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Why cut your expenses?

If you are caught up in the paycheck- to- paycheck cycle you’re probably looking for ways to cut your expenses.

Maybe you’re not living paycheck- to- paycheck and just want to streamline your expenses so that you can live a better life and reach your financial goals more quickly.

Or maybe you just want peace of mind. Cutting your expenses back to the bare minimum can help you survive a downturn or emergency.

I’ll show you how you can drastically cut your expenses in 30 different ways.

1. Track your spending

Tracking your spending is essential if you want to keep track of where your money is going. If you don’t track your spending, you run the risk of making many small purchases without even realising it. All of these small purchases add up over time and can make a big dent in your expenditure.

Once you start tracking your spending, you will be able to pinpoint areas that need attention. Maybe you’re spending a bit more than you thought you were on lunches, for example. Now that you know this is a problem area you can start to address it.

Tracking your spending for a month is the first step towards creating a budget. I continue to track my spending, as it makes me more mindful when it comes to making purchases. I use my own expense tracker to do this.

2. Create a budget

Creating a budget is one of the most important things you can do for your financial health. It will show you how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out. It’s only when you know where your money is going each month that you can take the steps needed to cut costs and make savings. If you’re not sure how to create a budget, take a look at my blog post on ‘How to create a budget’.

3. Cut your phone bill

Picture of a mobile phone

The majority of people upgrade their handset each year without giving it a second thought and, nine times out of ten, the phones they are currently using still work perfectly well. With a shiny new phone comes a bigger monthly price tag. I got fed up with this pretty quickly and ditched my expensive monthly plan. I kept my phone and got a SIM-only deal online. My bill went from £29 per month to just £8 per month. That’s a saving of £252 over the course of the year.

4. Compare gas and electricity prices

It doesn’t pay to stay loyal to your service providers. Check price comparison sites to see if you are getting the best deal available. Many providers offer a discount if you use them to provide both your gas and electricity supply. I do a price comparison check each year when my contract is due for renewal. I’ve chosen So Energy a few years running now, as they consistently come out on top for me.

3. Have no spend days

No spend days are a great way to save money. You decide that you’re not going to spend any money at all on non-essential items, such as food to cook at home, for a certain period of time.

You can do this for 3 days each month, 10 days each month, or you can even do a whole no spend month. Cross off the days you’ve not spent any money on a chart, as this will spur you on.

Of course, you can’t do this forever, but it’s a great way to get your expenses down in the short term. You could work it into your monthly routine – make it a rule to have two no spend days every single month for example.

4. Insource as much as you can

If you pay people to do household tasks for you, consider doing some or all of these things yourself. This could save you a fortune, depending on how many services you pay for.

Could you forego your cleaner and build cleaning into your daily routine? What about your dog walker? Could you walk Fido yourself a few days a week? If you have a gardener, maybe you could take over and tend the garden yourself. Remember, this doesn’t need to be forever; just until you get things under control a little.

5. Take your own lunch to work

Instead of buying lunch out, make your own lunch to take to work. Yes, it may take you ten minutes extra the night before, but you’ll save so much money. Lunching out three times a week at a cost of £6 each time is costing you £72 each month.

6. Enforce a 24 hour purchase rule

If you see something you want to buy, walk away for 24 hours. As many purchases are impulsive, the chances are that when the 24 hours are up you will probably find that you no longer want it.

7. Cancel subscriptions and memberships

If you total how much you are spending on subscriptions each month you’ll probably be shocked. Take a good look at each of them – you may find that you don’t really need them all. Be brave and give them the chop! When paying off our debt I cut my gym membership, mine and the kids’ magazine subscriptions, and Netflix to name just a few.

8. Buy used

Buying used is not only good for your pocket but it’s great for environmental sustainability too. If we need anything for the home I will always look on eBay or Facebook to see if I can find it there before heading out to the shops to buy it. Sites like Freecycle and Gumtree are great for buying used items too. And why stop there?! When you’ve finished with an item, why not sell it instead of throwing it away? I’ve made so much money by selling our unwanted things online.

9. Find ways to save money on food

When grocery shopping, instead of reaching for the branded items why not try some of the supermarket’s own brands? More and more people are now buying supermarket own brands as they’ve realised just how much money they can save.

You can even go one step further and try one of the value supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl. I used to be a Tesco queen but I adore Aldi now.

Since ditching the brands and shopping at Aldi, I save £100s every single month. Take a look at my post on how you can save on your grocery shopping here.

If you find that you are wasting a lot of food, then take a look at some of Zoe’s ‘use it up recipe’ ideas over at Eco Thrifty Living. You’ll find that when you start using up some of the food that you’d usually just throw away, you’ll save yourself so much money.

10. Make your own gifts

Instead of buying shop-bought gifts for birthdays and Christmas why not make your own? You’ll find lots of ideas on Pinterest and Etsy. Pick something you like and replicate it. Hobbycraft often have some brilliant ideas on their website too. Your gift will mean so much more to the recipient because you took the time to make it.

11. Cut out expensive coffees

Just two trips to the coffee shop each week will set you back around £30 each month. Make your own coffee at home in the mornings and pop it in a flask. If fancy coffees are your thing then think about investing in a machine to make them the way you like them. This is exactly what I did and I am saving a fortune as I now never get the urge to buy a coffee from my favourite coffee shop.

12. Sell your car

65% of car owners in the UK say their vehicle is the most expensive outgoing in their life after their rent or mortgage. The average cost of owning a car is £3406.80 per year. This rises to £5744.40 for those who bought their car on finance. That’s just for one car!

If you want to save some serious dosh then you should consider selling your car and finding alternative ways to travel, such as walking, cycling, or using public transport. If you feel this is a step too far, then downgrading your car might be an option.

13. Stop eating out

Takeaways and eating out are both big money burners. One takeaway a week for a family of four can cost you in the region of £2,400 per year! Instead of eating out, you can try inviting friends over for a home-cooked meal, having regular ‘fakeaway nights, or limiting eating out to special occasions.

14. Get rid of TV subscriptions

The average adult spends 35 hours per week watching tv and the average household spends around £100 each month on their tv package. If you’re looking to cut your expenses then ditching your tv subscriptions is a good way to go. Think of all of the things you could do when you free up those 35 hours! If you can’t bring yourself to cut out the tv completely, consider limiting yourself to just one subscription. Maybe Netflix or Now TV.

15. Cut your own hair

At the start of our debt-free journey, I decided that I would no longer visit the hairdressers. I wanted to use the money I would have spent at the hairdressers towards our debt instead. So, my husband watched some YouTube tutorials, grabbed the scissors, and went to work on my hair. And it turned out fine! I actually really liked what he had done and I haven’t been back to the hairdressers since. That’s £30 a month I can now use for something else (usually a mortgage overpayment).

16. Cut back on expensive cleaning products

Instead of buying numerous bottles of expensive cleaning products, you can make your own natural products at a fraction of the cost. You probably already have some of the things you need in your cupboard right now, such as vinegar and baking soda. Natural products are better for the environment, better for your health, and better for your pocket. Emma over at Mum’s Savvy Savings has a multitude of money-saving cleaning hacks.

17. Pay with cash

paying in cash

Paying for your purchases in cash is a powerful reminder that you are actually having to part with money in order to have that particular item. Paying by card doesn’t have this effect and it is therefore much easier to spend more this way.

Consider using the ‘cash envelope system’. With this system, you put your cash into different envelopes based on the budget categories. For example, if you spend £300 per month on groceries, simply label an envelope ‘groceries’, pop your £300 cash in there, and use only that money for that purpose throughout the month. Once it’s gone, it’s gone – do not take more from your bank account or another cash envelope.

18. Plan free activities

You don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds to have fun. Did you know that children aged 6-15 can gain free entry to some of the UK’s major attractions by obtaining a Blue Peter badge? Pete from Household Money Saving explains how your child can get their hands on one of these badges!

Instead of taking the kids to an expensive ball park, why not download the Geocaching app and go treasure hunting. It’s great fun and it’s free!

For those of you living in London, you need to check out Kathy’s guide of things to do in London for free. There are so many wonderful places to visit and they don’t cost a penny!

If you prefer staying home, you could have a date night at home with your partner or you could get some cheap snacks and have a family movie night.

19. Always shop with a list

Never, ever go grocery shopping without a list. Studies have shown that you are much more likely to spend more and add more unhealthy items to your trolley. Make sure you go prepared to avoid wasting money.

20. Meal plan

Meal planning was a game-changer for me. I knocked so much off my monthly food shop by doing this. You can plan your meals weekly or monthly. Write your shopping list according to your meal plan and stick to it! Claire from Stapo’s Thrifty Life Hacks has a great article on the ‘dump bag’ method. This method is ideal for families who love their slow-cooker and want to save money.

21. Use the Honey browser extension

Add the Honey browser extension to your computer and whenever you shop online it will bring up any discount codes that are available for that item. I have it on my laptop and it’s very easy to use and doesn’t slow your computer down at all. When we were renovating our garden I had to buy lots of decking boards from a well known DIY shop. Honey found a discount code that saved me £80!

22. Never auto-renew your insurance policies

A week or two before your renewal date, search the price comparison sites for a better price. If you find one, call your current provider and ask if they can beat it or at least match it. If they can’t or won’t then ditch them and take out the cheaper policy. I saved £11 per month on my cats’ insurance by doing this.

23. Pay for car insurance yearly

When you set up a monthly direct debit for your car insurance, you are paying extra for the privilege of doing so. I try to pay for my car insurance in full for the year now as it’s quite a saving. I use sinking funds to save in advance for things like this.

24. Simplify your beauty routine

Looking after your skin needn’t cost a fortune. For example, instead of splashing out on sunscreen, you can buy makeup products that contain sunscreen in them.

We all know we should be moisturising daily. But you don’t need to use an expensive, branded moisturiser from a cosmetic store. A cheaper, non-branded one from the chemist will work just as well and you won’t be paying extra for all of the marketing.

Emma from Bee Money Savvy has some great skincare hacks on her website and if you love your makeup, pop over and take a look at Hayley’s money-saving makeup hacks at Miss Many Pennies.

25. Save on gardening costs

Gardening in the UK has been growing in popularity over the years and many people are spending more and more money on their gardens. This was especially evident during the recent lockdowns due to the pandemic.

But making your garden look beautiful can be very expensive! Some plants can cost upwards of £60! Although it’s easier to buy a plant in its fully-grown state, it is much cheaper to buy from bulb and grow it yourself. David from Money Form Monday has some great ways to save money on gardening over on his website.

26. Practice sustainable living

Sustainable living means prioritising the use of natural and renewable sources instead of creating excess waste and depleting resources for future generations. This can involve buying second-hand instead of new, cycling or walking instead of driving, or using natural skin care products instead of shop-bought ones.

There are many ways of incorporating sustainable living into your lifestyle. Some may not be a fit but even just incorporating one or two things can have a huge impact on the environment and on your bank balance. Emma from Broke Girl in the City gives her best tips for sustainable living.

27. Moving back in with your parents

Now I know this won’t be for everyone, especially if you have children, but moving back in with your parents will result in huge savings. If you are currently renting and saving for your first home, moving back in with your parents will enable you to save most of the money you’re spending on rent instead. Jo from young, Fun, and Thrifty talks about the benefits of moving back in with your parents.

28. Move to a less expensive area

If the thought of moving back in with your parents sends shivers down your spine, moving to a less expensive area may be a more viable option.

Have a look at other areas around the country where you would be able to find employment. Then take a look at the costs of housing and see if the numbers work. Would it be a lot cheaper than living where you currently live? If you have children, you would need to consider schools too. If the figures work and you are willing to take the plunge, you could save yourself hundreds of pounds every single month.

If you don’t want to leave the area you’re living in, buying a smaller house in the same area could be another option.

29. Embrace frugal living

The amount of people living frugally is on the rise. Before you start screaming and running for the hills, bear with me. Frugal living doesn’t have to mean switching from lightbulb to candle or using one sheet of toilet paper when you go to the loo!

There are many ways that we can be more frugal. For example, I have become more frugal with food. I hate food waste and you’ll often find me reusing food that others may throw away. I love nothing more than meal planning and batch cooking too.

Maria from The Money Principle has a plethora of ways we can incorporate frugal living into our lives and Sara from Debt Camel has a great round-up of many different ways we can save ourselves money in all areas of our lives.

30. Lower the temperature on your thermostat

For each degree of thermostat adjustment, you will typically save around 1% on your energy bill. If you’re like me and hate the cold, you may be reluctant to do this at first but I found that I didn’t even notice the one degree change at all.