Tired of scrambling to pay your bills each month? The problem might not be that you make too little income. It might be that you spend too much each month.
The good news? It is easy to reduce your expenses. You might be able to shave hundreds of dollars from your monthly expenses by making simple changes to your spending habits. After you make these little cuts, you might be surprised at how much money you have at the end of each month.
With some restraint and planning, you might even have enough money to start saving.
Looking for ways to cut your monthly expenses? Try these:
Shop around: How do you shop for groceries? Do you just head to the store? A little planning will shave dollars off your weekly grocery bill. Before hitting the stores, check newspaper ads for coupons and sales. This way you can buy milk, chicken and apples where they are the most affordable.
Do not forget the coupons: It takes time, but don't forget to clip coupons before you hit the grocery store, head out to restaurants or take the kids miniature golfing. By becoming an obsessive coupon clipper, you can cut your monthly expenses by $100 or more.
Brown bag it: Work in a busy downtown area located close to dozens of top restaurants? It is time to stop dining at these eateries and to start brown-bagging your lunch. By bringing a sandwich, chips and apple from home, you'll not only dramatically cut down your expenses, you'll also eliminate unneeded calories from your diet.
Be thrifty at thrift stores: You might be surprised at the bargains you can find at thrift and resale stores on clothing, toys, electronics and tools. Don't be ashamed of shopping in a second-hand shop. Many of the items they carry are in surprisingly good shape.
Get on your bike: Gas prices continue to rise. So drive less and bike more. You do not need to take your car to get to the playground that's a mile away. Jump on your bike and reduce your trips to the gas pump.
Negotiate: Is your cable bill too high? Is the interest rate on your primary credit card in the double-digit range? It is time to start negotiating. Call your credit card company and tell them that you want a lower interest rate. Tell them that you'll move on to another card issuer if you do not get one. Call your cable provider, too. Tell them you'll drop the service if you do not get a lower monthly fee. You might be surprised at how willing companies are to negotiate to keep customers happy.
Review your insurance: Insurance -- whether auto, homeowners, life or health -- can be costly. Review your policies to see if you can reduce your rates by dropping unnecessary coverage. Don't be afraid to call your insurers to ask if you qualify for any discounts. Insurers, too, are often willing to lower rates to retain customers.
A light bulb just went off: Install compact fluorescent light bulbs -- better known as CFLs -- throughout your home. They cost more upfront, but are more energy-efficient than traditional bulbs and will help you lower your monthly electric bill.
Hit the library: Your local library probably lets you rent movies and CDs for free. Many even let you download books, movies and songs at no charge. Explore your library to help reduce your monthly entertainment costs.
Cancel magazines and newspapers: You can get most of your news free online today. If your budget is thinly stretched, cancel your magazine and newspaper subscriptions. There are plenty of places to find news for free today.
Once you've eliminated unnecessary monthly expenses, it is time for one last step: Take a close look at your monthly budget. Adjust it according to your lower expense levels. You just might find more than enough money to handle those monthly bills.