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Budget Cutting (page 3)

— FinAid
Updated on Jun 2, 2009

Cut your Budget

FinAid has two budget calculators that can help you manage your budget.

  • The student budget calculator calculates the difference between education expenses and income, identifying when you are spending beyond your means.
  • The family budget analyzer compares your expenses against regional and national norms, helping you see where you are spending more than most other families. This can help you identify budget categories where there are opportunities for saving by cutting expenses.

Some of the most common budget areas where savings is possible include:

  • Meals & Entertainment
    • Scale back or eliminate the family vacation. Travel and lodging costs are often the most expensive component of the family vacation, so consider staying local to cut costs.
    • Cut back on eating out. Eating in is often much less expensive than dining in restaurants.
    • Reduce other entertainment spending, such as cable/satellite TV, movies and spectator sports.
  • Transportation
    • Avoid replacing an older vehicle, or get rid of an unnecessary car. You will not only save on car and fuel costs, but also on auto insurance. Also consider replacing more expensive cars with less expensive cars and less fuel efficient cars (SUVs, Trucks) with more fuel efficient cars (compact cars, hybrids). Change your engine oil and filter as per the manufacturer's recommended schedule and maintain proper tire air pressure.
    • Use public transportation to save on gas and to make your commute more productive.
    • Buy gas at the lowest octane level for your car. Higher octane fuel does not improve performance and adds to your fuel costs.
  • Home
    • If you pay someone to mow your loan or a housekeeper to clean for you, doing the work yourself can save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. It is also a good source of exercise.
    • Install a setback thermostat to reduce heating and cooling costs. Turning down the heat a few degrees and minimizing use of air conditioning can save as much as 15% of the annual heating and cooling bill. Sweaters and blankets are cheaper than gas and electricity. Weatherstripping the doors and windows and adding insulation to the attic can save money and make your home more comfortable. Turn down the thermostat on your hot water heater and insulate it.
    • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use to save about $100 per year.
  • Finances and Insurance
    • Pay off and cut up your credit cards, instead of carrying a balance. If you carry a balance, you are living beyond your means. Use cash to pay for your purchases. Reducing your high interest debt will put more money in your pocket, instead of the bank's. Target the most expensive debt (highest interest rate) for elimination first. Paying all your debt installments on time can cut your financing costs by improving your credit score, as some interest rates are based on your FICO score.
    • Refinance a high interest home mortgage at a lower fixed rate, to save on your monthly mortgage payments. If you've built up 20% equity in your home, ask your lender about eliminating the Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).
    • Cut insurance costs by increasing the deductible on your insurance policies and installing dead-bolt locks on your doors.
    • Reduce your charitable contributions. Although helping others is important, it is also important to address your own needs first.
  • Shopping
    • Eat before doing your grocery shopping. You buy more when you're hungry, leading to wasted food. Also do your grocery shopping less frequently, reducing the opportunities for impulse buys. Use coupons when you shop.
    • Shop around for major expenses, such as home repairs, car and homeowner's insurance, long distance telephone service and mortgages.
    • Buy used but quality products at garage sales and online. Use web search engines to comparison shop on major purchases.
  • Vices
    • Reduce spending on the lottery or other forms of gambling.
    • Giving up coffee, tobacco, alcohol, candy and soda can save thousands of dollars per year, and also improve your health.
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