Forty Ways To Cut Your Monthly Expenses

freedom...One of the biggest challenges in personal finance is figuring out ways to reduce the regular bills that eat up your monthly budget. These continuous regular expenses simply fill up our budget, leaving us less money to invest for the future – and also less money to spend on things that we enjoy.

40 Ways to Cut Monthly Spending

The best approach for cutting required spending is to simply walk through all of the required expenses and look for ways to lower that number. Here are forty techniques you can use to do just that, divided up into several sensible categories.

Automobile Expenses

Automobiles are money pits – they constantly go down in value, devour fuel by the gallon, and often require all manner of repairs and maintenance work. How can we reduce the cost of automobiles in our monthly budget?

Use public transportation

If you have an option that enables you to ride to regular destinations (such as work, the store, or a shopping center) instead of using your automobile, you can save quite a bit of money on gas and maintenance by just dropping a few coins on the bus or the rail system and leaving the car at home (or parking it at a station). In fact, during my earlier days, I exclusively used public transportation and it was painful to add an automobile to my monthly finances.

Sell an automobile

If an automobile is sitting in your driveway or garage and isn’t used, consider selling it. If nothing else, the insurance expense will go away, and if you can use the money from the sale to pay it off or, better yet, pocket some of the money, even better.

Carpool

If you have an opportunity to share a ride to and from work with someone else, that not only significantly reduces wear and tear on your car and gas expenses, it enables you to use any carpooling lanes on the commute, which almost always save time when commuting and allows you to drive at a speed that .

Keep the tires on your automobiles inflated properly

Once a month, stop by a local gas station that offers free air and check the air pressure in your car tires, then fill each one to the maximum recommended amount as stated in your manual. This improves gas mileage by one percent for every two PSI of air you are able to add to your tires.

Debt Reduction

Any opportunity you have to reduce your debt will obviously help in your monthly payments, but many people don’t have the cash available to eliminate debt. There are other options for reducing your monthly debt load, however…

Refinance your home and/or automobile

Contact some lending institutions and inquire about rates. You might be able to get into a situation that reduces your monthly debt payments without significantly increasing your overall cost in the long term.

Consolidate your student loans

Don’t hold out for a hope of better rates to consolidate your loans, especially if your current rates are quite high. Spend the time to find a good loan consolidation option and it will pay off every single month.

Get a small personal loan through your local credit union

This is a great option if you’ve borrowed money to make a smaller purchase, such as furniture or a small home improvement project, and you’re finding the interest rates uncomfortable. The perfect place to look for a helping hand here is your local credit union, which will often offer small personal loans at a nice rate if your credit is solid.

Request a credit card rate reduction

If you’ve got a decent amount on your credit card, call up your credit card company and request a rate reduction. If they won’t go for it, get a 0% balance transfer onto another card. The key here, though, is to stop buying on credit until your financial situation is healthy.

Sign up for automatic debt repayment plans

Many installment plans, particularly those with student loans, offer an interest rate reduction if you sign up for an automatic plan. You should never pass these up – not only do they save money automatically each month, they’re also incredibly convenient. If you have any installment payments (particularly student loan debt), see if such an offer is available to you.

Sell unused items

Dig through your closet and look for items that you no longer use that may have value, then use that cash directly to eliminate debts, thus reducing your monthly debt load. I did this myself with a number of items when my debt load became almost unmanageable.

Energy Bills

We all face a continual onslaught of energy costs, especially as we use more and more electronic devices. Luckily, technology has brought us a few effective ways to reduce costs as well.

Install CFLs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs are receiving a big push right now and their advantages are great: a longer lifespan and significantly less electrical usage. Stick with the name brands for now, even at a premium – my entire house switched to GE CFLs more than a year ago and I have yet to replace a single one. A tip: when comparing bulbs, use the lumens number to compare bulbs, not the equivalent wattages – the lumens indicate the actual amount of light emitted by the bulb. Remember also that under normal usage (4 hours a day) and normal electrical rates ($0.10 per kilowatt hour), replacing a 75 watt bulb with a 20 watt CFL saves $0.66 per month. Multiply that by all the bulbs in your house to see how much you’ll save every month.

Install a programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat allows you to automatically alter the heating and cooling of your home when you’re not at home, when you’re asleep, and so on, saving significantly on your heating and cooling bills.

Unplug all unused electrical devices

Are there any electrical devices around the house that stay plugged in, but that you rarely use? Most electric devices use a small amount of electricity constantly, a phantom charge. To eliminate that usage, unplug the items.

Utilize timers and power strips

Along those lines, consider utilizing power strips and power timers to turn electrical devices on and off. A power strip with a switch on it, when turned off, blocks the phantom charge on those devices; a timer can automatically turn off the charge going to a power strip (or anything plugged into it) at a certain time each night. This is a great way to eliminate phantom charge on your home electronic equipment at night.

Install a blanket for your hot water heater and reduce the temperature

In many homes, the hot water heater is a major energy drain; the water is kept hotter than most people ever use, plus the heat is constantly lost to the environment, meaning you have to burn more energy than ever to keep the water so hot. Solve both problems by dropping the temperature down to 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit (around 60 degress Celsius) and also installing a blanket on your water heater to keep in the heat – a blanket can pay for itself in about a year.

Air seal your home

Air sealing your home can prevent drafts, which can often cause the loss of cool air in the summer and the loss of warm air in the winter, both of which can increase your housing costs. Here’s a great guide to this weekend project from the EERE.

Entertainment Expenses

Many people look at entertainment as the first thing to cut when trying to trim costs, but they often forget to look at the regular expenditures that slowly eat away at your financial foundation month in and month out. Here are some things to consider that you may have overlooked before.

Cancel club memberships

Look at things like a health club, a country club, and so on. How often do you really use these services? If you’re using a gym membership less than once a week or a country club membership less than once a month, you’re likely throwing away money.

Reduce or eliminate your cable bill

For many people, this advice is beyond the pale, but it’s worth looking at. Perhaps you could trim back on your premium channel selection and just go with basic cable, or perhaps you could even eliminate your cable bill entirely – it will also help with electricity costs because you won’t be watching television as much and you’ll suddenly find you have much more free time.

Look for inexpensive entertainment options

Do you utilize the local library? Do you attend local community events like municipal band concerts and so on? Are you aware of local volunteer groups and organizations? Your community often offers many options for inexpensive or free entertainment of all kinds – you don’t have to have a big entertainment budget each month.

Strongly reduce or eliminate travel

We live very far from our extended families, so we are aware of the costs of travel. We’ve found that by being selective about what we travel to – and also open to inviting people to visiting us – we signifcantly cut down on travel expenses.

Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions

If you get a magazine or newspaper in the mail but simply don’t read it, cancel that subscription when it comes up for renewal, no matter how much you “like” the magazine. An unread subscription is nothing more than expensive clutter.

Look at and consider reducing/eliminating other regular paid services

Look at services like Netflix – are you really getting $19.95 a month out of these services? If not, just drop the service and look for other options, like a local rental store. What about satellite radio? If you use that but find yourself not using it or just sticking with the same things you listen to on regular radio (like NPR or top forty), then cancel the service.

Food Bills

My favorite room in the house is the kitchen, but for many people it just seems more convenient to eat out, even though it’s incredibly expensive and not as much of a time saver as you might think. Consider these options.

Cook (and pack) your own meals at home

When you cook at home, make plenty so that you can freeze some of it for future meals and, even better, take some of it as leftovers to work, drastically reducing the cost of the typical workplace lunch. Some people may shy away from leftovers, but there are some secrets to making any leftovers as good as the original.

Reduce or eliminate eating out or getting take-out

Take-out and dining out can be a huge timesaver for a busy family, but the expense can be tremendous – and it often doesn’t save much time, either. Instead, look at other options for dining at home: prepare lots of meals at once and freeze them for easy cooking later, focus on simple recipes, and choose recipes that utilize the fresh produce in season in your area.

Buy nonperishable items in bulk

Many people never even bother to look at some of the larger packages of nonperishable items – they think it’s just too much. Try looking at the cost per unit of all of the sizes and choose the one that’s the best deal; often, it is the big bulky package, but that just means you won’t be buying it again for a long time. Spread out over months and over a lot of items (think of all of the nonperishables in your home – food is just the beginning), this can add up to a lot of trimmed fat.

Start a garden

Vegetable gardening is a splendid hobby that can often turn a profit if done well. Focus on vegetables that are easy to grow and produce abundant fruit, like tomatoes, and learn how to store the excess through such processes as canning. Opening up a jar of tomatoes in the winter that were grown by you in the summer and canned in the fall is a wonderful experience – and it can really help with trimming the food bill.

Buy generic

Many products (not just food) are available in a store-brand or generic form for significantly less money – quite often with the name brand, you’re paying for their advertising budget with the higher cost. Look carefully at the ingredients in generic and name-brand products and if they’re the same, go with the generic one on a regular basis, which will consistently trim money from your shopping bill.

Insurance Bills

We all have insurance to protect against the unexpected, but when we overpay for insurance, we leave ourselves vulnerable in a different way by stretching our budget too thin. Look into these options for ways to reduce your insurance premiums.

Downgrade your health insurance

Ask at work about the various options available to you that might reduce your insurance costs, and don’t neglect to look into family options if you have children – if you do, all working members of the household should look at family coverage.

 

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Shop for homeowner and auto insurance

If you haven’t shopped around for homeowner and auto insurance lately, now’s a good time to get a few quotes, especially if your credit is strong. If you can save a substantial amount and maintain your current coverage, it’s well worth switching to another provider, but give your current one a chance to match.

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Switch to term life insurance If you’re paying for whole life insurance or universal life insurance, look strongly at a term package instead. The cost per year will be significantly cheaper and at the end of the term, your life insurance needs will likely be far less than they are right now.

 

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Raise your deductibles

If you’re paying a large premium in order to have a small deductible, you might want to consider switching that, particularly if your claims are infrequent. Raising your deductible can often significantly reduce your annual premiums, easing the monthly strain on your bills.

Other Monthly Budget Reductions

There are many other areas of your budget that can also afford a bit of fat trimmed from them. Let’s look at a few more possibilities for lowering your regular expenses.

Reduce or eliminate your cell phone bill

Ask yourself how much you really use your cell phone; if it’s not all that much, look at perhaps getting a prepaid phone with a small number of minutes on it for those emergency situations when you actually use it. If you do use it a lot, look at the features you’re paying for on your bill and see if you can trim any of those.

Move to a less-expensive child care option

We pay a significant amount for our child care, but there are other good options available to us. Look at other child care options in your area carefully and see if it might not be worth moving to a less expensive scenario. If you’re lucky enough to live near grandparents, they might be able to assist with part-time child care as an opportunity to bond with their grandchildren.

Reduce or eliminate organized child activities

My own children aren’t old enough yet to be in organized activities with costs, but my nieces and nephews certainly are and the bills can really add up. Look for activities that your child is sincerely interested in (if you don’t know, ask them what they really like) and focus on those while cutting back on the rest.

Eliminate services (housecleaning, landscaping, etc.)

If you hire out household services to others, consider trimming back or eliminating them. Instead, put aside some time each week to do them yourself – not only will you save money, but you’ll find that many activities can get the whole family involved (like housecleaning).

Reduce (temporarily) your giving at church/synagogue/etc.

If your budget is bursting at the seams, consider cutting back on your giving at your religious service. If this spiritually troubles you, talk to the leader of your religious group about the issue – they’ll usually be very supportive of this if you need some time to get your own house in order.

Strongly reduce or eliminate clothes shopping

I have a close friend who insists on having a significant monthly clothes budget. I challenged her to trim her spending in half and instead focus more on looking for bargains – and she’s never looked back. If you need to dress well for work, don’t let that slide, but putting in some effort to look for a bargain can often pay huge dividends. Even better – have a moratorium on shopping for new clothes until you really need something new.

Reduce grooming expenses

Instead of having your hair cut and styled weekly, cut back to every other week. If you have your nails done twice a month, cut back to monthly, or have manicure parties where you do it at home with your friends instead. If you buy expensive shampoos, look at lower cost options. It doesn’t have to cost a truckload to keep up appearances.

Reduce or eliminate consumable habits (smoking, alcohol, etc.)

Any consumable habit, whether it be smoking or excessive drinking, can be a constant drain on a budget without any real benefit. Give the habit a kick in the pants and your wallet will breathe a serious sigh of relief.

Move to a less expensive area

Many people leave this option out when looking at trimming their budget, but if you can find work in another area, it may be worth considering. Look around at other areas of the country where you can find employment, see what your salary would be there, and look at the housing costs. Quite often, you’ll find yourself significantly ahead by looking at areas like Minneapolis rather than areas like San Francisco, even at a significantly lower salary.

Using even a few of these options can really open up some breathing room in a budget, enabling you to break free of debt and chase your dreams.

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  1. Lisa says:

    This last year I switched back to the BCBS HMO plan and save about $90 a month. I haven’t noticed any difference. I did check first that the doctors I use are in the plan. Also, for your cell phone, check if you are eligible for a discount. I qualified as a state employee and verizon gave me a 15% discount on my base plan. I don’t actually work for the state, I work for the school system, but that qualifies me.

  2. Eric says:

    With the insurance downgrades, don’t forget to adjust the emergency fund accordingly. If you drop your home to 1k deductible and your car to 500 then you should probably sock away a few more $$ into the emergency fund.

    Getting rid of things is also a great place to start. Clearing clutter from our lives almost always improves the quality of the environment around us. Sell it, give it to charity, throw it out… doesn’t matter, just cut down on the clutter. It’s amazing.

    Even if you are using both vehicles… do you NEED two cars? I asked myself that last year and ended up selling my car and walking to work.

  3. Randy says:

    In other words, become an Amish

  4. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    The original version of this article had a mention of pet issues that nearly derailed this discussion and was resulting in some name-calling and other unnecessary things. I have removed the material about pets and will post about it separately in the near future.

  5. Heather says:

    Trent,
    I don’t want to be difficult or discouraging. But in previous posts you’ve talked about how you’d like to become a full-time blogger. My question is this: are you really contributing that much unique material? This post, for example, reads like a compendium of something I’ve seen from almost every personal finance blogger out there. Just something to think about. I think the market may be saturated.

  6. Jason says:

    I agree, but what makes Trent’s writing different and unique is that he often uses his current situation (both in regards to life and finances) to justify each article.

  7. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Heather, some of my readers request compendiums of tips that they can print out for use offline, so I try to provide these on occasion. That’s exactly what this article is – they might not be the most creative and unique, but they do fill a need for some readers.

  8. David says:

    I like the idea of CFL bulbs, but almost all of the most-used fixtures in my house have the smaller candelabra base. Does anyone make CFL bulbs in this size?

  9. guinness416 says:

    Good list. And the cable doesn’t have to be all or nothing – we are basic only, but subscribe to certain extra channels only during baseball season, and some people get others only for e.g. The Sopranos, but thru inertia don’t cancel after it.

    It’s also worth noting that some of these items have benefits beyond the financial – getting your arse out of your car brings you in contact with more people, allows you to see your city at street level and includes exercise and reading – two of my favourite things! Growing vegetables is a nice (and addictive) hobby which is one of the few things we may do which is by necessity slow paced – you can’t rush those tomatoes to grow.

  10. TheLocoMono says:

    I agree with Trent that automobiles are money pits. Having gone through at least 5 cars in 10 some years, I can wholeheartly attest to that.

    One thing to ease the burden of car expenses is to buy a reliable, used car. Trent and I share the same belief that Consumer Reports provide great feedback. They have a particular section on buying used cars. This section is based on subscribers’ feedback. This helps you to know at least a million other auto owners have experienced a certain vehicle you are looking at.

  11. Michelle says:

    You know, I really hate that most of the cities that have good public transportation are so expensive.It seems like six of one and a half dozen of the other.

  12. Ken says:

    The manufacturing guys over at Evolving Excellence also commented on home clutter this weekend.

    http://www.evolvingexcellence.com/blog/2007/06/less-storage-sp.html

    Ken

  13. Joy says:

    “Instead of having your hair cut and styled weekly, cut back to every other week.”

    Was this just an example or are there really people you know that have their hair cut and styled every week? Even so, cutting back to every other still seems like a lot to me!

  14. Amber Yount says:

    I wish we could sell one of our vehicles, but I work in town, and my husband works all the way in Nashville, perhaps it will work when we move to Nashville someday….BTW my netflix only costs me $17 a month, and I can get about 4 dvds a week, so about 16 dvds a month. Rental places normally charge about $4 a movie plus tax, so for the same money you can only get about 4 dvd at the rental store, versus 16 at netflix for the same price. Just something to think about.

  15. beth says:

    Re: considering where you live – very true. However even if you do live in a crazy expensive area, look at exactly where you live.

    I moved to the Bay Area a year ago, and chose to live in the East Bay rather than in the city proper. My rent is literally at least half what it would be for the same apartment with parking in the city. Also, my commute is just over 3 miles.

    I moved from a far-less-expensive area, pay a bit more in rent, but drive less in a week than I did in a day.

  16. beth says:

    Here’s a really outside the box suggestion for car expenses: I have a friend in Toronto who has a car, and she’s worked out a car-share situation with a trusted coworker who rents the car from her on a scheduled basis.

    She’s cleared it with her insurance company, and they have a written agreement that covers gas, damages, etc. He pays her a couple hundred dollars per month, which greatly offsets her auto expenses.

    Obviously this would only work in a few select cases, but it’s a pretty interesting idea. I’ve considered doing it myself with a trusted coworker, but I’m not quite ready to bring it up. (I guess I’d rather trim money in other ways.)

  17. guinness416 says:

    There are also companies that facilitate carshare, if you only use one once in a while.

  18. Cheryl says:

    I do most of my clothes shopping at thrift/consigment stores, and yard sales….you can find name brand designer items in great condition at a fraction of the cost! I can’t recall the last time I bought something at the mall.

  19. Bill says:

    My daughter just started her first pro job out of college and she has to drive 50 miles back and forth to work. She’s living in the small to medium size Kansas towns. The gas it will take to get her there and back, ouch!!

  20. I”m not with you on the public transportation issue. It would cost $9.60 for me to take my two children downtown if we used our city’s public transportation. We would also take at least 2 1/2 times as long to get there and back, and be walking to bus stops in some intense heat.

    Improving public transportation throughout the country would save everyone money and resources, and do a world of good for our environment.

  21. landlord says:

    What about rent or mortgages. These absurd social conventions are utterly inhumane. Why the heck should people have to pay a monthly fee to live on the surface of the earth? The only justification seems to be that some people are born with less money than others and so they are thus born with the right to lord over the underclasses. What kind of a society justifies such a savage practice?
    And why be such a pussy. Why not advotate P2P for entertainment? It’s not stealing to freely share data. There is no reasonable basis for copyright law as it exists now. It’s another form of tyranny. Simply because the idea made sense two hundred years ago is not a moral justification for maintaining an information underclass in an age where reproduction costs have fallen to nearly zero. Take a stand for your rights instead of begging from crumbs.

  22. Jon Payne says:

    I like your general thoughts here, and Lord knows I could save alot by preparing a few more meals at home… however, I’ve started to look at this in a bit more detail lately and in many cases its not as much of cost-saver as one might think. Certainly, it depends on WHERE you would go out for food and WHAT you would prepare at home. You can’t compare eating out at McDonald’s to cooking top-notch steaks at home. Of course the latter would be more expensive.

    That all said, in some cases I’ll take the convenience of spending 5-10 minutes to pick up dinner from Panera Bread for $15 (my wife and myself) rather than spending $10 to make those same sandwhiches at home (when you price out deli meat, produce, bread, chips, etc.). I’m not arguing over pennies here – but just saying that as grocery store prices have increased and as at least in my area there are alot of places that are friendly for a quick bit or carry out (like a Qdoba, Noodles & Company, Panera Bread, etc… i.e. better than fast food but cheaper than a true restaurant), well the difference isn’t real big. Plus who wants to wash dishes??? Gotta factor in that cost too :)

  23. Mardee says:

    Is there some problem with the comments? I’ve tried to leave a comment on this post on 3 different occasions yesterday and for some reason it’s not showing up. It worked a couple of others, so I don’t think it’s the site in general…

  24. Mardee says:

    Okay, now it’s working. :) Anyway, I was curious as to why you have not mentioned food coops. They are a great way of conveniently getting low-cost healthy food at a fraction of the cost. They’re even cheaper than farmer’s markets and are one of the best ways of ensuring you’re eating food grown locally. There are lots of food coops out there – if you’re not sure if your community has one, you can check at http://www.coopdirectory.org.

  25. Mardee says:

    @Joy: I agree – the only ones I know who had their hair cut and styled weekly were the little old ladies in their 80’s who headed for the beautician on a weekly basis. And even most of those have more contemporary haircuts now. Most women with short hair tend to go about every 5-6 weeks and women with longer hair even longer. I don’t even know of any guys who would go once a week.

  26. Shannen Hafer says:

    For Joy and Mardee~ Guys who get their hair cut weekly or bi-weekly? Military. Regulations state they have to have certain hair lengths/cuts/etc… some of which DO require bi-weekly, if not weekly, touch ups. In my area, @ about $10 a cut, that really adds up for my husband. What we did was invest in a $25 pair of hair clippers and I am learning how to give a ‘high and tight’. Anytime I mess up, I just shave his head bald. So far I estimate we have saved about $75 on haircuts.

  27. Gloria says:

    David, Phillips has come out with CFL bulbs that have the smaller candelabra base, but also have an adapter to the normal base. The ones I saw were small round shaped. (I saw them at Lowes, but you should be able to find them at other places too.)

  28. Matt says:

    Many larger cities have a car-share co-operative program. I’ve joined the one in my city. It costs $10 per month plus you pay an hourly (about $2) and per km (about 30 cents) fee. This helps me ensure I use it as infrequently as possible. Plus insurance and gas is included in the monthly fee and rates so there’s no need to pay extra for those.

  29. !wanda says:

    The car-share program I’ve joined, at least, also lets you chose from a selection of cars. I’ve rented a pickup truck for half a day to help a friend move. I would have never chosen to buy such a large vehicle for myself, but it’s nice to have access to one occasionally.

  30. Leslie M-B says:

    I’d like to make a plug for moving closer to your workplace if you can afford to do so — or, alternatively, move to a workplace closer to home. It not only saves money on gas and car maintenance, but if you’re driving, it reduces your carbon footprint. It also means you may be able to bike to work, weather permitting. I turned into a bicycle commuter when I moved to my current town, and I love it.

    I think it’s important, too, when buying food that you know what you’re getting, and that you don’t just buy the cheapest stuff. To me, food is not the place to cut corners. I try to buy local and organic when possible. I find great deals at the farmer’s market year-round, and since I live in such a rich agricultural wonderland, I can get a lot of foods locally. (Having lived in Iowa, I know that isn’t easy where you live.)

  31. Jessica says:

    I just canceled my cable entirely and got a subscription to Blockbuster online instead. I don’t really follow tv shows, but I do want something to watch on occasion. The Blockbuster costs me $10 a month for unlimited movies, while the cable was $50. I also downgraded to a slower internet connection, so I’ll be saving a total of $70 per month. Plus I don’t go to the store to rent movies because it’s never convenient, and this way I can catch up on all the good movies I missed over the past year!
    A while ago I also downgraded my cell phone plan to save about $50 per month.

  32. Kevin says:

    We did the cell phone reduction in reverse: we kept the phones and dropped the landline. We need our cells and it was cheaper to add another phone for my daughter and ditch the copper cable.

    Try it out for a month. Let your answering machine answer any incoming calls. Return them on your cell. Don’t make ANY calls on your landline. If you get through a month without problems, drop the land line.

  33. Brandon says:

    For the last 10 years, I had absolutely refused to get a cell phone. I felt that the price was not worth the product. That all changed last year when I bumped into Sprint’s SERO plan (sprint.com/sero). If you want to do a little digging, and be extra careful to make sure you know what you are doing, you can even hook up certain phones to your laptop and get unlimited net usage! Hands down, the best (and only real) cell phone deal I have come across.

  34. Michelle says:

    PLEASE do NOT use fluorescent bulbs! They have very toxic mercury in them. As an environmental engineer, I assure you that once in landfills, it is next to impossible to keep mercury from entering water supplies and eventually, through the food chain, ending up in people. Maybe your children won’t be poisoned, but your grandchildren may be.

    Please, if you insist on using CFL bulbs, get educated and find a safe way to dispose of them. If you read the CLF bulb packaging, you will see the warning right there in black & white. Of course, the manufacturers don’t tell you HOW to safely dispose of them, they just tell you not to dispose of them via the garbage truck.

    Remember, mercury is incredibly toxic – to both people and animals. Please consider other ways of saving money and energy. Don’t use these highly toxic bulbs!

  35. Cindy M says:

    Great ideas. But don’t be afraid to take it a bit further if serious about cutting back as much as possible, it’s an adventure. And who are we all trying to impress, anyway??:

    1. Learn to cut your own and/or your loved ones’ hair if you’re blowing a lot at the hairdresser’s. Switch to a simpler style, quit the color and perming for a change. It ain’t all that hard to master basic trims. Check out the library for great picture books and study them. Buy the books on amazon if you really like them, they’re cheap.
    2. Cut the cable completely. You truly probably won’t miss it all that much. I did it years ago and don’t miss it at all. PBS and the local channels are plenty good enough. I reserve movies at the library. Free is wonderful. They may not be first run, but hey, any movie I haven’t seen is new to me. Besides, most of the newer I watch make me glad I am seeing them for free. The internet is far more interesting to me these days than TV.
    3. Wean yourself from eating out, seriously. Again, it ain’t all that hard or time consuming to learn to cook a decent meal. It is possible to cut out the fast food also and not miss it.

  36. Andrew N says:

    I need the cell to meet up with friends on the fly; it was cheaper to drop the landline and get a cell plan with 100 free minutes, and free calls after 6pm and weekends. I’m at work 9 to 5 anyway and I let the calls go to VM and either return the call from work or later from home. It’s a corporate plan that the salesperson helped me get (since I work for an eligible company).

  37. Sharon says:

    I notice no one ever mentions that instead of paying for a cable package, just get dsl internet or some other broadband internet and you can download tv shows and movies. itunes has a large selection and it only costs 1 dollar to download a tv show and then you only pay for what you watch. The other option is to just buy the dvd sets when they come out. In the long run it’s still cheaper than paying for those cable packages.

    My husband and I pay about 40 dollars a month for our dsl and it’s also our cable tv because we download our tv shows and movies. We don’t even own a tv, instead we got a projector because we wanted a 67 inch screen but didn’t want to pay 2k for it. Also we don’t leave the projector on just for background noise so it cuts our energy costs.

    Turning off computers during the day while you’re at work also helps cut expenses.

  38. Nick says:

    I don’t doubt your authenticity about this and I really agreed with many of your money saving tips but your reduce religious giving tip really put a kink in my hose.

  39. Carrie says:

    I agree about the religous giving, I think a lot of people tend to give above the tithe. Some of the guilt giving just because someone says there is a need isn’t always needed. YOu don’t have to give everytime or as much EVERY time the plate is passed.

  40. ueslady says:

    Excellent suggestions overall, but is it sensible to advocate giving up your health club membership? You regularly advocate other health practices that result in money saving, such as getting enough sleep, eating good homecooked food, and staying clean, and I would argue that a gym (doesn’t have to be high priced or fancy!) or YMCA membership should be considered a necessary expense, especially considering the widespread obesity epidemic our country faces. I have scaled my budget back considerably by making other small life changes, but I’m not willing to trade my toned abs, strong heart, and fit way of life for the opportunity to save the money from my gym membership. I do pay a little more to have access to a gym around the block from me, but the knowledge that the gym is TOO close to talk myself out of going too, and that I am spending a fair chunk of my budget on it every month, keeps me disciplined. Also, while I love to run outside, unfortunately in NYC (as with many American cities), the amount of days available to work out outside comfortably are limited by weather and climate. Additionally, doing away with your gym makes it harder to reap the benefits of cross training and weight lifting. keep in mind that many gyms have student/senior/family/corporate discounts as well.

  41. lori says:

    I think when people suggest giving up the gym membership they are speaking to people like me who go sporadically or not at all and still pay every month just in case..
    Ive been following a lot of suggestions from simple dollar and other debt reduction sights and there has been an amazing revelation: when I don’t spend money, I have some! And I’m beginning, however haltingly, to put it on my debt. thanks for this great sight

  42. darius says:

    haha, move to Minneapolis, rather than San Francisco! Never!

  43. N'Awlins Kat says:

    I used to shop around religiously for lower insurance premiums, but in the past two years, where I live, we’ve found that that can come back to bite ya in the fanny. Our homeowners’ insurance rate rose from $600 or so three years ago to nearly $2,000 at our May renewal because of the 2005 hurricanes. I looked into raising my deductible for non-wind/water (hurricane deductible already went from 2% to 3-5% of the insured value). When I asked my current car insuranc company how much to insure my house with them (valued at about $150K), thinking bundled might be cheaper, they told me that IF they were writing new policies in LA, which they aren’t, it would be the staggering sum of $5,666 a year. HUH??!! At the same time, insurers were calling policyholders to encourage them to make changes to their policies, then cancelling them at the next renewal. It seems that when there’s ANY change to a policy, they consider it an entire new policy, so even if you’ve had insurance with the company for 10 years, no claims, it’s considered an all new one, and they can cancel any policy held by them for less than three years. And if they didin’t cancel outright, they dropped people’s wind/hail coverage. New policies don’t even include it. A total racket, yes, but apperntly it’s just this side of legal. I won’t even go into the shafting I took on my measly payout for hurricane damage. Two years later, I’m still trying to finish fixing my house, and it didn’t have a huge amount of damage, less than $10K total, and most of that was roof. And the roof was ALL that got paid for, and not completely. So check your policies closely, and don’t be in too much of a rush to change them! The state insurance of last resort is far more expensive.

  44. yolanda says:

    explain how to get out of check cashing and try not to go back when they will not work with you is there any way out?

  45. cloudyszoo says:

    before you lower the deductible on your car insurance, make sure it is worth the savings. i changed my deductible from 500 to 1000 since i just got a brand new fuel efficient car. one month later i pulled out of a parking space, that had those little cement pillars, next to the space, you can not see because they are lower than your windows and did $1250 worth of damage to my car. The BIG savings was $12 a year and now I do not have the money to fix the car.

  46. cloudyszoo says:

    Is there anyone out there that can give us a training lesson on how to use coupons and hardly pay anything at the cash register?

  47. Rebecca says:

    Good points and tips, no where did I see in your article stating that anyone that posted a message needed to follow these to the tee. These are just tips on ways some people may cut their monthly costs. A guidleine per say. If you want to keep you netflix – keep it! your gym membership – keep it! Find other creative ways in your life to cut costs, or maybe you don’t NEED to cut costs at all, but these are just tips for people who are struggling to meet their bills every month. Not for those of you who can afford to keep these luxuries, as they are NOT necessities. Bottom line is if you are having trouble paying for your monthly bills food and ect. but you NEED to have that gym membership or netflix subscription – then you really need to evaluate your situation a little better. Great tips Trent.

  48. Chris says:

    yolanda – try the “Get a small personal loan through your local credit union” idea of using your Credit Union to get you out of the check cashing pit – AND NEVER GO BACK! Check the site http://www.joinacu.com to find one that you would be eligible to join. Good Luck!

  49. Lisa says:

    I have incorporated many of these suggestions successfully in the past few years and they are all very effective. However, I have to disagree with one: purchasing clothing only when you need it usually means buying clothes “in season” and paying full price. My husband got me in the habit of going to Ross and browsing ONLY CLEARANCE ITEMS for about 20-30 minutes at least biweekly, with no agenda in mind. If I see a fantastic deal ($2-$20) on anything of decent quality, that looks good and fits really well, (in season or not,) I purchase it. I end up buying most items at the end of their respective seasons, but I usually can wear it a few times and then have the items for next year. I find this method saved me more money and hassle than trying to find things I needed right WHEN I needed them. It’s also a lot more enjoyable for people who do not like clothes shopping (me) and do not want to feel pressured to find some long pants or jeans because its suddenly getting cold outside! Using this method, your wardrobe is ever-changing and you spread out your spending throughout the year. I currently spend about $20/month on clothes, shoes and accessories…and I have a lot of each! I’m never in that bind of “nothing to wear”….my last shirt cost me $2.80 and it’s a knock-out! I now look forwrd to the “hunts”, instead of dreading clothes shopping.

  50. Bobby says:

    Raising your deductables and lowering your insurance coverage could hurt you in the end placing you in an unrecoverable financial position.

  51. janice frazier says:

    how to get money for medical school when your credit is bad

  52. Haddassah says:

    One thing that wasn’t mentioned is going to schools or having students do the work. I get my hair styled at a beauty school which costs me $12 – $28 less than what I would normally pay. If you can communicate effectively with the student and the instructor what you want done, there shouldn’t be any disasters or problems that can’t be fixed. Also, I’ve gotten massages, facials and pedicure for a 3rd of the normal price. I’ve known people who have gotten apprentices (under direct supervision) to do work on their house for a fraction of the cost per hour plus the supplies. They can paint, drywall, put in tiling, carpet and new counters. Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, take some classes and learn how to do it yourself. The one thing I can’t bring myself to do is getting my car worked on by a student. But, I often do bartering/exchanges for smaller things like oil changes and tune-ups. Single guys appreciate having their laundry done for 2 weeks, baby-sitting or even a home cooked meal.

  53. Rick says:

    Does installing a programmable thermostat really save you money if there’s someone at home all the time? For instance, my wife is a stay-at-home mom (or, she will be next month), so we don’t change the temperature during the day. Even if you do set the temperature differently between day and night, don’t you get the same benefit by manually setting the temperature when you wake-up or go to bed? You’d save an additional one-time $50 (for the thermostat) if you can remember to do that. Are there other benefits to a programmable thermostat that I’m just not seeing?

  54. Alexis says:

    I agree with most of the suggestions, but cut back on travel? Are you kidding me?! Travel is a beautiful thing. Me and my kids travel to the most wonderful, beautiful, culturally rich places. I would never give that up.

  55. Lucille P says:

    I liked this article. I learned a lot. Except, I disagree with cutting back on tithing. We are to tithe 10% of our income. And any pastor who knows anything about the bible knows that. If my pastor said it was ok to stop tithing I would find a new church. God will reward us when we tithe. Try it! Give Him your first fruits and watch Him bless you in ways you never knew were possible: money from relatives, money from companies you weren’t expecting. You’ll get overtime at work, a fantastic pay raise. You will be blessed. Trust me.

  56. dalani says:

    You mention cutting back on giving to your church as a way to cut expenses, but seems to me that that would be missing the point of why you give. We are asked to give 10% of our gross income to our church. While Im sure the church would survive without my little bit, I know I need the blessings from being obedient as well as the lessons in sacrifice more than God needs my money. Sometimes our financial priorities are based on higher convictions.

  57. Mensmaximus/YouTube says:

    Seniors, residents of subsidized housing, the disabled, the young, single parent families; we are a special ‘group’ with possible different budgets than the ‘average’ person. Possibly our wants are more spontaneous and of shorter term value because of our immediate needs for fulfillment.
    I urge readers here to investigate funding from local, state/provincial and federal governments for the funding of sel-sufficiency projects such as urban gardens, affordable housing projects, promoting additional hiring of part-time workers, Smart Growth agendas and innovative public transit.
    Cable tv, you are not my babysitter anymore now that I’ve found Google.
    Our environment will drastically change in the next five years, don’t let the above group down, support them and they will support you are overflowing with gladness.

  58. dee says:

    cloudyszoo, I’m a serious couponer, so I can give you some of the basics on how to get things very cheaply or free with coupons. Get a Sunday newspaper – several copies, if possible (recycling centers might have them for free later in the week.) Clip the coupons for all the items you use, or that you would use if they were very cheap. Then read all the store sale ads, looking for items on sale that you have coupons for. Contact stores, if needed, to find out if they “double” or “triple” coupons. Then, when you shop, stock up on the items that are deeply discounted. This does require some organization, and changing the way you shop, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

  59. dee says:

    Another note along the couponing line: use drug store rebate systems regularly. I know some people thing doing rebates is a hassle, but Rite Aid and Walgreens have rebates you can submit online – no need to mail anything. Read the details about the rebate programs on their websites, and be sure to buy the exact item that’s eligible. (Sometimes it’s only one variety of Crest toothpaste eligible for the rebate, for example.) You can use a coupon to buy the product, so I sometimes make a profit after collecting the rebate. The “free after rebate” items sell out quickly, so it’s best to shop for these on the day the sale begins.

  60. tina says:

    Organized activities for one’s child should be the last place for any one to cut back. Children don’t care if their generic pb and j sandwich was crafted by a mom in generic clothes with flat hair and natural nails.

  61. Sue Player says:

    I think the suggestions are very good in this article, and it’s always good to keep in mind that we all have different prioties in life so some suggestions work better for some of us than for others. No one will use all the suggestions above, but I am always happy if I find one new idea that I might use.

  62. Alexis says:

    Eliminate travel? I would never deny my kids the experience to see the world to save a buck.

  63. Rachel says:

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned yet is, keep a close eye on your bank balance. If you get overdrawn even for a few days, that can really take a huge chunk out of your fininces. If you consistently run close to the edge of your bank balance, check your statement at the end of the month and see how much you are paying in bank fees. I can almost guarantee you will be appalled.

  64. Marisa says:

    Another tip that has been helpful for me – just ASK for discounts. Many vendors will lower your bill/interest rate if you just ask. I was able to get my cable/internet bill lowered by $15/month – for a 1 year period just because I called and said the bill was too high. I’ve gotten a lower interest rate on my credit card bills too. Let them know that if they want to keep your business they need to earn it!

  65. bridget says:

    It is always wise to review your personal accounts to see where money can be saved. HOWEVER
    exploiting grandparents and compromising on childcare ranks right up there with pure greed.

  66. Budjan says:

    I would love to ditch the landline, but we live in a place that’s “in the shadows” and we can’t use our cell until we drive 1/2 mile down to the main road. We did side-step the phone companys outrageous charges for long distance by purchasing a phone card from Costco. We’ve had it for years, we can re-charge it over the phone and we haven’t paid long distance for years, just a basic hook-up fee. It costs us 3 cents a minute, anytime. Our phone comapny called us to graciously offer “a real deal” of 12 cents a minute! When we told them our phone card only costs 3 cents a minute, the salesperson actually (I’m not making this up) said “Yes, but do you use it ALL the time?” DUH.

  67. Sonja says:

    You might want to be careful about the blanketing your hot water tanks. Over the last couple of years increases in efficency in tanks has made it so that blanketing a tank will actually void the warranty. Not such a good idea to save a dollar or two only to cost yourself hundreds if you wreck your tank. You can have your plumber install a heat trap on the hot line next time they change your tank though – that would save some money. Also dial down the hot water tank to a lower setting.

  68. Nancy says:

    I have to disagree about changing your gift to your religious organization. As a Pastor I know first hand that there are bills that have to be paid for a church to run. Just like your home there are utilities, maintenance and employees. And that does not include supporting missions or the larger church body that in many organizations provides assistance to churches in need, Volunteering is a great alternative to giving, however if everyone cut thier pledges it will be cold a dark come Christmas eve.

  69. Maranda says:

    I agree with Trent on the tithing subject. I have studied this for a while myself. I grew up in a church where you gave from your heart, not a percentage! After I heard a preacher talking about the 10%, I went to my bible to find the truth. What I found was that this was just one of the examples in the bible of giving. There was also a mention of giving 5%, et cetera. I think that they just took the highest number and told people that that was the magic number. I agree that you should give your “first fruits,” but I do not believe in a certain percentage, and I do not believe that God would want you to make it hard for your family to survive!

  70. randy says:

    An electric clothes dryer pulls about 27 amps,more than my 2 ton a/c.We use a clothes line.Also in the summer,the dryer heats up your house and your a/c works harder.Do not hang your delicates.Sheets,towels,uniforms,jeans,ect.,works great……..
    Solar screen on the windows helps in the summer.
    Make sure your attic insulation is at least 6-8 inches,up to about 18 inches is good and most of these energy improvements are tax ded.

  71. Bill says:

    I disagree with your comment about cutting back on giving to your church. You are reallt crowding God out when you do this. If my pastor told me I could get by without tithing I would question his ability to lead a church. God will bless the 90% that’s left. give it a try, you can’t outgive God

  72. Marc says:

    You mention quitting smoking (among other consumable habits) I ran into a website whyquit.org which has great advice for quitting cold turkey.

    It’s been over 4 months for me now and I feel great and I’ve saved over $500.00.

  73. Dana says:

    Interestingly, in Islam, you have something called “zakat” or giving to charity. It’s something like tithing, only it goes to the poor. You are expected to give 2.5 percent of your assets once a year, and you are exempt if your assets fall below a certain level. As far as I know, there is no requirement to tithe to the mosque you attend. But overall it seems like a very budget-friendly policy and it helps the needy, too.

    @bridget: It isn’t necessarily “exploiting” grandparents to ask them to babysit. If they want to do it, it benefits them to have something to do with their days besides sit around watching soaps (my mom does this, so I do not speak flippantly!). It certainly benefits the kids, if your parents are not the abusive or neglectful type. Children need to interact with people from many different age groups, and your parents are a connection to the larger family and to your past and will have lots of great stories to tell the grandkids. Try getting that at a daycare.

  74. Nancy says:

    Tithing is very important. However, the only “law” regarding how much % to give, is a MAN made law, simply put. It will always be between you and the Lord, with the biggest scriptural requirement being that you are to be a “Cheerful giver”. If you begrudgingly put a $20 in the collection plate, and have to mumble about it-you should’ve kept it in your pocket. It’s better to have put only the $10 you could afford that Sunday. I go to a decent size church with people from all walks of life.

    There are those I know who give say $100 a week, and those I know who feel blessed enough to get a ride to church and put one dollar out of the last five they have in the basket. They are truly richer as they gave what little they had from the heart. You don’t see hundreds of churches closing every week due to changes in tithing. The amount one donates ebbs for all, and it seems to balance out from year to year. You give what you can, and when you can’t, may the church have mercy on you if ever you should need to tap into their Love and Needy fund. That is what a church is for. Yes they are a business too, but it is the cornestone of any true church to serve the needs of His people, not to amass fortunes and chastise those who can no longer give generously.

  75. joe says:

    Lets all think before we spend??

  76. Letesha says:

    Reducing (even temporarily) your church giving is not a good idea. What’s gonna happen is you’re going to notice how much you could be saving and then justify not giving altogether. I’m talking to regular church members, specifically, as opposed to the general public. Instead you should see it as a fixed expense not even worth debating and budget everywhere else (lest we forget from Whom all blessings flow). Even after paying off mortgage, or car payments, for example, there’s always going to be energy, or gas payments as long as you have a house or a car, unless you eliminate the house or the car altogether. So as long this world is in existence, you’re going to need a church, and giving money regularly is one way to keep it going.

  77. Letesha says:

    Just to add, (see comment #76) giving to a church is about more than just money, it shows your commitment to spiritual things. The real permanent stuff. Life Eternal.

  78. Carmen says:

    I’m all for supporting your church… but you do know that God doesn’t actually need money, right? I know that most religions would put God’s interest in your heart, not your wallet.

  79. nuveena says:

    RE: the land line…

    I would not recommend getting rid of the land line completely because in a power failure, a corded phone will still work and if you needed to make an emergency phone call and your cell phone battery was drained or you’re in an area with poor reception, you’re out of luck.

  80. brandi says:

    “It is always wise to review your personal accounts to see where money can be saved. HOWEVER
    exploiting grandparents and compromising on childcare ranks right up there with pure greed.”

    Seriously, that’s not what I would call exploiting my parents – nor would I be compromising my children by having my parents watch them! What in the world are you talking about exploiting???

  81. Brian says:

    Overall these are great thoughts. Those that comment/disagree are at least thinking about it even if they don’t like it. Remember, its trimming and that hurts. But food for thought concerning the “move somewhere cheaper”: We all tend to live at or above our means no matter what (or where). If bad money habits are practiced now, moving somewhere cheaper will not make the money problem go away! It will take some real change or we will end up in the same financial situation. If you are hurting, its time to ditch your pride and ask for real help on finances, budgeting, investing. And get lots of opinions.

  82. Sally says:

    A church is a business. Don’t sweat over not donating to your church. Praying is free- not “fee” or this is better: Don’t PAY to PRAY. The article is great – it’s just a way to re-examine one’s expenses – and see if there is anything that can be cut. No need to get defensive about these things

  83. Dimitri says:

    Ha Ha … my grandmother told me all that in Russia and now it’s one of the most popular posts on this blog…for me it’s very funny.

  84. cat says:

    The only way to pay nearly nothing at the cash register by using coupons, is to purchase primarily commercially processed food products.
    The stuff that’s somewhat cheaper & a whole lot healthier to consume, is unprocessed, and there are little to no coupons for, example: bunch of broccoli, fresh lettuce, fruit, or whole grains.
    The way to save on live foods & produce, is to
    buy what’s in season, which is generally when things are less expensive – and more nutrient dense, from being more vine ripe.

  85. Jacob says:

    While many of these are very good pieces of advice, charitable giving to one’s religious establishment is not just another consumable to reduce. It is quite the opposite, and has benefits both to the person giving and to the community receiving. Perhaps if one were to follow most of the advice in this post, that person would have even more for charitable giving. The idea of this post is to help people get their finances in order. But life is about more than just money, and if you cancel your donation to the Church like a subscription to a newspaper that you don’t read, perhaps it is time to reexamine your commitment to the things that matter most.

  86. Kim says:

    Your idea about public transport is great. By purchasing a transportation pass for $50 a month, he can take the train close to his work and catch a bus. he works far from home, so it would save us $175 a month plus upkeep. Plus, he gets to read and do constructive things on his way to work and doesn’t have to sit in that nasty traffic. I have suggested this to people who complain about gas prices and they stick their nose up. i guess they don’t want to cavort with commoners to save money and earthly resources. They would just rather complain about gas prices.

  87. Kim says:

    When I said he above, I was referring to my husband. I accidentally left that part out.

  88. Kim says:

    I’d like to suggest for those of you who want to save money by cutting back on tithing, that you donate your time to church activities. I am a certified teacher and have extensive music and theater training. I donate my time as a choir director. They would have to pay quite a bit of money for my services if they hired someone. I do this in place of tithing b/c we cannot afford to donate 10% at this point. I also perform many other support activities. I give 10x what I take from the church. This is how I tithe.

  89. Allen Denning says:

    I recently bought a 83 VW Rabbit Diesel to save on gas. I paid 2500 for it. The gas millage is insane. It sips on the gas. The interior was in great shape and it has a sunroof. I estimate the miles per gallon on the freeway to be near 50MPG and around town it’s probably 40. I’m considering converting it to run on veggie oil – but I don’t know if the cost of the conversion (about $1000) and the hassle of potential costly engine repairs and the time collecting the oil is all worth it as I don’t really usually have to drive much… But I’m just so happy with it. It’s like the millage of a new Prius. And granted it’s not as nice, but it gets me around just fine and all my friends think this new car is great. It also cut my insurance cause with this I was able to get liability insurance only. There are ways to save if you just do a little thinking and planning. These cars came out in the 80’s – why are the cars so inefficient now?

  90. Allen Denning says:

    I think coupons are usually a waste. They tend to be for name brand products that usually are unhealthy, unnecessary, or items which can usually just be had for less if you get a no-name brand. Coupons are no savings if it’s something you can easily do with out of it’s laden with chemicals and compounds that are bad for you to begin with…

  91. Misty says:

    Re: Church Giving

    If you are having to temporarily suspend your giving, give your time instead.

    Sometime having a person to do the little things are just as important as the money coming in- and people are so busy now that it shows that you are willing to take the time instead of give a buck. Also, it can help save the church money…the church I grew up at had volunteers landscape the grounds with flowers that were donated from Lowes because they were not “good” enough to sell. The grounds looked good and it cost the church nothing.

  92. Paua says:

    I read all of the suggestions,, some I will try. I will never stop giving to my church. I ask God for seed to sow. He will always make a way.

  93. Joe says:

    It’s hard to believe that folks in this country consider these tips as “cutting back”. Most of the things that people are suggested to give up have always been considered luxuries in my parents and my lifetimes. “Get a small loan from a credit union to by furniture?” How about doing without the furniture? “Drop your membership to the gym or spa?” Huh? Never had one, never will. I find that most, if not all, of these suggestions are things I have been doing my whole life (and many more examples not listed here). The problem has been that our country has been saturated with marketeers that convince the gullible that certain luxuries are necessities. Perhaps the fact that our family does not watch TV helps a lot. I personally don’t understand how people can stand what the boob tube has to offer. Child care? Don’t do it, if you can avoid it. We homeschool, saving the county and state money (though we don’t benefit from our help). No buses needed here. In fact, the school systems need to do something about half-empty buses burning up diesel fuel, and students should be required to use those buses, not be given cars to drive back and forth to school in!

    My suggestions: 1. Simplify your life as much as possble. You’ll be happier. Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Make an active cheap hobby your entertainment. I do like the idea of growing a garden, if you have the space to do it. 2. Be a Do-It-Yourselfer. Take care of your own yards, for instance, instead of paying a “landscaping” service. Paint your own house. If possible, fix you own applicances and cars.

  94. rptrcub says:

    I think God would understand if you could not contribute the full tithe or other obligation. And the suggestion Misty brought up about giving your time is an excellent idea.

  95. Barry says:

    Rather than cut one’s cell phone, those who have both and barley use the land line should dump t6he latter. I’ve not had a land line in 8 years. I know many people who keep their land lines just because they think they need it. Many are just too afraid to dump that unnecessary expense that is likely costing $40-60 a month. Most people in the 20-40 age range use the cell phone more than they ever do the land line. Why pay for a phone you can only use at home when you can just pay for one that is mobile?

  96. fwp says:

    i’d add make your own laundry clothesline and minimize using your laundry dryer to the list. of course, this may not be possible or practical for those at apartments, in snowy/rainy climates, etc.

    we recently put up our own with existing material at home, and it took only about 15 minutes.

  97. Lysette says:

    I completely disagree regarding the Insurance tip. Dumping a Whole Life or Universal Life for Term Life to cut costs today is lacking foresight for tomorrow.

    Term Life isn’t doing you anything for you if you don’t die in the time period you chose. Sure it’s cheap, but there’s a reason. Now that you have survived the Term, you have to buy a new policy at your new older age and when we are talking over 50 years old, the premium gets expensive. Alternatively, a Permanent Life policy can be constructed to actually pay you in those golden years. At the very least, the premium will hold steady at the nice, affordable rate the person signed for many years previous.

    Life insurance is a wonderful financial tool that most people don’t know they can utilize.

  98. I found this infromation given very informative and helpful. I am so glad you wrote this article. It definetly helps the ordinary man how to think twice before spending and adding unnecessary costs just to live. It also helps you relize what causing one having a empty pocket or pocket book each a every month! Unfortunately, cable is one of them. I also heard that the cost of cable will go up in lieu of going down. You’re right, one wil have more free time on their hands and will probably read more by eliminating cable completely! People will probably also play board games again! Could you write a article on how to save on the constant use of using the computer, although it is very informative when use properly.

  99. Topic: The celluar telephone. Excellent item to own when used as a means for emergencies, not so long telephone chatting, but how do one get around this situation. I have Brink Home Security installed in my home for security purposes. I a told that the land line installation is the only way the Brink’s alarm system will work properly. Is there a solution to this problem. Can I use Vonage connection to my computer and use the additional wireless telephones and still have my alarm system work? I asked their customer service this question, but the customer service workers are not experienced enough to give me a solution. This would cut my AT&T telephone cost tremendously.

  100. I agree about the religious giving, I think a lot of people tend to give above the tithe. Some of the guilt giving just because someone says there is a need isn’t always needed. You don’t have to give every time or as much EVERY time the plate is passed.

  101. Christine says:

    I got rid of trash service and put mine in with my parents and save $11 a month. I got rid of cable and save $13 a month. I got rid of the land line and save $8 a month. I cancelled the gym membership and save $38 a month plus $1 round trip for gas. I bought old flannel sheets to make washable tp and save $5 a month. I also bought materials to make my own feminine products, save $5 a month. Not eating out, save $200 a month. One soda a day skipped and save $45 a month. Total savings: $325.

  102. Sylvia says:

    i always worry when people want to cancel the landline. make very sure your cell phone has E-911 capability before your eliminate the landline. if you couldn’t speak in an emergency but could only knock the phone off the hook or perhaps dial 911, with a landline emergency services can find you….at least in rural areas the cells don’t have that ability yet. and in my very rural area when i dial 911 on my cell phone, which state police barracks i get depends on which tower i am nearest. it may take time for the call to get transferred to the closest police department.

    as to disposal of the newer light bulbs, even out here in boonieville usa our transfer stations have hazardous waste pickups scheduled a couple times a year. there is always a bin for these bulbs.

    i don’t buy any cleaning products at all, which saves on both money and having to deal with all those containers to recycle. i make laundry detergent and a basic glass cleaner. i also buy jugs of the plainest dishwashing liquid i can find and dilute it a couple times, pour into smaller bottles and that is used for washing bodies, hands, dishes. not my hair tho, i draw the line at that, but i do use coupons and can generally get suave products for about fifty cents a bottle or less. then i dilute those too.

  103. Jim says:

    I think I’ll spend the 10.00 per month and flush my TP and use store bought Feminine products.
    Reusable T.P.???? come on now..
    This is a response to comment #101

  104. Steve says:

    The auto repair expenses advice is great. Buy a good used car and do the maintenance yourself when possible. There are many websites that are there to help including mine (I’m an automotive technician). This can be a great help. Also when you have a car problem, look it up online. There are websites that deal with almost all common car problems.

  105. Karon says:

    Something I don’t find discussed in this thread – the cost of pets. I know this will affect people on an emotional level, but on a purely financial level, these costs have been soaring and it is something to consider before you agree to take on another pet in life. I live out in the country, and from time to time am asked by folks to take on their dog (they have adopted a dog too big for thier lifestyles and / or budget and think the dog would love it out at my house. I always counter that if they wish to remain responsible for all vet bills for the life of their dog, have a recent vet visit made, and buy the invisible fence collar ($200) then I will take the dog. Somehow, this ends the request. I think they have come to find how expensive pet ownership really is and they want out. We have come to think that life with pets is mandatory – it isn’t. It is expensive and if you are on a budget, perhaps you should not be maintaining an expensive pet.

  106. vinod says:

    if you can share ur car with ur friends try to share ur home with ur family…
    i live in india and we still have whats called a joint family…

    i live with my parents after more than 8 years of a steady-well paying job…
    i find this model a very good one not just for ur pocket but also on the environment and society…

    1st the financial side:
    1. i have personally saved in not having to set up a new home and all the other things that come along… didn’t need to buy a TV or a fridge or subscribe to cable connection or lots and lots of other expenses because it was already there…
    2. as we are a bigger family we tend to buy things in bulk… and that is lot cheaper than buying small…
    3. we hardly need to eat out… with some 5-6 people at home cooking, washing and every other activity is fun…
    4. mother is a good cook and so all our snacks come right out of our kitchen… thats again a very healthy and cheap option…

    evidently the more we reuse the better for the environment… the lesser we pollute… the lesser resources we use… the better our carbon footprint…

    and a happy family is surely the starting point for a good society…

    this means at a personal level you need a lot of patience and commitment… a strong sense of belonging… ability to taking responsibility…
    and ofcourse lots of compromises… i sometimes miss some TV programs when father whats to see something else…

    but thats a small price to pay for the care and the love and the sense of belonging i receive when i get home after work…

    i guess being happy is what we are after and its for each to see how the resources at our disposal are utilized to that end…

    cheers… vinod

  107. Jihan says:

    If you ask me, moving to a less expensive area is often inconvenient and a hassle. I understand what you are trying to say, however, even though it saves you money, it’s not always smart. My grandma lives in a very inexpensive home and area, however, she has no conveniences at all. Their local supermarket is like 50 blocks away, there is no parking since they do not have a driveway, there are no local delis or pharmacies, the train is somewhere not even close, there are no convenient clothes stores or dentist offices..

    Where I live, we have a trainstation a block away, very close deli’s, supermarkets, clothes stores, restaurants, Staples, etc and those are when conveniences arises.

    It is true the more convenient the area is, the more it costs which is why my parents pay $1,000 rent every month just because we have all these things around us. However, if you think about living in a place with no stores and such, it MAY be hard to find food, or even need items in an emergency. If we weren’t living around here, I wouldn’t have local mosques around here, good friends and a nice neighborhood. We wouldn’t have Subways or McDonalds on days where my mother is too tired to cook.

    If you ask me, moving to a cheap place often means you have to use more time and pay more than you really do in an expensive place having the best around you. That’s why I have heard homes in New Jersey (where my cousin lives) and on Staten Island, NYC are a lot more cheaper. That’ just my opinion…

  108. Nicole says:

    Regarding donations (that’s what they are) to Church – please remember something my (very good, well qualified) Pastor has said often:
    When giving, we can give Time, Talent or Treasure.
    I can not afford to give 10% of my income to church, but I volunteer on church boards, as a Sunday School teacher, writing newsletters, etc.

    These things help the church too.

  109. Andrea says:

    Many of these ideas I’ve already implemented. Did just get the new idea of selling the “hobby” car sitting in the garage that hasn’t seen the light of day since who knows when! Sometimes it’s the things in plain sight I can’t see!

  110. danielle says:

    Regarding donations to your church: My mom always said, “You can’t outgive God”. You will always receive back what you give and then some! It just might not be obvious right away.

  111. princess_peas says:

    I have a slightly different perspective on the religious giving question…
    It seems a lot of people see attending a church or other as some kind of responsibility. And… it’s not.

    Remember, the church is there for YOU, too. When you are beat up by life, it is a place to go away and hide for a while. When you are broken or sick (emotionally and spiritually at least, sometimes physically too) or out of control, church is the place that will heal you. Sure it is the heavenly father who actually does the healing, and sure he can do that outside of church… but the church is the best place I’ve found to fascilitate it. Sometimes because it forces you to spend a whole hour in one go with God, sometimes through the people there or through some other situation. But my point is that church is a place where YOU can recieve what YOU need.

    And if you are having to trim every area you can think of, chances are, you are going to be pretty beaten up by life – noone is so holy they can take it on the chin the whole time. So when these times come around, and they will, why put pressure on a budget that’s super-tight already when (if you are honest with yourselves) it feels like the church is simply taking from you and not caring about what you need as much as what it needs? that will just make you hate the church, or stop seeing it as a place that YOU can get help.
    But when help comes through the church and you feel better, you will be so happy, so grateful and so full of love for them that you will GLADLY put extra in on top of a budgeted amount that you can afford (or even without a budgeted amount and just make one off contributions) instead of wanting to blow it on this or that. Perhaps faithfulness to the church in a monetary sense would be better measured in how many times you gladly want to put in 10, 20, 50 (or 5) % of your disposable income, than in how many times (“come hell or high water”) you have put in your budgeted 10%?
    And you never know, someone else may well have put in extra that covers your portion of the bills of the church etc on the days that you can’t do it. Even if you have to say “six months with no budgeted offering”, firstly, chances are you will put in at least some money during that period anyway, and secondly, you don’t know who else just got a promotion and upped their portion accordingly or anything else that means the church will be fine.
    This is why it said “temporarily”. When you’re in dire straights, not to pay for some unneeded luxury. (Although if you would rather buy the luxury, do it because it doesn’t mean much if the offering is begrudged anyway.)

  112. Janet says:

    Ever since we understood what the bible was teaching about tithing off the top of our income having enough to meet our needs has ever been a problem. In fact God has ALWAYS shown his faithfulness to us as we tithed. We are simply being obediant to what God has asked and he is always faithful to take care of us. It has nothing to do with guilt because a pastor or individaul tells us of a need in the church it is about being obediant to God and trusting him to meet our needs. It is all about FAITH.

  113. Michele says:

    I work at a Church and since the downward spiral of the economy, we have been unable to do some of the work that a Church does- feed the poor, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless. We can barely make our bills because tithing is down! How are Churches supposed to teach about religious beliefs and help those who are struggling without donations? We have cut our budget to the minimum and dropped benefits for the few paid staff we have. Please don’t advocate decreasing donations. It’s not only Churches who lose- but other charitable organizations that serve those who are vulnerable.

  114. Elizabeth says:

    Two points to consider here, Trent:

    1. While I appreciate your list, and have seen many similar, what always frustrates me is that I already don’t have almost any of the things that you are suggesting that I eliminate or reduce. No cable. No internet at home. No second car. No debt other than my home. No entertainment budget. Only one phone (a cell, because it is less expensive than a land line). No services of any kind. No hair cuts. No insurance, due to being self-employed and not having the resources for such. How might someone like me eliminate spending (so that I might, for example, be able to afford insurance)?

    While the above is true, I do appreciate your suggestions for energy savings and the like. Our society is overridden with things we only think we need.

    2. In addition to being in agreement with Michele (#113) above, and recognizing the needs that churches fill that are much more than financial, I cannot help but mention that in my experience, as well as many people I know, increased giving is actually a financial benefit. Charitable giving should also be done, as all else, within one’s means.

    I would challenge you to find a spiritual leader who would support your resolve not to give. From both financial and spiritual standpoints this would be poor advice. Remember also that what is given to an organization such as a church is, as Michele stated and among other things, paying the salaries of others.

    I’m well acquainted with other ways to give, as I do so myself, but please do not encourage people not to give, as giving is a spiritual discipline and responsibility. “God understands” is a poor argument, when in fact, it is God who asks us to give what is his, as we are to give to the government and to others what is theirs. In terms of other charity, it is also a social responsibility for those who have to give for those who do not.

    No matter what you might be able to save, suggesting that it would be a benefit to cut charitable giving in any sense is in bad taste for a financial advisor.

  115. Kayla says:

    For those of you thinking about dropping cable or certain channels, but do not want to miss your favorite shows, check out http://www.hulu.com. I usually can not watch shows that I like when they air on television anyways. On Hulu, you can watch shows for free (usually the next business day after they originally air) when you have time. The website is free and legal. There are movies on the site as well.

  116. Donna says:

    Dont forget about hanging out your clothes to dry on a line in the fresh sunshine. Clothes dont get eat up by the dryer and they smell so good. Saves a lot on the electric bill too. Dont run the A/C on nice days. Open your windows and doors up. Turn on your ceiling fans.It makes it feel 10 degrees cooler.

  117. Jenna says:

    One thing I can suggest, even though it’s small, is to go cheap on disposable items. Toilet paper, garbage bags, and and paper towels, for example. The way I see it is, I use these items once, so why spend more than the cheapest item?

    Even better, try eliminating buying some disposable items. Use dish towels instead of paper towels, and use plastic (or paper) bags in place of smaller trash bags.

    The best advice I could give for food is to pack/cook your own meals and limit eating out. It is hands down the best way to save money.

  118. Steve says:

    I like sharing a ride with my friends. This is one of the best way of reducing the costs!!

  119. Jennifer says:

    I have a couple things to add here. First, the CFL bulbs that are Great Value brand at Walmart are good. I have had mine for a year and a half. Better yet, they are American made and the company that makes them will be glad to replace any that go bad.
    Second, when buying used cars consider buying something that is easy to repair and that parts might be cheap. Chevy truck parts are a dime a dozen. Older used cars do NOT have high insurance rates either and you can just cover it with the minimum for your area, which in the end saves you money. Yes, I know trucks use a lot of gas, but in my case I only go to town once every two weeks

  120. Tara Bartee says:

    I agree with those not so excited about couponing. I rarely see coupons for anything I actually eat! A friend recently quit couponing because she noticed she was letting the coupons drive her shopping.

    I look at the weekly ad for my grocery store and adjust my menu/shopping list for real savings only. I also get mailers about once a week and sometimes use the ones offering things like a free tire rotation with an oil change, or a real deal on delivered pizza. But otherwise coupons don’t work well enough for me to go out of my way for them.

    I’m sure I wouldn’t want to eat at a house where the groceries are nearly free due to coupons. Way too much junk food, and way too little fresh produce.

  121. AW says:

    Buying the cheapest products/items are not necessarily the best savings. Assess quality and the cost per use whether it’s toilet paper or a pair of jeans. Cheap toilet paper may be too thin causing one to use more of it whereas a quality one is thick enough so you don’t use a lot – and thereby saving the amount used. I’m not sure if using triple absorbency with triple woven fibers and flowered indents is necessarily a saving, but I have not tried the product to make a clear review. Buying cheap clothes will wear and tear, rip and roar, fade and defray a lot faster than quality clothes. That $5.00 sweater may last you 10 days of wear (if you even like it enough to wear it that long) whereas that $50.00 sweater will last you 200 wears (and makes you feel fabulous every time you wear it).

  122. Mippy says:

    In the UK, believe it or not, not everyone owns a car. I live in London and it’s actually pretty unusual to find anyone with a car, though many people I know can drive.

  123. kasie li says:

    I recommend not cutting back on donations to your church. Give to God and he will reward you with so much more. Have faith. Malachi 3:10 <3

  124. rob says:

    Some awesome tips there thank you.
    going out now to get a timed power switch thingy…i have a lot of home theatre equipment etc that im sure is draining plenty of phantom energy!

    cheers

  125. Alfonso says:

    God does not “need” your money and you don’t “need” a church. Most churches are for profit so of course they will say that not giving is bad or a sin. Give to the poor instead of giving to a church that “needs” a brand new car for its minister.

  126. Some great ideas there….but i think i already have avoided spending money on lots of unnecessary items. The best one for me was getting rid of my gym membership….You really DONT need a gym to get fit.

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