Cutting back on your spending and freeing up more of your money to put towards your savings, retirement, or investments is the easiest way to better your financial situation. You don’t have to hustle hard like you do when you want to earn more — you just need to make some different choices, simple switches, and new habits.
Here are ten actions you can take right now to create more available cash in your budget this month:
1. Go with a New Cell Phone Service
Not long ago, those of us with smartphones didn’t have much of a choice when it came to carriers and their plans. If we wanted nice phones with reliable service, we were likely signed up with one of the big three: AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint.
And those companies knew it.
But there’s a new player in the game that could make a huge difference in your monthly cell phone bill. You don’t have to give up decent service or switch to a “dumb” phone in order to save big. Republic Wireless offers two types of smartphones — the Moto X and the Moto G — and their plans come with no contract and range from $5 to $40 per month. I personally have Republic Wireless and love it!
2. Cut Cable
You’re not really still paying for cable, are you? Yeah, this is an obvious one, but it’s so easy we just had to mention it. Slash it and get an Internet streaming service like Netflix or Hulu instead. Or get both of these — thanks to the high cost of most cable packages, you’re still likely to save big each month.
3. Avoid Fees
Late fees are a terrible way to lose out on some cash. Stop letting fees, penalties, and hidden costs eat away at the money in your checking account.
Carefully read through the fine print before signing on with service providers and automate bill payments so you won’t be charged if you accidentally forget to pay by the due date. You can also get bill reminders from Mint.
Many service providers will work with you to secure you a cheaper price on stuff you’re already paying for — but you have to ask first. Call up your insurance company, utility providers, and other originators of some of your regular monthly bills. Ask if there are cheaper options or plans available or ask to see what the company can do to make your current service more affordable.
And if you’re looking to make a big purchase this month? Don’t be afraid to ask for the best price on things like cars, furniture, and other items with big-time markup.
5. Use Credit Cards for Regular Spending and Rack Up Rewards
This is one that comes with a, “use with caution” label. If you understand how credit works and you can use your credit cards responsibly, consider putting all your regular spending on rewards cards to earn points. My wife and I love to travel so the CapitalOne Venture card is perfect for us. Two miles for every dollar you spend. No deadlines, no one time promotional offers, no gimmicks.
6. Be Aware of Your Own Consumption
Energy consumption, that is. If you’re careless about how much water or electricity you use every day, you might be amazed at how much money you could save by being a little more aware or making some simple changes around your home.
Make sure you turn off lights when you leave rooms and you don’t leave faucets running longer than they absolutely must. Unplug electronics when not in use, or use a power strip to make managing all that stuff even easier. Check out these energy saving tips.
7. Be Better to Your Body
Isn’t it great when living healthier means saving more, too? That’s exactly what you can do when it comes to what you buy at the grocery store.
When you skip all the processed and junk food, you’ll save a ton of money. Leave the soda on the shelves and don’t even venture down the chips and cookies aisle. Buying only whole foods should bring your grocery bill down if you’re used to buying processed food products and you’ll be eating better, too.
The healthier you get, the more you’ll likely save over your lifetime, too. Medical bills and doctors visits can seriously add up throughout your life. Take preventative action to keep yourself — and your wallet — in good shape.
8. Change Up Your Living Situation
For most of us, our housing expenses are the most expensive cost we handle. Do what you can to keep these costs in check and save money.
Consider moving to a smaller (and therefore cheaper) place or look for roommates to help split rent or mortgage and other living expenses. If you have a spare room and don’t want a regular roommate, consider renting out your space to visitors to your area via sites like AirB&B.
This is probably the most extreme suggestion on the list, but it has the potential to make a big, positive impact on your budget if you need it.
9. Do More Things Yourself
From brown-bagging it to work to fixing things on your own when they break, doing things yourself can save you a whole lot of cash.
Instead of going out to dinner every weekend with friends and having other people cook food and serve drinks, start holding dinner parties and rotate whose turn it is to host. Or combine your workout and your chores and do your own house cleaning, yardwork, and basic maintenance around your home.
If you’re not sure how to do something, try looking on Google or YouTube for step-by-step instructions before hiring someone else to do it for you.
10. Pick Up Frugal Hobbies
This one can go hand-in-hand with number 7 on the list. Try engaging in some frugal, healthy hobbies like walking, running, biking, or hiking. Anything you can do on your own two legs outside is probably cheaper than busting boredom with shopping sprees — and it’s way healthier, too.
And if you’re not that outdoorsy (and don’t want to be)? Switch out some of your pricier habits for ones that are inexpensive or free. Bookworms can go to the library at no charge, rather than picking up books at $15 to $20 bucks a pop at the bookstore. Movie lovers can hit up their local Redbox for less than $2 rather than spending $12 or more at the theater.
Saving money really doesn’t have to be that hard and you don’t have to give up everything you love to do it. It’s all about finding some easy changes, like the ones above.
How will you try saving a few bucks this month?