Debt Planning: How to Really Cut Back on Expenses

We’ve all read those articles telling us to cut back on $5 coffees and stop spending $50 at Zappos weekly. But what if you don’t buy expensive coffees or order shoes on a whim? What if you aren’t spending frivolously and are still having a hard time paying off debt? How do you cut back when it feels like you’re already cutting back?

Here’s a look at some places you can trim some spending fat - places that you may not have considered previously. 

Food Expenses

  • You’d be surprised at how quickly those $10 lunches add up. If you eat out once per week for roughly around $10 per lunch, you’re spending $50 per week -- or $200 per month.
  • Subscription food services. Sure, it’s simple to prepare healthy food that arrives in a box with a recipe, but those services can be a big monthly cost.
  • Pre-packaged food items: it costs far more to buy a bag of pre-washed spinach in a box than it does to buy a bunch of spinach and wash it yourself. The same goes for pre-boiled eggs, vegetable platters already washed and cut, and any other grocery store convenience item. Instead, spend a couple of hours every weekend cutting, washing, chopping, and boiling - you’ll save more than you think!
Takeaway: set a monthly food budget (be realistic and consider each member in your family) and stick with it. Lunches, subscriptions, and pre-packaged items add up.

Home Expenses

  • Turn off the lights. If you leave lights on the inside of your home that you aren’t using, turn them off - this includes lights at night, lights during the daytime, and lights that are just “on” all the time. You can even unplug nightlights during the daytime to save extra energy.
  • Turn off the TV. Do you leave your TV on all day long? Shut it off during the daytime and you’ll see your energy bill drop.
  • Unplug things. Did you know that you are using energy when things are plugged in - even if they aren’t turned on? Remember to unplug items that aren’t in use and save dollars.

Monthly Bill Amounts

You can negotiate your car insurance, home insurance, cable bill, phone plan, internet bill, alarm system bill -- almost any monthly amount. In order to do this successfully, you have to call each of these companies on a regular basis (once per season is an easy rule of thumb). Ask about your rate, see if you can get a better one -- you don’t know until you try and most of the time you have more leverage than you think!

More Debt Planning Tips

This is the second article in a series of debt planning tips that we will be posting. Make sure to look at our first article on Debt Planning 101 and stay tuned for more!