Surging inflation: How to trim $200 from your monthly budget

Monthly streaming service subscriptions, food purchases, phone bills can all begin to inflate your monthly budget

Inflation has reached record levels, food prices are soaring, and interest rates are affecting everything including credit cards, mortgages and auto loans. But, there are ways to cut back on monthly expenses through some creative strategies. 

FOX Business asked money pros and business experts about how to cut $200 from your monthly budget.

Audit your monthly subscriptions regularly

You could be unknowingly spending excess on monthly subscriptions and memberships.

"American consumers spend an average of $219 each month on subscriptions, including streaming services, health and wellness products, fitness memberships, and more," says Liz Ewing, chief financial officer at Marcus by Goldman Sachs. "While you might use some of these daily, some may have become less of a necessity."

Streaming TV remote

Video on demand, TV streaming, multimedia. Hand holding remote control (iStock / iStock)


Consumers are often lured by free trials and then forget to cancel after the introductory period. If the subscription or membership isn’t yielding value for you, be sure to cancel it.

Ewing explained that by auditing automated payments on a regular basis, you can identify which are truly providing value and which could be temporarily paused or ended to cut down on your monthly expenses. Ask yourself if you really need four streaming services, several food subscriptions or multiple on-demand music platforms. 

Order takeout wisely

Ewing said that the average household spends just over $250 a month on restaurant dining and takeout expenses.

Dinner table home

Family members enjoying a meal at home. (iStock / iStock)

"An immediate way to cut down on your month-to-month spending is to look for opportunities where you can prepare your own meals at home," she said. Instead of ordering in on the weekends, consider splurging on a cooked meal at home on a weekend rather than dining out.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate 

Recurring expenses like mobile phones, internet and cable can take up a big piece of your budget each month, said Ewing. However, many providers are willing to negotiate pricing based on their competitors’ pricing.

"Ask friends and family what they pay for certain services, while also researching comparisons online, as this information can help you negotiate with your providers," she suggested.

Man looking smartphone cellphone

A man looks at the screen of his smartphone. (iStock / iStock)

While this strategy may not always guarantee a reduced rate, said Ewing, it is worth investigating your options every few months as you reevaluate your budget to confirm you are making the best choice financially.

Take advantage of credit card rewards

Look at your credit cards to see if you have rewards or cash-back offers available.

"For example, maybe your credit card offers cash back at a certain grocery store this month," said Lauren Bringle, accredited financial counselor at Self Financial. "If that's the case, shop for groceries you already need there and bank the cash back."

Woman holding credit cards

A woman holding credit cards. (iStock / iStock)

The important fact here is credit card rewards only save you money if you pay your credit card balance off each month. Interest from revolving balances will offset any rewards you earn.

Shop around for new car insurance rates

Bringle said that if you have improved your credit score recently that may put you in a position to snag a lower rate.

"In all but a handful of states, your credit score can impact your car insurance rates," she explained. "The better your credit score, the better your rates are likely to be, so shop around to see if you could lower your monthly premium."

New cars dealership

New cars sit on the lot of a dealership. (iStock / iStock)

If you have less-than-perfect credit or poor credit, consider using tools or incorporating habits to help you build credit, since a better score could save you on things like interest rates and borrowing costs over time, Bringle advised.

Make saving a priority 

It’s not always easy to save, but committing a small sum per week is a good starting point.

"There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to saving," said Accrue Savings CEO Michael Hershfield. "Saving more than $100 a month is more manageable for some than others and that’s why people need to save according to whatever fits their budget best."

jar of money

A person holds a jar full of savings money. (iStock / iStock)

For example, he says to begin saving $50 this month and increase by $10 each month moving forward.

"The point is to get started," Hershfield said. "Some months will be easier than others and there may be even more set aside that can go toward unexpected expenses, but don’t let the end goal keep you from starting your savings journey."

Cut down on impulse purchases 

Make a pact that you won’t purchase something without a "cooling-off period" to see if you really need the item or service.

shopping bags

Man holding shopping bags with presents on the street (iStock) (iStock / iStock)

"It's easy to get caught up making multiple impulse purchases a month, whether on clothes or gadgets, so try to wait a few days before making a decision," recommends Jay Klauminzer, CEO of Raise, a discounted gift card marketplace. "Most of the time, the initial 'want' of the product wears off, or you can end up finding a better deal online."

Attempt price matching 

Klauminzer said that companies like Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Nordstrom and more all price match if you find a lower price online or through a competitor.

"Just show them where you’ve found the lower price and they will give you a discount," he noted.

Westfield Garden State Plaza in New Jersey

Shoppers walk through the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall on Black Friday in Paramus, New Jersey, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. (Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images) (Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In addition, you can utilize shopping apps like PayPal Honey's browser extension to ensure you're getting the best prices for online purchases. Klauminzer said that PayPal Honey even has price tracking on sites like Amazon to let you see price trends and know that you're getting the best deal.