If you have successfully gathered information and put it into a document where you can actually see how much you are spending on things and how much you are earning – Now it’s time to make some cuts.
Take a look at each category and think how you might be able to reduce payments.
Education for kids was our biggest expense, with two kids in private kindergarten. Since there was nothing to do about that for this year we left it as is, knowing that this would be a reality for the next few months until our kids got older. There were of course cheaper options for the following year which we considered but ultimately felt that where our children learn is important to us and therefore decided not to reduce costs in this category.
The choice of where to cut is individual and should reflect your priorities as well as your financial goals.
Food was another major expense for us, with two kids under the age of 3, diapers and formula added up. As we gradually started toilet training (which cut diaper costs) and were looking forward to the one year mark, after which we could switch to cow’s milk, there were other actions we started to take. This was and still is a very big challenge since food is something people don’t WANT or LIKE to feel stingy about.
Menu planning goes a long way in this department, so make lists and don’t shop when you’re hungry or WITH KIDS (on more shopping tips see post ‘Don’t Buy Me’). I even complied a priced shopping list based on the supermarket I go to, so that I know exactly how much I can EXPECT to spend and not have to dread seeing the amount at the end of my shop. Decide which of you will go shopping; see more on this at Family Budgeting: Spousal Food Fights (future installment).
Mortgages – Since I am not an expert I highly suggest you look into the option or re-financing. If you are too intimidated or do not want to have the headache of shopping around, you can always use a mortgage broker.
For me, one of the bigger payments was my cell phone bill. Perhaps you can check other cell-phone plans that may be cheaper? Are you paying for a set amount of minutes but not actually using all of them? When my husband wanted an iPhone we changed cell companies for his special deal. I also got a “special” deal of 125 minutes for a set price. Problem was I wasn’t reaching those 125 minutes and since this was the “cheapest” plan I couldn’t do anything. Luckily a new law was passed that cancellation fees (usually given for switching between companies mid package commitment period) were being significantly reduced and I was able to switch to another company and greatly reduce my monthly payment for cell bills.
Other areas to check and price compare are insurance payments. You may be paying at various places for the same coverage, you will have to call and find out exactly what you are paying for to see if you can perhaps cancel one or more payments. Since companies do NOT like to lose clients that easily, you can shop around and get price quotes to bargain down your current payments.
Once you have really looked and considered each category for “slashing” it’s time to build your ACTIVE BUDGET, more on that in the next installment.