Are you ready to reduce debt or increase that savings account? The solution could be a spending fast. A spending fast is exactly what it sounds like – spending the least amount of money possible. We explored tips for a successful spending fast, but here is how to make a game plan for your fast.
Photo Credit: OTA Photos
Ways to Cut Costs During a Spending Fast
- Rent: Your mortgage and rent is definitely an essential. While it’s extreme, could you downsize or move to another area to lower your rent each month? Depending on where you’re renting, you may be able to try to renegotiate your rent to lower it. You can exchange a service, such as making upgrades to the property you can do yourself, to try and lower your monthly rent. Also consider 16 Ways to Lower Your Housing Costs.
- Utilities: Utilities such as gas, electric, water, and trash removal are also essentials. Although you can’t go on a spending fast from utilities you can make an effort to cut these bills down. Unplug electronics when you’re not using them. Never leave the lights on, and try to use sunlight whenever possible. Explore How to Find the Best Deals on Electricity, How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient, and the Nest Thermostat review.
- Insurance: While you need insurance for your health, car, home or apartment, and other large purchases, you may be able to pay less. Shop around for different plans to see if you can get something cheaper elsewhere. Inquire about discounts if you have multiple plans. If you or your children are college students, you may be able to get a good student discount with a certain grade point average.
- Medicine: This is another one that you can’t cut. See which stores offer a rewards program for regularly filling a prescription. Keep an eye out to when stores are offering a promotion for transferring a prescription to them. You can also check the company’s websites for coupons. For more ideas see How to Save on Prescription Drugs.
- Food: You can’t cut out food, but you can absolutely cut back. Can You Trim Your Grocery Budget By 15%?
- Cell phone: If it isn’t possible to cut your cell phone bill entirely, shop around for a cheaper plan. Ask your provider if it’s possible to downgrade your services so it costs less.
- Home phone: If you can’t eliminate your home phone and just use your cell phone, shop for a better price. Or consider a cheaper alternative, like the Ooma Telo.
- Car payment: Can you sell your car for a big impact on your finances? If not, can you downgrade and trade it in for a cheaper car? See the 6 Surprising Benefits of the One Car Household.
- Car Insurance: If you sell your car, you can eliminate your car insurance altogether. However, you’ll need it if you can’t do without a car. Call your insurance agent to ask about discounts or deals for packaging other insurance plans.
- Transportation: Transportation costs are unavoidable. But you can cut them down. The quickest way is to eliminate or reduce your car usage. Car costs include gas, car maintenance (oil changes, new tires, etc.), insurance, registration, parking, and more. Walk or bike to your destination whenever you can. If you have access to public transportation, use that instead of driving. Ask your college or company about reimbursement plans for public transportation. Reduce your gas usage by planning your routes and trips accordingly.
- Gifts: Gifts are a tough one to cut especially when people have given you gifts and you genuinely want to get them something. First off, cut what you can. Instead, suggest having a pot luck or getting together with friends and family instead of exchanging gifts. Instead of purchasing a gift, use your creative side to make something. Another option is offering your talents and services, such as fixing something around their place if you’re handy, watching their kids while they go out a night, or whatever else is fitting. See some of the inexpensive gift giving ideas.
- Cable: Cutting cable used to be a whole lot tougher, but now it’s a piece of cake. If you have internet, you can watch full episodes on various websites, including the station on which they air. You can also find news clips on your local station’s website and national websites, such as CNN. Even if you don’t have internet, you can borrow movies and TV shows on DVD from your local library. Many times park districts, community centers, and libraries show free movies. Cutting cable can be even easier if you live in an apartment community or townhome community that has a community room with cable TV access. If you just can’t part with your own cable, try downgrading your plan. Negotiate by eliminating channels you don’t use often. Also ask about bundling other services for a discount.
- Internet: Some people have no problem cutting their internet, and simply use their phone’s 3G system or head over to a nearby coffee shop or place that offers free internet. I would not be able to cut my internet completely, but I have downgraded my service.
- Gym Membership: If you can cut your membership, go for it. You can watch fitness shows on TV or YouTube. Borrow fitness books from the library to learn workouts you can do at home.
- Pampering: Personal grooming can cost a pretty big chunk, depending on what you have done. Getting your hair cut and colored, waxing, getting nails done, and other spa services are costly. Do it yourself to save or head to a beauty school for a reduced rate. Also see 21 Money Saving Beauty Tips.
- Clothing: For the duration of your spending fast, wear what is already in your closet.
- Going to the movies: Opt out of going to the show during your spending fast. Instead, borrow movies from the library or watch movies at home.
- Dining Out: Unless you have a coupon for a free meal or gift certificate, skip dining out. Instead, cook at home during your spending fast. You can join restaurant reward programs or e-mail lists to possibly get something for free. Skip the latte out in the morning, and snacks throughout the day. See 6 Alternatives to Dining Out.
- Sporting events, concert tickets, and other: Skip the pricey entertainment, and find free things to do instead. You can find free concerts, fests, art shows, and more simply by researching local businesses and events around you. When you’re getting together with friends, suggest a game night, pot luck, or something else for a low or free cost.
What other costs can we cut for a spending fast? What have you cut from your budget to save? What are some “wants” that you would struggle with cutting?