Are you having a hard time staying on top of all of your living expenses? Do you find that each month you have more cash going out than coming in?
You are not alone. Many people are struggling to keep up with their daily living expenses. They find themselves living paycheck to paycheck and they are frustrated because they do not know what to do to resolve the issue.
There are a couple of options. One is to find ways to increase your income. The second option is to find easy ways to dramatically reduce your living expenses.
Reduce Your Daily Living Expenses
Let's talk about some changes that you can begin making immediately in an effort to reduce your expenses. Keep in mind that you do not need to do all of these at once.
You may live in a hot climate and have the AC running day and night, or you may live in a cold climate and have the furnace running day and night. The cost of running either of these systems adds up quite quickly.
If you are in a cold climate try reducing the temperature in your home and begin wearing warmer clothes. On sunny days, open all of your window coverings and let the sun in. This will warm up your house, even on very cold days.
The opposite will work in hot climates. Keep your blinds closed day and night so that you do not let any sun or heat in. Dark rooms are always cooler. Dress in light clothing and try to use fans instead of your air conditioner.
As well, consider installing a thermostat that you can program to adjust the temperature in your home. For example, if no one is home during the day, set the thermostat so that the furnace or the AC only comes on about 30 minutes before you get home instead of it running all day.
The amount of water we all go through each day in our homes is huge and typically goes unnoticed until the bill comes in. Try to reduce your water bill by taking quicker showers, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth and only running the dishwasher or washing machine when you have full loads.
Also, if you use a sprinkler to water your lawn, you can buy a timer that you plug your hose into and set it so that it will turn on every second or third day and only run for 20 or 30 minutes. These timers are very inexpensive and will save you a lot of money throughout the summer. Set the timer to run before sunrise so that you do not burn your lawn.
If you haven't already done so, change all of the light bulbs in your house to energy efficient bulbs. As well, remind yourself and the rest of your family to turn off any lights in any of the rooms that are not being used. This goes for the TV and your computers too. If no one is using them, turn them off. I have even heard that some people go so far as to unplug everything each night before bed. Does that save even more money?
Cable TV Packages
How much do you pay to have cable TV each month? For many people the bill is quite low and they wouldn't save much money by deleting it, so why bother?
Here in Canada, many cable companies offer their channels bundled in packages. So if you want certain channels, but they are spread out between three or four packages, you would have to buy each package to view them all. The cost of that can add up quickly.
While that might be okay for some, people looking for ways to reduce their daily living expenses may want to consider if they really need all of those channels, or if they can get by with just having the cheap basic channel package.
Are there other things that you could do instead of watch TV? Can you find some of your favorite shows online? I know in Canada our alternatives to cable TV are quite limited compared to other locations.
Also, keep in mind that you could always cut your cable now so that you can use that extra money on other bills, and hook the cable back up later, once you are caught up on your bills and have some wiggle room in your budget again.
Give it some thought.
How much money are you and your family members spending on cell phones every month?
Over the last 20 years people have become so reliant on their cell phones.
I remember the first cell phone. It was very inconvenient because it was much like carrying a brick around! People only used them for emergencies.
Today cell phones are so tiny they fit in your front pocket. People use them constantly, day and night, without giving much thought to how much their bill will be. Are you one of those people? If so, would it be possible to reduce this expense by limiting yourself to emergency calls only? Think about it.
Going out for lunch with friends and co-workers is a great way to break up an otherwise hectic day at the office. While this may be okay once in a while, getting into the habit of going out for lunch every day can get quite expensive.
Consider bringing your lunch from home, perhaps leftovers from dinner the night before, and suggest to your friends and co-workers that you guys only go out for lunch one day a week.
To get out of the office on the other 4 days, perhaps you can go for a walk or simply find somewhere else to sit and chat or read a book.
Everyone talks about groceries when they talk about ways to save money. For some, reducing their grocery bill is quite easy, and for others it is a challenge.
In a recent interview on our site, we interviewed a man that is single and has managed to reduce his grocery bill to between $60 and $80 a month. No, that is not a typo. He manages on that amount quite nicely.
It is quite understandable that not everyone can reduce their grocery expenses down that much and still feed their family. However there are things that each family can do to reduce the amount that they spend on food.
Begin by creating a weekly meal plan, and a grocery list. If you shop every week, make sure that any perishable items that you buy do not expire in the very near future. If they do you run the risk of them expiring before you get a chance to use them.
When you enter the store remind yourself that you are only buying the items on your list, and not an additional 20 or 30 items simply because you "think" you might need them, or because they look yummy.
You will spend less money if you challenge yourself to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible.
When it comes to groceries the current hot topic is coupons.
Coupons have been around forever, but in the last few years many stay at home moms are using coupons to the extreme, as they say. In an effort to reduce their daily living expenses they are spending many hours each day clipping and organizing coupons.
While some people argue that coupons are a waste of time, others swear that they are saving money on their groceries by using coupons.
If you haven't already considered using coupons to save money, take a look at this list of places online that offer many different types of coupons.
Now that we have covered ways to reduce your living expenses within your home, let's talk about ways to save money on car expenses.
Do you need to drive to work every day or do you have the option of taking the bus or the train to work? Could you bike to work? This is especially helpful if you are also paying for parking, as you could reduce two expenses at once.
Also, is your job the type of job that could be done from home? If yes, think about asking your boss if you could work from home several days a week. If your boss is hesitant about this, talk to them about how they will benefit from you doing this, not how you will benefit by saving money.
You can also reduce the amount that you spend on gas every week by organizing your errands and appointments into one trip, instead of making several trips out each day.
And, if you find yourself constantly driving your children to multiple events throughout the week, see if you can organize a car pool with other parents that live in your area and take turns driving the kids to events, and even to school.
While some people are naturally good at keeping their daily living expenses low by following some of the above ideas, others are not. We are all creatures of habit, and if you are use to doing things a certain way, and you didn't need to worry about money, you may have never consider doing the above things. However, if you suddenly find yourself short on cash, implementing some or all of the above suggestions could definitely help you get through some rough financial times.