Monthly expenses fit into one of two categories—fixed (mortgage, car payment) vs. flexible (food, cell phone plan). The bank’s not likely to flex on your house payment, but you can control how much you spend in other areas, like utilities and groceries. That’s where you can trim some fat and cut costs.
Try these ideas to amp up your money-saving mojo.
Plan your menu. Look at your weekly store ads—anything catch your eye? Maybe you could plan a few meals based on sale items. If that’s not working for you, at least have a loose plan. In fact, studies show that meal planning and shopping with a list can reduce your grocery budget significantly.
Look for sale cycles. Stores rotate staples like paper goods, cereal and bread at below cost to draw you into the store. Look for patterns in the store circulars and stock up during sales.
Keep your coupons current. Coupons.com lists new offers on the first of every month, with additional offers throughout the month. Pay attention to expiration dates and check back regularly to be sure you have the most current deals.
Research utility rates. Call your utility company and ask for a discount—I’m not kidding. Just like department stores, your cable company or cell phone provider may be willing to price match their competitors. Also, if you still have a landline, be honest about how much you use it. Do you need it? It might save you a big chunk of change to cancel it.
Ask about a free energy audit. Many electric companies provide them, and they’ll show you where you’re losing energy and recommend ways to conserve. They may even offer a credit if you participate in their energy-saving program.
Shaping up your finances and creating a budget to fit your lifestyle is a work in progress. The key? Be consistent. If you need to refer back to the first two parts in this series, here’s Part 1 – Take Financial Inventory and Part 2 – Saving Money. Keep an eye out for future series.
The article above was written by our newest contributor – Jeanette Pavini – an Emmy award-winning consumer reporter and personal finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal Digital Network.