Do you have a budget for yourself to follow each month? If not, do you know how much you spend on food, car insurance, your home insurance, your phone, cable, or gasoline? My guess is that most of us could not quote the exact expense of each of these categories every month. You might write this off and just say, “Well nobody does!” This is simply not true, and by ignoring your re-occurring expenses you may be ignoring potential savings for this month, and for the entire year.
First, Make Your Budget
In order to get an accurate assessment of what your expenses are each month, you first need to take a guess at it – meaning, start a budget and write it down on paper. Throughout the month, you will basically find out how wrong you are, which is absolutely fine. Making mistakes is the best way to learn! From here, you can begin to question various expenses and find out how to reduce them each month.
I made a ridiculous goal for myself this year and vowed to pay off my $54,500 mortgage in full by the end of this year. After figuring out what my maximum income would be, I realized that I still needed more money. I decided it was time to trim down the budget.
I have had State Farm insurance for quite a while and I have just paid whatever it was that they told me to pay. This is not a great method for saving money. For my 2001 Honda Civic (that is maybe worth $2,500), I was paying $80 a month for the most basic coverage possible. That just seemed a little steep to me, so I began to get some online insurance quotes. As it turns out, Progressive could actually give me better coverage for only $54 a month! Over the course of one year, this is going to save me $312 a year.
Cell Phone Service
Who is your cell phone provider? My provider is Verizon Wireless. The coverage is excellent, but when I stepped back and looked at my bill I realized I was paying $85 a month. According to the Virgin Mobile website, I could get coverage through them for only $55 a month. The only problem was that I would have to buy a new phone to get it, which wouldn’t be much of a savings for the year. So, I decided to call Verizon and see what they could do. It turns out that I have been a customer since 2009 and therefore qualified to get on their Loyalty Plan, which was only $60 a month, plus I was able to pick out a new Smartphone. This translated into a $300 a year savings. Yes!
This is a big one for most people. With our fast-moving society, it is often difficult to prepare food at home, so many people are eating out more often and therefore spending way more money than necessary. Being busy isn’t a good excuse for wasting money on food that isn’t good for you. I used to spend about $300 a month on groceries and eating out. By creating batches of food at a time, I am able to save money by buying in bulk and it hardly takes any time at all. My grocery bills are now under $200 a month (and I still eat out from time to time). This move saved me $1,200 for the year.
Do you currently have cable that is costing you $100+ a month? Get rid of it and order Netflix for $8 a month. This will make an immediate impact on your monthly spending. I know it did for mine. Plus, I found that I had more time since I wasn’t tuned into the TV as often!
I challenge you to find ways that you can save today. I bet by tweaking a few things you could easily come up with a thousand dollars’ worth of saving for the year!
This article was written by Derek Sall, owner and operator of LifeAndMyFinances.com. Get out of debt, save more, and be rich!