Do you find that you’re living paycheck to paycheck? You’re not alone. Over three-quarters of U.S. workers and 70% of U.K. workers have the same problem.
It’s a dangerous position to find yourself in, especially now that many workers are finding themselves laid off due to coronavirus precautions. But could you be spending too much money on things that you don’t need, or overpaying for some services?
Learn how to cut expenses and put a little more cash in your wallet or savings account with the following seven tips.
1. Find Ways to Save on Transportation
Cars aren’t cheap. From the minute you drive one off the lot, you’re in for added expenses from keeping it fueled up to pay for routine maintenance and repairs. Then there’s the annual cost of maintaining a vehicle insured.
Making changes to your daily commute can help you bank more of your take-home pay. Taking public transportation, carpooling, or riding a bike to the office are all ways you can cut down on gas expenses.
If these aren’t possible or attractive to you, keep your vehicle’s tires inflated to the correct reading, as stated in your owner manual. It sounds like a simple tip, but over or underinflated tires can impact your gas mileage. So can running the air conditioner, so crank the windows down instead on warm days to stretch your tank.
2. Make Your Meals More Often
There’s very few among us who don’t like having someone else cook our meals and clean our plates. However, if you’ve made dining out, take out, and buying lunch at the office cafeteria a regular habit, it could be sucking a lot of money out of your paycheck.
Make a list for just one week of all of the meals you buy that someone else is preparing for you, including that daily cup of latte. You might be surprised by how much you spend on this expense in a week. Now multiply that by four to get a sense of what you spend on restaurants and take out in a month.
This doesn’t mean you need to stop eating out and give up your favorite coffee shop. However, cutting back on this expense by making your meals at home has the potential to save you a lot of money. Make enough to store some in the fridge so you can pull something out and thaw it before you bring it to the office.
You may want to reserve one night of the week for take out or a special meal out with a loved one instead of dining out every day.
3. Reduce Your Cable Bill—Or Cut Out Service Altogether
People are getting increasingly frustrated by their cable bill. The bad news is these bills are expected to keep climbing in 2020. There are a few things you can do.
First, you can make changes to your services and cut down the number of channels you want to help trim that bill. Sometimes bundling your internet and T.V. services can get you a special deal. And you also have nothing to lose by calling your provider’s customer service line and threatening to switch to a competitor if they can’t give you a better deal.
Or you can cut the cable cord entirely by subscribing to a streaming video service such as Netflix or Hulu. For less than $15, you’ll have access to original programming and movies.
Most new T.V.s today come with built-in converter boxes so you can pick up local channels. If you have an older set, you’ll need to buy an analog-to-digital converter box and a traditional “bunny ears” antenna to get reception.
4. Refinance Your Mortgage or Car Loan
If you’ve improved your credit score in recent months, this is a great time to look into refinancing your mortgage or car loan, if you have one. You’re likely to get a cheaper monthly rate to pay going forward.
5. Trim Your Energy Bill
You may be using energy in ways that are causing you to pay more when you don’t have to. For starters, unplug any appliance when you’re not using them; otherwise that “phantom charge” can start to add up and pad your bill by a few dollars. Using a power strip with a switch will block that phantom energy when you turn it off.
Still, using incandescent light bulbs? Make the switch to CFL or LED ones. They last much longer than traditional bulbs and use less wattage while still throwing the same amount of light.
Have a programmable thermostat installed so you can precisely control the temperature of your home. Knocking the thermostat setting down by even one or two degrees can help you save on heating oil or gas.
6. Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Those little luxuries such as our daily newspaper, satellite radio, gym memberships, and other subscriptions can add up. But if you’re not using any of them, or not taking full advantage of them, it may be time to cancel them, if even for a while.
Instead of a health club membership, join an exercise Meetup group or invest in home workout equipment and online routines. Some libraries have made popular magazines available online for library cardholders. You could also cut back your newspaper subscription so that you only receive the paper on Sundays or two days a week.
7. Review Your W2
It’s also worth taking the time to review your employer’s W2 form to make sure your tax withholding information and exemptions are correct, as well as your 401K contribution, health insurance cost, and other deductions. You can get W2 online to review it for accuracy.
Learn How to Cut Expenses With These Tips
Now that you know how to cut expenses for a fatter paycheck, it’s worth reminding you that these changes and sacrifices don’t have to be permanent. If you get a raise and find you enjoy getting take out a few days a week, go for it! However, this guide should help you know the difference between things you need and things you want to help you save money.
Check out my other Lifestyle Design blog posts for more tips on saving money and making your paycheck stretch!