Americans are struggling with rent hikes, increased housing costs, staggering gas prices and overall record inflation. Many people fear another recession.
Whether a recession is on its way or the economy will bounce back sooner rather than later remains to be seen. However, there are many steps you can take to begin cutting costs right away. Here are some that can help as you navigate the future.
Make A Budget And Stick To It
Calculate your family’s income after taxes and deductions. Then, make a budget by writing out your necessities, such as food, housing and other bills. Next, determine how much you want to save. Finally, figure out the amount you can spend on luxuries, like shopping or entertainment.
Plan Meals And Eat At Home
According to Forbes, people spend five times more ordering restaurant delivery than cooking at home. Planning meals for the week allows you to shop strategically and reduce grocery store trips. Building a plan based on sales and items in your pantry can save even more.
Have Groceries Delivered
Ordering groceries from Walmart or Instacart might seem like a costly convenience. But doing so can eliminate impulse buys. It also makes it easy to calculate your purchases as you shop and compare prices on comparable products.
Switch To Reusable Items
Consider all the things you regularly buy only to use once and toss in the trash. Then, look into reusable alternatives. For instance, you might replace paper towels and napkins with cloth ones or plastic baggies with silicone bags.
Stop Paying For Television
The average household spends $2,604 annually on cable and may be paying more than $1,700 yearly on streaming subscriptions. Buying an antenna (typically less than one month of cable) for over-the-air television could save you hundreds of dollars every month while still allowing you to enjoy an abundance of shows, movies and events.
Lower Your Housing Costs
Whether you rent or own, look for ways to cut your monthly payments. For instance, you might move to a smaller home or a more affordable area. Refinancing your mortgage or negotiating your rent might be right for you instead. Alternatively, you could find a roommate to share a portion of the space and the bills.
A study by C+R Research shows that consumers spend an average of $219 a month on subscription services from gaming to news. In addition, about three-quarters of respondents found it easy to forget about recurring monthly charges. Look over your bank and credit card statements to find and cancel products and services you don’t use or need.
Reduce Energy Use
You can save money on utilities with several minor changes. Start by requesting a free electricity audit from your power company or perform one yourself. Adjusting the thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home could cut 10% of heating and cooling costs. You can also turn off and unplug items when not in use to prevent them from consuming energy in standby mode.
Institute A 24-hour Delayed Spending Rule
If you are tempted to make a non-essential purchase, wait 24 hours before buying it, especially when it’s not accounted for in your budget. This “cooling off” period gives you time to decide if it is worth the money and makes it less of an impulse buy.
Decrease Your Cell Phone Bill
Check with your carrier to find out if you have the best plan for your family. While speaking with them, see if they offer a discount if you sign up for auto-pay and paperless billing. Consider bundling with family or friends to save even more.
Visit The Library
Everyone knows the public library is a great way to read all the books you want for free. But most libraries offer so much more than books and even movies on DVD. For instance, many offer eBook or audiobook downloads, online resources and databases you can access from home, along with free classes or events. Some even loan out various items like Wi-Fi hotspots, board games, science project kits or tools.
Have a No-Spend Day, Week or Month
Challenging yourself not to spend money on anything other than necessities for a specific period can be financially rewarding while boosting your creativity and opening you up to new experiences. For instance, you might discover you enjoy creating new recipes using what you have or find out about fun free concerts in the local park.
Peruse your monthly budget to see if you might be able to lower any bills, such as your credit card, cable provider, or other services, with a phone call. Explain why they should give you a better rate (for example, if you are a long-time customer or have improved your credit score) to find out what they can do for you.
Use Alternative Transportation
There’s no denying that high gas prices make driving more expensive. Consider alternatives, like buses, trains or other mass transit options to commute, if available. Walk or bike to nearby places when you can. Working from home when possible will cut fuel costs, as well.
Reduce Insurance Bills
Shop around to see if you can get a better rate on home, auto and other insurance premiums. Consider increasing your deductible or reducing coverage on an older vehicle if doing so makes sense financially. Look into bundling coverage with one provider to receive a discount, and ask your agent about other discounts you may qualify for.
Skip Big Brands
Many generic or off-brand foods and household items are just as good as the name brands. The only difference is the price. Start by purchasing store-brand versions of bread, cereal and cleaning products. Then, venture into other categories to find products you like for less.
The next time you need clothing, furniture, tools or household items, look for a gently-used option first. You can save a bundle with sources like thrift stores, yard sales, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor and countless other websites or apps.
Debt consolidation, which rolls multiple debts into a single payment, isn’t for everyone. But in the right circumstances, it can cut expenses and help you get out of debt faster. For instance, it may make sense if you have several high-interest loans and qualify for a lower interest rate.
Quit The Gym
Canceling a gym membership could cut hundreds a year from your expenses. Instead, you could work out at home with free online classes and videos, join a fitness group in your neighborhood or check the rates of your local rec center, which will likely be substantially cheaper.
DIY Repairs And Maintenance
Fix holes and leaks, change the oil in your car and perform other repairs yourself instead of paying someone else to do it. Online tutorials and borrowing or renting tools could save cash and increase your skills.
Incorporating a few or several of these actions into your life can help you build a stronger financial foundation no matter what comes.
This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money. Checkout Don't Waste Your Money for product reviews and other great ideas to save and make money.