There could be times when you just find yourself in an awful financial situation, and you are left wondering how to go through the month and ensure every bill is paid with the little or nothing that is left in your account.
You want to cut down on some expenses, so you go through your budget, but it looks like you are only spending money on necessities only, so there are no extras to cut.
Then the question pops up: How do we cut our budget when there’s nothing left to cut? We will discuss that at length in this article.
Actually, no matter how you look at it, there’s always something in your budget you can cut.
There are some personal budgeting tips and money management tips that can be useful in helping you trim your expenses and ensure that you are able to take care of all your monthly expenses, while still not ending up with zero balance in your account.
Firstly, if you don’t have a budget already, then you’ll need to create one, even if you don’t really like the “making a budget” idea. It is the first step, but it is often skipped.
Some people think they don’t really need a budget because they feel their spending is already minimal enough. However, a budget helps you manage your personal finance and makes you frugal.
Even if you think you are spending as little as possible already, you’ll likely spend even less when you have a budget.
A monthly budget ensures that you are able to track every dollar you spend in the month down to particular expenses.
You’ll get to see everything you spend on, which will help you determine whether or not an expense is worth your hard-earned money.
With a realistic budget in place, here are the other things you have to do.
1. Go Through Your Needs And Wants Again
If you are going to find something extra to cut off, then you need to honestly and properly reevaluate the things you are spending on.
There are some necessary expenses in your budget, the ones you can’t leave out, for instance, the food-related expenses, utility bills, child care, debt repayment, pet budget etc.
However, there are also some expenses on your budget that can fit into the category of wants, for instance, the Netflix subscription, Amazon Prime, etc.
Cutting your budget has to start with cutting the extras first.
Of course, you are going to miss those wants and living without them will surely not be easy. You may want to watch your favorite Netflix series or catch that new release on Amazon Prime.
However, you just have to put up with it for a while until there’s room in your budget to accommodate them comfortably.
You don’t need that landline or cable you are paying for to survive, but you do need to get your budget and finances under control.
To separate your needs from your wants, take a good look at the items on your budget and label each one as a want or need.
Typically, there are just five categories of expenses that you must include: rent or mortgage, utilities (water and electricity), food (groceries but not eating out), basic clothing, and travel expenses (car payment and gas).
Everything else belongs to the wants category. Until you achieve that financial freedom you desire, let them go.
2. Raise Your Deductibles
One item that is capable of making a big difference in your budget is your deductibles.
Consider raising your deductibles (auto, healthcare, or home deductible) if your claims are just occasional.
This means you will have a lower annual premium, and you’ll get a little breathing room in your budget. You can reduce them again when your finances get better.
However, there’s a risk attached. If something happens, you’ll need to make more significant out of pocket expenses.
Ensure you have an emergency fund before doing this or start building one right away.
3. If You Have A Second Vehicle, Sell It Off
This may sound crazy, but if you own two vehicles and you rarely use one, then it’s better to get rid of it and also save yourself the money you spend on insurance for the vehicle.
If you really want to cut off non-essential expenses, let the second vehicle go.
The money you get from selling the car can either be placed into savings or put towards making you debt-free.
You can also trade in your car for a cheaper one if you have to. It’s not the coolest thing to do, but who cares about cool stuff when there’s an urgent need for money.
Once your finances take a better turn, you can get the items you want back.
4. Try To Save Money On Fuel
Fuel is not cheap, and its cost can add up to a lot of money over time.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, consider staying at home as much as you can, and drive only when you need to so as to save fuel.
Consider doing your shopping online or at a shop close to you.
Plan where you have to go in a week and what you need to do there, so that you can drive out to a particular area and get everything done in one go instead of going back some other time and wasting fuel.
If you have to drive far to get to the kids’ playground, consider not going, and find other fun activities to engage in either at home or within walking distance.
5. Leave Out Your Data Plan
Almost everyone in this digital world owns a smartphone and data plan.
If you are really interested in saving money, then you should also consider other ways you can minimize the amount you spend on data.
These days, you can connect to Wi-Fi almost everywhere you go. Consider getting rid of your data plan completely, or go for cheaper plans and complement with free Wi-Fi from other places you go to.
You’ll save some money, especially on the bigger bill that comes when everyone in the home or most members of the family have smartphones.
It won’t be easy to cut off your data plan completely and text people only, but there is something you can do to reduce it.
Consider calling your carrier to negotiate for lower options that can save you the heaps of money you have no idea that you are spending on data.
Call other carriers too, and find better deals for your money.
One of the biggest expenses in your budget are grocery bills or food-related expenses. However, you can cut costs on food if you are willing to put in a little extra effort.
There are a few ways to do this. Firstly, plan your meal for the week or the month, depending on what option works better for you.
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This will help you know exactly what you will be eating during that period, and so you’ll be able to plan for it adequately.
You won’t be left with the option of eating out because you didn’t make plans for dinner, which means extra expenses.
Another way to save money on food is cooking your meals from scratch. Save the extra money you spend on buying convenience food and prepare your meals all through instead.
If it won’t be convenient for you to cook every day, consider making a large batch of a meal at once and keep it in your refrigerator or freezer so you’ll always have something to eat throughout the week.
Consider buying in bulk when you are at the grocery store to save money. The meal plan is going to help you here since you know what you’ll be needing for the week or month.
So wherever possible, just buy in bulk and store it all in your fridge or freezer. Also, find out what’s on sale and build your meal plans around it.
Look for close substitutes of the items you need from what is on sale if the exact items you need are not.
Do not throw out leftovers – it’s like throwing money in the trash. You can also take up a pantry challenge to utilize the leftovers and stretch yourself to save enough money for other things.
7. Make Payments In Cash
It’s easier to spend a lot more when you are just swiping credit cards than when you are paying in cash.
Paying from your wallet will give you the chance to actually see the money go away and it has a way of making you spend less.
8. Negotiate Your Bills
So many bills these days are more negotiable than you know.
Try calling your service providers and ask for lower rates for your medical bills, insurance premiums, cable bills, cell phone, and internet access bills. It really is worth giving a try.
When making the call, ensure to be polite, but firm in your request.
Don’t forget to point out the fact that you have been a long time customer (if you are one) and also mention the competitors’ prices during the call.
If they seem not to be paying much attention to your request, threaten to take your business elsewhere and you are likely to get their attention.
Don’t be scared to call again and ask multiple times, because chances are that you’ll get to speak with someone who’ll eventually listen to you.
9. Sell The Unnecessary Items In Your Home
In addition to selling off your second car in order to get your finances under control, there are several other items you can sell off to get some money.
It won’t be a steady means of getting money, but it can get you through a rough financial period.
Second-hand children’s clothes are hot items to sell both online and offline.
Consider selling off those clothes your kids don’t need anymore, bearing in mind they should be in good condition with no rips or stains to have a good chance of getting sold.
Brand names will sell even more.
You could also consider selling off your used furniture to someone looking for used furniture or bargain shoppers. Both older and newer furniture can be sold.
Consider selling that old device, electronics that you no longer use, or those that do not work so well or are even broken.
New devices like phones or ipads are expensive to buy brand new, so many people will readily buy used ones at a cheaper price.
Also, people also buy items that do not work anymore so they can take out their parts and use them in something else. Instead of keeping them for no reason, sell them off and make some money.
Another great sales item is baby stuff. Strollers, cribs, bassinets, high chairs, Bumbo seats, bouncers, and other baby items are hot sale points.
Just clean them up very well for easier sales. Also, sell off the kids’ toys that are just lying around and are not in use.
Plastic toys, hot wheels tracks, barbies, etc. are popular items you can sell, especially when parents are shopping for Christmas presents in fall.
Also, look through your garage or tool shed, or have your husband do the searching to find tools that haven’t been used for a long time. Consider selling them off.
Look around your home and see if there is some decor you can part with. Your style may have changed, or you just don’t need them anymore, and there’ll always be someone looking for good deals on used decor to update their home.
Also, if you have piled up many boxes of holiday decorations, consider keeping only the ones you need and putting the others up for sale.
Some of your clothes, and those of your husband, can be sold if you do not use them often.
Look through closets to find shirts, pants, skirts, and even shoes you haven’t worn in a while. There’s no point in keeping something you don’t use.
Make sure there are no stains on the clothes before you put them up for sale.
Also, look through your outdoor or yard items for things you don’t always use but are just sitting around and taking up a lot of space.
You could make a good couple of dollars off old sports equipment, bikes, mowers, lawns, slides, swing, hose, etc. that are just white elephants.
10. Don’t Buy Disposable Products
The amount of money spent on disposable products like paper towels, paper plates, disposable water bottles, etc. add up over time.
Instead of using disposable products, consider putting in a little time and effort towards cleaning the dishwasher-safe dishes and reusable water bottles, and save yourself a lot of money in the long term.
That way, you and your family won’t have to wonder how do we cut our budget when there’s nothing left to cut.
Bonus Tips To Help You Manage Your Household Budget And Finance
Find A Side Hustle
If after applying the strategies discussed here you still need more money, consider getting a side hustle or part-time job.
Anyone can have a side hustle. If you have something you are passionate about, consider looking out for ways to make money from it.
Think about blogging, babysitting other people’s kids in your home, photography, teaching a service, becoming a virtual assistant, tutoring, creating content, writing selling your own books on Amazon, editing and proofreading, and a lot more.
There’s no limit to what you can do to make some extra bucks. You just have to look for how to make money from home, and then get to work.
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Learn To Do Some Things Yourself
There are some things you can save money on if you consider doing them yourself. If you learn to cut your son’s hair, you won’t need to pay to get it done.
That’s a money saver.
All it takes is to watch a couple of YouTube videos to get the hang of it.
You can also dye your hair yourself, do your mani and pedi, and also take care of basic clothes mending.
There are also some items you use in the house that you can prepare yourself from other stuff at home.
For instance, by making a surface cleaner using water, baking soda, vinegar, and a drop of dish soap, you won’t have to spend money on buying a brand-name surface cleaner anymore.
Get creative. Think of what you can do and start doing it.
One important factor that needs to be present for your finances to get better is contentment.
Do not try to compete with friends or relatives over owning the latest gadgets or traveling to the coolest places.
Such competitions only mess with your finances a lot more.
Master the art of frugal living and concentrate on what’s important, that is, making ends meet and achieving your financial goals till your finances stabilize; then you can do all that stuff you’ve always wanted to do.
In conclusion, the answer to the question – How do we cut our budget when there’s nothing left to cut? – is that there’s always something you can cut from your budget.
This is provided that you keep reminding yourself of the reason you need the money so as to keep motivated to achieve the big goal of getting your household budget and finance under control.
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