Everybody, frugal-minded or not, is having to cut back or cut out some type of expense from their budget. Don't end up suffering in the long run by cutting costs on essentials, and paying full price for things you just don't need. Before rehauling your entire budget, take a look at the top ten things you can afford to cut back on, or cut out altogether.
- Driving- Many people hop in the car just to travel to the drug store or supermarket that is less than one mile away. Get in some of your daily exercise by walking to the corner store. Your body and your wallet will thank you. If you are lucky enough to live in city that provides public transportation, use it!
- Electricity bills- Have you ever accidently left a porch or bathroom light on before you went to bed or walked out the door for work? Probably so. Eliminate this horrible waste of money and resources by double-checking that the lights are off before exiting the house.
- Alcohol and tobacco- It seems every time I turn on the news, theres another tax hike on these products. If you can't cut them out altogether, at least consider skipping the bar and the hundred dollar tab that goes with it. Your body will thank you as well.
- Magazine and newspaper subscriptions- The top stories are available online, and as for magazines get used "back issues" from the library, family, or friends.
- Entertainment- No, this doesn't mean sitting curled up, alone, every minute of spare time you have. Its all about moderation and alternatives. Instead of going to regular movies with friends, meet up at the dollar movies to see that movie you didn't have a chance to see yet. If you usually go out for lunch on weekends, forgo the restaurant and pack a picnic. For those with children, check out our article "Summer entertainment for families on a budget"
- Eating out- It's probably the experience you are leaving the house for, rather the food itself. Try visiting parks and museums for a date night, or meet up for drinks and appetizers instead of a full meal.
- Yard and lawn maintenance/pool cleaning- Do it yourself, or have a teenage neighbor do it.
- Cable- The switch to digital broadcasting probably means you get better reception now, and it's free after you purchase a converter box. It'll save you around $50.00 per month, and after just a few weeks, you really won't miss it anymore. Many cable programs come on local television during primetime. If you have a bundle plan (Internet, home phone, cable) talk to them about reducing your package,and thus the monthly price. Check out online TV show websites like hulu.com for full-length episodes of shows you can't get with your antenna.
- Beef, chicken and seafood- Try replacing 1-2 meals per week with a non-meat source of protein (think legumes and beans). a can of refried beans costs about $1.00, (as compared to $6.00 for a package of southwestern style chicken) for tacos. Potentially, this will save you $10.00 to $20.00 per week, and more if you eat vegetarian frequently. Your health, wallet and waistline alike will appreciate it.
- Excessive doctor visits- Brush your teeth and take your vitamins! By taking an active approach in your health, this eliminates the need for constant doctor and dental visits. Don't skip your regularly scheduled checkups though!