“ A penny saved is a penny earned.”
At the heart of managing expenses you must begin with a budget. It is the compass that guides you on where to take your money. But even with a budget, there are times that you just can’t make ends meet. In fact, the more you try the bigger the hole you find yourself in. Not to worry , because there is something you can do to redeem yourself. Today we discuss some of the ways that you can reduce your monthly expense budget and have some savings for yourself.
1. Bulk Purchase
I think this is one of my favorite ways to reduce my budget. Whenever you can, buy in bulk. Especially on the non-perishable household items from stores that offer wholesale prices. And I know to begin with it will be expensive, but if say every month you purchase two or three items in bulk, then eventually you will have more money saved up in a month where you can then buy the more expensive household. I know it took me about a year to create a rhythm around buying non-perishables.
From the grocery market where we mostly get perishables, buy a mix of what will keep for a bit as well as what you need for your current usage. Here, good storage is key so that the vegetables and fruits take you for as long as possible. Another pro tip is to favor the veggies and fruits that are in season, they tend to be cheaper.
2. Bargain hunt
Bargain hunting is not for the faint-hearted. Especially in an economy where comparable data is not easily available to the public. But if you have time, it is possible to compare the prices of just about anything.
This really means that sometimes it pays to be patient. My quick non-scientific survey shows that in Kenya you can easily compare prices of products and services sold on online platforms, not so easy for stores that don’t have an online presence. Someone should save us with an app for this already…
3. Use store loyalty points as well as coupons
The most common store loyalty points are those earned from supermarkets. Others include loyalty points from some mobile phone operators as well as select retail stores.
The loyalty points come in handy especially when you have accumulated a good chunk that you can translate into reducing your shopping.
In Kenya, coupons are not easy to come by but occasionally, if you are keen (really, just a stalker) you may land on a good deal. Again, this option requires some work, but we’ve already established, that nothing good comes easy right?
4. Shop at the supermarket during mid and end month offers and sales
If you are like me your phone is inundated with messages mostly from supermarkets on the end-month or mid-month offers.
Pick out what you need and only make a trip to the stores then. I recommend this only if you are disciplined enough to only buy what you need, if you suffer from impulse buying then just wait for opportunities to bulk shop.
5. Always have a list with estimated cost
This is really so that you carry just enough money to pay for what is on the list only. This helps especially those of us who are spendthrifts. An estimate list will help you stay focused, as you’ll have very little room for impulse purchases.
6. Cut down on non-essentials
There are some services which we pay monthly subscriptions for such as internet services, cable TV, and upgraded phone services. If you can do with a downgraded version of the service that you are currently subscribed to, then please opt for it, it will save you some money over time.
7. Check on your transport cost
If you use public transport, can you commute before peak hours, I once had a colleague who would get to the office by 6 a.m. daily and this saved him 50% of transport costs. The trick is to ensure you have something productive to do before official office hours, like taking online courses.
If you use your car to the office, consider using public means for certain days in the week, especially where public transport is reliable.
Lastly consider walking or cycling to work, especially for health benefits.
8. Carry lunch to work
The benefits of this can never be overemphasized because aside from saving you money, you get to choose your diet and the ingredients you want in making your meals, which tend to be healthier than most fast foods.
9. Review your housing situation
Most of us can live in smaller spaces and thrive.
Ever heard of “being house poor”? Some of us live in large houses that do not serve us. And I know space is all the buzz right now especially after being cooped up inside our homes during the pandemic. However, check if you really need all the space you have right now especially if you are renting.
If you can get by with a smaller space in the same neighborhood, I would seriously think about the shift. Rent tends to be one of the biggest chunks of monthly expenses that you will pay.
10. Check for ways to reduce school fees payment
This one is a bit sensitive, so let me tread carefully. We want the best for our children and sometimes we don’t really count the cost.
As you work to give them the best education, review the alternatives around without compromising on the education standard. It may be worth your while to change schools and save on the expenses
11. Look at ways to reduce your utility bills
Have you ever tried to add up your annual utility costs? No? If you haven’t yet, please try it, there are lessons there to be learned.
Power and Water bills do add up over time.
If it is within your means consider having a hybrid system for your electricity needs, where you install a solar system to power up during the day, and store some for use at night.
You can remain connected to the national grid, just in case you need to switch back.
This is great in the long term.
Engaging a Certified Energy Auditor may also be worth your while especially if your power bills keep growing exponentially. The Energy Auditor will review your power usage and recommend cost-saving opportunities.
12. Grow your vegetables and herbs even in small spaces.
Transform the space you live in into a green space. Most herbs require the tiniest of spaces to flourish, so grow your coriander, basil, mint, rosemary, and so forth as potted plants. This will help you save some money and plus gardening can be therapeutic.
13.Take care of your health
You will be amazed at how much time you spend away from your work and the things you love when you are not well. Be conscious of how your body behaves. Rest when you need to, exercise often, and eat well. The better your health, the more productive you will be and you will save on medical expenses. Also take medical insurance, its a must have.
14. Find cheaper substitutes
Substituting has been known to save one a pretty penny, especially for high-end brand names. Note, I am not asking you to compromise on the quality. If you cannot find the same quality item for what you love then stick to what you love, however, it is worth it to check out what else is out there in the market in terms of pricing, and it might save you some money.
15. Delay impulse purchasing decisions
Do this for at least for 24 hours.
This has the obvious advantage of allowing you to think things through. More often than not, you will change your mind, saving yourself from unnecessary expenses. Practice this often enough and you will train your mind to buy only what you have budgeted for
16. Assess your hobbies and favorite pass time.
What do you do every Friday after work? What about Saturdays? How about Sunday afternoon? More importantly, who do you spend most of your time with? If your friends don’t share in your vision or goals, it is very easy to get derailed and find yourself on endless road trips, or drinking sprees that don’t help your saving and investment goals.
Check through what occupies your time, it could be where you lose money to small “insignificant” expenses, which add up.
17. Do your Repairs and Maintenance
It will cut down on hiring costs.
Do you have a leaky bathroom? do you have the tools to do the repair? Go to you-tube and learn how to do the repair. This is true of just about any kind of work you need to be done around your house. Just challenge yourself to learn the skill, but also don’t expect perfection in the first instance. Of course, I recommend this with a pinch of salt, because if you find that you are in over your head, just dial the expert. Also, for electricals…. nope…send in the electrician.
18. Postpone your expenditure on luxury items
That holiday at the coast, or that sumptuous meal in a 7-star hotel, or that extra large TV screen that you have been craving. You know all those things that are on your bucket list, but which you can postpone, or reduce the frequency, to where it is manageable in your budget.
19. Pay using cash
If you struggle with financial discipline, make your preferred method of payment cash. Credit cards give a false sense of security that you have more money than you actually do. Paying interest on credit card debt is a big no-no. If you must use a credit card, make sure you pay the outstanding amount in full, every month.
So there you have it, folks, various ways to reduce your monthly expenditure, what other ways are you using to reduce your monthly expenses, let’s chat in the comment section below…