Trying to Reduce Expenses? Sweat the Big Stuff!

by Khaleef Crumbley on June 29, 2010

in Budgeting,Credit Cards,Debt Management,Housing,Personal Finance

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When you are beginning a weight lifting routine many trainers will advise you to focus on a few large muscle groups, rather than try to work every minor muscle at once. There are two main reasons for this; first, by focusing on the major muscle groups you will have a large impact on your overall health in a short period of time. Secondly, trying to focus on every muscle in your body from day one can be overwhelming and may cause you to get discouraged and quit.

The same is true with our finances. When we are first attempting to get our personal finances in order, we need to focus on the larger areas of spending. If not, we run the risk of getting overwhelmed by trying to change every small area of our finances.

Over the last few days, we took a look at reducing some of the larger areas of our spending. In order to see the details of each article, just click on the header for each section:

Housing Costs:

  1. Downsize & buy a smaller home
  2. Refinance
  3. Stop paying PMI
  4. Sell your home & rent
  5. Downsize & move into a less expensive place
  6. Find a roommate
  7. Negotiate and/or Barter with the landlord

Credit Cards:

  1. Negotiate a lower rate
  2. Use a balance transfer offer
  3. Get a personal consolidation loan
  4. Participate in P2P lending

    Auto Costs:

    1. Make sure you know how much insurance you actually need.
    2. Make sure you are taking advantage of any discounts that are offered for having a clean driving record, taking a defensive driving course, or even for having a high G.P.A.
    3. Also, if you have multiple policies – life, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance – you can probably get a sizable discount for having them all under one company.
    4. Get rid of your second car.
    5. Don’t neglect maintenance

    Cell Phones, Internet, Cable & Utilities:

    1. Make sure that you have a plan that fits your needs. For instance, an Individual Plan with 900 minutes costs $60 with AT&T; if you only use 400/month, why not drop down to the 450 minute plan for only $40, or better yet, get a prepaid phone.
    2. Have a data plan? If you are not required to have one by your phone company (some smartphone owners are required to keep a data plan), check your usage to see if you really need one. If your phone has wi-fi capabilities, then you can use any free wireless connection to use the internet on your phone! So it should be free to use your internet connection at work, home, most friend’s homes, and libraries. In that case GET RID OF YOUR DATA PLAN!
    3. TextingGoogle Voice offers FREE texts and phone calls. They also give you the option of having your free texts forwarded to your email account. So, if you have a data plan (see above),  then you can just check your email to receive your texts! They also allow you to send/receive texts from your computer – this is great when you are at work and can’t easily access your cell phone.
    4. You could also get together with a few people that you trust and establish a Family Plan and split the bill!
    5. If you are out of your contract, use a service like Billshrink to compare your options and get the best price.
    6. Once you are ready to buy your new phone, be sure to go to Amazon.com’s new wireless store for a great deal (usually much better than going through the carrier)!

    Landline Phone:

    1. Cancel your home long distance plan if you have a cell phone. Since your cell phone plan likely includes long distance calls, it is a waste of money to pay for it on your landline.
    2. If you have a landline and a cell phone, cutting the landline is probably the best way to go.
    3. If you feel that you need to have a home phone (or a line separate from your cell phone), then you can try a few alternatives such as, Skype, Magic Jack or even Google Voice.

    Cable/Internet:

    1. Look at your cable bill and eliminate the channels that you don’t need. It doesn’t make sense to pay for 600 channels when all you really need is ESPN!
    2. Or cancel your cable plan entirely – it’s not as hard as you may think (read about Paul’s experience with eliminating TV service at ProvidentPlan.com).
    3. Netflix – this is a great alternative to cable. You are able to rent DVD’s via mail (free shipping) and they usually arrive the next day. There are no due dates or late fees. And for many accounts you can watch movies and tv shows on your computer or on your tv (using your Nintendo Wiixbox 360, PlayStation 3 or the Roku Player).
    4. Take advantage of a bundle. Many service providers will offer discounts if you sign up for more than one of their services. You can usually save money by combining your internet, cable (or just get rid of it), phone (get rid of that too) and maybe even cell phone onto one bill.
    5. Make sure you have an internet plan that works for you. Most internet service providers will price their plans based on the download & upload speeds (measured in Mbps). If you are not constantly uploading and downloading large files, you probably will be fine with downgrading to a slower connection and saving some money.
    6. Share an internet plan? This is another tip that calls for extreme trust. If you have a close neighbor that you trust, one of you can cancel your internet plan, and just split the cost of the remaining plan. Just be sure to have a reliable Wireless Router.
    7. Do you really need internet access at home? Many of us have internet access at work and don’t go on the computer that often once we get home – especially if your job calls on you to stare at a computer screen for 9 hours! Also, you can go to your local library if you only need internet access occasionally. Don’t forget about going online with your smartphone (if you have one). If this describes you, then cancel your internet plan and save big!

    Energy Costs:

    So much has been written about how to cut energy costs that it doesn’t make sense to try and reinvent the wheel. Here are a couple of articles that you can read on the subject:


    As Kevin from Out Of Your Rut said, “We can only clip so many coupons and recycle so much stuff, but the real savings are going to come when we take a look at the bigger expenses and start chopping there.”

    Be sure to leave your money-saving tips in the comments section below.

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    photo credit: alancleaver_2000

    © 2010 – 2013, Khaleef Crumbley. All rights reserved.

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