Let's face it -- articles about budgeting aren't usually exciting reads. The idea of cutting back on your movie rentals, for example, isn't really going to get your heart racing, even if it saves you $120 per year. But what if you could lop off many hundreds of dollars from your yearly expenses? Wouldn't your eyes open a little wider?
On our Living Below Your Means discussion board recently, one Fool Community member shared her experiences. Since she's been staying home with a new child, money has been tighter in her household. So she's been looking for ways to cut her expenses. She said: "I started challenging myself to cut our monthly bills, each month, by $10." How did she do? Check this out:
I started with our electric bill, which had gotten really high. A 15-minute call to the nice customer service lady helped me brainstorm and figure out why, and I was able to cut that bill waaaaaay down. Then I started calling various other services and utilities. Verizon
(NYSE:VZ)showed me there was a slightly cheaper plan for our Internet access. $10 a month there. Our trash collector knocked $12 off our quarterly bill, just because I asked! I had the life insurance people reexamine me, and they agreed that I'm more healthy than they thought -- $12 a month saved there. Called around to our auto and homeowners, and consolidated and raised our deductible. Saved about $150 a year there, or about $12 a month... Did the same with our cell phones and car loan.
She summed up by saying, "I found that setting an achievable goal, like lowering our expenses just $10 a month, has probably put about $100 or more extra in our pockets each month." That's an extra $1,200 -- no small change!
As usual, many fellow board denizens chimed in with their own experiences cutting costs. See whether any of the ideas below can save you some big bucks:
- One Fool suggested stocking up on groceries during sales, as well as taking advantage of offers that pay you to transfer your prescriptions.
- Another advised growing a garden to make sure you don't sacrifice food quality for cheaper prices. While high-end stores like Whole Foods
(NASDAQ:WFMI)and Wild Oats (NASDAQ:OATS)have a reputation for quality produce, you can save a bundle doing it yourself.
- Taking a side job can be a great way to add income, as one Fool found. Whether it's babysitting or selling things in online auctions, extra money in your pocket works wonders.
- Another poster pointed to the quality of food at ethnic markets.
- Checking how much you're paying for things like Internet access and auto insurance can also create savings.
Read more of this discussion on our board.
What to do
So is it time for you to finally do what you've been meaning to do for a long time -- find ways to cut some fat from your spending? Probably so. Given the surge in gas prices over the past few years, your expenses have likely risen considerably. If you drive 12,000 miles per year, and you average 20 miles per gallon, that translates to 600 gallons of gas. If you're paying $1.50 more per gallon than you used to a few years ago, you've been paying an extra $900 per year.
Meanwhile, if you've got an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), you may also be forking over more dollars than you're used to. With ARMs that are a few years old, their fixed-rate introductory periods are ending as they usher in the period of floating rates tied to prevailing rates. Many people who may have been used to paying, say, $1,000 per month, are now facing payments of $1,300 or more. That sum may well keep rising for a while.
For more money-saving tips, take a free test drive of our Motley Fool Green Light newsletter, which aims to deliver at least $400 in savings ideas each month, along with solid stock and mutual fund investment ideas. The free trial will give you full access to all past issues.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Whole Foods is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.