The current government shutdown has impacted many of the Hanscom FCU family. The suddenness of the furlough combined with it's undetermined length is enough to throw anyone into a panic. But the best way to get through times like these is to stay calm and put a budget plan together that reduces expenses. Here are nine areas for quick and effective cuts. Some are obvious and some you may not have considered.
Comfort items – When you have a comfortable financial situation, it’s easy to buy coffee, alcohol and convenience store snacks without thinking too much about it. But in these tighter times, think about what you are really getting out of these purchases and if there are expenses that are more important. When everything else in our life seems to be going haywire – these are the things that we tend to hold onto.
Entertainment - If you’re like most people, your visual entertainment comes from multiple sources. You may watch movies on cable, in the theater and via rental. In budget crisis situations, it’s best to focus on watching movies at home and using one particular way to do it. In other words, if you have both HULU Plus, Netflix and premium movie channels, go with just one of them.
Exercise - It’s important to get some stress-relieving exercise during this trying time, but there’s no reason why you should have to spend money to do it. Brainstorm ways to be active without the gym membership. The main thing is to just get moving!
Food - Evenings dining out at fancy restaurants obviously top the list of cuts. But think about your groceries too. Consider avoiding the higher priced stores and stocking up on the basics at the more reasonably priced spots. If you don’t already, plan your menus for week and make a shopping list.
Gas – Now’s the time to organize and reduce your errands. In our busy lives, we like to stay on the go. But until the furlough is over, stay organized and disciplined.
Insurance – Now is as good a time as any to review your insurance needs. With the ease of using the Internet to compare rates, the insurance business is much more competitive than it used to be. Shop around for the best deals on any type of insurance you have—auto, home, life, etc. Check into bundling these with one company to save even more. Also be sure to ask about discounts you might apply for, and the option of raising your deductible in exchange for a lower monthly payment. The good news here is this expense cut will carry over after the furlough has ended.
Phone – We depend more and more on our smart phones. But are there ways you can cut back on your data plan? Call your service provider to ask them to perform an analysis on which plan is best for you. You might be paying for more than you actually need. If you’re locked into a plan, let them know about your situation and see what they can do for you.
Also consider eliminating your house phone if you have one.
Shopping - One activity that could put you in the trouble zone is shopping for fun or to ease tension. “I won’t buy anything, I’ll just browse” too often can lead you down the path of unnecessary spending. Eliminate leisure shopping or other activities that put you in temptation. When you're not feeling good about your situation, it's natural to want to buy something to cheer yourself up. Resist the urge.
Utilities – This too is a no-brainer. Think of ways to stay warm or cool more efficiently. Put on more layers in the colder months and spend more time outside during the warmer times. Be conscious of turning everything off and even unplugging electrical items when you leave a room.
None of these cost-cutting measures alone is guaranteed to immediately solve all cash flow issues, but in concert they can potentially save you hundreds of dollars per month.
We stand ready to assist our members who may be directly affected by the government shutdown. Learn more.
Reducing expenses is only part of the solution for living on a reduced income. For more money savings ideas, grab your Reduced Income Emergency Toolkit by clicking the button below.
List from BALANCE copyright 2013.