Cutting Expenses:

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    Remove luxuries from your budget. If you're having trouble saving money, it's wise to start here. Many of the expenses that we take for granted are far from essential. Eliminating luxury expenses is a great first step to improve your financial situation because this won't impact your quality of life or your ability to perform your work significantly. While it can be difficult to imagine life without a gas-guzzling car and a cable TV subscription, you may be surprised how easy it is to live without these things once you remove them from your life. Below are a just a few easy ways to reduce your luxury expenses:
    • Unsubscribe from optional television or internet packages.
    • Switch to a thriftier service plan for your phone.
    • Trade in an expensive car for one that is fuel-efficient and cheap to maintain.
    • Sell any electronic gadgets going unused.
    • Buy clothing and home furnishings from thrift stores.
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    Find cheaper housing. For most people, costs related to housing make up the single biggest expense in their budget. Because of this, saving money housing can free up a substantial amount of your income for other important activities, like saving for retirement. While it's not always easy to change your living situation, you'll want to seriously re-examine your housing situation if you're having a hard time balancing your budget.
    • If you're renting, you may want to try negotiating with your landlord for a cheaper rent. Since most landlords want to avoid the risk that comes with looking for new tenants, you may be able to get a better deal if you have a good history with your landlord. If need to, you may be able to exchange work (like gardening or maintaining the house) for cheaper rent.
    • If you are paying a mortgage, talk to your lender about refinancing your loan. You may be able to negotiate for a better deal if you're in good standing. When refinancing, try to keep the repayment schedule as short as possible.
    • You may also want to consider moving to a cheaper housing market altogether. According to a recent study, the cheapest housing markets in the U.S. are in Detroit, Michigan; Lake County, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; Palm Bay, Florida; and Toledo, Ohio.[7]
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    Eat for cheap. Many people spend much more on food than is necessary. While it's easy to forget to be thrifty when you're biting into a gourmet meal at your favorite restaurant, food-related expenses can become quite large if allowed to get out of control. In general, buying in bulk is cheaper in the long run than buying small quantities of food — consider getting a membership at a warehouse retailer like Costco if your food expenses are high. Buying individual meals at restaurants is the most expensive option of all, so making an effort to eat in rather than eat out can also save you lots of cash.
    • Pick cheap, nutritious foods. Rather than buying prepared, processed foods, try checking out the fresh food and produce aisles of your local grocery store. You may be surprised how cheap it is to eat healthy! For instance, brown rice, a filling, nutritious food, can come in large, twenty-pound sacks for less than a dollar per pound.
    • Take advantage of discounts. Many grocery stores (especially large chains) give out coupons and discounts at the check-out counter. Don't let these go to waste!
    • If you frequently go out to eat, stop. It's generally much cheaper to cook a meal at home than it is to order an equivalent dish in a restaurant. Regularly cooking your own food also teaches you a valuable skill you can use to entertain friends, satisfy your family, and even attract romantic interests.
    • Don't be afraid to take advantage of local free food resources if your situation is serious. Food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters can all provide meals for free to those in need. If you need help, contact your local Department of Social Services for more information.
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    Reduce your energy usage. Most people accept the price on their utility bill each month without question. In fact, it's possible to greatly reduce your energy usage (and thus your monthly bill) with just a few simple steps. These tricks are so easy that there's practically no reason to avoid them if you're looking to save money. Best of all, reducing the amount of energy you use also reduces the amount of pollution you indirectly produce, minimizing your impact on the global environment.
    • Turn off the lights when you're not around. There's no reason to leave the lights on if you're not in the room (or in the house), so flip them off when you leave. Try leaving a sticky note by the door if you're having a hard time remembering.
    • Avoid using heating and A/C when it's not essential. To stay cool, open your windows or use a small personal fan. To stay warm, wear several layers of clothing, wear a blanket, or use a space heater.
    • Invest in good insulation. If you can afford to pay for a substantial home improvement project, replacing old, leaky insulation in your walls with high-efficiency modern insulation can save you money in the long run by keeping your house's warm or cool internal air from escaping.
    • If you can, invest in solar panels. As a serious investment in your own future (as well as the planet's), solar panels are the way to go. Though the up-front cost can be quite high, solar technology becomes cheaper with each passing year.
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    Use cheaper forms of transportation. Owning, maintaining, and running a car can eat up a large portion of your income. Depending on how much you drive, fuel can cost you hundred of dollars per month. On top of this, your car will also cost you in licensing fees and maintenance expenses. Instead of driving, use a cheap (or free) alternative option instead. Not only will this save you money, but also potentially allow you to spend extra time exercising and cut down on the stress from your daily commute.
    • Investigate public transit options near you. Depending on where you live, you may have a variety of cheap options for public transit at your disposal. Most big cities will have metro, subway, or streetcar lines running in and out of the city, while mid-sized towns can have bus or train systems for you to use.
    • Consider walking or biking to work. If you live close enough to your job for this to be feasible, both are excellent ways to get to work for free while simultaneously getting fresh air and exercise.
    • If taking a car is unavoidable, consider carpooling. Doing this allows you to share fuel and maintenance expenses with the other members of the carpool. Plus, you'll have someone to talk to during your commute.
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    Have fun for cheap (or free). While reducing your personal expenses can mean cutting frivolous luxuries out of your life, you don't necessarily have to stop having fun if you're trying to save money. Changing your leisure habits and recreational activities to more affordable ones allows you to strike the perfect balance between fun and responsibility. You may be amazed at the amount of fun you can have for just a few dollars if you're resourceful!
    • Keep up-to-speed on community events. Today, most towns and cities will have an online events calendar listing upcoming events in the local area. Often, events put on by the local government or community associations will be cheap or even free. For instance, in a medium-sized town, it's often possible to explore free art exhibitions, see movies in a local park, and attend donation-based community rallies.
    • Read. Compared to movies and video games, books are cheap (especially if you buy them at a used bookstore). Good books can be absolutely captivating, allowing you to experience life through the eyes of exciting characters or learn new things you might otherwise never have encountered.
    • Enjoy cheap activities with friends. There are almost no end to the amount of things you can do with your friends that require little or no money. For instance, try going on a hike, playing a board game, catching an old movie at a cheap second-run theater, exploring part of town you've never been to, or playing sports.
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    Avoid expensive addictions. Certain bad habits can put a serious damper on your efforts to save money. In worst-case scenarios, these habits can become serious addictions which are almost impossible to defeat without help. Worse yet, many of these addictions can be extremely hazardous to your health in the long term. Save your wallet (and your body) the trouble of going through these addictions by avoiding them in the first place.
    • Don't smoke. Today, the harmful effects of smoking are well-known. Lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and a variety of other serious illnesses are known to be caused by smoking.[8] On top this, cigarettes are expensive — depending on where you live, up to about $14 per pack.[9]
    • Don't drink excessively. While a drink or two with friends won't hurt you, regular heavy drinking can cause serious problems in the long run, like liver disease, impaired mental function, weight gain, delirium, and even death.[10] In addition, nursing an alcohol addiction can be a massive financial burden.
    • Don't do addictive drugs. Drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine are extremely addictive and can have a variety of seriously harmful (even lethal) effects on your health and can be much more expensive than alcohol and tobacco. For instance, country musician Waylon Jennings is purported to at one point have spent over $1,500 per day on his cocaine habit.[11]
    • If you need help overcoming an addiction, don't hesitate to contact an addiction hotline. Several relevant hotlines are listed here.

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