Month-to-month living costs quickly add up, even when you think you’re being careful. Research shows that one in three Americans struggle to pay bills, while around 60% are living paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, there are some unique steps you can take to reduce your monthly expenses and start saving for the future.
Double-check your entertainment and internet accounts
Like many people, you probably have a lot of streaming accounts. But do you use them all every week? Chances are, there’s one (or more!) that you could stand to do away with. Whenever you do check out any new streaming accounts, be sure to set an alarm for when the free trial is over. This will help you avoid getting auto-charged if you don’t wish to continue.
It’s also a good idea to take a look at any cable or internet packages you may have. Many people bundle these together because they believe it will save money, but this often leads to paying more for services you don’t actually use.
Make your air conditioning efficient
Around 75% of American homes have air conditioning, but many are paying more than they should in energy bills. To keep your air conditioning as efficient as possible, make sure all the windows and exterior doors in your home are properly sealed. Try to avoid blasting the cool air as much as possible — even setting the thermostat just 10 to 15 degrees higher than what you’re used to can result in noticeable energy savings.
Spot major home fixes early
Nobody wants to be blindsided by a major fix at home. However, many homeowners avoid getting inspections due to that very fear. As a result, small problems are often left to develop into much more serious issues later on. It should go without saying that having to pay off a big home fix can quickly derail anyone’s monthly budget.
Instead of letting things sneak up on you, conducting regular inspections of your plumbing, electrical system, and physical structure will help you spot smaller, fixable issues early on. Don’t forget exteriors either — roofs should be professionally inspected every year right before winter, but having it done at least every five years will still help prevent unwelcome surprises.
Reconsider that brand-new car
New cars ultimately mean lower monthly maintenance costs, right? Not necessarily. While many Americans justify changing cars every five years or so because, for this very reason, they’re often doing serious damage to their monthly costs. Statistics show that in 2019 most (around 85%) new vehicles are financed via lease or loan, which need to be paid back in monthly installments. The newer the vehicle is and the lower your upfront down payments are, the more expensive your monthly costs will be.
Depending on the exact parameters of the loan or lease agreement, even basic maintenance costs may not be covered by the dealership. It’s also worth noting that if you plan to drive your car for more than five years, lease agreements can end up being pricier than purchasing the vehicle outright.
Cook more at home
With today’s abundance of to-go ordering right at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to avoid cooking at home. But in addition to taking a toll on our health, this can also cause monthly budgets to take a hit. Try setting small goals to start, where you cook and eat at home for a week straight. The upfront grocery shopping costs can be more than a night of takeout, but it won’t take long for your wallet to thank you.
Depending on your lifestyle and financial needs, there are many other things you can do to save money each month. Try writing down your monthly earnings and subtracting all of your necessary costs ahead of time. When you know exactly how much money you have available every month, it’ll be easier to stay within your budget.