According to MoneyWatch, approximately 38% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
27% of Americans amount of admit to having no savings at all.
It is a general rule of thumb that you should have at least 6 months’ worth of savings set aside in case you lose your job. The savings account should be able to cover your mortgage, food, car payment, etc… for the next 6 months while you look for other employment. From CNN Money, 50% of Americans barely have enough to cover 3 months (myself included).
Right now, I absolutely have no savings to fall back on other than my retirement accounts. Today, it is much more difficult to save compared to our parent’s generation, but we have no choice, which means you have to really be disciplined with our spending.
We cannot control inflation, the rising cost of housing, and to some degree our pay. With today’s job market, it’s not as easy to get to the point where you can make a six-figure income.
I don’t want to be a part of those statistics much longer, so I took a look of my overall spending habits to see where I can cut and what a priority is.
For me, my priorities that I will not cut includes the following: My housing payment, utilities, eating healthy, traveling, and gifts for my friends and family.
No matter how tight things get, I can’t ever show up empty-handed to a party. That is something I refuse to do. I would rather not show up, then come without something to contribute.
As I was analyzing my spending, I realized a few places that I could save without feeling too much of pain. After my experience, I wanted to help those who were in the same position. Hopefully after doing your review, you can find some savings too and I promise you, it’s not too hard!
- Housing Cost – Your rent/mortgage probably eats up most of your paycheck. For those who rent, don’t get too comfortable. Always look at different deals when your lease is up and negotiate your prices. For those with a mortgage, really look at subleasing extra rooms to help cover your mortgage. This doesn’t mean that you take that extra income as spending money, you still live as if you pay the entire mortgage, the extra income should be stashed away as an emergency fund.
- Utilities – This is fairly simple and painless. Turn the lights off when you are not home, lower your temperatures slightly during work hours, and unplug your devices so it doesn’t take up any electricity. You will only want to turn your heat down a little bit because it takes more energy to warm a whole house to a separate temperature if you are trying to increase it by 5 to 10 degrees when you get home, it’s also brutal on your furnace.
- Meal Prepping – Food and eating out is probably the second largest expense in a household. I base my grocery shopping around recipes now versus just going to the grocery store. I also don’t go out to eat as much more because it is unhealthy, but it is unhealthy for the wallet too. When I meal prep, I spend about $30-$40 for all my meals for 6 days. I am absolutely not perfect because I eat out with friends, but when I do, I always ask them to pick a healthy and affordable place.
- Gym Membership – My gym membership is $36 a month, that’s not bad, but I know others who pay $50 or more a month for a membership. If going to the gym is part of your routine, then it’s absolutely worth the expense, but if you don’t, cancel your membership. There are so many free things that you can do like walking around the mall or neighborhood or purchasing gym equipment at home, or even the Insanity DVDs. Another option is to look at free workouts online.
- Cable and Internet Bill – The average household spends about $125 on cable and internet. This is the easiest area to find some savings. I call my cable and Internet Company every few months to see if they have any promotions. I was previously on a FIOS triple play for close to $125 a month, but realizing I didn’t need a lot of the channels, I cut it down to the basic package and negotiated the speed on my Internet. The new cost per month turned out to be about $80.
- Cell Phone Bill – This is a big area that I wish I had focused on sooner. I am on my parents plan, but I still monitor it for them. You can redo your plan base on your usage every few months. It never hurts to give them a call. I saved my parents almost $90 a month during my last visit to Verizon.
- Car Insurance – Get in the habit of calling and bargaining a lower rate. I know it’s easy to just have an auto-renew, but you can save $15-$20 a month by doing this.
- Impulse Buys – I used to hoard things. I would go out, find a deal on toothpaste, shampoo, etc… and just stock up. What I eventually realized was that I never used all of it.
- Avoiding Fees- One of the easiest payments is to pay your bills on time. If you are like me and forgetful, make sure to do an automatic payment for everything. That saves $25 for every late payment simply because you forgot.