Money Management

Ways to Alleviate the Cost of Your Largest Expenses

Consumers are always searching for ways to reduce their living expenses. This effort typically includes reducing the cost of maintaining a home, operating a vehicle and buying groceries. There are many opportunities live more frugally, but sometimes the best way to achieve these goals can be a simple adjustment. By freeing up extra money, you can put your hard-earned income towards better use such as building an emergency fund, paying down debt, or saving for retirement. Here are some of the most potent ways to instantly lower the cost the “big three” consumer items: housing, vehicles and groceries:

Opening the Wallet to Owning a Home

The average U.S. homeowner spends about one-third of their annual income on maintaining and operating a home. For apartment dwellers, the percentage is only slightly less. Because home ownership represents the largest single expense on the personal budget, it only makes sense to protect that investment wisely. Sadly, too many property owners are under-insured or carry no catastrophic-style insurance at all. With that thought in mind, here are the top three ways to lower the cost of home ownership:

  • Immediately slice monthly energy bills by installing a “smart” thermostat. The cost of the unit is minimal and will likely be paid for by the first month’s savings on your utility bill. 
  • Carry the right amount of insurance. Having no coverage, or too little, might seem to boost the monthly bottom line but in the long run it’s a dangerous move. Paying a slightly higher monthly insurance bill now can mean huge savings for the average homeowner should something unexpected happen, like a fire. 
  • If you’ve been in your house a while, it’s possible your credit scores are better than when you obtained your mortgage. See about a refinancing deal that might carry a lower interest rate and immediately reduce your monthly house payment. 

Operating & Maintaining a Vehicle

Each week, make a list of every trip you took in your vehicle. Try to identify two or three journeys that were totally unnecessary and eliminate them the next week. One way to reduce the cost of your vehicle is to protect it for less. Too many consumers don’t comparison shop for auto insurance and end up paying much more per month than they should. 

You can Boost your car’s MPG by having regular oil-changes and tune-ups. Don’t forget to keep track of all car service in a paper record or e-log. When the time comes to sell the vehicle, all your careful attention will pay off. Buyers will be happy to pay more for a used car that has been well-maintained. 

Groceries Instead of Restaurants

You may remember your parents always making a grocery list before shopping, but it can still hold true as one of the best ways to reduce household expenses. It’s easy and effective to simply walk through the kitchen and write down each item you need for the upcoming week. That way you can avoid going up and down the grocery shopping at will. Also, most grocery chains now sell dozens of generic staples, which can mean big savings for sharp-eyed consumers.

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