When you are considering buying a home, the first consideration is affordability. As the current real estate market continues to favor sellers, prices are going up, making your ideal home more difficult to afford. You can dramatically impact the affordability by lowering your monthly expenses. We all know that might mean things like downsizing our cars or eating out less.
However, here is an amazing list of ways to shave off $10 here, $50 there, and sometimes hundreds of dollars per month. With those savings, you can quickly pay down credit cards, thereby lower monthly expenses further and improving your credit score. Check out the list.
- Get rid of recurring charges you don’t need anymore – Go through every bank statement and every credit card statement. Look for recurring charges that you have forgotten about from online resources, magazine drives, newspaper subscriptions, and more. We’ll assume you find one of these at $10 a month. You might find way more.
- Call your cable TV provider. Tell them you are considering going off grid or switching to satellite. If you have satellite, call the provider and tell them you are thinking of switching to cable. Watch the dance begin. You are very likely to end up with at least $20 or more in savings. Now call the competition with your new rate and see what they will do. You are likely to end up with the same or better rate and some kind of promotional money or free stuff for switching.
- Go off the grid on cable. Between Apple TV, Hulu, NetFlicks, RedBox, Amazon Prime, and other TV offers, it is hard to justify any upgrades to basic service on cable or satellite. The savings for getting off of cable could easily be $50 or more.
- On to your cell phone, internet, and land line providers. This gets a bit more complicated, but the cost of all of this is dropping fast. By changing providers, bundling, unbundling, and just shopping, you are very likely to end up saving another $30 a month and improving MBPS. Recently I tried to end my land line service, but the bundle cost less with it that without.
- Saving on your utilities. The water company (at least in California) will be happy to help you cut down your water use. Check with your supplier to find out how to get free or reduced costs products to reduce use in bathrooms and irrigation. Then check to see what the recommended water needs are for your yard. The electric company will help you with lighting and other ways to save on electricity. LED lights are fantastic and save a huge amount of money. Switch appliances to natural gas to save even more. Saving $25 or more per month for these changes should be a cinch.
- Budget. Keep a penny by penny ledger of all expenses for three months. There are many online tools that can help with this process. Once you see where the money is going, you will almost certainly be able to find ways to cut that won't hurt even a little bit. We’ll put this down as $25.
- Shop your car insurance. We have 4 drivers on the policy, so your results may vary. Don’t forget to check Costco or AAA. It is not unusual to save $100 or more. You should also review your other insurance policies annually to make sure you have the coverage you need, and to see about savings on rates. Life insurance is another very likely savings point.
- Speaking of Costco. The savings by purchasing your groceries and other items at Costco are real and significant. Costco marks up all items by 15%. What they buy for $10.00, you pay only $11.50. Most discount department stores mark up 50% to $100. So you would pay $15.00 - $20.00. I know you have to buy huge quantities. Find nooks all over the house for storing commodities. Buy and extra freezer. A one-time small cost for huge savings. Multiple online sources report Costco as cheaper than Walmart, Sam’s, and Amazon Prime. Imagine the savings compared to your local chain market. Potential savings of at least $25 per month per person.
- Amazon Prime. When it isn't a Costco item, why not buy on Amazon Prime?!? Pricey toothpaste, supplements, household items and more are almost always cheaper on Amazon than at Target or CVS. And there is no freight and no auto expense. When you need more, you have a record of what you bought. Savings of another $10 per person per month.
- Get rid of any high interest credit card. Use the savings from these other suggestions to first pay off all credit cards with interest rates higher than your mortgage interest rate. The only good use for a credit card is to build credit. Pay them off every month. Or get an interest free credit card and transfer all balances into the interest free card. If you owe $10,000 on credit cards that charge interest and you put this on an 18 month no interest card, you’ll pay 3% for the transfer ($300) and save at least $1800 if you pay the card off in the 18 months for a savings of $100 a month. Most families will save at least $25 per month. If you owe more than that, try a credit union for a low interest loan. If you owe a lot more, consider a HELOC.
- Take your lunch to work. Eating out a lunch is expensive and usually not great for your waistline. A normal lunch your make at home will cost under $2.50. Savings of $100 a month and maybe 10,000 calories.
- We promised not to suggest changes to lifestyle, but if you want to add another huge amount of savings, get rid of one expensive, useless or worse, habit. Smoking, buying booze in bars, daily Starbucks, fast food, gambling (including lotto.) This could be the biggest savings of all. An expense of just $10 per day is $300 a month.