Everybody is feeling the financial pinch. There are more responsibilities in the budget but money tends to worth less every year. If you are struggling to make ends meet every month, robbing a bank is not your only option. Making small changes in a number of areas can significantly reduce your monthly spending, along with setting up a realistic budget and sticking to it rigorously.
Cut down on your entertainment expenses
The first area to consider is entertainment. If you are regularly eating out, cut that expense in half or eliminate it completely. This is a luxury; if it is very important to you, see it as a temporary sacrifice until you have settled your debt and are in a stronger position financially. Cancel any subscriptions for magazines or newspapers; you can read most of them online or at the local library.
If you do not use your club memberships regularly, such as at the gym, cancel these and find other cheaper ways of exercising, such as walking your dog or doing dance exercises to a DVD in your own home. Cancel cable television – many programs can be watched online or downloaded for free. Go to the movie cinemas less often; there are many interesting alternatives to spending an evening watching a range of advertisements and one movie.
Consider your clothing budget
If you are in a job where you need to look your best, you will unavoidably have to purchase new clothing and accessories regularly. Avoid always shopping at the most expensive shops; try non-brand names or thrift shops or have clothing exchange parties with your girl friends. Have a look at second hand and vintage clothing stores; they often have considerable bargains that are very fashionable. Have shoes repaired and re-soled instead of throwing them away. Consider dyeing some clothing or shoes instead of buying the latest fashion colour which might last for only one season. Children do fine in chain store clothing; avoid falling into the brand name trap especially for little ones.
Share with a few friends or neighbours and buy in bulk. Be on the lookout for special offers and coupons; buy more when non-perishable items are cheap. Buy generic (or no name brand) groceries instead of paying more for a famous name product. Do not go shopping when you are hungry; you will buy more than you need and much of this will be snacks. Take an apple with you for when you get hungry at the shops; avoid buying food there for lunch. Make your lunch at home and pack it in for work, perhaps using some of the leftovers of the evening meal. Cook a large amount of food and freeze it for the following week or for the weekend.
Having your own vegetable garden can cut down considerably on the cost of fresh vegetables. Tomatoes, green beans, a variety of peppers and herbs are easy to grow; canning them will extend their use for months.
Cut down on trips you take to the shops; rather plan one big shopping trip per week. Try to make use of public transport as much as possible; if it is close enough, you could even walk in good weather, getting some exercise at the same time (you cancelled your gym membership, remember?). Keep your car in good condition and serviced regularly; inflate the tyres to the maximum to consume less petrol. Also, shop around to see if you can reduce your car insurance costs.
In your home, switch off all appliances at the wall socket when not in use and switch off the lights when you are the last one to leave a room.