When you're trying to cut expenses, many will suggest chopping down in your "household expenses," but what does that really mean? Household expenses include whatever it takes to maintain your home or that is required to share amongst people who live in that home such as toiletries in the bathroom, utilities, cleaning supplies and groceries. (For more, see 5 Painless Ways To Save More Money.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
1. Cut Out One of Your Telephone Lines
With the rise of cell phone usage, why not consider getting rid of your land line, or vice versa? This is especially easy if you rarely use a phone and are more inclined to email someone.
Do your research and make a casual note of how often you use the telephone, whether it's only for local calls or long distance, and see whether it would be worthwhile to stick to one or the other by pricing out the plans. There are plenty of cell phone options out there now, particularly those pay-as-you-go plans, where you top up the cell phone with a credit and use it as you need it rather than paying a fixed fee for a monthly plan.
Perhaps the best option for you would be to stick to a telephone with an answering machine if you aren't the type that has to have their cell phone glued to their hip. (For more, check out 6 Tips For Getting A Good Cell Phone Plan.)
2. Watch TV Online
If you are already used to watching videos and TV online, is there a need to keep your satellite TV? If you feel that you need cable TV so that your whole family can watch on the screen rather than crowding around a tiny monitor, consider hooking up your laptop to the TV or a home projector to get the same effect.
This could save you upwards to $50/month, seeing as you are probably already paying for cable internet as well. You also don't need to pay for all the other channels you don't watch, and you can pay and download specific episodes of the shows you are following. A bonus might be that you may end up watching less advertising as a result!
IN PICTURES: What's Eating Away Your Money?
3. Buy Your Groceries in One Trip
Set up a schedule whereby once a week you go to the grocery store and buy what you need for the week. Take note of what staples you are running low on, and meal plan for the week so you don't end up with half a lemon and no recipe to use the rest of it. Look over your list and figure out which grocery store will fit it the best, or come up with a map of all the places you'd need to run to, in the most efficient and time-and-gas-saving manner.
You will now be shopping with a plan, rather than rushing out in the middle of the dinner, realizing you forgot butter for your creamy pasta and getting stuck in traffic. Also consider shopping at ethnic food stores, or buying spices in bulk rather than in those fancy glass jars, and be flexible in changing your meal plan based on sales while in the grocery store. (Learn more in 5 Economic Changes That Fatten Your Grocery Bill.)
4. Watch Your Heating and Cooling
Turning down the heat in winter so that it doesn't feel like a Brazilian jungle in your home will save on heating costs. You can always just toss on a light sweater to compensate and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa. In the summer, forgo the air conditioning until it's time to go to sleep, and use an electric fan.
At the very least, if you aren't in the home, then turn down the heat or the air conditioning while you are at work and the kids are at school. No one is using the air in there anyway!
5. Cut the Electricity Usage
If you aren't in the room using the electricity, turn it off, and open the curtains to let natural light in.
You can also put all of your electronics on a single power cord, and at the end of the night, shut down everything and cut the power with a single switch so it isn't wasting energy while you're sleeping. You'd be surprised how much that makes a difference in your energy usage at the end of a month or even the year.
The Bottom Line
Cutting your household expenses doesn't have to be painful. Start with simple but slow changes rather than trying to implement everything all at once. After a while, it will become a natural habit and your wallet will thank you for it. (For more helpful tips, check out 10 Ways To Save Energy And Money.)