Cut Back Spending and Save Money

Last weeks guest post was a huge success, so we decided to have another expert come and share some financial advise with us.  Today we welcome Jacob from DollarDiligence.com to share some great ways to keep those check books balanced.

 

Some of My Favorite Ways to Cut Back Spending and Save Money

 

Hi Skirt Girlie readers!

 

I want to take this time to talk to you all about some of my favorite ways to cut back on spending in order to save money. When I first graduated from college, I was very disheartened by the amount of student debt I had accumulated. It felt to me like it would take years, or even decades, to pay down that much money. Like many other student loan borrowers, there was a constant cloud of anxiety following me around and I could not take it.

 

Finally, I decided that I didn’t want to live years or decades with a ton of student loan debt hanging over my head, and I was going to do something about it no matter how drastically I had to change my life. I ended up paying off about $25,000 in student loans during a 15-month period of time.

 

While I made a lot of lifestyle changes to accomplish that (not all of them are detailed here in this blog post) I owe a lot of that success to finding ways to cut back on my spending.

 

Here in this post are some of the tips and tricks that were most successful for me – and I hope they are successful for you, too!

 

 

Tip #1: Write down your budget

I know this one seems so obvious that it shouldn’t even be a tip but you actually need to create a budget and track it. But actually, this needs to be #1 on your list of things to do when you decide to consciously cut back on your spending.

 

The problem with making this decision, but not writing down a budget based on it, is that most people cannot mentally track how much money they are spending. It’s really, really hard to do and most likely by the end of the month, you’ll find that you’ve purposefully or accidentally overspent in many categories.

 

So, to truly cut back on spending, you’ve got to take pen to paper (or mouse to Excel sheet) ((OR fingers to budgeting app)) and decide what your spending limits are. Then, track your spending every day and stick to that budget!

 

Tip #2: Learn to cook

This tip is a double-whammy. Before I put my savings plan into motion, I had two categories of spending that were unnecessarily through the roof.

 

The first was my food budget, because I ate out constantly. It wasn’t always restaurants, it was often convenience food or fast food, but the point is I could spend $30 a day on meals and think it was completely normal. On a budget, that is not normal for one person!

 

Cooking my own food saved me much more money than I expected and is a no brainer for anyone trying to find ways to cut back.

 

The second category was entertainment. Lots of the things I liked to do at night – movies, concerts, going out in general – cost a lot of money by the end of the month.

 

What I found when I decided to teach myself to cook was that I was able to cut down on both my food budget and my entertainment budget, because learning to cook was both entertaining and cost-saving. It didn’t mean that I gave up movies and other entertainment completely, it just meant that I spent at least a couple nights a week with cookbooks or YouTube videos leaning to cook something new and tasty.

 

I had fun, I saved a ton of money, and I ate better, too!

 

Tip #3: Seek out free entertainment

Well, I’ve already mentioned that entertainment costs were killing my finances before I started my quest to save money. What I found when I put myself on a bare-bones entertainment budget was that there was an amazing world of free things to do out there that I had barely noticed before.

 

Free concerts, free movies in the park, free festivals, and more. When I couldn’t find something free that interested me, I would hop onto sites like Groupon and Living Social, which allow you to purchase discounted admission tickets to local venues. This broadened my options while still keeping my budget in check.

 

Tip #4: Use the 30-day rule

Have you heard of the 30-day rule? Part of the reason many of us blow our budgets is because we’re used to instant gratification, and it’s hard to break that habit.

 

Heck, this is the same reason people end up with piles of credit card debt or addicted to our smart phones.

 

The 30-day rule is a prohibition on purchases that requires you to self-impose a 30-day waiting period before you make a non-essential purchase. You’ll find that by postponing a month, in most cases the desire to buy an item has subsided and you can easily forego it.

 

Tip #5: Cut the cable cord

Let me tell you, there is more to watch on Netflix than I’ll ever have time to get to and if by some fantastic feat you make your way through everything good to watch that the streaming site has, there’s still Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others out there!

 

In this day and age of cheap streaming services, I can’t imagine why anyone is paying $50, $75, or $100 a month for cable television. Even local sports are available through services such as SlingTV and PlayStation Vue. My last money saving tip is to cut the cable cord. Your budget will thank me!

 

 

What ways have you found to save money?

About the Author

Jacob talks about a variety of personal finance topics at his blog, Dollar Diligence. You can find him on Twitter @DollarDiligence.

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