10 Ways to Cut Your Expenses $1 at a Time
Saving $1,000 sounds impossible. It sounds like a pipe dream cooked up by a rich person, right?
I want to share some enlightenment with you. There’s an old saying: how do you eat an elephant… one bite at a time.
How do you save $1,000? $1 at a time.
Even if you’re making $17,000/ year, you can save $1,000. With that money, you can pay down debt, pay off a credit card, put money toward a new house or car, build an emergency fund, get ahead on bills, catch-up on missed bills, or just even prove to yourself that you can do it!
I’m telling you: it can be done. $1 at a time, it can be done. Nothing is too small to start to make an impact.
10 Ways to Cut Your Expenses $1 at a Time
1. Limit (or eliminate) lunches and dinners out.
No, you don’t have to start by cutting up your credit cards and living under a rock. Start by bringing lunch instead of buying it just one day a week.
If eating lunches out isn’t a vice of yours, trying cutting back on eating takeout.
Remember, one dollar at a time. So $10/week or $40/week is 10 times is a huge chunk of change when you’re celebrating every dollar!
2. Call your cable provider to see if you can get a lower rate.
The worst thing that they can say is, “no,” so you might as well ask if they can give you a better rate. You can say that you’ve been looking at other providers. Or that a competitor has a lower introductory rate.
Usually, statements like that will help to lower your rates. Even if you can get a lower rate by $5 each month, that winds up being $60 back in your pocket without even having to quit cable.
3. Check your bank statements.
Now, this is a big one! Go through your bank statements under a microscope. Here are some things to look out for:
Check for subscriptions that you aren’t using.
Do you use that Hulu subscription? Are you still playing enough Xbox to keep your Gamefly and Xbox Live subscriptions? Do you still read People or your local paper?
These are all things that you might not even realize you still pay for. If you aren’t using it, get rid of it! No reason to pay a monthly fee for a service or a product that you don’t use.
You’re not losing anything here. But you could be saving $10-50 each month!
Check for charges that you don’t remember making.
“Hi, Mrs. Vencil? Did you make a purchase at a KFC in Georgia?” Uhhhhhhh…. I’m in Pennsylvania…. and I’m basically a vegetarian… sooooo…. no.
Sometimes your credit card company or the bank will give you an update like this, but other times, they won’t. While sometimes thieves will use your credit card information to buy big ticket items, a lot of times, they’ll use your card for small purchases that are easier to overlook.
Even if there was a questionable purchase, dispute it with your bank or credit card company. At least this way you’ll be able to know more about the charge. Sometimes it’s just recorded in a nondescript manner (“ABC1782****” actually means “Sunoco Gas Station” to the bank), but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Check for surprise fees.
Some banks require you to keep a balance of at least $100 on average every day. If you dip below that monthly average, you might get a surprise charge for $10 or so.
If it’s the first time it’s happened, usually if you call your bank and speak to them directly and they’ll reverse the first charge. Otherwise, in the future make sure that you can maintain that daily amount. If not, shop around for a new bank. Many banks won’t charge for a minimum daily balance, so there are other options out there.
4. Call your utility providers for a lower rate.
Explain that you are having trouble paying your bill and were wondering if there was a discount or a lower rate available.
Check for if you really need certain services. I called to cancel my home alarm system service, and they offered me 75% off my monthly payments and no contract to stay with them.
5. Check for “vampire electronics.”
These are the silent leeches of your electric bill. The light that you leave on in the hallway 24 hours a day. Maybe it’s the downstairs window unit air conditioner that you leave on when you’re out of the house. It’s definitely your wireless router that is connected to your wifi that’s connected to your Smart TV that is on 24/7.
In that one month, we lowered our electric bill by $112! That’s a full 35% decrease in our bill. It was absolutely shocking. That’s the power of turning off your lights and wireless router. If you don’t think that you could remember to turn everything back on, you could invest in a timer for your electric outlets. It’s a great and inexpensive way to make sure that your lights are always off when you don’t need them and are always on when you want them.
6. Monitor your gas consumption & gas prices.
Consolidate trips out whenever you can. Say you fill up your car with gas once a week. If you can eliminate one trip to the gas station, that saves your gas budget by 25%!
What does that number look like? If you spend $200/month on gas, you could save $50 in one month.
Even when you fill up, make sure that you’re getting the best gas prices. Sometimes, an extra 5 minutes in the car can save you $0.25 per gallon. Those pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters all add up.
If you can save $0.10/ gallon each time you fill up, that could mean anywhere from $1-2 every time you fill up. If every $1 counts, this $5-10/ month helps a lot!
7. Cut out the paper.
Paper towels, that is. Use washable cloth rags and towels instead of buying paper towels all the time. Think of it this way: if you spend $4/week on paper towels, you’ll save $208/ year. Amazing, huh?
If you use paper napkins at dinner, switch them out for cloth napkins. If you spend $8/ month on paper napkins, you’ll save $96/ year. Yes, using reusable cloth items instead of disposable paper products can make that much of a difference.
And the savings is crazier if you factor in disposable diapers! Switching to cloth diapers have saved me thousands of dollars!
8. Lower your thermostat.
Ever wonder if that extra one degree on your thermostat makes a difference? It’s tough to say conclusively since everyone’s house is different and every cooling system is different. But it’s worth a try!
It’s said that you should keep your temperature at 68 degrees in the winter and 72 degrees in the summer for ideal temperature and electric consumption. Try adjusting your thermostat to meet these guidelines or go even higher in the summer and lower in the winter.
If you have an old thermostat, you might want to look into upgrading it to a programmable thermostat. For less than $20, this doubles your temperature controlling power. You can make sure that you’re not wasting electricity setting the temperature too high or too low, but you can also set the timing for your thermostat. What I mean by that is that you can set it to be off when you sleep and still wake up to a comfortable house. You can also set it to be a different temperature when you leave the house.
Those few degrees lower or higher can really make a big impact. Plus, you likely won’t even notice the different temperature.
9. Go on a spending freeze for a week or even a month.
This one is a little tough, but this is a killer way to save a great deal very quickly. A spending freeze is just what it sounds like. You put away the cards and cash for a period of time and live off of what you have in your house for food and entertainment. All bills are paid for, but spending for things like coffee, lunch, movies, clothes, groceries, and everything else that requires your card numbers or cash is strictly off limits.
This takes a lot of willpower, but it also shows you how you can get things that you want for free. For example, there are a million different places to find Redbox codes to get a free movie rental. There are also kids eat free restaurants that you can earn Swagbucks for gift cards and then get dinner for the kids for free. You might even end up loving your local library for all fo the free things that are offered through them.
If a full spending freeze sounds like it’s too much, try out a mini-spending freeze and just don’t buy any groceries for a week (make sure to not overspend the week before to stock up or the week after to make up for everything). Think about it. That’s 25% of your monthly grocery budget that gets to stay in your pocket.
Think about it. That’s 25% of your monthly grocery budget that gets to stay in your pocket. I could live off of the food in my pantry and my chest freezer for a week without a problem, and I’m sure that you can too. It might take some planning, but it’s not that difficult! Plus, you’re clearing up room in your pantry!
10. Shop around for new insurance providers or just lower rates.
Call your insurance and ask about your coverage. You might be over insured and not even realize it. Or you could be covered for Roadside Assistance through your insurance but are still paying for AAA.
You could even play (a little bit of) hardball and tell them that you’re shopping around for new insurances because Company A offered you the same coverage for $100 less. You might get lower rates just by asking.
It’s also worth asking if there are discounts that you’re missing out on. Many car insurances offer safe driver discounts, good student discounts, multiple policy discounts, running light discounts, and more. Even homeowner’s or renter’s insurances offer similar discounts. Even if it only saves you $5/ month, that’s $60/ year.
There are many ways to cut your expenses $1 at a time. Just remember that every single penny is important when you’re budgeting and trying to save. If you can save $1 each day, that’s $365 at the end of the year. Don’t overlook an opportunity to save just because it isn’t saving you $1,000. Take every chance to find ways to save and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they add up for you.
What’s a small way to save that’s added up for you?