We all know the global economy is booming. In fact it’s smouldering. We ourselves heat it up. People spend more and more money as time passes.
There are individuals amongst us, who spend more than others, however. Family members and professionals would attest – they spend waaay too much money. Yet, it’s highly plausible that those amongst us who have this affliction, are tired of being in denial about it. So, what we’ll attempt to do here, is explore options in pursuit of limiting monthly expenses.
Last time we looked at why it would be a good idea to start investing while you’re younger. Perhaps we can agree upon the notion that any way one tries to improve himself can be considered a form of investment, too. This can especially ring true as one tries to improve financially. And, one of the easiest ways to do this is by cutting down on your monthly expenses – since you’re only operating with the funds that you already own.
Is it feasible if one already lives on a budget, tightly monitoring every expense? While in certain cases, it’s always possible to find new ways to save money, there are also people and situations where cutting back has already been stretched to the limit. If that’s your situation – there’s no need to feel bad about it. If you look – you’ll always have other ways to improve yourself and your situation. Chin up!
For some of us, however
There’s every opportunity to change for the better. If you possess the means and desire, that is. If you’re reading this and these words strike a familiar sensation, there’s a chance you sometimes lose track of your finances. Where you sit down at the end of the month trying to recollect where those €200 went that you thought you still had on your expense account. Or that you don’t even have an expense account, and it’s all just one big mess. Let’s try to improve that, shall we?
Start monitoring your expenses
In all honesty this is the easiest issue to identify. Immediately, you’ll start to notice an improvement as soon as you start tracking where you put your money. You are your own enterprise. And no enterprise can thrive and exist long term without accounting. For most of you out there, this comes as no surprise. You probably already do this in some way or form. But if I learned anything during my adolescence it’s that some adults can have a very childish approach to money. You also don’t need to be an MS Excel savant to manage your finances. There are tons of mobile apps that help you do this, available on literally every mobile platform. And some if not most of them are FREE! Such as Moneon, Monefy or Wallet app. These days, even some banks offer some sort of financial assistant available on their mobile apps. These virtual services/assistants are super easy to use and quick to set up. They allow for multiple account monitoring and planning, making your finances completely transparent to you.
Once you set up your accounting, it gets easier to move forward with the next steps. However, these next steps also become more demanding.
Save on your utility bills
Whether you live in a flat or a house can have a huge impact on your monthly utility bills. Of course, what’s also important – where you live.
Off the bat – try and track your electricity usage. Even if you’re on a plan, it’s important to remember that most plans surcharge for exceeding your limits. Don’t leave the lights on unnecessarily, shut down/unplug your home appliances when you’re not using them. Don’t leave the heater on when leaving the house. At some point, think of getting a set of new home appliances, since the newer makes tend to be more energy-efficient. So, long term, that could save you extra money.
If you own a house that has no modern heating solutions and your geographical location requires that it does – you should definitely look into some cost-effective ways to heat your housing. While they would appear more expensive because of purchase and set-up prices, over a longer period of time these costs will even out and even save you money.
If you live in the south, heating most likely is not an issue. Cooling might be, however. Set up solar batteries to supply your house with cheaper electricity. That will actually go a long way in terms of saving on energy, especially since solar batteries are becoming more affordable by the year.
It might be a little more complicated to make these sorts of improvements if you live in a flat. However, you’d still do well to monitor your electricity usage. Don’t run too much water when doing the dishes or showering. Every little helps towards your savings.
If saving on utilities can be complicated depending on your housing situation, saving on commodities and services can be equally applicable to us all.
Do you really need this?
Yes, you most likely need to reduce the amount you spend on things you don’t need or use. So, from now on try and ask yourself ‘Do I really need this?’ whenever you think of subscribing to a new streaming service or buying a new smartphone. There’s probably no good reason for you to buy an 8th handbag or that extra set of fishing gear that you’re only going to use twice.
A good example would be having more than one or two subscriptions for streaming services. The average cost of these would be approximately €10 a piece. Arguably, there’s only a few reasons an individual would subscribe to a certain streaming service. Most of these offer no more than a few shows/films that a subscriber would generally indulge in. The issue here would be not unsubscribing after being done with this content. There is no good reason to have 5 streaming services worth EUR 60 per month, once you’ve seen all you wanted to. Or you’ve finally realized that there aren’t enough hours in a week, anyway.
We as a species are more connected than ever before. And we’re especially connected in the way most of us wallow in the foggy swamp that is modern consumerism. It’s up to you to find your way out.
Learn a recipe or two
Look, it’s understandable that your working schedule or social life might get in your way of cooking every night. So you order take-out 5+ times a week. It’s so easy to grab a bite on your way to work or during lunch. There’s nothing wrong with indulging yourself. Especially with good food.
But, for the purpose of saving money – why not try and limit these expenses? If you’re ordering take-out as much as 5+ times a week – there’s room for improvement.
So, figure out a recipe that you like and learn to prepare it. It could even be something that you order the most from your take-outs menu. You’ll find that once you get accustomed to cooking for yourself, it will take you less and less time. And also save you money, since buying ingredients is cheaper long term. Once you evolve as a cook, you’ll start preparing dishes in bulk. Meaning, you’ll be able to save time and money by preparing food ahead for days at a time.
And, there’s more – cooking as an activity has this additional property of being relaxing. It could help you relieve stress that you accumulate in your daily routine.
One of the ways to limit expenses on food is scheduling your purchases. It’s also a great way to save time. Make elaborate grocery lists and try to limit your store runs. The goal should be one-per-week or less. It will seem difficult at the beginning. Yet it will go a long way towards cutting back on your food and time expenses.
Pay off your debt
There’s really not much to add here. Loan payments can sometimes become a heavy burden. Especially if these are high-interest loans. As much as possible, you should try to return these high-interest loans sooner or refinance them. To reduce your monthly payments by reducing the interest rate. We’ll actually get more into this topic in the following weeks. But in terms of reducing your monthly expenses it doesn’t get any clearer – get rid of debt as soon as you can manage
So, is this everything?
Yeah, no. There are situations that are specific to every individual, so what works for you might not work for others. And vice versa. If you want to find ways to reduce your expenses, you can use these guidelines to drop what you’re already doing to find a new way. Or you can have a sit-down with yourself and figure out your own specific way to target this issue. If there is any.
But generally, this is it. Don’t leave the TV on while sleeping. Cancel the subscriptions you don’t need. Learn to cook – if only just to save a little money, and pay off your loans.
Have a good savings, everyone!