12 Ways To Cut Spending to the Bone

by Jan Roland

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Do you need to cut your already-tight budget even further? See if you can find any additional savings in one of these 12 places.

You may have lost your job or have just fallen on hard times.

No matter why, right now, you need to watch every single dollar you spend.

Here are 12 ways that you can cut spending to the bone.

1. Examine utility bills like a detective.

That includes electric, water, trash, and phone. Look for clues.

Are you using all the services you’re paying for? Are you getting everything that you’re paying for? Do you qualify for any discounts (low-income, senior)? Does your usage indicate that you might be wasting water or electricity?

2. Examine your credit card statements.

Most of us use the convenience of having some monthly bills automatically charged to a credit card. That alone is a good reason to look at your credit card statements.

Don’t pay for services you no longer use. And don’t pay for ‘unlimited’ service if it’s not needed. Look for billing errors. Also, look for patterns of unnecessary spending that can be corrected.

3. Review your home/auto/insurance bills.

Some of your biggest bills relate to your home, auto, and insurance. Look at them closely.

Have you compared homeowners or auto insurance rates lately? Do you have the right deductibles?

What about your mortgage? Rates are likely too high right now to refinance, but when rates come back down, determine if you can refinance to get a lower rate. Also, see if you can eliminate mortgage insurance if you’re paying it.

If you bought a car in the past few years while rates were high, look into refinancing your vehicle once rates drop. 

4. Take the time to comparison shop.

You especially want to do this for smaller ticket items and groceries. Everyone knows to compare prices when buying something expensive, like a new refrigerator, but smaller individual expenses can add up, too.

The average family spends up to 20% of the budget on food. There are savings to be had. You may have been shopping at the same market for years and buying the same brands. Now is the time to see which store (or brand) is the best deal.

5. Beautify your personal care spending.

It’s easy to spend too much on personal care products. We get comfortable with a brand and keep on buying it.

You can find many fine personal care products at a beauty supply store or online for a much cheaper price than your local grocer, super store, or drug store.

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6. Check your trash.

We all like the convenience of one use items, things like paper towels and napkins. But you could be throwing away money.

Cloth towels and napkins are not that inconvenient and you don’t need to buy more every time you use them. See what other disposables you buy that could be replaced with something reusable.

7. Mop up cleaning product waste.

Most cleaning products are made of a few simple, inexpensive ingredients. Don’t pay for product marketing. Make your own. Recipes are available online.

Of, if you prefer, buy janitorial supplies online. They’re a fraction of the cost of marketed brand-named name retail cleaners.

8. Get serious about meal planning and cooking.

It’s not unusual for a family to spend 50% of their food budget at restaurants (eat in or take out).

Cooking is not that complicated. Anyone can learn. And you’ll save a bunch if you learn to avoid premade items. The biggest savings are when you cook from scratch.

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9. Check your pet’s expenses.

Yes, pets are a part of your family and you want to show them your love. But now is the time to make your own doggie biscuits instead of buying the premium brand.

Also, check with your local ASPCA  or Humane Society for discounts on vaccines and vet visits.

10. Drinking can kill you.

At least it can kill your budget. And it’s not just alcohol (although that’s an unnecessary expense). Even sodas and bottled water can add up quickly so look for ways to cut back.

11. Check your habits.

Whether it’s smoking, the lottery, fantasy football or collecting, those habits can drain your wallet. Quitting might be challenging, but the alternative is worse.

12. Adopt a radical attitude.

Have you ever known someone who is an absolute radical on a certain subject? Now is the time for you to become that person when it comes to controlling your spending.

Hopefully, the crisis will soon pass. But until then, you need to be the extremist when it comes to spending.

Reviewed November 2023

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