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Decrease Expenses

Frugality probably isn’t the most popular idea, and just saying the word might make you think of Ebenezer Scrooge.  When it comes to decreasing expenses, though, frugality is a tried and true method.   Look at the Great Depression when it wasn’t a matter of choice, it was a need.  That time gave rise to the saying, “Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.” When you are serious about achieving your financial goals, make that your motto, and let your goals be accomplished!

There are dramatic and not-so-dramatic ways to cut back on expenses. It also depends on whether the expense is fixed or variable. Remember that fixed expenses are predictable and consistent from month to month.  You don’t have much flexibility when it comes to these payments, but it doesn’t mean you can’t change them. For example, consider renting a less expensive apartment to reduce your rent expense.  Variable expenses are less predictable and change from month to month.  You have flexibility and choice in the amount to spend.  

Here is a breakdown of some sensible ideas in some of the key spending categories.


  - If you are renting, look into providing maintenance or 
    landscaping services in exchange for a lower monthly rent
  - Move to a less expensive apartment
  - Look at refinancing options, the long- and short-term
    benefits, and how that may affect your monthly payment 
    and affordability
  - Sell your home if it becomes unaffordable
  - Pay on-time to avoid late fees


  - Shop around for electric and gas suppliers
  - Investigate peak usage programs, i.e., utilities may be 
    cheaper if you use less during certain hours of the day
  - Turn down your hot water heater
  - Look at bundled cable, internet, and telephone packages
  - Investigate basic cable in conjunction with a movie
  - Pay on-time to avoid late fees


  -Use public transportation
  -Review your insurance coverage; consider increase
    deductible if you have savings to cover it
  - Look at refinancing options, the long- and short-term
    benefits, and how that may affect your monthly payment
    and affordability
  - Buy a more economical car, considering loan payments,
    maintenance, and fuel
  - Pay on-time to avoid late fees


  - Plan weekly meals and cook at home
 Pack lunch instead of buying; plan alternative for vending
    machine snacks such as sodas, chips, coffee, etc.
 Use coupons, store brands, and substitutes when 
    shopping and cooking
 Limit eating out to manageable levels


  - Review employee benefits to choose the most cost effective 
    plan for you and your family
  - Use an FSA or HSA for medical expenses to save federal, 
    state, and FICA taxes
  - Review your life and disability insurance coverage to make
    sure they are the most cost effective plan for your needs
Pay premiums on-time to avoid late fees

Cash Management

  - Shop for the most cost effective banking products that
    meet your needs
  - Monitor checking account activity to avoid overdraft or
low-balance fees
  - Limit ATM fees by planning cash withdrawals in advance;
    use the weekly envelope method to avoid preventable

Other Obligations

  - Contact creditors for a lower interest rate or more reasonable
    repayment plan
  - Consider alternatives to tithing such as volunteering,
    teaching, or sharing a personal asset
  - Shop around for the most cost-effective pet products
    and services
  - Pay on-time to avoid late fees

Personal Care

  - Shop at consignment or thrift store for quality,
    inexpensive clothing 
  - Buy generic cleaning supplies or learn to make your own with
    the basics, i.e., bleach, baking soda, ammonia, etc.
  - Consider alternatives to expensive hair services and
    products, i.e., beauty schools, online auctions for products
    and supplies


 - Considering using the public library system near you
   for books, movies, CD’s, DVD’s, etc.
 - Look for special coupons or incentives for events or vacations 
 - Look for ways to cut back or save on lottery tickets, alcohol,
   or tobacco use/purchases, i.e. rolling your own cigarette

Other Frugal Ideas

It helps to have the support of others when you are trying to save. We know it’s hard to talk about money – but, if you’re trying to cut costs, it’s really important. Tell your friends and family that you’re working on your financial goals and ask them to support you.  Don’t feel guilty if you’d rather have your friends over for pizza than go out to that new restaurant and have to pay for a baby sitter.

Resist the temptation “to keep up with the Joneses.” Keep your financial goals in mind as you...Spend Sensibly!

  - Plug spending leaks
  - Barter
  - Conserve
  - Substitute
  - Swap
  - Reuse

Even if you have made changes to your spending, prioritizing expenses as the cash comes in can still be a challenge.  Continue on to Spending Priorities for tools to help you prioritize expenses and stand firm in your choices.


Next up:  Spending Priorities - Needs vs. Wants