At some point in life, most people find themselves in a situation where they simply need to cut back on expenses in order to save more money for whatever reason. When that time comes, usually the little “perks” they’ve added to their life make the most sense to cut first. It’s easier these days to find an alternative to cable. It makes sense to buy coffee less often on your way to work, or to buy clothing when it’s on sale.
But what about those other expenses that technically fall under the category of perks, but cutting them out of the budget feels more like giving up a need that makes sure you’re life can keep on track? Sure, you’re paying for a convenience, but some expenses that are discretionary feel more like a necessity to keep your life running smoothly.
Spending more money than we have is not an option, at least not if you want to be financially well. When it comes time to trim back on those things that may seem like luxuries you can’t live without, here are some tweaks that might help you to keep those “perks” while still cutting back on spending.
Get creative with your cleaning service
Amount saved: $70-$150/month
No matter what’s going on, you still need your place cleaned, and chances are you have a cleaning service in the first place because you’re either too busy or just too overwhelmed with the task of cleaning. Before you start giving yourself the new nickname of Cinderella and thinking you have to cut a cleaning service out of your budget completely, consider a few of these ideas:
- If you usually have your house cleaned weekly: Consider stretching out the time between services and having your home cleaned every two weeks, once a month or once every other month. You may have to get out the vacuum a few more times or learn to live with a little more dust, but knowing it will be done eventually can help.
- If your house is just too big: Cut down on the hours you pay for help and just have them clean part of the house – have high traffic areas cleaned every week and others only every other week or less.
When you really need to eliminate the expense entirely: Check out Pinterest or this Better Homes & Gardens List for some house cleaning schedules to help you stay on top of it all on your own. A little structure goes a long way, and remember that you can break it into chunks. Here are some tips on how often you should clean everything.
Re-work your gym membership to fit your needs
Amount saved: $10 – $150 or more/month
- Make sure you’re not paying for perks you don’t use: If you really want to stick with your current fitness facility, check to see if you can opt for a less expensive membership that takes out access to things you don’t use. For example, you may be paying for fitness classes you rarely join or access to a pool you have zero desire to get in to.
- Shop around: You might be able to find a cheaper membership at a competitor’s location. There are some fitness centers like Planet Fitness where you can get a membership for as low as $10 per month for access to the basics.
- Check your benefits: Many employers offer their employees access to corporate discounts on gym memberships. Don’t forget to check your health insurance – the plan we have at Financial Finesse offers partial reimbursement of membership fees to certain facilities as long as you go a certain number of times per month.
When you really need to eliminate the expense entirely: Working out at home can be just as effective – check out these personal training apps that seem to be highly rated.
Compromise on carry-out with a meal prep service
Amount saved: potentially hundreds/month
So many people I talk to say that carry-out food is the issue with their budget. Believe me, I’ve been there: life happens, the kids have to eat and there just isn’t any time to cook. You try to find the healthier options, but eating out can be expensive for the family, and healthy options add to that cost.
A meal prep service might be just what you need. Plan it out and give yourself the flexibility to have at least one day each week where you don’t have to worry about what you’ll make for dinner or realize at the last minute that there isn’t anything in the fridge to cook. Once it’s in the budget, you don’t have to feel bad about giving yourself the needed break. And, you won’t spend unexpectedly.
There are many ways to cut back and work within your budget so that you can save for that vacation you’ve been wanting to take, or cover your tuition when you go back to school, or send your kids to college, or for other goals like retirement. A little creativity can help you to put together a spending plan that works best for your needs and lifestyle without having to completely give up those perks that make your life run smoothly.