Easy Ways to Cut Spending

person doing yoga at home in front of her laptop
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Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

When looking for ways to save money or cut back on your expenses, you’ll need to consider all of your options. This is especially true for the everyday services you rely on, such as your phone plan and cable bill, which can quickly run up your monthly costs. 

Fortunately, there are easy ways to slim down your budget so you can pocket a little cash, whether you’re looking to spend it on a vacation or invest it for retirement. Let’s take a look at some tips for how to lower your bills. 

Eat at Home

In 2019, the average household spent $3,526 per year dining out, as well as $4,643 on groceries. In total, food spending made up 12.9% of all spending in the U.S. 

While dining out is typically more expensive, especially if you take part in it often, there are ways to cut back spending at the grocery store, too. Consider switching from brand-name items to generic or store-brand, as store-brand groceries typically cost less money. Also while shopping, don’t be afraid to ask for discounts. Most big-name grocery stores will have a loyalty or discount card, enabling you to purchase items at a lower price, and possibly get coupons to use in the future.  

When grocery shopping regularly, do your best to stick with items you absolutely need, rather than want. Splurging is OK, but even avoiding the strategically placed snacks at the checkout line can have a big impact on the cost of groceries each month. 

Lower Your Cellphone Bill

Traditional cellphone carriers are expensive. Companies like Verizon will charge an individual $90 per month plus taxes and fees for their best unlimited plan. Their cheapest unlimited plan, which is $70 before taxes and fees, does not include 5G ultra wideband, preventing you from having the latest connective technology.

Switching from one of these providers to an alternative one, such as Mint Mobile or US Mobile, can save you big bucks each month. Mint Mobile’s unlimited plan is just $30 per month, including taxes and fees, and will begin to reduce speeds after using 35 gigabytes of data. US Mobile, meanwhile, will charge you $45 a month for an unlimited plan, plus taxes and fees, with no throttling and free data in 144 countries. And with a family plan, you can reduce this cost down to $25 a month per line.

It’s not guaranteed that cost-effective cellphone services will be the most efficient. Before switching carriers, be sure to research which services will fit your lifestyle best, in addition to your budget.

Skip the Gym

Unless you’re in desperate need of heavy-duty gym equipment, it may make sense to cancel your membership and opt for an at-home workout routine. The average, monthly cost of a multipurpose fitness club is $75, plus an additional enrollment fee of $82, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). If you’re an avid lifter or need fitness equipment to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the $900 a year may be worth it, but to others, it might not be.  

Bodyweight exercises, the type of exercise conducted simply by using the weight of your body, can be as effective as using free weights or weight machines. Or for a little more of a push, you can choose to invest in a set of dumbbells and resistance bands, which you can purchase for under $100 at retailers like Walmart.  

Best of all, these exercises can be done at home, for free. Social media outlets like Youtube, Instagram, and even TikTok tend to offer free workout videos that you can follow along with, too, ranging from group yoga classes to HIIT training. 

Stop Paying for Cable

Paid TV, such as cable and satellite, has been on the decline for years. The number of American adults who watch television through cable or satellite was 76% in 2015, and as of 2021, is at 56%, according to a recent study from The Pew Research Center. One of the key reasons for cutting the cord or never getting cable in the first place, according to the research, is the cost of cable services.

Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ continue to grow in popularity, particularly enticing consumers with their prices, as well as their options for original content, older TV favorites, and live TV. The premium plan from Netflix costs just $17.99 per month, while Hulu with no advertisements costs just $11.99 per month. In comparison, the average cable bill in 2019 was $217.42 per month. 

The cost of streaming services increases substantially with the addition of live TV; however, for a family of four who want to stream television on various screens, it may be worth it. Hulu, for example, charges $64.99 per month for streaming plus live TV as of April 2021, and that increases to $70.99 per month with the no-ads option.

Invest in Energy Efficiency 

The average U.S. home spends $2,000 a year on its utility bills, but it’s possible to save at least 25% of that each year by embracing energy-efficient practices, according to the Department of Energy. These include:

  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees.
  • Add insulation to your attic.
  • Install a programmable thermostat, or consider upgrading to a smart thermostat that will automatically adjust a room’s temperature.
  • Plug electronics into energy strips and turn the strips off when not in use.
  • Use appliances that tend to require a lot of energy, such as dishwashers, on off-peak hours.

The Bottom Line

There are tons of ways to lower your cost of living, whether that includes relocating, trading in your car, or living with a roommate. But for those who aren’t looking to make huge life changes, there are still plenty of ways you can reduce your monthly expenses. By taking small steps to decrease your monthly spending, you’re one step closer to reaching financial stability.