Having trouble taking an objective look at your too tight budget?
In the aftermath of 2 failed break-ins at our house, we put in an alarm system that will cost us about $55 a month, and without finding somewhere to cut back, paying that monthly bill will seriously hinder our debt repayment. Thankfully we only have to scrape by for a couple more months until The Big Guy goes back to school and starts receiving a stipend – whew!
I am having trouble looking at my budget objectively, so my new strategy is to brainstorm (generally speaking) about each budget category and where cuts could be made, and then compare my brainstorm to my budget. See how that works?
Television – Do you subscribe to cable, satellite, Hulu, or Netflix services? If you have a contract, check into how much the cancellation fees would be. If they are too much, consider pausing your service. Many companies prefer to let you pause your service for several months rather than lose you as a customer. If you have Hulu or Netflix, these services can be stopped at any time. Yes, they are only $8 a month, but when the budget is tight, every dollar matters. Plus, Hulu has many shows for free if you watch them on your computer rather than your TV.
We are going to cancel our Hulu subscription for the next couple of months until The Big Guy starts receiving payment for attending school. Total Savings: $8.00 per month.
Utilities – Are all the bulbs in your house CFL’s? Do you leave lights on when you leave the room? Do you block off rooms that are not in use? How is your thermostat set? Could you set the temperature a bit higher in summer and a bit lower in winter? How is your water usage? Challenge yourself to take shorter showers, run the dishwasher less often, or cut back on watering the lawn.
I think we might be good in this area. Every bulb is a CFL, we block off rooms that we don’t use, have blackout curtains, and use a programmable thermostat set to a temperature that is only slightly uncomfortable. Since the weather is getting warmer, we did get out our portable air conditioner that last year cut our electricity bill by an average of $20 per month. Plus, now that we aren’t using natural gas to heat the house, that bill has dropped from $150 to $35 per month. Total savings – $135.00
Groceries – Do you eat expensive cuts of meat? Try using more chicken, light fish, turkey, or less expensive cuts of beef and pork. If you are used to more expensive cuts of meat, try marinating less expensive ones to flavor and tenderize. Consider using more rice and beans and fillers in meals. Have you considered using a meal planning service such as eMeals.com to streamline the meal process? Use this 15% Off Your Order at eMeals.com with Bonus Comfort Foods Brochure! Use code Dinner15 Do you have food lurking in the back of your cabinets and freezer? Clean it all out and challenge your family to use everything up with food you already have on hand. Get creative and save some money!
We use eMeals.comand just shopped for 3 weeks of groceries for $150 including breakfasts and lunches! Plus, I bought extra of something things to make duplicate meals for the 4th week. I’m sure we will have to pick up some extra milk and eggs mid-month, but if we can keep our grocery budget at $300, we will be saving about $100 over what we normally spend! Total Savings = $100.00
Gas – How many times per week do you run errands? Could you combine them into once per week? Even better, could you bike to do them? The same goes for your commute. Could you carpool or bike?
My commute to too far to bike, and I don’t live near anyone I work with, but the Big Guy has agreed to only run errands once a week, and to only go to his grandparents, friends, etc twice per week instead of the 3-4 times he was going. Total Savings $30
Eating Out – Could you cut the amount you spend on restaurant and fast food eating in half? Maybe you could get it down even less than that!
Insurance – How long has it been since you shopped for insurers? Can you safely raise your deductible? Can you drop your dental insurance? Are there any discounts that could be applied for life changes that have happened recently?
We are going to drop our dental insurance ($27.74) and apply a home insurance discount ($7.00). Total savings: $34.74
In Total, I found $307.74 in savings!
Now some of this is not guaranteed, like the grocery budget and utilities since they fluctuate so much, but the numbers I have given are pretty good estimates of where our bills will be.
What do you think? Are some of these areas where you can cut your budget?
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