One of the first things most people do when they begin to look at their budget is ask “what can I cut?” or “how can I save money?”. With a little creativity, you’d be surprised how many free or cheap options are for the things most people spend money on.
This is a pretty obvious one. With the cost of cable getting higher all the time, it seems most people spend at least $100/month on cable or more. The funny thing is you can probably easily live without it, with minimal sacrifice.
Cheap Alternative: Netflix
If you don’t already have Netflix, you can get a streaming plan of $7.99 a month. This lets you watch thousands of TV shows and movies on demand from your computer or TV. Supplement this with the free options discussed next, and you won’t miss a thing.
Free Alternative: Antenna/Library/Internet
You’d be surprised how many TV shows you watch are probably already available free, in high definition. All you need is an antenna! Most people are surprised how clear HD TV can be with a free over-the-air antenna. You will get all the network channels, plus home shopping and Univision usually. Still missing some shows? Check out the websites for the various networks, often they have their shows available to stream freely the day after. Still missing something? Your local library probably has a selection of DVDs. I’m always surprised what they have, including the latest seasons of Game of Thrones and blockbuster movies like Argo. Typically it’s as easy as just putting a hold on the DVD, and picking it up in a few weeks.
This is another easy one. Gym memberships are definitely a luxury. While there can be some practical uses for a gym membership, as well as a way to get a better deal, if you are trying to cut costs this should probably be one of the first. Along with this, you may also consider cutting any paid sporting activities, including organized running events, yoga classes, etc…
Free Option: Exercise
If you are running on a treadmill at the gym or using a cycling machine, think about what you are paying for, and then go use the free option, just running outdoors! Cycling or running are great ways to entertain yourself, and burn the fat. If you are into weight lifting, this can be a little more difficult to recreate outside of the gym, but keep in mind people had been getting muscle for years without gyms, perhaps combine your desire for strength by helping someone move or doing manual labor for an older person.
Owning a Car
It’s hard to imagine life without a car. But think about all the expenses it involves! Besides the cost of the car itself, you have to fuel it, insure it, clean it an repair it. Cars are easily most people’s #1 or #2 expense.
Cheap Option: Public Transportation, Carpooling
Most people don’t even think this is an option, but you’d be surprised how convenient it can be. If you live in a city, there is almost certainly plentiful public transit options, but most suburbs even have a bus system as well. Take the daunting task of figuring out what busses you need to use by using Google Maps, with the transit option selected. If busses are not an option, consider a car pool.
There is no doubt that both carpooling and public transit are slower, but the trade off in your time can often be recaptured by multi-tasking. That time you would have spent behind the wheel you can now spend reading, working, or sleeping!
Free Option: Cycling
It may seem absolutely insane to bike to work or the grocery store. 10 miles on a bike? It’s easier then you think. I live in one of the hilliest cities in the world (Pittsburgh), and I commuted 16 miles round trip each day to my job. Not only is this a great way to get fit, but you’ll save a ton of money and it’s more practical then you think. Take baby steps, bike a few miles on a trail, then go one way to your work (arranging a ride home), then try the whole thing. Once it becomes a habit you’ll wonder what took you so long.
Let’s brainstorm! Let us know what you want to cut on Facebook, and we’ll see if there is a cheaper alternative.