People like us tend to think we have an income problem, when it’s really a spending problem. We don’t blow wads of cash on outlandish purchases. Instead, we overspend on a bunch of boring, mundane, everyday items that add up to significant coin.
The result? We pay our bills to keep a roof over our heads and the lights on, but we don’t have money left over for bigger goals — you know, the ones like saving for retirement or taking an epic family vacation when we finally started adulting.
Well, we’re adulting now so let’s look at some often overlooked ways we can cut our expenses this year so we can get beyond living paycheck-to-paycheck and live a life free of financial stress.
1. Fight the Power (Bill)
You know the energy conservation tricks. Turn off the heat and lights when you go out, buy those fancy light bulbs that last forever, and try your hand at solar power.
But even when you’re an energy conservation pro, there’s only so low you can go. Before you resort to unplugging your fridge at night (a costly mistake, trust me), why not shop for a deal on the power itself?
Find the Best Electricity Rate
A little-known secret about the electricity industry: In some areas, there are multiple providers. That means the power company you deal with now may not be the only game in town. And that means competition for your business, which means deals. The other guy might have a better price, you just need to scope it out.
ElectricityRates.com takes the work out of comparing electricity rates. Simply pop in your zip code, compare providers, and switch to the one with the sweetest deal.
- Related: 10 Tips to Live on Next to Nothing
2. Shop Smart for Groceries
I have a confession: My family spends more on food than we do on housing most months. We have a small house, but groceries are expensive! Especially if you eat healthy, follow a niche diet, rely on convenience foods, or have kids. So basically, if you’re alive.
I’m trying to change, and you can, too. If you refuse to compromise on quality or quantity (I’m with you!), you need to shop smart. That means meal planning around sales, stocking up at low prices, and repurposing leftovers. And using savings hacks, of course!
Cut Grocery Costs With Ibotta, Sacrifice-Free
Ibotta is your not-so-secret weapon for buying more with less. The free app pays you to shop at more than 300 partner retailers, essentially unlocking extra grocery sales. It’s like couponing, but without the work.
Simply download the Ibotta app, buy your groceries, and upload your receipt. If anything you bought has a cash back offer, you earn that amount. If you plan your shopping trip strategically around Ibotta offers and local sales, you’ll super-charge your savings.
Ibotta is free! Sign up here to grab your $20 welcome bonus. That’s free money! You’re welcome.
- Related: Ibotta App Review
“Help me stop being poor!”
The *only* way to save money is to spend less than you earn. That means you need to decrease your expenses or increase your income.
We want to help you do both.
Join our FREE Simplify Money Workshop to learn the fundamentals of growing wealth. Because when you can spend less than you earn, your money has no choice but to grow. You will build your savings and pay down debt.
What’s more? We’ve got a bunch of free money-hacks to share with you:
- Hacks to lower your monthly bills
- Hacks to spend less on debt
- Hacks to start investing
- Hacks to increase your income by $20/month (with no extra effort)
This workshop has everything you need to accomplish the cardinal rule of personal finance: keep your income over your expenses.
Join our free 5-day Simplify Money Workshop, and start growing your wealth today.
3. Streamline Those Streaming Services
Public service announcement: You don’t need five different streaming services. If you ditched cable, congrats — that was a smart money move. But if you replaced it with $65 in monthly streaming costs, you still have work to do.
Binge-watching is a thing, so there is no need to subscribe to all services at once. Keep the one or two you use most and cancel the rest. When you get caught up on all of your Netflix shows, cancel it for a couple months and move on to DIsney+ or Paramount+. Then do it all over again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Manage Subscriptions with Trim
If you’re not 100% sure what you’re subscribed to anymore, or if you dread the thought of wasting your Saturday managing your subscriptions, you need Trim in your life.
Trim, through an encrypted and secured connection, reads your financial records at your request and rounds up your subscriptions. Give Trim the nod, and they’ll cancel the subscriptions you don’t need or ones you forgot about. Trim also identifies ways to save you money on your phone, internet and other bills. It can negotiate lower rates on your behalf if you want.
Trim charges a reasonable fee and you reap the rewards of lower entertainment costs. Download Trim and kiss unwanted subscription charges goodbye.
4. Ignore Close-Outs on Clothing
Clothing sales are tempting! The little pick-me-up you get from buying something new feels great in the moment. But, when you spend all your disposal income on clothes you don’t really need, there’s not enough left over for the essentials. So ask yourself: Do you really need new clothes, or should you save your money for something more important?
To avoid getting sucked into these enticing sales, unsubscribe from your favorite retailers’ newsletters and turn off personalized ads on social media. If you don’t know about those “deals,” you won’t be tempted. If you really need clothes, check out what treasures await at your local thrift store — your bank account will really appreciate it.
5. Ensure You Don’t Pay Too Much for Insurance
Look, nothing is more annoying than shopping for insurance rates or dealing with switching providers … except maybe overpaying for insurance.
If you want to keep more of your hard-earned cash for the things that matter, you need to get an insurance quote every year. Rates change, your circumstances change, and your needs might change, too. So, about a month before your insurance policy renews, start looking for better rates.
Let Gabi Do the Work
Luckily, you don’t need to waste hours calling around for quotes. Gabi is your online one-stop shop for home and auto insurance needs. It compares rates across providers and helps you find the best price for the coverage you want. When you find something that works, buy the policy directly from Gabi. No fees, just savings.
Sign up for Gabi for free and find the best price for your home and auto insurance needs.
6. Save Regularly on Routine Purchases
OK, there are things everyone buys regularly: Garbage bags, household cleaners, toilet paper, paper towels, and the like. Maybe it’s monthly, maybe it’s quarterly. But the pattern is the same: Buy the items, use the items, run out of the items, rush out and pay full price to replace the items.
What if you could save time and money by automating those purchases at a discounted price? Oh wait, you can!
Amazon Subscribe & Save for the Win
Amazon’s Subscribe & Save feature, available to Prime members, lets you schedule regular delivery of your staple items and save up to 15%. That means you’ll have what you need when you need it, and you’ll save money. That’s a win-win. And don’t worry, if things change, it’s super easy to cancel or skip a delivery. Check out these Subscribe & Save essentials, and save up to 15%.
What are you waiting for? Sign up for Amazon Prime and Subscribe & Save on your routine purchases now.
7. Easy Entertainment on the Cheap
I’m just going to say it: There’s no reason to spend so much on entertainment. Why? Because there are so many awesome options available for free (or nearly free).
Voracious reader? Me too! Take advantage of your local library for ebooks, audiobooks, and hard copies. Services like Audible are great because you can get what you want when you want, but that’s not always the case at the library so make sure you reserve copies of several items so you always have something in the queue.
Movie buff? You can borrow movies from the library, too.
Music lover? If you’re an Amazon Prime member, music streaming is included in your membership. If not, there’s tons of free music available on YouTube, Spotify or Pandora.
TV junkie? Some TV channel websites let you stream content for free. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, Prime Video is included in your membership (good for TV and movies).
Kids at home? YouTube has lots of free music and videos for kids.
I’m not saying you need to drop all entertainment spending. But before you fork over the dough, see what’s available for free — what you discover might just surprise you. Check out Amazon Prime for a 30-day free trial.
Save More Money! Read these next…
- The Real Deal to Saving Money
- Yes, You Can Save Money on a Low Income: Here’s 11 Ways
- 43 Tips & Tricks to Live Frugally on a Single Income
Save when you shop in-store or online:
- Put Your Cash-Back Groove on Autopilot with Dosh
- Read These 7 Hacks Before You Shop at Trader Joe’s (You’ll Thank Us)
- Get This Free Browser Extension Before You Shop Online
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Sandra Parsons is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, travel, and health & psychology. Her work has been featured on sites like Club Thrifty, MoneyTips, and Credit Knocks. She also freelances for Wooster Media Group LLC. Sandra lives in Eastern Canada with her husband and son.