Budget Living

Smart Cuts To Reduce Your Expenses

Saving money can be a difficult task, especially when you have a number of outgoings that leave your account at different times of the month. On top of paying rent, utility bills and doing weekly food shops, there are other expenses that need to be accounted for,  which can quickly leave a big hole in your pocket. To help you in your mission to save money, we’re examining the monthly expenses many people have, which you could be cutting down on, if not cutting out completely. Reducing your outgoings is a great way to reduce your cost of living, which, in turn, can allow you to save more. And cutting back your spending may be easier than you think. Here are some smart cuts, from food bills to entertainment, that you can make to reduce your expenses:

1. Save on your phone bill

When you’re looking at your monthly outgoings, one of the first things you should examine is whether you’re getting what you’re paying for with the services you use. For example,  suppose you’re currently paying £20 a month for your mobile phone on a deal that gives you unlimited texts and minutes; then it may be worth checking how much of those unlimited options you use and if there’s a cheaper plan available, that would still meet your needs comfortably. It could be that by playing it safe with an unlimited deal, you’re actually paying over the odds for something you don’t actually need.

Image of woman with mobile phone

Related: 20 Stress-Free Ways To Save Money In Your Home

2. Cut down on buying drinks

We’re all subject to the overarching power of caffeine, and picking up a coffee or tea on your commute can quickly become a part of your routine that you barely even think about. If you find you stop to buy coffee even just once a month, then this is an expense you should be keeping an eye out for. Even a cheap filter coffee can make a dent when you add up the cost over a year, which is why planning in advance is so important. Try investing in a travel mug you can take on your commute as a way of saving while still getting your caffeine fix!

And it’s not just the hot drinks that can add up, but the cold drinks too. So instead of buying bottled water, opt for tap water; it’s free. If you need water when you’re out and about, invest in a reusable bottle to have water wherever you go. You can even add fruit or cheap squash if you prefer some flavour to your water; it’ll still be cheaper than buying a bottle every time you need a drink.

3. Cut the commuting costs

However you get to work, there are a few ways you can cut the costs of this necessary expense. If you drive to work, there are a few things you could try to bring your costs down. You could car share with a colleague or give them a lift in exchange for splitting petrol.

If you have local public transport links, consider using these instead of hopping in the car day in and day out. You could even invest in season tickets if you need to commute regularly; these tend to be cheaper in the long run.

You could even begin cycling or walking to work if you live close enough, which could save you plenty of money over the course of a year, as well as giving you some free exercise.

Related: How People Across the World Commute for Free

Image of someone cycling to cut down on costs

4. Buy generic

One easy swap to cut costs is to buy supermarket own-brands. It’s easy to be lured in by the fancy packaging and promises of branded goods, but a lot of the time, it really doesn’t make a difference to your taste buds or nutrition. And it’s not just food that this applies to; there are plenty of brand swaps you can make to save money. From makeup to household cleaning products, opting for an own-brand can seriously reduce your expenses. And we bet you won’t even notice the difference!

Related: Simple Supermarket Switches to Save Money

There are plenty of other ways to cut down on your food costs too. You could keep an eye out for coupons and special offers that’ll help your money go further. Switching to a cheaper supermarket can also be a great way to cut your expenses. And don’t forget to always use a list when food shopping and stick to it!

5. Get rid of unused memberships and subscriptions

It’s not uncommon for people to have a variety of subscriptions and memberships that they no longer use, so checking for these and stopping any that you don’t use is a great way to cut your costs.

Related: Why You Should Cancel Your Subscriptions

Be strict and honest with yourself when looking at your subscriptions and memberships. Do you really read that magazine every month? Can you get these online or at your local library? What about your gym membership? Do you really go often enough to make it worthwhile, or could you exercise for free without the gym? How often do you use Prime; Is that next-day delivery really so important? Do you need Prime Video, Netflix and Disney Plus? Could you cope with just one streaming service at a time, you can always change them around when there’s something you want to watch on a particular service.

Make a list of all your subscriptions and memberships and how much they cost. Then start looking at which ones you can cut and how much this will save you. It all adds up, and you might be surprised at how much you can save.

6. Cook at home

Eating out, grabbing your lunch at work and takeaways all add up. Cooking at home instead can really help reduce your costs, especially if you batch cook. This is often not only better for your budget, but it tends to be the healthier option too.

If you love takeaways, you can try your hand at a <a href=”https://sunny.co.uk/good-vibes/cheap-fast-foods-you-can-diy-at-home/”>fakeaway meal</a> instead. Batch cook your lunch for the week and take these in daily. If you combine reducing your eating out with not buying brand names and buying seasonal produce, you can cut your costs dramatically. There are also other simple food swaps you can make to save money, so be sure to see where else you can save!

Related: 5 Meals to Feed a Family for Under £5

You could even try reducing your food costs by making some of the staples at home too. For instance, it’s really cheap and easy to bake your own bread, which is a great way to cut the food costs.

7. Cut your food costs

OK, you can’t live without them, but there are plenty of ways to reduce your energy bills. Little changes, like switching the light off when you leave a room and not leaving your laptop plugged in all the time, can go a long way to reducing your expenses. Do you really need to put the heating on, or can you just put on a jumper? Check if you’re eligible for free loft insulation too, which can dramatically cut your winter energy costs.

And don’t let your energy supplier just renew each year; often, loyalty gets you nowhere. Shop around and see if you can find a cheaper supplier. Sometimes your current supplier will reduce your renewal if you tell them you’ve found it cheaper elsewhere.

Related: Reasons to Switch Energy Supplier

8. Cut your data usage

If you find you go over your data usage and get charged, set limits on your phone. Many phones will at least allow you to set a warning for getting close to your limit, so you can then switch your data off.

Only allow yourself to connect to data when you need to – do you really need it when out and about? Instead, connect to Wi-Fi as often as possible. Whether at a coffee shop, at work, or on a train, many of these places will have free Wi-Fi for you to use instead of eating up your data.

9. Remove your apps

Similar to subscription costs, do you have apps that you pay for and could remove? You may be surprised at how many paid-for apps you have on your phone that you no longer use. Take a look and see how much these are costing you a month to see how much you can save.

Is there a free version of the same app where you may just have to put up with some ads and limited features? Or is there another app that is free and does the same job? Removing your paid-for apps can go a long way to reducing your costs.

10. Don’t get stung by overdraft fees

Don’t allow yourself to be caught out by overdraft fees – these are basically a high-interest loan. A lot of banking apps will let you know if you have gone into your overdraft, and you tend to have 24 hours before they charge you, so ensure you allow your app to notify you; that way, you can move your money around if need be.

We understand that if you struggle with money, it may not be that simple. If you don’t have money in other accounts to move around, you will get charged. So it’s best to reduce the possibility of this happening. Ensure you have a budget for each month and stick to it. Be aware of your outgoings and how this measures up to what you have coming in every month. When out shopping, withdraw what you need (and can afford), and don’t be tempted to just tap. If you have the cash, you know you can’t spend more than that, so it’ll help to reduce spontaneous purchases too.

Reducing your costs and becoming money savvy

We understand that it can be a journey when getting in control of your finances and becoming money savvy. But making a few of the above cuts can help to reduce your expenses and can be the first step on your journey. If you feel like you do most of the above tips, why not check out some more unusual ways to save money.

For more ideas on and tips on getting control of your money, check out our other money savvy posts.