When you think about cutting your budget, do you immediately think about everything you’re going to need to sacrifice? It’s not very motivating to focus on what you’re going to lose, rather than how much you can gain by getting out of debt or saving more money toward your big goals.
Look on the bright side. There are definitely expenses you can cut that you won’t miss at all. From expensive auto insurance to cable channels you don’t watch, we’ll show you saving areas that won’t cause you to give up things you love.
Here are 6 ways you can save money without changing your lifestyle.
1. Compare rates on auto and home insurance.
It doesn’t matter whether you rent or own your home, you have some sort of insurance and you may be paying too much. For me, the difference in two rental insurance quotes was $600 annually. My friends who compared home insurance saved more than $100 per month by comparing and then switching companies.
To compare home insurance or car insurance rates, you can use online comparison sites or go to your state’s insurance commission website. The insurance commission website is also a place to compare quality. You’ll see average prices, but you’ll also see average number of annual complaints. You’ll also want to read our article about saving money on car insurance.
2. Get on a better mobile plan.
I have the oddest but best mobile plan ever. I saved about $20 per month by sharing a mobile plan with myself. It actually counts as a shared plan. Call your mobile phone company and ask what other plans are available. Sometimes, the best way to save may be to skip the basic plan and pay more to get more.
For instance, right now I need to call my cellphone company to change to a plan that includes more data usage. I’m spending an average of $30 per month on data overage instead of paying $10 more for a plan that includes the data I use. Part of budgeting is always about being realistic about your habits.
Also, check into pay-as-you-go plans. Some have unlimited calling and texting plans for less than $50 per month. And consider how much of the expense of a contract is the phone itself. Do you need the latest and greatest cell phone? If not, use your old phone and find a plan that covers calls, text and data.
3. Shop with a reverse grocery list.
Grocery spoilage can kick your grocery budget up by anywhere from $50 to $500. It’s not unusual to throw out 25 percent or more of the groceries you purchase. Two married friends of mine threw out hundreds per month in groceries because each of them bought groceries without asking the other what was already purchased. The solution? Shop with a reverse grocery list — a list of the items you already have in your pantry and fridge so you don’t double buy items. Give this list to your spouse or partner if they’re grocery shopping.
4. Save on restaurant orders without coupons.
You can eat cheaper at any restaurant by being choosy about what you’re ordering. You can order only appetizers, for example. Do trade-offs when it comes to dessert and drinks.
For example, I generally skip appetizers and alcohol, but I never worry about the price of my entrée. By skipping one or two items you don’t really enjoy, you’ll save more than $20 on one meal. Over the course of one month, eating out weekly, that’s $80 in savings.
5. Negotiate cable bills.
Everything is negotiable, from cable to rent. When it comes to cable, start by looking at your bill and see what you enjoy. Then call your cable company and see what deals you’re offered. For instance, I’ll only get movie channels beyond HBO if I’m offered a really cheap promotion such as a free channel for six months or a channel for $5. When I called the cancellation department, they cut $15 off my monthly bill to retain me as a customer. That’s $180 of savings annually.
6. Review each clothing purchase. The best way to start managing your clothing budget is to think about the clothing you bought in the last six months and see what you’re wearing and what you aren’t. There are probably a few items you bought that you wish you hadn’t. Write down why you bought each item. Then, next time you shop, remember to think carefully about the items you regretted purchasing to avoid another regretful purchase.