If you're in the process of creating a monthly budget so you can save money for big goals or pay off debt faster, you may be looking for easy ways to trim your monthly spending habits. Experts share tips on how you can save more money each month to help you reach your financial goals.
Seeing your annual expenses categorized by type is a great way to spot where you can make spending cuts. “Some things will just jump off the page,” says Daniel D’Ordine, CFP, founder of DDO Advisory Services LLC, which offers financial planning, investment management, and insurance solutions for families and business owners in New York City, the Hudson Valley, and New England.
“Using an app such as Mint, which automatically imports and categorizes your expenses, will give you a bird’s-eye view of your financial standing,” which also can help you decide where to cut back, says Keri Danielski, consumer finance expert and spokeswomen for Intuit’s money management tools Mint and Turbo.
Of course limiting the afternoon latte runs and bringing luch from home are a good place to start, but what about other easy ways to cut spending habits? Here are some of suggestions on where you can make trims:
Reduce dining out by half.
“The average person spends more than $200 per month on eating outside the home, according to Danielski. By cutting the frequency in half, you’ll save more than $100 on average each month. Try cooking at home more often (browse our favorite recipes to find your next meal). And when you do dine out, bring half of your meal home (it seems like servings keep getting bigger and bigger) for a second meal—we love leftovers!
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Only save for your child’s college education with gifts.
This will free up some money for other expenses now. D’Ordine suggests opening a 529 College Savings Plan for your child and only contributing to it if friends and family write checks to your child as gifts.
Change up your commute.
Can you walk or bike to work instead of taking the subway? What about carpooling with a colleague or neighbor? Danielski says you can save $100-$200 a month by doing this.
Lower your 401K contributions.
At least for a little while, D’Ordine suggests. If you’re paying off debts or building your emergency fund, for the time being, just contribute enough to get the full employer match (if your company offers one).
Reassess your monthly bills.
Identify areas where you have redundant or excessive fees, Danielski says. “For example, if you have a Spotify account, can you create a family plan with your family members or a few friends to split the cost? Also, take a look at your electric bill. Can you handle cutting back on the AC or heat?” she suggests.
Cut coupons and become members of frequent buyers clubs.
Couponing can make a huge difference, especially when the average household spends $200-$400 per month on food, according to Danielski. And stores’ membership clubs can pay off too, by saving you money on certain items each week or awarding points you can exchange for perks, such as a credit toward your next purchase at the pharmacy.