Written by Allie Shaw
Normally, you expect the bulk of your monthly salary to go toward items like rent, cable, utilities, groceries, and childcare. It’s not fun, but it’s a part of being an adult. But maybe you want more of your money to stretch further. This article will cover ten common living expenses and will teach you the necessary tips to cut down on those expenses, letting more money go toward family emergencies and other household needs.
You might think you’re stuck with a high rental payment every month. But you aren’t. You possess power as a renter.
Tip: Examine your lease, looking for hidden costs like pet fees, maintenance charges, storage, and parking. These costs add up quickly, especially if you’re not benefiting from them, and should be discussed with your landlord.
2. Renters Insurance
While renter’s insurance may seem like a luxury item, you shouldn’t go without it because it protects your property and often offers some liability coverage.
Tip: Start by asking your auto insurance provider whether it provides a discount for bundling. If it doesn’t, shop around. Find the best renters insurance policy at a price you can afford, and you’ll be much more prepared for worst-case scenarios like fires and break-ins.
Gas, electricity, and water bills sometimes feel like emergencies with their exorbitant price tags. While some of the costs, like a higher energy bill during the summer, are seasonal and normal, you should make sure you’re not accidentally wasting energy—and money.
Tip: Compare the numbers on your previous three to five bills. If the meter readings seem too high or too low, call your utility provider. Also, ask your landlord about installing smart home technologies like a shower timer or thermostat to minimize energy usage.
4. Cable, Internet, and Telephone
Cable, internet, and telephone bills also add up quickly, sometimes with no warning. Strange fees or price increases can make for a painfully expensive month.
Tip: As with your utilities, review the numbers. If you see any surprise fees on your bill, call your provider. Also, talk with your provider about options. New plans sometimes are available, as well as discounts for bundling. Finally, consider cable cutting. It saves money by getting rid of traditional cable in favor of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
If you use your washer and dryer for more than one or two loads a week with expensive products, you could be adding a significant amount of cost to your yearly utility bills. Plus, some apartment complexes lack washer and dryer hookups, leaving you paying monthly laundry fees at either an on-site or off-site facility.
Tip: Energy.gov provides some suggestions to reduce your laundry expense, like always washing a full load. Also use cold water as much as possible. Empty the dryer lint too. Other people sometimes forget to clean it out, meaning you’ll run a load of laundry twice or more to get it dry.
Depending on the number of people in your household and their ages, you could spend a small fortune on groceries every month. Teenage boys, for example, seem to possess bottomless stomachs.
Tip: Your goal may be to avoid huge grocery bills, but you can achieve a secondary one: eating well to prevent health issues. You can accomplish both aims by using an app like SavingStar (Apple and Android), planning weekly meals, and writing out a grocery list.
Stopping for coffee on the way to work may be convenient, but it increases your monthly expenses. The same thing occurs when grabbing lunch with co-workers on a regular basis or going to the movies three or more times a month.
Tip: To cut your coffee costs, buy a fancier coffeemaker, such as a French press, and make your espressos and cappuccinos at home. Also, pack healthier lunches for the week—it’ll improve your budget and physical well-being. Finally, if you can’t forego the monthly movies, at least cut the concessions or look into a movie pass.
8. Vehicle Costs
You can’t, and shouldn’t, avoid vehicle maintenance and repairs. Taking care of your car prevents costly repairs and roadside emergencies.
Tip: When it comes to your vehicle, compare different mechanics. They often employ different pricing models or offer rewards to loyal customers.
9. Gym Memberships
Gym memberships can be a sneaky expense because they sometimes use a subscription model. Others involve promo pricing.
Tip: First, are you actually using the membership? If you aren’t, cancel the membership and seek other alternatives to stay fit. Second, shop around. You can sometimes find better prices at a different gym or local community center.
You love your kids, but they can be expensive. Between school supplies, childcare, and extracurricular activities, you may find your money stretched.
Tip: To cut costs on school supplies, take advantage of tax-free weekends or buy supplies on clearance and save them for the following year. For extracurricular clubs and childcare, you’ll need to shop around and perhaps limit the number of activities your kids participate in if it isn’t sustainable.
Monthly household expenditures add up. But now you can subtract down with the ten expenses and tips listed here. Once you do, put the money saved for emergencies and other purposes.
About the author:
Allie Shaw graduated from the University of Utah with degrees in communications and public relations. She is an expert in all things lifestyle and tech.
For more tips on prepping on a small budget, read my latest book: