GUEST POST: Written by Carolyn Dickerson
There are many things you can do to trim expenses without drastically reducing your current standard of living. All you need is a little planning and forethought. This is especially important as most people today are living paycheck to paycheck with very little or no money in savings.
With less money to go around, it might be hard to imagine actually putting some money aside, but what happens if disaster strikes? What would you do then? It’s something most folks don’t even want to consider, but it can happen! That’s why is vital that you be proactive! It’s never too late to start putting a few dollars away for retirement, vacations, even your children’s education, or even emergencies. Try some of these simple ideas.
If you’ve accumulated large amounts of money owed on several different credit cards, concentrate on paying off the highest rate credit card first. Of course, you’ll still have to make payments on the other cards you have during that time, but the highest rate cards should be prioritized! If you’ve accumulated frequent flyer miles, use them as quickly as possible before they disappear. You can also find credit cards with lower rates or transfer balances to a special 0% offer to save money on interest.
Look for a part time job if your schedule allows for it. There are many jobs you can do in your free time on your computer for example.
Since energy rates have gone up for many of us this year, you must adjust your energy consumption. Turn thermostats up in the summer and down in the winter, turn lights off when you’re not using them, close the vents in rooms that you’re not using, and keep the refrigerator door closed! It’s a REAL energy guzzler!
To save money on gas, stop running to the store to buy things you forgot when you went grocery shopping. If you forget something, change your menu or suffice until you can get to the store again. You can always make low-cost casseroles or stews in your crock-pot at home to help save you a ton of money on food during the week.
You’ll never be able to trim expenses if you don’t budget your money. You must figure out your monthly budget by knowing your exact income and adding up your bills and expenses. Remember too, that some things are charged annually, like your county taxes. Those expenses should also be added into your monthly budget.
A great way to cut your costs is to carry cash when you shop. Take a calculator with you if you have a hard time adding things up in your head. Don’t forget to add in state or county tax too. If you spend more than the money you have in your pocket, take something out of your basket. Do not pay the balance with your credit card when you’re trying to get by on your current income!
Can you refinance your home? Mortgage rates are still incredibly low so you might want to look into setting up a new loan. If current interest rates are even half a point lower than your mortgage rate and you plan to live in your home for a while longer, refinancing can save you hundreds of dollars on your monthly mortgage bill.
Finally, one of the easiest ways to trim expenses is by investing more of your time at home with loved ones. Make improvements around your house so it’ll be more enjoyable when you’re there. Play games with your children, go for walks around your neighborhood, grill out more often, or grow your own vegetables. So many of us got used to being entertained all the time. However, when you’re out and about, money flies right out of your pocket. Finding things to do at home is something that most everyone can appreciate!
Carolyn Dickerson has been licensed in both Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and in Cosmetology for many years. She is also a single mom to a son who has learning disabilities, which means she has to find ways to stretch her dollars. If you love everything health and beauty, (and saving money), like her facebook page or follow her boards on pinterest.