Updated: Mar 12, 2021
Between bills, food, and transportation, recurring expenses can add up quickly. It's easy to lose track of how much you spend on them every month—and stressful when there’s not much money left over once they’re paid. Getting a handle on these expenses can help you find areas where you can save a little more every month. That’s extra money you can put toward emergency savings, credit card debt, or a down payment for a new car—whatever your financial needs and goals may be.
To save money efficiently, start by tracking your expenses and creating a budget. Doing this will help pinpoint where your money goes and help you be more intentional about your spending and saving.
If you’re anxious about your ability to afford monthly expenses due to the pandemic or other factors, finding ways to save money every month can ease your financial stress. Here’s how to do it.
1. Save Money on Monthly Bills
Reducing recurring bills is one of the most effective ways to save more every month. Conserving money can be as easy as picking up your phone:
Consider eliminating certain services. Once you track your expenses, try ditching the services you use the least and put the extra money towards your savings. Recurring bills to consider canceling include:
Music, television, and streaming subscriptions
News and other media subscriptions
Gym, health, and beauty memberships (such as Birchbox and Trunk Club)
Reduce your insurance costs. If you think you might be paying too much for insurance, don't be afraid to research better deals. You might find policies that cost less and offer better coverage. See what your options are by requesting quotes from at least three insurers. Also, consider “bundling” insurance policies (such as home and car) from the same insurer. Most major insurance companies offer this service and also provide a variety of other discounts.
Negotiate with providers for lower prices. Costs for cable, internet, cellphone, and even utilities are often negotiable. Some households may qualify for government or nonprofit assistance on home repairs, energy bills, and weatherization services. Analyze your bills and call your provider to cancel unnecessary features, channels, or plans. Negotiate lower prices, and ask if you might qualify for a discount on your service. Common discounts include:
Professional and student discounts
Paperless billing discounts
On-time payment discounts
2. Save Money on Food
Feeding yourself and your family can be expensive—especially if you dine out or get takeout often. Adopting frugal habits regarding food can save you a significant amount of money every week. Even if you don't stop visiting restaurants entirely, here are a few ways to cut back on food costs:
Create a weekly meal plan with an estimated budget. Shopping once a week instead of
running to the store every other day can save a lot on last-minute impulse purchases.
Cook at home and prepare meals in advance. Preparing meals at home is almost always
cheaper than going out.
Shop at grocery stores where you can use coupons and discounts.
3. Change Your Transportation and Utility Habits
Lifestyle changes can save you more money than you might realize—it just takes a little thought and effort. Here are a few ways to save money inside your home and out:
Unplug unused appliances, and adjust water and heating. Unplugging your devices, adjusting your thermostat to settings that consume less power, and turning off idle lights could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Run appliances after peak hours. Depending on where you live, utility companies charge lower rates at night or non-peak hours of the day. For example, Pacific Gas & Electric helps customers maximize savings with “Time-of-use” rates plans. Contact your utility company to find out their non-peak hours and rates.
Ride your bike, walk, or use public transportation more often. Save on gas and reduce wear-and-tear costs on your car by riding your bike, walking, or using public transport when possible. Not only will you save money, but you’ll help the environment too.
Practice Makes Perfect
With practice, saving money gets easier. Paired with tracking your expenses and creating a budget, saving more money every month can ease your financial stress and protect you in an emergency. There are many ways to save money every month, so choose the best options for your lifestyle.
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Aysia Morton is a New York-based freelance personal finance writer. She writes for people who want to simplify their finances. Aysia is also an advocate for financial equality and equity and is passionate about studying how personal finance is affected by the racial wealth gap. She received her BA from the University of Maryland College Park and is pursuing her Master's degree. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, concert-going, and reading books.