Top Ten Ways to Cut Your Budget and Still Feel Fulfilled

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This is a guest post by Thomas Warren who is a content writer for Go College, one of the oldest and most trusted resources to guide students on how to finance and succeed in college.

Nobody wants to tackle the dreaded budget, but with our country facing the worst financial crisis in decades, you have to face the possibility of reduced income and start saving for a rainy day.  Luckily, there are a lot of ways to cut a little, save a lot, and still feel like you’re living the high life.

1. Potlucks. You love eating out because it gets you out of the kitchen and into society.  But you’re not so keen on the price tag.  No problem!  Have your friends over for a weekly potluck to cut back on cooking time and get your talk on.

2. Clip coupons.  Okay, none of us wanted to turn into our moms, but when you see that money coming off your total in the checkout line, you’ll feel justified in spending a few minutes with your scissors and the Sunday paper.  P.S.  You can also get great deals by printing coupons online.

3. Buy generic.  You do NOT need name brand food (or jeans, or shoes…).  The products are the same and the grocery store brand is half the price.

4. Carpool.  If you just can’t stomach the thought of mass transit, at least consider ride sharing.  You’ll save on gas and repairs, and you can snooze through the morning commute a couple days a week.

5. Ride a bike.  If you work or run errands close to home, do your body a favor and fit in a daily exercise routine.  Your scale, your budget, and the environment all stand to benefit.

6. Call off the cable.  You don’t need to go cold turkey and totally cut off your cable, but get rid of extras like HBO and Showtime that can jack up your monthly bill.

7. Get movies online.  These services will save you a ton of money on your entertainment budget.  With subscriptions starting at a cost less than one theater ticket for a month of service, you stand to save a lot while enjoying your favorite flicks.

8. Price check and shop sales.  If you are in the market for a big-ticket item like a computer or a car, do some price checking to prepare.  You may find much better deals online than in-store.  On the other hand, merchants who are begging for business may be willing to price match to make the sale, so don’t underestimate the power of haggling.  You should also try to hold out for sale weekends to get the best price possible.

9. Keep track of spending.  If overdrafts happen on a monthly basis, you might as well be dumping your hard-earned cash in the toilet.  There is absolutely no reason to senselessly throw away money on overdrafts, so if you’re having trouble keeping track of your spending, get a ledger, save your receipts, and enter them in daily so you don’t forget anything.

10. Cut up your credit cards.  This one may hurt, but if you’re on a tight budget, you really shouldn’t have more than one card (and that one only for emergencies).  If you’re not tempted to spend more than you make each month, you’re going to get into a lot less trouble.

photo credit: Ken Wilcox.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Red June 17, 2010 at 6:11 am

Great tips! There are just too many resources – only, at the library, etc. – for us to waste money on cable. But try telling that to my husband.

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Bucksome June 17, 2010 at 8:31 am

Red, my husband would rather give up eating than cable. He’s a TV addict!

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Financial Samurai June 17, 2010 at 6:48 am

Looking forward to the Top 10 ways to make more money now! 🙂

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Bucksome June 17, 2010 at 8:31 am

FS, haha! That’s an interesting topic. Maybe someday soon…

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Jersey Mom June 17, 2010 at 9:22 am

Those are all very good tips but I don’t know about the last one – cut up credit cards. My credit card give me a certain % cash back each year. I feel that as long as I ensure that I do not spend more than what my budget is, I’ll be okay.

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Bucksome June 19, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I think that tip is more for people who can’t control their use of credit cards (although I agree it sounds like broad advice).

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James June 17, 2010 at 11:35 am

pot lucks and car pools are such a great and easy way to work together with friends and or neighbors to save on money. i love these ideas

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Bucksome June 19, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Hi James,

I’m glad the ideas were useful to you. Do you have any you’d like to share?

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CrundaCah September 24, 2010 at 7:18 am

Servicing your air conditioner regularly will maintain your power expenses down. The better your air conditioning unit is running, the less resources it’ll use, thus, saving you moeny on power bills. It really is also wise to preserve your unit on a regular basis instead of pay huge repair charges when it finally breaks down. A service call is a lot cheaper than a replace the unit call.

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