Cents and Sensibility: Five Ways to Slash your Expenses

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If you feel crippled by financial management, here are five simple, but effective ways young adults can free up additional money and achieve peace of mind.

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Budget Like You Own It

Budgeting can feel intimidating. At the beginning of the month, map your expenses against your income. This list should include everything from fixed bills (such as rent, insurance and childcare) to variable-but-anticipated needs (such as groceries and transportation). While you may prefer to avoid thinking about emergency scenarios, try to set aside a small amount of your paycheck for potential repairs, health-related incidents or other unpreventable situations.

Technology also can help you stick to your fixed monthly budget. Set up balance alerts* for your Money Network Account that will send you notifications when your account balance falls below a specified amount. This added visibility holds you accountable while preventing surprises in between paychecks.

Manage Your “Fun”ds

Entertainment and social activities are threats to financial stability. Eating out is easy and takes less time, but instead, prepare meals at home that can be used for leftovers later in the week. What you lose in convenience, you’ll gain in your wallet. Sports fans - look for special discount ticket deals or promotions for weeknight games instead of purchasing more expensive seats on weekends. Plan group events around free outdoor festivals, or host friends at your house for a potluck instead of going to a restaurant. Being budget-conscious does not mean you need to eliminate all extracurricular activities, but rather find ones that don’t leave you with a financial hangover.

“Brake” Up With Your Car

Automobiles can be financial death if you’re struggling with money. Among car payments, insurance, gas and maintenance, AAA estimates car ownership can amount to nearly $9,000 per year – and that’s without parking or parts replacement. Modern transportation can eliminate these costs without significantly disrupting your life. Public transportation or ride-sharing services can often be a less expensive option to consider, while leaving the maintenance and upkeep to individual drivers or public officials. Also, consider ride-share pooling to cut your expenses even more. 

Dismember Unnecessary Fees

How often do you use your expensive monthly gym membership? Did you even open the last issue of the monthly magazine to which you’ve subscribed for years? Start by canceling underused monthly subscription-based services which could help you save hundreds of dollars throughout the year. Consider also canceling traditional cable in favor of more budget-friendly streaming services. Don’t stop there. Continue replacing big expenses with cheaper alternatives. Running, walking or online exercise videos are great free options for getting heart healthy instead of a gym.  

Make a Deal…or Two

Do your research to get a better deal with your service providers. They are not going to lower their prices and cut their own profits out of good will, but they may be flexible to keep you as a customer. Always keep an eye open for better deals or discounts. While home, health and potentially automotive insurance are necessary, you may be able to maintain current coverage levels at a more affordable rate by shopping around with competitors. Sometimes, companies offer a cheaper rate when you call customer service and tell the agent you are considering a move. Bundling services and accounts is another cost reduction option with many providers. It never hurts to ask - all your provider can say is “no,” and a “no” is free.