Are your finances out of control? Are you spending much more than you make?
If so, you might be wondering how you can drastically cut your expenses to balance your budget.
In this post, I’ll explore several methods to drastically cut your expenses so you can balance your budget and plan for a brighter future. Let’s get started!
Lower Housing Costs to Cut Expenses
Your housing costs are likely the largest portion of your budget each month. Depending on your scenario, there are several methods to lower these costs and save money.
House Hack to Lower Housing Costs
If you’ve never heard of house hacking, it can be an excellent way to lower your housing costs and drastically cut your expenses.
In simplest terms, house hacking involves renting out a portion of your home in order to lower your overall housing costs.
If you live in a single-family home, house hacking might entail renting out a room in the home to a friend or family member. This can be an excellent way lower costs when living on your own.
For those with a duplex or quadplex, you can further exacerbate the benefits of house hacking and might be capable of eliminating your housing costs altogether. House hacking can be one of the cheapest ways to live, so it's worth exploring!
If your mortgage is more than a few years old and you need to drastically cut expenses, refinancing is a great option. Depending on current interest rates and the amount of the loan, you might be capable of saving over $500 per month on interest alone each month.
Before refinancing, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.
You'll need to have a strong credit score and income history to take advantage of the best interest rates for your loan. If your finances have been lackluster, refinancing might not be a great idea.
You’ll also want to consider closing costs when refinancing a mortgage. These can cost around 1% to 2% of the loan. For example, if you plan to refinance a home with a balance of $200,000, closing costs can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000.
Move Locations to Cut Expenses
Living in some locations can wreak havoc on your budget. If you’re looking to drastically cut your expenses, you might want to think about moving cities or states.
If you’re living in a high cost of living area like California, moving to a low cost of living area can help you to save money fast. You’ll want to consider many factors when deciding to move such as your job and profession, the cost of living, and your personal preferences. Before moving, it’s a good idea to write down a pros and cons list to help you decide if it’s worth the cost of moving to save money and cut expenses.
Rent Out Space on Short Term Rental Sites
Maybe you don't want someone else living with you full-time but you want to make some extra money with your home. You might consider renting out a room on the weekends on short-term rental sites like Airbnb or VRBO.
How much money can you make?
It depends on many factors. If you live in an area with a high cost of living, renting out rooms on weekends could help you make $750 or more per month. It’s best to analyze what;’s currently on the market to get a better idea of how much money you can save by renting out a portion of your home.
Check For Cheaper Homeowners Insurance
Homeowners insurance will likely cost a couple of thousand dollars each year but many people don’t think twice about it. Because many borrowers have their insurance premiums baked into their mortgage payment with the use of an escrow account, you might be capable of lowering your monthly mortgage payment by shopping for new homeowners insurance.
You might be capable of bundling your homeowners and auto insurance to save even more.
Downsize Your Home
If you live in a larger home, downsizing can be a simple way to drastically lower your expenses and save money. Many Americans live in homes that rate much larger than necessary. Not only does this cost a significant amount of money in the form of a mortgage payment, but it also causes your electric and gas bills to rise.
By downsizing your home, you can cut your expenses in a hurry. Listen, moving is
by no means fun, but if it can save you over $500 each month, it’s totally worth it.
Lower Food and Grocery Costs to Cut Expenses
Outside of housing costs, your food and grocery costs are probably your second largest expense each month.
Use Coupons to Save on Grocery Expenses
While coupons might seem like a thing of the past, you can still use them to save money on your monthly food costs. Better yet, now you can use digital coupons to save money using various apps. Many mainstream grocers will offer an app that allows you to download coupons and use them when you checkout.
Plan Meals Ahead of Time
Food waste can be extremely costly. When trying to cut expenses, you’ll need to eliminate as much food waste as possible.
My favorite way to do this? Planning your meals ahead of time!
Each week, take some time to write down what meals you will eat and the ingredients for each meal. This will help you to strategize what foods you need and when helping to cut unnecessary food waste. You can also check out how much you should be spending on food to get a better idea of if you might be overspending at the grocery!
Don’t Throw Away Leftovers
Once you cook a meal, there’s a good chance you might eat some of the leftovers but throw out the rest. Instead, aim to use these leftovers as a meal for themselves. This will help you to drastically cut your monthly grocery expenses.
Go to the Grocery on a Full Stomach
Sometimes you might be tempted to purchase unnecessary foods at the grocery if you go on an empty stomach. Because marketing is so prevalent at the grocery, your eyeballs might wander into foods that might seem worth it, but can actually break your budget.
Take Advantage of Wholesale Prices
Purchasing groceries in bulk can help you to save money and avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery.
You'll want to take into account the cost of your membership to ensure you're getting your money's worth.
Avoid Eating Out to Drastically Cut Expenses
One of the fastest ways to cut your expenses drastically is to eliminate meals out. These meals can be extremely costly and also not a wise nutritional decision.
It’s okay to plan one or two of these meals out into your budget and grocery list but if it becomes a routine habit, that can cause problems.
Buy Generic to Save Money Fast
Generic foods are often 20% to over 30% less than their name brand counterparts. By making this one simple switch, you could cut your grocery bill and save over $100 per month. If you don’t want to go all out with generic products, consider switching a few products to save money.
Don’t Forget to Pack Your Lunch
If you’re working a full-time job, eating out for lunch can become habitual, especially with the peer pressure from coworkers. By planning your meals ahead and packing your lunch for the workdays, you can easily cut your expenses in no time.
Make Coffee at Home to Cut Expenses Dramatically
That $5 cup of coffee might not seem expensive at the moment, but if you take a look back at the end of the month, it might be costing you more than you think.
Let's do some math to determine how you can cut your expenses dramatically by making coffee at home. If your typical cup of coffee costs $5 at your local coffee shop and you stop by 5 times per week, this equates to $25 per week or $125 per month. By making coffee at home, you could save money fast.
Check Your Utility Bills for Savings
Between your electric, gas, water, and internet bills, there's sure to be some savings out there. Let's find them!
Cut Electric Bill By Adjusting Your Thermostat
Depending on where you live, you’d be surprised how much money you can save by adjusting your thermostat just a few degrees.
In the winter months, lower your thermostat a few degrees to save money fast. In the warmer months, raise the temperature a few degrees to cut your expenses each month.
If you live in a state with high costs of electricity, these savings can be dramatic but even if you live in an area with lower electric costs, you can still save a significant amount.
Sometimes, a space heater could save you money. But only if you adjust your thermostat enough to offset the difference.
Use Your Dishwasher
Did you know that washing dishes by hand uses significantly more water than a dishwasher? That's right, so why waste your time (and money) by doing so?
Load up the dishwasher each night to save money on your water bill. As a bonus, your hot water heater will also reap some of the rewards because less hot water is needed!
Time Your Showers (And Baths!)
While most people don’t think twice about how much time they spend in the shower, this could be causing your water bill to skyrocket. By dropping your shower time just by a minute or two, you can save a nice chunk on your water bill.
Adjust Your Hot Water Temperature
Want a simple way to cut your expenses? Lowering the temperature of your hot water heater can be an excellent way to do so, and there’s a good chance you won’t notice.
Because your hot water heater must keep your water hot all day long, lowering the temperature a few degrees is a great way to cut your monthly electric cost.
Use Programmable Timed Outlets
If you have devices that are plugged into outlets for extended periods, you could be wasting electricity.
By purchasing a programmable outlet, you can set timers for when the outlet will turn on and off.
Use LED Lightbulbs
This one might be obvious, but it’s an easy way to cut your electric bills drastically. By switching out traditional incandescent lightbulbs to LED, you can save a couple of hundred dollars or more annually.
Use Solar Energy Where Possible
If you live in a climate with ample sun, take advantage of the oldest and most reliable energy source available, the sun.
By purchasing a few solar panels, you can charge many electronic devices to save money on your electric bill each month. While these savings might be minimal to some, they can add up fast.
You can find solar panels on e-commerce websites for much more affordable than they once were. You can think about it as an investment in your savings.
Ditch the Television Package to Cut Expenses Fast
With many streaming options available, you can eliminate your ancient, overpriced television package to cut your expenses each month.
But be careful! If you opt to purchase multiple streaming services, this can be more costly than your normal television package. Be sure to only purchase one or two streaming options so you can save money and cut your expenses.
Check and Cancel Memberships to Cut Expenses Drastically
There are many memberships and subscriptions that go completely unused for 95% of the year. This is the perfect opportunity to abolish these unnecessary costs and trim your expenses drastically.
Cancel Gym Memberships to Cut Expenses Fast
Gym memberships are one of the most abandoned memberships for Americans costing them hundreds of dollars per year.
If your gym membership costs $15 per month, that's a $180 savings each year.
If you do use your membership, you could still consider canceling it and transitioning to an at-home workout routine. If needed, you can purchase a few resistance bands and dumbbells to complete the workout you desire at home.
Pay Yearly for Music Subscriptions
For most people, a music subscription of some sort is considered a necessity. Whether you’re listening on Spotify, Apple Music, or another service, you can still save money.
By opting to pay for your service in full annually, you can often save around 10% to 15%. While this might seem minuscule, if you’re aiming to dramatically cut expenses, everything helps.
If you're really looking to trim your expenses fast, you might consider canceling these subscriptions to save money. Instead, you could opt to use a free version of the service to save cash fast.
Related: How to Live Below Your Means
Cut Expenses Dramatically on Transportation Costs
For many families, transportation expenses are likely your third or fourth most expensive cost each month. Between car maintenance, gas, and other transportation expenses, you could end up spending a decent amount over the course of the year. Let’s see how we can lower these costs!
Sell Your Car to Lower Transportation Expenses
Okay, this one is not for everyone. But if possible, selling your car is a great option to cut expenses dramatically.
Instead of driving a car each day, consider utilizing public transportation or riding a bicycle. These methods will cost much less than driving a car, however, you will lose the convenience of having a vehicle.
Complete Car Maintenance Yourself
If you are somewhat handy, you might be capable of completing routine car maintenance yourself to save money fast. Between oil changes, tire rotations, and topping off any fluids, these simple tasks can save you hundreds per year.
To take a closer look, let’s see how much you can save. For newer vehicles, you’ll likely need a full synthetic oil change each 5-6 months costing around $125 each time. By completing it yourself, you could save around $250 per year. However, you’ll still need to purchase the oil and equipment to complete it which will cost less than $50 for most vehicles.
Save Money on Gas to Trim Expenses Dramatically
If you own a vehicle, you know how much money fuel can cost. For many families, they might spend a couple of hundred dollars or more on fuel per month. Let’s look at some ways you can save money on gas.
- Use membership clubs – these clubs usually offer less expensive fuel prices as a benefit of being a member.
- Ensure your tires are inflated properly – low tire pressure causes your vehicle to use more fuel. Make sure they are properly inflated to save money at the pump.
- Don’t speed – as your speed increases, so does your fuel consumption. By reducing your speed you can easily save money on fuel costs and lower your expenses dramatically.
- Use a credit card with rewards when at the pump – certain credit cards offer tremendous rewards on fuel purchases. You can earn an extra 3% or more with some credit cards.
Carpool or Take Public Transportation
If you want to dramatically cut expenses, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. Consider carpooling or taking public transportation for a majority of your needs.
You can keep your vehicle but only use it when needed. This can help you save money fast.
Negotiate Car Insurance to Cut Expenses Fast
Car insurance can cost hundreds of dollars per month. When was the last time you went shopping for a new policy?
Car insurance prices change frequently and have many different factors. Get a quote from several issuers to see which one suits your needs and has the lowest cost.
Become a Single Car Household
If your family has multiple vehicles, this can cost you thousands of dollars per year in insurance premiums, car registration costs, and routine maintenance. Save money and drastically cut your expenses by using only a single vehicle to get around.
Lower Education Costs
If you’re attending or have attended college, you’re likely paying the price. Let’s take a look at some ways you might be able to lower these costs.
Refinance Student Loans
Similar to refinancing a mortgage, refinancing your student loans can save you thousands of dollars per year. If you have student loans with interest rates greater than 7% or 8%, refinancing can be a great option to help you save money each month.
Save Money on Textbooks and Back to School Supplies
Lowering your education costs can be an excellent way to drastically cut expenses fast. The costs of textbooks, school supplies, and other expenses can break your budget.
Save money on textbooks by purchasing used from e-commerce sites. You’ll find that these can cost anywhere from 25% to over 50% less than buying new. When you’re done with the book, you can then sell it for a similar price that you paid, making your books virtually free.
To save on school supplies, try shopping back-to-school sales and doubling up on savings by using a credit card that offers cashback on these purchases.
Save Money on Entertainment Expenses
I would argue entertainment expenses are necessary, but they don’t have to be expensive. Let’s look at some ways you can save money on entertainment costs and dramatically cut expenses.
Use a Credit Card That Rewards You
Some credit cards offer strong rewards for money spent on entertainment like movie theaters, restaurants, and more. Browse through your budget to find where you spend most of your entertainment money and find a credit card that matches that category. This can help you save a couple of hundred dollars annually on your entertainment expenses.
Find Cheap Entertainment Alternatives
Instead of visiting your local movie theater or going to the zoo, try to find cheap entertainment options that can save you money and drastically cut expenses.
Some of my favorite affordable entertainment options include going to the library, walking at the park, hiking around your city, watching a movie at home, or hanging out with friends.
Plan Nights Out or Expensive Entertainment Options
Having a night out isn’t always a bad thing. You’ll want to work it into your budget so that you can continue to drastically cut expenses without worrying about how your night out will affect your goals. By avoiding impulse entertainment decisions you can save money and keep your budget intact.
Skip the Annual Vacation
If you routinely go on vacation, consider taking a year break to save money and cut expenses. If you typically spend a couple of thousand dollars on vacation, this can go directly into your savings.
If you don't want to cut out your vacation completely, take a look at some methods to save money on your travel like visiting a lower-cost area, driving instead of flying, or choosing a lower-cost place to stay.
Other Ways to Drastically Cut Expenses
Outside of your normal bills, there are some other ways you can cut expenses throughout the year. I’ll explore some of these options below.
Price Match When Shopping
Don’t overspend when shopping. If you can find a price for an item lower elsewhere, see if the store will price match to save you money. Whether you’re shopping for clothes, electronics, or anything else, price matching can be a great tool to save you time and money.
Explore Cell Phone Alternatives
Having a cell phone comes with a cost. A quite hefty one. For most people, you can expect to spend over $30 per month just for cell phone service, not to mention the price of the phone. Factor in the price of the phone and you might be paying over $50 per month just for one device and service!
If you have a family, there’s a good chance your phone bill might be over $200 per month. This can make saving money a real challenge.
There are a few ways you might be capable of cutting your cell phone expenses to save money.
- Consider switching carriers – some carriers are inherently more expensive than others. Browse several carriers and see which are the most affordable for your circumstances.
- Threaten to leave your current carrier – customer acquisition costs are extremely high for cell phone carriers therefore keeping you as a paying customer is a top priority. By threatening to switch carriers, you might be capable of saving upwards of $100 per month. It's worth a try!
- Stay away from unnecessary insurance – most carriers will offer cell phone insurance. This should be avoided when aiming to drastically cut expenses. Even if it’s just $10 per phone per month, this can add up. Take care of your phone to save money!
- Don’t use excess data – if you don’t have a plan with unlimited cell phone data, using more than you’re allotted can cost you big time. Just one gigabyte over might cost you an additional $15. If you’re on a plan with multiple lines, that 1 gigabyte can go quickly. Ensure you don’t use excess data to save money fast.
- Have a dinosaur phone – want to really save money on your phone bill? Avoid owning a smartphone altogether. Because you won’t have to pay for internet, you can save a nice chunk of change each month.
- Avoid getting the latest and greatest – new phones are expensive. Really expensive. Save money by keeping your phone for as long as possible. If you do need a new phone, opt to purchase a used phone to cut expenses.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Offers
There's a new trend with many credit cards that allow you to double-dip when saving. Credit card “offers” are different than traditional rewards. Businesses can partner with cards to offer exclusive discounts or bonus rewards to customers.
For example, I was able to save an additional $20 on Valentine’s Day flowers with my American Express Everyday credit card. This is on top of my normal rewards!
This isn’t available on every credit card but it can be an awesome way to save money and cut expenses each month.
Utilize Free Facebook Groups
There are many groups on Facebook that are filled with people offering items for free or almost free. Whether you’re looking for clothes, furniture, or other household goods, these groups can be an excellent way to cut expenses fast.
Groom at Home
Depending on your hair styling and preferences, you might be capable of cutting your hair and grooming yourself at home to drastically cut expenses. For males, this can save you around $30 per month. For females, this number can be much larger. You’ll want to invest in some hair clippers and accessories, all of which will cost less than $100.
Find Tax Breaks
Taxes often are an overlooked part of your finances. Instead of not thinking twice about them, you can make some strategic decisions to reduce your tax bills and save money.
You’ll want to work with an accountant or financial advisor to help you make these decisions, but it can be an easy way to save a few thousand dollars each year.
Get Paid for Your Recyclables
While this isn’t a way to cut expenses, it is a way to get paid to do something you likely already do: recycling. Recycling companies will pay you for your scrap materials. Between plastic bottles and aluminum cans, there are many materials you can save up and cash in on.
Reduce Childcare Expenses
Childcare can be extremely expensive and cost tens of thousands of dollars each year for your family. Try to find ways to reduce these costs so you can save money and cut expenses.
Some options you might consider include:
- Having a grandparent care for children – for those with grandparents capable, this can be a great way to save money
- Negotiate with daycare – you might be capable of lowering your daycare costs by making a phone call and negotiating your rates
- Have friends and neighbors help out – consider using friends or neighbors to watch over your children to save money and cut expenses
Use a Zero Fee Bank
If your bank charges a monthly account maintenance fee, it’s time to find a new bank. These fees are unnecessary and can cost you hundreds per year. Even better, you can find a checking account that offers interest on your balance so make passive income.
If you frequently visit places out of the country, avoid bank accounts and cards with foreign transaction fees.
How to Drastically Cut Expenses with Debt
For those with debt, cutting your expenses can be much more challenging. Interest payments can crush your financial goals but don't give up. With some sacrifices and dedication, you can pay off debt and save money. Here are some tips to help you drastically cut expenses with debt!
Pay Accounts with Highest Interest Rates First
If you're looking to knock out your debt so you can save more money, your best bet is paying down debts with the highest interest rates. This is known as the “avalanche method” of debt payoff.
Consider Consolidating Debts to Lower Rates
If you have multiple sources of debt, you might consider consolidating them for a lower interest rate. Not only will this help you save money, but it will also make managing your debts easier. You’ll only be forced to make one payment instead of several throughout the month.
Ask for a Rate Decrease
If you've made routine payments on your debts, you may qualify for a rate decrease. This can instantly help you to cut your expenses drastically. Simply give your creditors a call and ask to speak to a representative about your situation. Even if you lower your rate by 1% or 2%, this can save you hundreds of dollars per year.
Consider Picking Up a Side Hustle to Increase Income
Depending on the amount of debt you have, you might be forced into finding ways to increase your income. At a certain point, if you do not make enough money to pay your debts, you’ll never be able to pay them back. Here are a few side hustles worth giving a try.
- Selling stock photos – this is a great way to make money without a significant cost to get started. You’ll want o invest in a digital camera to take photos and sell them online. Learn how to sell stock photos and make money here!
- Sell clothes on Poshmark – if you have some clothes lying around, selling them on Poshmark can be a great way to make extra money and pay down your debt. Check out how to make money with Poshmark now!
- Flip furniture for a profit – this is a cool way to make money if you have a spark of creativity. Purchasing distressed pieces and restoring them can be a great way to make some money.
How to Budget to Cut Expenses Drastically
When cutting expenses, budgeting can be essential. If you don't already have a budget, this is your time to get started. Below I'll explain how you can start budgeting so you can start cutting expenses today.
Analyze Spending Behavior
The first step in budgeting is analyzing your previous behavior. This step often takes the longest as you’ll need to browse through credit card statements and bank accounts to view each transaction that took place during the month.
Budgeting apps like Mint or YNAB can help to consolidate your accounts and show you where your money goes each month.
Take Note of Income
Your income plays an important role in budgeting. Be sure to write down all forms of income.
Group Spending into Categories
Next, you’ll need to group all of your spending into several categories. The number of categories you have doesn’t necessarily matter, but you’ll want to make sure each transaction falls into one of them.
Set Limits for each Category
The final step is where the magic happens. You'll need to combine your income and expenses into your budget. Try to allocate what you think is a reasonable amount each month for all of your categories. Once you're done, add them up and see what number this amounts to. If your total number is greater than your monthly income, you'll need to cut or remove certain areas of your budget. If the number is lower than your income, you can allocate any additional dollars towards savings or investments. Zero-based budgeting means that you need your expenses and income to balance out. Each dollar earned should be allocated in some area. If it's not, visit your budget and adjust accordingly.
TIP: Don’t forget to budget for savings and investments. You’ll want to consider these items as essential to set yourself up for a stronger financial future!
Implement and Analyze
Now that your budget is balanced, it's time to start using it! Be sure not to spend more than the allocated amount for each category throughout the month. When the month is over, go back and look at where you might have underspent or overspent. Then you can adjust your budget accordingly.
Tips to Saving Money and Cutting Expenses
Below are some tips to help you with your savings goals.
There's no better way to stay on track with your savings goals than using your knowledge for the better. If you know that you routinely spend money when you get bored, aim to plan activities to avoid boredom. These small adjustments can help you cut expenses and secure a stronger financial future.
Eliminate Poor Habits
Poor habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol can cost you thousands of dollars per year. For those who smoke one pack of cigarettes per day, this can amount to over $30 per week or $120 per month in savings. This is a great option for those looking to lower expenses drastically fast.
Stay Away From Lifestyle Creep at All Costs
For many people, as their income increases, so does their spending. This can be a terrible way to manage money.
What is lifestyle creep? In simplest terms, it the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. Because so many people in society make poor financial decisions, we might be tempted to do the same.
Try to reduce lifestyle creep as much as possible to cut expenses drastically.
Final Thoughts on How to Drastically Cut Expenses
Drastically cutting expenses won’t be easy, but it’s certainly possible. By combining a few of these methods, you’re sure to be on track with your financial goals in no time at all.
Whether you choose to house hack, refinance your mortgage or student loans, or cut food costs by avoiding food waste, there are plenty of ways for you to drastically cut your expenses and save money fast.
Finances aren’t always the easiest to understand, but you’re on the right track. By budgeting effectively and keeping track of your money, you’ll be on your way to financial independence in no time.
What are your favorite methods to drastically cut your expenses? Comment below!