Tips to decreasing your expenses:
- Develop and follow a spending plan whereby you reduce your spending and credit card use.
- Reduce the number of times you eat out at a restaurant or avoid eating out.
- Become a more conscientious shopper (e.g., make a list and stick to it, purchase only necessary items, purchase items when they are on sale, use weekly sales fliers to make a grocery list, only use coupons if you normally use the item and if you can actually save money since generic items may cost less than the brand name item with the coupon, and shop for clothing or household items at thrift or consignment stores).
- Avoid stores and shopping for fun, unless you have complete sales resistance and really can just window shop. Also consider removing temptation by spending time reading, playing games, or being outside instead of watching television and being influenced and tempted by the advertisements.
- Purchase only items that you need, not what you want. This may also include cutting back on or eliminating extra expenses (e.g., dining out, vacations, movies, sporting events, car washes, cable/satellite TV or extended packages including movie channels, and private schools for your children).
- Reduce your utility bills (e.g., downsize or get rid of your cell phone, cable TV, or satellite plans; conserve energy and water; eliminate extra telephone services, including caller ID and call waiting; or close your land line account if you regularly use your cell phone) .
- Contact creditors to negotiate a lower interest rate or monthly payment.
- Use local, state, or national assistance programs to help with food and utility costs.
- Shop around to get the best deal on big-ticket items (e.g., cars, appliances, insurance, loans, child or elder care; and cell phone, Internet, and cable or satellite plans). Remember, you have control over some of these expenses before you sign the initial agreement and they become fixed expenses.