This is Kait – Marketing Coordinator at Metro. I’ll be blogging along with Gretchen from time to time, and sharing my thoughts with you!
With the economy slow to recover, many of us have found ourselves struggling with reduced household income due to job loss, pay cuts, or increased healthcare costs. So when your household income is reduced, how do you cut back on your spending? People become accustomed to a certain way of life, and being forced to modify that can make your hair stand up on end. But with a slight shift of your priorities and a little (I swear, just a little) extra work, you can find ways to save that actually might improve your life!
One of the first ways to cut back is to get back to the basics. Housing, food, transportation – these are the priorities! Think about all the add-ons we pay for – premium packages, extra features. I started with our cable bill. The cable service we subscribed to allowed us to “suspend” our account for 6 months. At a little over $85 a month, this was a sizeable savings! We now subscribe to Netflix, which at just $10 a month allows us to view movies and popular TV shows on-demand. So we ended up with a net savings of $75 a month!
My next suggestion is to take a close look at your dining habits. Once or twice a week, my boyfriend and I used to hit up a local restaurant for dinner instead of cooking. Now, we plan our meals a few days in advance to help stick to the menu and budget, and since it’s the summer, we can pack up a couple sandwiches, grab a blanket and head to the beach for a change of venue. We still treat ourselves every now and then, usually from a coupon-based website, but we really try to keep dining out to a minimum. Since we started really paying attention we’ve cut our dining bill by about $250 every month.
Lastly, I would take a hard look at your priorities, and let those priorities dictate how you spend money. Now before I run out to dinner, or go on a little shopping spree, I ask myself, is it more important to me to pay a bill and have peace of mind, or have a new outfit? I have become very picky about what I spend my money on, and have started to stash a little bit more away (although not enough, according to this article I Should Be Saving How Much?!). A new study says that we should be saving 16-20% of our income – something I’m sure many of you just read and said WHAT? and then HOW? For those of you that didn’t bat an eye at that number, congratulations. For the rest of us, check out some tips here about the 7 Habits of Highly Frugal People.
So as the economy continues to make baby-steps, we can continue to make baby-steps toward reducing our spending, and increasing our savings. I know for me, taking baby-steps is the only way that I’ll be able to make it! Has your family had to cut back due to this economy? What has worked for you? What are you still challenged with? What do you refuse to give up? Share your ideas here, and let us know how you’re doing!