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How to Find Extra Money in Your Budget Without Giving Up a Thing

by Shawanda Greene

Young black woman holding piggy bankWhether you’re planning for your first child, trying to determine if you can afford a new car payment or just trying to cut back in order to save more for the future, there are always ways to find extra money in your budget. Even if you don’t want to give up anything, small tweaks and minor changes can make a world of difference when you’re trying to cut monthly expenses. Consider the following:

Cut the cable – Between cable, DVR and other television expenses like satellite television, etc. you may want to rethink the expenses associated with your TV bill. Even if you’re not ready to give up on cable television altogether, why not watch your favorite television shows online? OR, rethink Netflix and other movie borrowing services and consider Redbox ($1 per DVD/per day). You can even utilize the library in lieu of subscribing to a mail-in service. The library isn’t just for borrowing books anymore, and can be used to check out new music CDs and even magazines and newspapers, which could save you even more money throughout the month.

Turn down the heat – Lowering your thermostat even a couple degrees could save you a lot of money on your heating bill, especially during the coldest winter months. Or, set your programmable thermostat to kick on only when you are at home, this could save you approximately $180 a year in energy costs according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Also, try tricks like cracking your oven door open after cooking, to let the warm air escape into the kitchen as the oven cools. Also, take advantage of space heaters, electric blankets and fireplaces. And in the warmer summer months, only use the air conditioning when you really need it. When you do, set the temperature a little higher than usual, and it’ll have the same affect on your electric or gas bill as keeping the heat low in winter does.

Reconsider your land line – Many people these days use their cell phone as their primary means of communication. Between that and email, why not reconsider your need for a land line at home? You may be wary of discontinuing this service in case of a power outage or if you are using your home phone line for internet, fax or answering machine capabilities, but consider other options that don’t require a land line. You’re likely to save money if you eliminate this expense from your monthly budget.

Make a meal plan – Meal planning is a great way to save money on food. To begin, when you plan your meals in advance, there’s less of an urge to grab take-out or eat out at a restaurant when you don’t have to brainstorm something to cook right when you’re starving. Also, when you do your weekly grocery shopping trip, you will know exactly what you need to buy for each meal. This way, you won’t get to the end of the week with rotting produce and expired ingredients hidden in the back of your fridge. Get creative with leftovers and pantry items. Have a “clean out the fridge” night once a week to eat up all those leftovers to make room for a new week’s worth of food. You can also cut coupons, cook ahead of time and stock your freezer full of healthy last-minute meal alternatives in order to cut down on late-night pizza deliveries and pre-packaged frozen meals.

Reduce car costs – Most people think you need to walk or ride your bike everywhere to cut your monthly car expenses. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. While that change will help decrease the amount of gasoline you use, there are easy changes you can make that will save you money without hiking miles to work and back every day. You could increase your car insurance deductible, which will typically lower your monthly bill. Or, you could shop around to refinance your auto loan to secure a lower interest rate to save you over the life of your loan. But if all else fails, bundle your errands to minimize car travel and keep up on scheduled maintenance, like tire rotations and regular oil changes, to keep your car running as smoothly, and as cheaply, as possible.

Transfer debt – If you feel like you’re barely making a dent in your high interest credit card payments each month, why not look for a low or 0% balance transfer offer from a mail-in or online credit card offer? However, watch out for introductory offers that may increase after the initial period has ended. This will allow you to take advantage of an offer that is sure to help you make a dent in your debt before the introductory rate wares off, and you won’t have to worry about burdensome interest fees. You may also be able to take advantage of valuable rewards like cash-back rebates that may put even more money back in your pocket.

Consider refinancing – According to MSN’s Money Central, housing costs make up nearly 32% of most people’s monthly budgets. While you could move to a less expensive house or get a roommate in order to save money, there is a way to cut down on your monthly housing expenses even if you don’t change a thing about the way you currently live. If you have built up equity in the home you own, you may want to consider mortgage refinancing. Even if you secure a new mortgage loan with one percentage point of interest lower, you may be able to save a significant amount of money over the course of your mortgage loan depending on closing cost amounts and the number or years you plan to live in the house.

Without drastically altering your lifestyle or giving up a thing, you can potentially save a lot of money when you consider these cost-cutting tips. Whether you try a few of the smaller changes or some of the more significant suggestions, you’re sure to find a little… or a lot of extra money in your budget to spend, budget elsewhere, or even save.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

JohnsonSmith October 11, 2011 at 8:04 AM

The tips are useful but difficult to follow in daily life as we are habitual of living life with cables, cars etc. Now, I will try it once atleastand if I could, I will continue with it.Thanks for such suggestive post.
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Kacie February 1, 2012 at 10:13 AM

These are great ideas! The biggest one for me is making a meal plan. So easy to go to the store and load up the shopping cart and not actually have any meals to make with it.

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