Inflation is at record highs, food prices are skyrocketing, and interest rates are affecting everything, including credit cards, mortgages, and car loans. But, there are ways to reduce monthly expenses through creative strategies.
FOX Business asked money pros and business experts how to cut $200 from your monthly budget.
Regularly audit your monthly subscriptions
You might unknowingly be overspending on monthly subscriptions and memberships.
“U.S. consumers spend an average of $219 per month on subscriptions, including streaming services, health and wellness products, fitness memberships, and more,” says Liz Ewing, chief financial officer of Marcus by Goldman Sachs. “Although you can use some of them daily, some may have become less necessary.”
AS INFLATION RAGES, MORE AMERICANS ARE TROUBLE PAYING THEIR BILLS
Consumers are often lured into free trials and then forget to cancel after the introductory period. If the subscription or membership does not pay anything for you, be sure to cancel it.
Ewing explained that by regularly checking automated payments, you can identify which ones are really delivering value and which ones could be temporarily suspended or stopped to reduce your monthly expenses. Ask yourself if you really need four streaming services, multiple food subscriptions, or multiple on-demand music platforms.
Order takeout wisely
Ewing said the average household spends just over $250 a month on restaurant meals and takeout.
“An immediate way to reduce your monthly expenses is to look for opportunities where you can cook your own meals at home,” she said. Instead of ordering in on the weekends, consider splurging on a weekend home-cooked meal rather than dining out.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
Recurring expenses such as cell phones, internet and cable can make up a significant portion of your budget each month, Ewing said. However, many suppliers are willing to negotiate prices based on their competitors’ prices.
“Ask friends and family what they pay for certain services, while researching comparisons online, as this information can help you negotiate with your suppliers,” she suggested.
While this strategy won’t always guarantee a reduced rate, Ewing said, it’s worth considering your options every few months as you reassess your budget to confirm you’re making the best choice financially.
Enjoy Credit Card Rewards
Look at your credit cards to see if you have any rewards or cash back offers available.
“For example, your credit card might be offering cash back at a certain grocery store this month,” said Lauren Bringle, Certified Financial Advisor at Self Financial. “If so, buy the products you already need there and collect the cashback.”
The important fact here is that credit card rewards only save you money if you pay off your credit card balance each month. Interest on Revolving Balances will offset any rewards you earn.
Shop for new car insurance rates
Bringle said if you’ve recently improved your credit score, that might put you in a position to get a lower rate.
“In all but a handful of states, your credit score can impact your car insurance rates,” she explained. “The better your credit score, the better your rates will be, so shop around to see if you can lower your monthly premium.”
If you have less than perfect or poor credit, consider using tools or incorporating habits to help you build your credit, as a better score could save you money on things like interest rates. and borrowing costs over time, Bringle advised.
Make savings a priority
It’s not always easy to save, but committing a small amount each week is a good start.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to savings,” said Michael Hershfield, CEO of Accrue Savings. “Saving more than $100 a month is more manageable for some than for others and that’s why people should save according to what best suits their budget.
For example, it says to start saving $50 this month and increase by $10 each month in the future.
“The goal is to start,” Hershfield said. “Some months will be easier than others and there may be even more money set aside that can be used for unforeseen expenses, but don’t let the end goal stop you from starting your journey of success. ‘saving.”
Limit impulse purchases
Make a pact that you won’t buy something without a “cool off period” to see if you really need the item or service.
“It’s easy to get caught up in making several impulse purchases a month, whether on clothes or gadgets, so try to wait a few days before making a decision,” recommends Jay Klauminzer, CEO of Raise, a marketplace discounted gift cards. “Most of the time, the original ‘desire’ for the product fades, or you may end up finding a better deal online.”
Attempt to match prices
Klauminzer said companies like Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Nordstrom and more all match prices if you find a lower price online or through a competitor.
“Just show them where you found the lowest price and they’ll give you a discount,” he noted.
Additionally, you can use shopping apps like the PayPal Honey browser extension to ensure you get the best prices for online purchases. Klauminzer said PayPal Honey even has price tracking on sites like Amazon so you can see price trends and know you’re getting the best deal.