Doing more with less has become the mantra for millions of Americans during the economic contraction. But scaling back doesn’t always mean you have to give something up and dramatically change your lifestyle.
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“People use to think trying to save money meant sacrificing,” says frugal living expert Erin Huffstetler. “But there’s so much technology to cut monthly bills without giving anything up.”
A close look at a budget and spending habits will often show necessary spending—and if it’s just a few dollars here and there, can add up to substantially savings over the long run.
Here are five easy cutbacks that will boost your wallet without leaving you feeling pinched:
With most users facing $100-plus monthly cable bills, eliminating this luxury is a quick way to shore up a substantial amount of money without sacrificing staying up to date with your favorite shows.
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There are a variety of cheaper Internet alternatives like Amazon Prime and Netflix that stream TV shows and movies for a year-long subscription that typically cost less than a month’s cable bill.
And don’t forget about a free option: the local library. “People think all the library has is documentaries but that’s not the case,” says Huffstetler. “They are buying movies on a monthly basis and have new releases.”
With the amount of texting we have grown accustomed to, cell phone bills can become a litany of charges. Frequent texters should opt for a text messaging plan to save money and consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch says there are free texting apps for both the iPhone and Android phones that allows you to keep in touch for free. “You’re looking at up to a $15 a month savings,” says Woroch.
Huffstetler pointed to Textfree as an example. “Get a very bare bones plan and use these free features,” she says.
Data can also beef up a cell phone bill. Gone are the days of unlimited data, which means consumers are paying more to have surf the web on their phones. To lower the cost, consumer savings experts recommend turning off your data connections when not in use and to take advantage of free Wi-Fi whenever possible. “There are so many apps that even when you are not actively checking or updating [they] burn a lot of bandwidth,” says Huffstetler.
The necessity of a gym membership varies, but there are other options that will work you out for a lot less, or even free.
Consumers can purchase exercise DVDs or stream them online for the fraction of the cost of a gym membership. If you crave companionship, there are a lot of local parks and recreation centers that offer free classes, and more and more churches are building gyms that are open to the local community, according to Huffstetler.
Buying a bottle of water when on the go doesn’t seem that budget busting and is convenient, but that everyday expense can quickly add up. “That’s $1.50 every day,” says Woroch. “That’s a $75 savings in just 10 weeks.” Make the initial investment in a reusable water bottle and then fill it up at the water cooler at work.