It’s expensive out there. Real expensive. And it feels like it gets more expensive every day.

We face a mountain of bills — from our rent or mortgage, to cable bills, to grocery bills, to credit cards, and all the way to student loan debt. There is a constant demand on our dollar, and those dollars only go so far.

If you have financial goals — paying down debt, saving for retirement, saving for a much-needed family vacation — you need to get serious about figuring out ways to spend less each month and give yourself and your family a cushion. It won’t be easy, but it is doable. Here are some things you can look at and cut back on in your budget.

1. Get Rid of Stuff You Don't Need

Do you have AAA? Did you know that your auto insurer might also offer similar benefits for just a few dollars a year? Those savings add up.

2. Check Insurance and Deductibles

This is an area of your budget that you probably roll over from year to year and don’t pay much attention to, but it’s worth asking your insurance agent what your deductibles are. If you’re in need of cash and willing to take on some additional risk, you might consider raising your deductibles slightly to save a few bucks.

3. Take Advantage of Credit Card Offers and Deals

This option could turn out poorly if you’re not disciplined about paying off your debt regularly, but you should check out some credit card deals to see if you can actually get money back for what you spent on gas, food, and other items.

4. Examine Every Dollar Spent

You spend a few bucks each day on a coffee. Or on lunch. Do all those little purchases each day add up to an amount of money that you’d like to have leftover? True, we cannot and should not deny ourselves pleasure. But you have to weigh out whether that cappuccino addiction is worth being cash poor at the end of each month. 

And it’s worth the time to examine each of your bills and each dollar that you’re spending. Are the things you’re spending money on truly something you need? Do you need to have all the movie channels, Netflix, and Hulu Plus? Do you need to have a home phone when you mainly get calls from telemarketers? The answer might be yes, it’s important to take stock every six months or so on where your money is going.

5. Cut the Cable Cord

This is a popular phrase these days and, for many consumers, it’s working. Consider getting rid of your cable company and making use of Apple TV, a Roku stick, or Google Chromecast and adding some monthly subscription programs like Netflix, HBO Go, or other networks to supplement your viewing. If you crunch the numbers, you might find that you save money on your cable bill. At the very least, you should call your cable provider and tell them that you’re considering leaving. Just watch how quickly they throw rebates and credits at you to get you to stay.

6. Evaluate Payroll Taxes

Are you having too much taken out of your paycheck for taxes? Ask a trusted financial advisor if this might help you save a few bucks each month. But remember, if you cut the amount of taxes being taken from your paycheck, there is a tradeoff. You will see less money in your tax return, if you typically get one.

7. Consider a Refinance

This is a major undertaking, so don’t enter into it lightly. Interest rates remain at historical lows and you might want to consider speaking to a trusted financial advisor about whether refinancing your home to lock in a lower interest rate and reducing your monthly payment is a good option for you.

8. Find a Part-Time Gig

Can you write blogs, make items for an Etsy shop, or teach a class? Can you pick up a few part-time hours at a job at night or on the weekends? If so, this might be a good way to earn some extra cash.

9. Do It Yourself

Rather than buying lunch each day, take the time to make a lunch at home and take it to work. Rather than spending $50 bucks a month on dry cleaning, consider ironing your own clothes. This last one isn’t something you want to do yourself, but if you know someone who cuts hair, inquire if they’d be willing to cut your hair at their home for a reduced price.

What have you done to save more money?

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