If cutting down on monthly expenses is something you’ve tried, you know it’s not easy. Overspending is a bad habit that requires varying doses of time, discipline and determination to defeat. Making drastic cuts is difficult and painful, but making a series of small cuts is easier. Below are five simple expense-cutting tactics that can save you no less than $20 a month.
1. Create a Weekly Gasoline Budget
Instead of buying gas randomly, create a planned gas budget. If your budget is $100 per week, fill your tank to $50 twice each week and challenge yourself to make the gas last until your next fill-up. But don’t force it — it’s never fun to run out of gas.
2. Pack a Lunch
Every now and then, avoid the fast-food routine and pack your lunch. Leftovers from dinner can be tasty and healthy, and it never hurts to eat fruits and vegetables instead of fries and nuggets with your lunch. Depending on where you go for lunch, brown-bagging once a week can easily save $20 to $30 a month.
3. Drink Up
Water, that is. How many times have you ordered a soda just because? Many soft drinks are high in calories and loaded with sugar or caffeine. Drinking water is not only healthier, but it’s also a lot less expensive. A round of soft drinks for a family of four can add $10 to $12 to your bill, and it comes out to even more money if you’re buying beer or alcohol. If your family eats out once or twice a week, do the math and fill your water cups accordingly.
4. Buy Inexpensive Lunches
These days many restaurants, especially fast-food joints, have value menus with smaller portions and lower prices. Check out the value menu and make it a point to order something from it. You’ll save a few bucks on every visit.
5. Avoid the ATM
You will inevitably need cash for things, but if you can, put yourself on a cash budget. Withdraw only enough cash to last for a week and try not to go back to the ATM. It’s those unplanned $20 withdrawals that add up without notice.
So there you have it: five easy ways to cut your monthly expenses. Try them. Your budget and your bank account will be glad you did.