As an adult, there are many expenses that you just can’t avoid. Housing, food, and energy costs are all essential, but, there are a few things that you can do to lower your variable expenses. If you are trying to stay on a budget, it can be tough to know where you can trim your costs while still maintaining a proper quality of life.
Once you make the commitment to spending less money on your variable expenses, you might find that you can even put a bit of money aside for your savings. Knowing where to trim the fat is the key to reducing your basic living costs.
Most of us have more luxuries than we need. From cutting down your cable package to looking for cheaper rates on your necessary expenses like insurance there is always room to cut the fat.
From monitoring your energy expenditures to talking to an Allstate Insurance agent or another company, about the most affordable coverage, there are a few things that you can do to save some money. Let’s take a look at a few tips to help you keep your variable expenses to a minimum.
Track Your Spending
The most important first step in making a budget is to find out exactly where you are spending your money. It’s easy to track your major bills but it's not always as easy to see where your casual spending is going. You may not realize that a few bucks in the morning for your coffee can really add up to a chunk of change over the period of a month.
Dedicate yourself to tracking every cent of the money that you spend for an entire month so that you can see where you can easily cut back. You may be surprised at some of the variable expenses that you could eliminate without too much sacrifice.
This means that you will have to be diligent for one whole month tracking your daily spending to really see where you can make some cuts. When you see your spending broken down on paper it can help to motivate you to make the changes that can help you save money.
Here are four areas of variable expenses that you may be able to review and some money with a bit of homework, and diligence.
You will always need to spend money on your energy needs. Electricity is an essential expense that most people don’t think twice about, but there are ways that you can cut your costs. Install a smart thermostat to help you minimize your usage while still keeping your home comfortable.
You can also invest in more insulation for your home which will help you increase your energy efficiency. Updating your windows, sealing your doors and windows properly and investing in alternative energy sources like solar or wind can really cut down your energy costs.
The great advantage of employing more sustainable and eco-friendly energy habits is that you can reduce your carbon footprint while you save money. There are many ways you can cut down on your heating and cooling costs and the amount of electricity that you use.
Having the right insurance protection is a necessity. To help you save money on the policies for your home, life and car insurance you can talk to your broker about a bundling package. Get the minimum coverage that you need and add more protection as you move forward or your needs change.
It’s never a good idea to drop your coverage entirely to save a few bucks. In many states, it is required by law that you have a minimum of coverage, especially on your vehicles. If anything were to happen and you had to pay damages or repairs out of your pocket you could be risking a huge bill. It’s best to choose policies for your car and home insurance that cover the basics.
We all have to eat but, we don’t have to spend a fortune on monthly grocery costs to be well fed. By making some changes to how you approach your grocery shopping you can save money and still provide the right nutrition for your family.
Instead of the big-name grocery chains, you can start shopping at your local farmer’s markets. You will find that the quality is excellent and the prices are a bit cheaper. Buying in bulk is also a great way to save some money.
Focus on purchasing more “whole foods” and less pre-processed or ready-to-make options. Planning out your meals in advance can help you to stay focused on your needs when you head to the market and avoid the junk food aisles where so much money is wasted.
You can also try visiting smaller grocery stores or farmer’s markets if you want to get the best products at some fantastic prices. If you buy organic, you can save money by buying directly from farmers instead of paying big-box grocery retail prices.
One of the easiest ways to cut back on your spending is to cut your entertainment budget. This includes things like expensive phones, cable and internet packages. Cutting back on eating out and expensive nights out are also a great way to save money.
Taking advantage of the internet can open up a world of entertainment that is just a click away. You can use a streaming service or premium cable subscription to watch the latest in TV and movie entertainment wherever you are.
There are plenty of ways to have a great time without spending a bundle on going out. Look for free activities around your community, have a stay-at-home movie night with popcorn and a great flick or catch up on your reading list for the evening. You can even try having a few friends over for a dinner party or a game night.
Final Thought On Variable Expenses
There are certain expenses in life that just can’t be avoided. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get frugal about how and where you are spending your money. Prioritize what is important. Follow some of these tips to help you to keep your variable expenses to a minimum.
Brian is a dad, husband, and an IT professional by trade. A Personal Finance Blogger since 2013 who, with his family, has successfully paid off over $100K worth of consumer debt. Now that Brian is debt-free, his mission is to help his three children prepare for their financial lives and educate others to achieved financial success. He blogs at Debt Discipline.