Whether funds are tight or you simply want to save more, finding ways to stretch your money further can be crucial. If you're racking your brain for opportunities to cut back, start here.
Fewer meals out, less money spent on retail, lowered utilities and a pared down list of monthly subscriptions are all simple places to start when you need your cash to last. Here are six ways to make your money go further.
1. Meal Plan
One of the biggest areas where you may be able to cut back is on the food you eat. By making a meal plan for the week and setting aside time to handle prep, you can incorporate more low-cost (and nutritious) meals. You can make your money go even further if you plan multiple meals that use the same ingredients, such as affordable staples like rice, beans and frozen veggies. If you don't mind repetition, batch prepping meals built around these foods and portioning them out for the week can help you drastically reduce your food spending.
2. Pay for Fewer Subscriptions
Go through your expenses and look for any subscriptions that you're paying for on a recurring basis. Streaming, monthly services, paid news access, cable television, monthly subscription boxes—what feels like just a bit of money here and there can quickly add up to hundreds per month.
You can hit reset by canceling your nonessential subscriptions. Then, you can always sign back up for the things that truly add value to your life. Maybe that means one streaming platform rather than three. Or, maybe you keep your streaming platforms, but cut the cord on cable. Find a balance that works for you.
3. Use Green Transportation Options
One way to stretch your money further is to aim to drive less. Fuel isn't cheap, and you may be allocating a significant amount of money to your daily commute or the cost of driving to run errands. If you have the option, walk, bike or take a bus to work, appointments and errands to help you shave money off your weekly budget. You'll also see the added bonus of getting exercise and lowering your environmental impact.
4. Use Your Local Library
Your neighborhood library has a host of resources that may be able to help you cut costs and make your money go further. If you're a reader, you probably already know that books can be pricey. You can check out new releases at your library and watch your savings stack up, without missing out on anything. The same is true for audiobooks, which many libraries allow you to check out through a cloud system using your library card information.
But beyond books and audiobooks, many libraries have a lot more to offer—free community events and classes; music, TV and movies; magazines; language learning resources; and a newer phenomenon called a "library of things," where patrons can check out useful or interesting stuff, like a sewing machine, random appliances, craft supplies, musical instruments—the list goes on. Scope out websites of libraries in your area to see if any of them offer this service.
5. Avoid Disposable Items
Disposable and consumable items like paper towels, plastic water bottles, zip-top bags, disposable plates and plastic utensils cost you a pretty penny and end up in the trash. Look at your daily routine for any disposables that you're using on autopilot. Then ask yourself if there's a low-cost replacement you can try. For example, in the case of paper towels, a simple dish towel or washable rag can often be a better option—for your wallet, and for the planet.
6. Negotiate Your Bills
Bills can feel like an area of your budget that's out of your control. But you may be surprised to find that you can actually ask your provider for a reduced cost. For example, you may be able to call your cable, internet or phone company and ask them for a lower rate.
You can also consider using a bill negotiation service to avoid having to handle the negotiation yourself. Experian BillFixer™ has you upload your monthly bills and pairs you with an expert negotiator who contacts your providers on your behalf to try to lower your bill. You'll keep 100% of the savings. To use BillFixer, you'll need to sign up for a premium Experian membership. That membership also includes free three-bureau (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) credit score monitoring, dark web alerts and more.
The Bottom Line
Get thrifty to find ways that you personally can cut back to make your money go further. Begin by looking at your spending with a critical eye. While indulging a little can be a good thing, when you need to save, start with cutting out things that you don't really like or need. Making small cuts in the areas where you spend the most, such as retail and food spending, can help you stack up savings without feeling budget burnout.