Take A Smart Step

Stop Reading [How to Cut Your Expenses Articles] It Won’t Work


cutting expensesThe number of articles and blogs on cutting back on expenses is astounding; a recent search yielded 6,360,000 results.

That is a lot of attempts to get this expense cutting thing down right.

So why do we keep writing on it and why do they always say the same thing?  And why does it not seem to work?  Why do we still feel like we are not cutting back enough?

Why constantly reading expense articles does not work:

If you have ever tried to lose weight you know that it can be very frustrating, not much fun and sometimes it feels downright impossible.

It is easy to believe there is some magic pill, or gizmo, out there that will instantly make all the extra fat disappear.  So we keep searching for alternatives that will save us from our weight trap and are also easy to do.

Money is the same, we keep searching for that easy magic pill to help us save or do more with what we already have.  The money version of the magic pill tends to come in the form of cutting expenses without adjusting our lifestyles too much and easy ways to make money.  So we keep searching for these elusive ways to get us out of our money pain without any pain.

Here is the catch; we all know what it takes to lose weight – diet and exercise.  What we don’t know is how to accomplish a balance between everything we want – the weight loss and the brownie. Plus we don’t have the commitment to the long term goal of not only losing weight but changing our lifestyle to keep off the weight.

Money is the same; we know what it takes to have enough money to start saving – decrease expenses and increase income.   What is stopping us is the commitment to achieving that long term goal of financial independence when we have to balance it with things like having a great wardrobe today.

How to stop reading endless expense cutting articles:

Following are three steps you can take to ensure you are not wasting your time reading how to cut expense articles and are instead on your way to truly changing your approach to saving money.

Step 1: Commit

Decide that you really want to change and save more money.  This is the hardest step there is.  You have to be 100% ready to make the necessary changes.  Giving up your latte is impossible if you don’t really want to start saving.  When you have not taken the steps necessary to commit to change you will only have latte on the mind and not retirement 30 years from today.

Write down your goal.  Then write down all the reasons that you want to start saving money.  Draw a picture or at least have on in your head of what life will be like when you reach that goal.  Imagine being able to take your kids and grand kids on vacation because you have the money, or imagine being able to donate to the organizations that you love, or whatever your idea of financial independence looks like.

Go over this daily if you need to keep yourself motivated.  Focusing on why you want it will help you commit to it in the long run.  Make all of this a promise to yourself that no latte can break.

Step 2: Do A Budget

Without a budget you don’t know where you need to cut.  Not doing a budget is like trying to finish college without planning when you are going to take classes.  You might make progress, but it will be long, drawn out and expensive.

Once your budget is done you can see where you spend, where you don’t spend or you might just realize your lack of savings is due to lack of income and not your overspending expenses.

Step 3: Start Reading Expense Cutting Articles Again

This is when you can finally resume reading expense cutting articles.  But this time you know what areas you need to focus on, so instead of spending countless hours trying to cut a grocery bill that is already bare bones you can focus on cutting your utility expenses that are over the top.  You get to save time and money now.

With that said, no expense cutting article would be complete without tossing out some expense cutting ideas!  So here we go:

  • Watching your banking fees – This is getting harder to accomplish since many of the major banks are adding fees to make up for lost revenues from legislation.  There are still banks offering free checking, you can also check out the online banks, and credit unions.  Both of which have cheaper fees than traditional banks.
  • Coupons – but only for items you actually buy!  Coupons many times are given out to get you to try things.  So make it a point to only clip coupons when you actually use the item.  Don’t forget non grocery coupons such as ones for oil changes, restaurants.
  • Cook at home – this is hard for me as I am not a big cooking fan, but I know that when I need to cut back on our budget this is the easiest place to do it.  Restaurants are expensive (not to mention lots more calories in their food) so give them the boot and your pocket book and waist line will thank you.
  • Shop your insurance – it is easy to ignore items that don’t require a lot of attention, but you may be amazed at the savings you can find.  Especially with term life insurance, the prices seem to just keep going down.  Call around and get some new quotes to see if you can save more money.
  • Home energy use – invest in a programmable thermostat so that you can adjust it when not home.  I even work from home and still turn the temp up or down during the day; I just add an extra sweater or deal with the heat! Don’t forget to shut out the lights when you leave the room, and ensure you are using LED lights.
  • Turn the car off if you are waiting – save the gas.  I know this can be hard when I am early to pick up Max I want to listen to the radio or watch the clock. When I do shut it off I have quiet time, which I always complain I don’t have, and I save money and help the planet.
  • Consignment stores – especially for kids stuff.  I am always amazed at the quality and price I find when I hit these stores, some of them even carry toys in great shape at a wonderful savings!
  • When shopping in non consignment stores start in the back on the sales rack.  No need to pay full price if you don’t have to.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask stores what day they do mark downs, most stores have a very specific schedule on when things come in and are marked down.  Some stores do it once a week.
  • When eating out try to go on Monday’s and Tuesdays – these are the slow days and many restaurants have specials to get you to come in.
  • When eating out do lunch – it is cheaper than dinner!
  • When on vacation book lodging that has a kitchen – great place to save on breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks.  I for one still always go out for dinner.

Ultimately remember that the goal of cutting back on expenses is to help you achieve your financial goals.  Stick to your goals with a budget and saving money become easier.