Life is expensive, costing normal people about $56000 per year on average. This lofty figure doesn’t even include taxes, healthcare, or childcare!
With the average cost of living skyrocketing, it’s more essential now than ever before to save money on living expenses.
How to Save Money on Living Expenses
Saving money on living expenses isn’t as easy as the gurus would have you believe. Many of the tips offered are unrealistic for those already struggling. While renting out a bedroom on Airbnb can increase your income and help you afford life, most people don’t actually have extra bedrooms to spare, and those who do may not want to share their precious space with strangers.
There are far more realistic ways to save money on living expenses.
Heating and cooling is one of the top budget busters. Whether you use electric or gas HVAC systems, the costs continue to skyrocket, and those living in warm climates dread the summer while Northern residents fear winter’s price surges.
Insulation is critical to saving money on HVAC, whether you’re dealing with hot, humid summers or frigid winters.
Setting Your Thermostat
Maintaining a temperature outside your ideal comfort zone will also help. Set your thermostat a little lower than ideal in the winter and a little higher in the summer. Make up for the difference with clothing or fans to help circulate the air.
The Right Foods
Choose foods that help your body maintain its temperature in various weather conditions: stews and soups in the winter versus fruits and salads in the summer.
Turn It Off
Save money on power and water by turning off all the lights and faucets when they aren’t in use.
Cold Water Wash
Choose cold settings for washing your clothes. You’ll spend less on energy and your clothes will be just as clean.
Avoid “browsing” the refrigerator, looking for the perfect snack. Keep that door closed.
When shopping for new appliances, consider choosing energy-efficient models that will reduce your costs over time.
Most of us still pay exorbitant amounts for cable television and the internet. Save money by cutting that cable cord. I haven’t had cable in over a year, and honestly, I haven’t missed it.
Opt for cheaper streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. You’ll find there’s more to watch at a far lower cost.
Get a Roommate
If you are fortunate enough to have a spare room, consider a long-term roommate to split some of the basic costs.
No energy for a roommate? Downsize. Find a smaller place that better fits your budget. Smaller places also tend to have lower utility bills.
Although moving is a giant hassle, sometimes embarking on a new adventure to a lower cost of living area is the best way to save money. If you work remotely, geoarbitrage can save you a ton of money.
A lot of younger people are turning to alternatives for reduced housing costs. Van life, tiny homes, and communal living are all soaring in popularity due to the rising cost of housing. These are options to explore if you can’t afford a home in your area.
Save on Groceries
There are lots of ways to save money at the grocery store. You can clip coupons, compare prices per unit, use the store’s loyalty program, and choose generic offerings. Limiting unhealthy snacks and skipping sugar-laden soft drinks will also save you a bundle – and are better for your overall health.
If you’re truly strapped, consider going to a food bank. Numerous charities offer food to households in need. However, please don’t use a food bank if you can afford to buy your own groceries.
Eating Out vs. Eating at Home
Eating at home is obviously much cheaper than dining out. When you have the time and energy, you should opt to stay home to save as much money as possible.
Easy At-Home Options
Allow yourself some easy home meal options for those stressful days when you don’t feel like cooking. Frozen pizza is far cheaper than delivery and just as easy. Premade skillet meals heat up in an instant, and frozen lasagna boxes are perfect for days when you don’t feel like cooking.
Bring a sack lunch to work instead of eating out. A simple lunch consisting of a sandwich and chips costs about ten bucks per week – which is what one day of fast food would cost.
Packing your lunch is a frugal choice that’s also better for your health.
Stick to Water
A great trip for reducing the costs of dining out is to forgo their beverage options and stick to water. Although many places offer free refills, the initial cost constantly creeps up. Most restaurants charge $2-3 for a soft drink, which adds up when you have a large group or go out often.
Alcohol is one of the biggest budget busters. Servers ask if they can get you anything from the bar for a reason: the restaurant makes big bucks off your drink. You’re better off grabbing a six-pack on your way home.
The new national average car payment soared above $700 at the end of 2022. With cars getting more and more expensive and financiers extending the terms of loans for longer and longer, it’s getting hard to get by without a hefty car payment.
Cars decline in value the second they leave the lot, so opting for a used car is a great way to save money. However, good deals are getting harder and harder to come by, with the monthly payment for used cars reaching over $500 a month on average.
Keep That Old Car
Far too many people trade in their cars well before they’ve paid off the loan. The new loan then gets bundled into the old, and they’re trapped in a never-ending cycle of debt and underwater car payments.
Stop the cycle.
Stop getting a new car every 3-5 years. Take care of your vehicle, and keep it for as long as possible.
Increase Your Deductable
If you have a hefty emergency fund, you may want to increase your deductible for monthly savings, but if you can’t cover a $1000 emergency, it might be better to pay a higher monthly premium for that peace of mind.
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Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.