Consciously or not, we all make dozens of decisions each day about how we’ll spend our money. We opt to eat breakfast at home, or grab a pastry and latte on the way to the office. We swing by the mall and mindlessly shop to “de-stress.” We choose to drive, carpool, or take public transportation. We decide to pick up a few books and magazines at a bookstore instead of a library.
Most people never stop to consider the cumulative effect of these daily financial decisions, but choosing unwisely can add up to serious debt, stress, and financial instability. Would you feel more secure with a solid emergency fund with eight months of expenses? If so, read on because this article breaks down everyday expenses in a variety of categories so that you can see how they add up—and then find solutions for minimizing them. Read 50 Frugal Things You Aren’t Doing
Why Cut Everyday Expenses?
A more deliberate approach to spending can pave the way to financial freedom and security. In particular, setting aside money can help you:
1. Simplify your life: Having fewer bills to sort through and pay each month is a major benefit of cutting back on household and other routine expenses. It reduces some of the stress associated with staying on top of mounting financial obligations and provides the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve got things under control.
2. Pay down debt: Consumer debt has reached unprecedented levels in recent years as more Americans become saddled with high-interest credit card debt and fail to build up substantial equity in their homes and cars. Spending less on everyday items can free up cash to pay down mortgages, car loans, credit card balances, and other debts that keep you from getting ahead.
3. Prepare for emergencies: Scrutinizing purchases carefully and cutting some expenses altogether can give you extra money to sock away for inevitable rainy days.
4. Spend where it counts: Frugality isn’t about deprivation. Mild penny-pinching here and there can add up to a big amount of money that you can then spend on something larger, such as a kitchen remodel or a much-needed vacation.
5. Save for retirement: The uncertainty of government- and employer-sponsored pensions means that many people have to fend for themselves with disciplined contributions to individual retirement accounts. In the face of high housing, healthcare, and other costs, economical everyday spending can help you build a nest egg.
Key Everyday Expenses You Can Cut
Most everyday expenses fall into the following product and service categories.
There is an art to grocery shopping that begins with diligent meal planning and coupon clipping long before you leave the house. Simple tips can leave you with significant checkout- aisle savings and if you’re willing to make a few small lifestyle changes, your savings can really add up. Read 101 Ways to Take a Bite Out of Your Food Budget
Volunteering with local arts organizations or museums can help you save on entertainment expenses. You might even find that you want to participate! And when it comes to family outings, there are many activities that cost very little yet can be just as special to you and your loved ones. Read 10 Great Father and Son/Daughter Outings for $50 or Less
Using restraint when it comes to appetizers, desserts, and drinks when dining out can go a long way. When a glass of tea that costs pennies is priced at $2.99 or more, you know you’re on your way to savings by drinking water. You can also take advantage of the restaurant’s own policies and score a lot of food. Read 3 Tips for Eating Out for Five but Paying for Only One
Home and Garden
When it comes to the house and yard, DIY is the way to go. You can cut significant dollars out of your household budget by making your own cleaning and maintenance products and doing the work yourself. Read 10 Ways You Can Make Lawn Care Easier
Many people think of their utility bills as fixed expenses that they can’t control. But simple tactics, such as switching off the lights when you leave a room and being aware of the length of your showers, can reduce your monthly bills. Add some caulk to your windows, make sure your HVAC ductwork is well sealed, and add some insulation! Apartment dwellers can even seal their windows with plastic in the winter to keep out old man winter. Read Want to Learn to Read Your Home’s Electric Meter?
The average American spends more than $8,000 per year on vehicles—in some cases, 15 to 20% of their take home pay. High gas prices, car insurance premiums, and maintenance expenses, can amount to a huge recurring financial burden. Read 10 Gasoline Cost Saving Tips for Your Wallet
Overspent consumers continue to pay exorbitant prices for brand-name clothing that can date quickly and often requires expensive dry cleaning and alterations. Even self-proclaimed thrifty shoppers waste big bucks with so-called bargain-hunting: buying something you don’t need simply because it’s on sale is just as wasteful as overpaying for something you do in fact need. Read 8 Ways to Cut Your Clothing Costs