Money Talks, So Should You

Easy ways to lower common expenses

Brandon Lafving
by Brandon Lafving, Dimespring Contributor (@TechDragoon)

Balancing a budget is like wandering out into a snowstorm without shoes…to find an avalanche.

Eventually we all realize the avalanche is coming, one way or another, and by tracking it down we might even be able to avoid it entirely, or at least keep our home relatively safe as it rolls down the mountainside.

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An imbalanced household budget needs to be addressed, sooner or later. And cutting costs is one powerful way to take control of your finances and begin moving in the right direction again. You might be surprised at how much you can save by taking a second look at some of your monthly costs.

Your household budget is your key to cutting costs because it is a map of your current expenses.

Take your utility bills, for example. You can reduce the electric bill by purchasing LED lights, which only require 1/10th the energy of incandescent bulbs, and last 30 times as long. Over the course of a year, a normal light bulb can costs over $300 in electricity, whereas an LED light will cost $33, tops, for roughly $270 in annual savings.

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You might also be able to reduce your telecom utilities by negotiating with the company directly. By explaining calmly that I cannot afford what they are charging me, and by insinuating the possibility that I will try the competition, I have successfully decreased my bills by over $50 per month.

Other cost-cutting measures, like downgrading plans or turning off unused channels can also make a big difference with minimal flexibility on your part. Remember, the listed price is not necessarily the price you need to pay, but you often need to ask in the right way.

Transportation costs can also be a substantial source of the bleeding. Considering depreciation, gas, parking, and insurance, your vehicle can cost almost as much as a mortgage. Any of these costs can be addressed by taking another look at insurance plans, carpooling with co-workers, or trying one of the ride-sharing programs in your area. To check out rideshare, simply Google "rideshare carpool [your city]."

READ: From spender to saver in three simple steps

One positive development since the recession has been an increase in the cost-cutting measures available to Americans. A remarkable amount of thought has gone into helping you save money where you can, when you can. If a monthly expense is on your household budget, then there is probably information out there, including this site, which can help you reduce the bill.

 

Brandon D. Lafving is an independent writer with an interest in financial systems. A graduate of Princeton University, Brandon has published journalism in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Metro, and WXPN. He also consults, researches and writes reports for small and mid-size businesses.