Much like counting calories, keeping track of your spending is one of those things that no one quite enjoys doing, but that can vastly improve one’s quality of life. Reducing your monthly expenses is a great way to consistently pay down debts or, if you owe nothing, to start saving for the future. Here are some of the best ways to reduce your monthly expenses now so that you can better save and prepare for your future.
Track your spending
The first step to reducing your spending is learning how much you are actually spending. Kiplinger.com recommends keeping tabs on your spending for at least a full month, and possibly for as long as six months, to take into account bills that don’t come due on a monthly basis. You can monitor your spending the old fashioned way, by using pen and paper, or you can use one of the many apps designed to track spending, such as Mint, BillGuard or Dollarbird. These apps will help you keep track of your spending and set a budget for yourself.
Energy costs are among the most reliably pricey expenses one faces on a monthly basis. Bankrate.com recommends lowering heating and cooling bills by weather-stripping or caulking doors and sealing windows to keep out cold and heat. And while energy efficient light bulbs cost more than traditional ones, making the switch is an investment that pays off in the long run, as they consume less energy and last much longer. Installing a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one, lowering the hot water heater temperature to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and regularly cleaning and changing furnace air filters are other simple yet effective ways to lower your monthly energy bills.
Cut the cord
Cable and satellite bills are becoming more and more egregious, which is why the phenomenon of cord-cutting is becoming more and more prevalent. There are many ways to get the content you want without paying exorbitant fees for hundreds of channels you won’t even watch. For starters, you can watch your favorite local programming in high definition by buying an HDTV antenna that will pick up over-the-air broadcast signals like CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and PBS affiliates. Then, you can get access to hours of movies and television shows by subscribing to content providers that stream entertainment directly to your television and other devices.
For as low as $8 a month, Netflix features acclaimed original programming, as well as a large and constantly changing library of film and television, presented without advertisements. Available for $8 a month with commercials or ad-free for $12 a month, Hulu is another popular option for streaming movies and television, which allows users to stream popular Fox, ABC and NBC primetime programming the day after it airs, as well as content from popular basic cable channels like Comedy Central, MTV and E!. Amazon Video and HBO Now are other streaming services that are popular with cord cutters looking to be entertained for less money.
From your cable bill to your heating bill, there are many areas where you can significantly reduce the amount of money you are spending on a regular basis. Reducing your monthly expenses is an important step towards a brighter and more secure financial future.