If you dig a little deeper into your fixed expenses, you may find they're not so fixed after all.
10 Ways to Reduce Expenses so You can Pay Down Debt
It's too bad salespeople aren't required to actually say aloud before you sign loan papers or purchase receipts, "OK, now you realize you have to pay all of this back, right?"
Credit cards and loans always make you feel like you have more money than you actually earn. Until you have to start making payments. Then you realize you've added hundreds of dollars in payments to your monthly expenses.
It's pointless to beat yourself up for all those purchases that keep you broke. Instead, find ways to cut your monthly and annual expenses. Here are some ways I reduced my expenses while I paid off debt and how you can do it too.
1. Stop the cable TV madness
I got rid of this expense right away, keeping only Wi-Fi and a Netflix subscription. I bought an antenna for $20 so I can watch local high-definition TV, which still has a bunch of channels.
Monthly savings: $100
2. Evaluate insurance policies
I called various insurance agents when my annual homeowner's insurance rate increased and found a good policy with a reputable company that saved me hundreds of dollars annually.
With homeowners, car, or other insurance policies, you can opt for a higher deductible to receive lower rates. However, to make sure you don't under-insure, check out United Policyholders, an impartial nonprofit organization that offers insurance advice and resources.
Annual savings: $600
3. Negotiate utilities
I saved $40 a month on my cell phone bill by simply calling my provider and asking for a lower rate. The agent switched me to a less expensive plan and also applied a loyalty discount. Call your phone, cable and Wi-Fi providers and ask about less expensive packages.
Monthly savings: $40
4. Get a roommate
This will cut utility costs and your rent or mortgage payment in half. I love living alone, but when a friend moved into my apartment for a year, I saved thousands of dollars to put toward a down payment on the house I bought after she moved out.
5. Run errands strategically
To save on gas, I make a point of lumping several errands together into one trip. For example, I might shop for groceries on my way home from the gym or make plans to meet a friend near my hair salon on haircut day.
Monthly savings: $40
6. Prepare more meals at home
This is the best way for me to cut expenses and save money. Buy only meat that's on sale and stick with meals that that revolve around inexpensive ingredients such as potatoes, rice, eggs, tortillas, beans, fruits and vegetables, noodles, and cereal. Homemade soups also go a long way, and you can freeze some for later.
Monthly savings after grocery costs: $200 to $400
7. Bring your lunch to work
You can save around $50 a week this way, and if you're making meals at home anyway, you'll always have leftovers.
Potential monthly savings: $100 to $200
8. Brew your own coffee
I love my coffee shop and I already spend too much time at home working, so I don't follow this popular money-saving advice. However, I stick with drip coffee when I go out, and on weekends, I usually brew my own. Still, brewing your own coffee will save you big bucks.
Potential monthly savings: $150 to $300
9. Find a cheaper gym
I loved my nearby gym but it was $70 a month, so I signed up for a better one that offers a pool, steam room and sauna for half that price. You can go even cheaper with a big chain. However, working out is essential for my overall well-being, so I cut back on other expenses to afford this luxury.
Potential monthly savings: Up to $100
Find out: How to Save Money on a Gym Membership.
10. Allow yourself an indulgence or two
I've got my gym and coffee shop. Maybe your thing is getting your nails done or going to a movie a couple of times a month. Find some other expense to cut so you can enjoy an indulgence here and there as a reward for all the sacrifices you're making to pay down debt. Once you pay off your debt, you'll have plenty of extra money for the luxuries you had to give up on your way to becoming debt-free.
Potential monthly savings: None, but it helps keep you sane and saving on everything else on the list.
This article by Deb Hipp was originally published on Debt.com.
Published by Debt.com, LLC