3 Methods to Reduce Monthly Expenses
How I reduced my monthly expenses by 50%
Photo by Thibault Penin on Unsplash
The very first thing I did after becoming financially literate was to start tracking my monthly expenses. After all, it’s vital to know how much money you have coming in every month and how much needs to go toward your expenses.
I started tracking my monthly expenses over a year ago and can safely say I’ve saved money just from seeing a pattern of useless things I spend money on and cutting them out of my life.
In these last few months, I decided to double down on reducing my monthly expenses and took a closer look at them. I wanted to find exactly what I could eliminate to reduce my spending.
By being diligent and real with myself, I was able to cut down my monthly expenses by more than 50%.
By no means am I a minimalist now. I can still afford many of the same luxuries that I had before, but now I’ve noticed that I have to work a little harder at living my life to reduce my expenses and save money.
It was tough at first. Most people can’t do it, and that’s why most people won’t be able to reduce their monthly spending. If you can remove just a couple of expenses in a month, the same money could be saved or invested for your future.
Here’s how I cut out my monthly spending. See if you can do the same.
1 — Purged my subscription services
My monthly subscription services were the first things I took a look at because they were one of my biggest expenses. From Hulu to Apple Music, I had fallen victim to what many others do: Subscription slavery.
I was mindlessly blowing hundreds of dollars every month on these subscription services:
Netflix — $8.99 a month
Cellphone service— $40 a month
Hulu premium bundle (Hulu+Disney+ESPN) — $13.99 a month
Apple Music — $4.99 a month
Adobe Creative Suite — $52.99 a month
Wi-Fi /Cable— $225 a month
Sirius XM — $5 a month a month
Reading services (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc.) — $40 a month
That’s right, my subscription service expenses alone were adding up to almost $400 every month ($390.96 if you did the math).
Keep in mind that there are taxes associated with all of these costs. For Apple Music, I was spending $5.34 every month after tax. I just listed it as $4.99 because that’s how much I signed for.
I’m not ashamed to admit that it was idiotic for me to have a lot of these services. Looking back, it made no sense to have Sirius XM for music in my car while I was also paying for Apple Music, which I could connect from my phone to my car.
Through a combination of being real with myself about what I actually needed and getting creative, I was able to trim the list down to services that I considered was essential for me.
Here’s what the trimmed down list looks like:
Netflix — $8.99 a month
Cellphone service — $40 a month
Spotify — Free plan
Adobe Creative Suite — $9.99
Wi-Fi— $75 a month
Writing services (New York Times)— $4 a month
The toughest loss for me was dropping Hulu and cable. I kept Netflix and just switched my cable service to Wi-Fi alone. Just doing this saved me $164.
Besides that, dropping Apple Music and Sirius XM was an easy $10 a month saved because the free version of Spotify is really great.
I got creative with my Adobe Creative Suite by asking to use my younger brother’s second license (everyone gets two licenses) and paying half of his student discount. This was a $42 savings where I didn’t lose anything, and it only took some legwork and research on my end.
My cellphone service remained the same, and I decided to just stick with the New York Times as my only reading subscription because it’s my favorite and I used my younger brother’s school email to get a student rate. Shhh, don’t tell them.
By cutting my monthly subscription services down, I was able to drop a little more than $250 from my monthly expenses alone.
2 — Started living a healthier life
If you’re a busy person — like me — it can be easy to get caught up in a lifestyle of eating out and enjoying the luxuries of a meal. This is a fancy way of saying I found myself eating a lot more Chick-fil-A than ever before, and I used to have the occasional drink with my dinner.
Since then, I have given up alcohol and reduced my fast food intake dramatically. Giving up alcohol was a personal choice I made that not only saved me a ton of money but will hopefully lead me to live a healthier life.
Fast food was a little more difficult than alcohol. I didn’t give it up entirely, but I shop more at grocery stores these days. This gives me the opportunity to make healthier food and saves me money because it’s cheaper than eating out.
I also gave up my gym membership and started running outside more. This might seem counterproductive to living a healthier life, but it’s saving me $40 a month, and I’ve lost a ton of weight because all I do is run.
Not only do I feel better, but I’m saving so much money by not buying/consuming alcohol, dropping my gym membership, and eating out less, that it’s insane.
I calculated that I save anywhere between $150-$200 a month by doing this. Amazing.
3 — Changed my wardrobe
This last one wasn’t planned, but it’s saving me money. Before the pandemic, I bought much more clothing than I do now. I hadn’t learned about sustainable clothing brands, ethical clothing, and fast fashion. I was buying cheap clothes because they got the job done and didn’t cost much.
Fast forward to me now, and I rarely ever buy new clothes. Not just because I’m working from home, but also because I’m no longer opposed to thrifting for my clothes.
I’ve found that a lot of clothes at Goodwill still have a ton of life in them. If you need a belt, it makes no sense to spend $10 when you can get a slightly used one for $2. I buy a lot of my clothes from Goodwill these days except for shoes. There’s something about wearing someone else’s shoes that I just can’t do.
I haven’t been able to calculate how much I’ve been saving on clothes because I sporadically bought clothes before the pandemic and still do now. I just know that I’m saving money by buying less and buying used.
Change your life and reduce your expenses
A lot of the things I gave up were difficult to do. I never finished “The Mandalorian” on Disney+, and I really wish I would’ve before I dropped the service. It was difficult to drop, but it was more than worth it.
Reducing your expenses is not easy. Nor is it for the faint of heart. You have to really buckle down, be realistic with yourself, and get creative to see more money in your pocket at the end of each month.
One tip is to start slow. I made the mistake of dropping everything cold turkey in one month, and it really hit hard. It was like I went into withdrawal.
You can start slowly and drop a few things at a time. You don’t have to give up everything to save money and reduce expenses. It’s important you don’t lose your happiness in the process.
CONTRIBUTED BY Marx D.
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