to 60% every time I go to the grocery store. If you buy a lot online, you might want to install Camel. Camel. Camel. which tracks prices at Amazon and Best Buy.
Also, in many cases, if you ask to pre-pay for a recurring service or item, you will get a discount. It might be as much as 25% off the retail price. So while you have to outlay money up front, you will save overall.
8. Eliminate waste.
Waste can derail any well-laid plans. And waste can come in any form…thrown away food, leaky windows, not drinking the entire Starbucks coffee (does anyone do that?), no going to the gym often enough, or having cable but never home to enjoy it.
Think about each of your expenses and see if there is a away that you can either eliminate or decrease the waste. It may be as easy as turning off lights in every room, running a dryer only during non-peak hours, or making a meal plan and sticking to it.
9. Cutting costs more somewhere else to keep the standard you enjoy now.
While you can’t do this with every expense, you may decide that dramatically cutting the cost to one line item will reduce overall expenses enough to keep something else you love. Deciding to give up a gym membership and run at home, may be enough savings that you don’t have to give up going to the hairstylist every eight weeks. In my opinion, a budget is a living thing. And not every expense has the same priority. Prioritize what is important and be extra-diligent about cutting the costs to the rest.
In some cases, cutting costs may not be enough. You may have to look for ways to increase your income. These can be as easy as having a garage sale or selling items on Craigslist. Or as may difficult as taking a second job or finding an virtual job from home. Regardless of how you make extra money, you’ll find the extra income, coupled with cutting costs will jump-start any saving or debt reduction plan.
Do you have any other tips to add to my list of 9 Tips For Cutting Costs? Leave a comment and let me know and we can all enjoy the savings.