I often hear that there are two ways to stick to a budget: earning more money and reducing your expenses. While neither of these are what I would call easy to accomplish, it’s often easier than not to boost your income by a bit. For example, you could try to make more money from a hobby, work more hours, get a second job, ask for a raise, and so on.
But many people, myself included, have a really hard time reducing their expenses. Whether it’s from a lack of willpower (waving hand wildly in the air), lack of cooperation from your family, or losing motivation over time, it’s difficult to reduce and reduce and then reduce your expenses some more.
But I’ve noticed that there are some things that I can do that don’t seem to make that much of a difference psychologically but do have a big impact financially.
For example: while picking up some dry cat food at the grocery store the other day, I noticed that the chicken flavor of brand X (a top of the range grocery store brand) was â‚¬13, while the fish flavor was â‚¬10.50. Now I don’t think that my cats really care if they eat fish or chicken flavor (especially since it’s not the real deal), but I do care about the extra â‚¬2.50 in savings. That adds up to about â‚¬80 a year. I started looking at other products, such as pasta or shampoo, and found many examples of times that you can save significantly just by buying a different product within the same brand.
Another way that I reduce my expenses is by trying to go longer between replacements. For example, I try now to wash the sheets on the beds once every 2 weeks (although this gets hard to do in the summer). It’s one of the major reasons that I only go to the grocery store every two weeks on average.
The best way to reduce your expenses, although the most difficult to do without feeling deprived, is to reduce your consumption levels. Whether it’s the amount of food you eat, the amount of electricity or telephone time consumed, or the amount of shopping you do, if you do it less, you won’t spend as much. I find this to be a long and gradual process however, and it’s still a work in progress for me. For example, while I spend much less money on books and magazines, we still (collectively as a family) have a hard time reducing our eating out expenses, and I know that this is a battle that is yet to be won!
How do you reduce your expenses?