There are several expenses that you can trim from your monthly budget. I have done extensive reading over the years, constantly trying to wrangle in our budget so that we can work towards saving money, or just flat out managing our money better. Here is my how-to and why better wrangle your expense, and a list of recommendations.
Why Trim Expenses?
This year, I created SMART Goals for 2021 that largely have to do with our lifestyle. Kyler is back in school, making his way towards becoming a special education teacher, and now that he works at a restaurant again, we have time to travel. But with fewer work hours, we needed to trim expenses from our budget.
One of the better ways to start with lowering your monthly budget is with grocery shopping. I have written extensively about Meal Planning and ways to save while at the grocery store.
These are just a few:
- Meal Planning Rotations
- Making a Meal Plan Rotation
- Budgeting for a Low Carb Diet
- Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store
The reason why you are deciding to wrangle in your budget a little more depends on a lot of different factors: you want to travel more frequently, you want to save up for a big vacation, your income has decreased, you simply want to build a savings account… What are your core values financially? Then move on to looking over your entire budget. Think on every transaction you had made- cash, phone, online and card transactions. Every. Single. Transaction. It helps if you open your browser or phone to your bank or credit card website/app.
Which Expenses to Trim from Your Budget
Grocery Expenses to Trim from the Budget
This one might be easier said than done- especially if you live or are the one who cannot help but enjoy Cheese-It Crackers, but this is a serious one to try to nix from your budget. Not only is avoiding junk food better for your budget, but it is also healthier for your body.
Starbucks ($5 here), pizza delivery ($25 there), UberEats (another $25)… They might seem like small transaction here and there, but they add up fast! Opt for occasional date nights (1-2 x a month for going to a restaurant). That $55 could have gone towards 1 entire nice meal, or 1-2 weeks worth of dinners!
Recreations Expenses to Trim from the Budget
Gym Monthly Subscription
Unless you actually take advantage of it. If a drop-in rate is $15/day, and the monthly subscription for any time you want to go to the gym is $150/mo, you need to make sure you are attending the gym more than 10 times a month to make that expense worthwhile. I have made a similar decision when it comes to my going to hot yoga- it is a tough decision but there are other resources out there.
A trip to the movies in Kalispell costs almost $40. Tickets for 2 + Concessions…You can either nix this cost or choose discount days when tickets are only $5/person or you see a matinee.
Entertainment Expenses to Trim from the Budget
DVDs aren’t really something you need to buy. Let’s be honest, just how many times do you want a movie that was produced just a few years ago? Instead of buying a movie for $20-30, rent it for $4. Or watch it on a streaming channel if it is available.
Hulu, Spotify, Netflix, HBO Max, YouTube TV…. Do you need all of these? Consider narrowing it down to just a couple, share the account with family (and therefore the expense),
This suggestion is a hit or a miss. Kyler and I decided to go down to one car. This helped us save $300/month! My car lease was $216/mo, insurance was $83 and gas cost about $20-25 for a full tank.
Choose a Base Model Car
When choosing a vehicle for a new lease, choose a car over a truck or a SUV. While having a truck or other larger vehicle can be fun, I have found that car leases are at least $100 less than truck/SUV. Furthermore, the insurance costs and cost of gas is significantly lower. Unless you have calculated numbers and have been able to match the monthly expense of a truck/SUV, then it’s up to preference.
Driving, Uber, Taxi, Lyft or Bus
If you live somewhere where the bus makes, swap your car for a bus pass. But if you need a ride all the time, maybe own a car instead of using Lyft or Uber. I don’t live somewhere that has a lot of Lyft and Uber, but when traveling, we have spent as much as $30 for one trip!
Rent or Mortgage is more or less an inflexible expense. You can’t always control how much you spend on Rent/Mortgage. However you can take measures to decrease your mortgage by refinancing when interest rates are lower. We refinanced our mortgage and saved $180.
We also pay Home Owners Association and that cost has been slowly increasing every year (total bummer). Next time we buy a house we are going to choose something with little or no HOA.
Final Thoughts of Trimming Expenses from the Budget
I don’t advocate that you must eliminate every single one of these expenses. This list is primarily about giving you ideas as to whatever expense may be in your life that you are willing to give up in order to achieve your financial goals.
What expenses have you given up to achieve your goals?