The following article was produced and paid for by Commerce Bank:
Do you ever get to the end of the month and wonder where your hard-earned money went?
A good portion of it probably goes to rent, utilities and groceries, but what about the rest? There are a number of ways we accidentally “leak” money through unnecessary costs.
Here are some tips for cutting down on expenses and keeping more of your money. Maybe you’ll even be able to put more money toward your goals, like a better car, your dream trip or a down payment on a house:
Housing & Utilities
Reduce one of your biggest expenses, housing, by splitting the cost with a roommate.
Install a programmable thermostat to lower the indoor temperature in the winter or when no one is home, and raise it during warmer months.
Swap old lightbulbs with LED bulbs. They’re a little more expensive upfront but use a fraction of the energy incandescent bulbs use, lowering your electric bill.
Review your monthly usage for services such as cable, internet and mobile phone. Are you watching all the channels you pay for? Does your phone plan still fit your lifestyle? Take 15 minutes to call your providers and ask for a lower-priced plan that still meets your needs.
Seal air leaks in your home to keep cold air out in the winter and cool air in during the summer. The Department of Energy has a guide with more information.
Bring lunch to work at least three days a week. (Get a handy bento box for motivation.)
Set aside 30 minutes each week to plan meals and make a shopping list. Try to only purchase items on your list.
Use a grocery delivery service if you’re prone to in-store impulse purchases or often pressed for time.
Buy groceries in bulk and share the cost with friends. Advanced tip: cook meals together or take turns cooking for the group to share meals.
Drive a good quality used car instead of buying a new one.
Keep a tire gauge in your glove compartment and check the air pressure monthly. Properly inflated tires give you more miles per gallon and better car performance.
Take public transportation instead of cabs or Uber. If it fits your lifestyle, buy a monthly public transit pass to save on gas and parking fees.
Entertainment & Shopping
Review your monthly subscription fees for magazines, gym memberships or media streaming services. Are you still using them or can you trim that expense? (Check any contracts to make sure you won’t get charged early termination fees.)
Look for social events with free admission, like local festivals and art exhibits — and save the more expensive events (like concerts) for special occasions.
Invite friends over for a dinner party or potluck instead of eating out.
Save when purchasing online by using browser widgets like Honey that search the web for coupons and discount codes.
Make gifts and cards instead of buying them, or consider gifting an act of service like setting up your dad’s new iPad.
Go to the library for new books, music, movies and video games.
When possible, shop used items at thrift stores, estate or yard sales and online.
Saving & Budgeting
Make saving easier by setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account on the same day you get your paycheck.
Boost your motivation to save by creating separate savings accounts and nicknaming them with specific goals like “Ireland 2019” or “house down payment.”
Talk to your HR contact to see what discounts or other benefits might be available to employees at your company.
Simplify money management by automating recurring monthly payments.
Use online tools like the Commerce Bank Mobile Banking App to easily track spending and saving.
These simple money-saving hacks will help you enjoy life while leaving you with extra cash to save for the future. Starting with small changes can have a big impact on your monthly budget — and your future self will thank you for developing smart financial habits now.