When most people think about reducing their spending, they generally think about their variable expenses such as their groceries, clothing or Starbucks addiction instead of their regular monthly bills such as their mortgage, electric bill or student loans. While your grocery and clothing costs are often the easiest to reduce quickly, if you really need to reduce your budget, you may need additional ways to save big. Here are five easy ways to significantly reduce the rest of your monthly budget that you may not have considered yet.
1. Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
Is your older home wasting you countless dollars due to poor energy efficiency? If so, there are plenty of ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency and save your hard-earned money. Seal any cracks around your doors and windows, add extra insulation in the attic, switch to CFLs, reduce the temperature on your hot water heater, and purchase energy efficient appliances when your old ones give out. These changes may seem small, but they can really add up to big savings.
2. Get Rid of Subscriptions and Memberships
Whether or not you use the subscriptions and memberships you have, you can probably get the same items for free or significantly cheaper elsewhere. Cancel your gym membership and go running outside instead. Cancel your magazine subscription and check out your favorite magazines from the library. Cancel cable and use Netflix or Hulu. Get rid of your home phone and just use your cell phone instead. You can still enjoy all of the benefits you had without the added expense.
3. Call Your Credit Card Company
While having no credit card debt would be preferable, at least take steps to reduce your interest rate while you work to get your card balance paid off. If your card has a super high rate, call your company and ask them to lower it. Many will just because you asked! If your company won’t, shop around for a new card with a lower rate. A card with a 0% introductory rate might be just what you need to finally get your balance paid off once and for all. And always, always, always make sure you pay your bill on time to avoid interest rate hikes and fees!
4. Consolidate Your Student Loans
While student loan interest rates are generally lower than credit card interest rates, that doesn’t mean that paying them every month is enjoyable. If your loans are higher than they should be, see if you can consolidate them for a better rate. Alternately, see if you can get a discount for paying on time every month or for signing up for monthly auto-debits. Even a savings of 0.25% can really add up if your balances are high.
5. Refinance Your Home
For many people, their mortgage is their biggest expense. If yours is too big, see if you can refinance for less. If interest rates have gone down, if your credit has improved or if you have passed the 20% equity mark, you probably can. Some companies will even allow you to include your closing expenses in the cost of your new mortgage so refinancing doesn’t have to be expensive, and this one-time process can really save you big over the life of your loan.
Do you need to reduce your monthly budget or have you already? Which of these tips do you think will work best for you? Do you have other tips to add? Share them below!