Try This: Downsize to Save Hundreds of Dollars a Year
You've created a budget, started an emergency fund, and begun paying off your debt, yet you still feel like there is more you could do to cut back, save up, and pay off.
It's time to simplify.
You might think the only way in which you can "downsize" is by moving into a smaller, cheaper space. Not true. Yes, that's an option and a great start. But there are many other ways you can downsize your life - and save a lot of money in doing so.
Let's start with where you live. You might not have to sacrifice space or size in order to cut back on costs.
Consider what it is you love most about the place you currently rent or own. Is it the proximity to work or school? The character of the home? The on-site pool and workout facilities? Make a list of what you absolutely need and what you can do without. If you're willing to walk an extra five minutes to school or drive an extra mile to work, you might easily be able to shave $100 off your rent for the same size (or bigger) space.
Moving into apartments without the fancy extras that you never use anyway might save you a couple hundred each month!
If you were forced to pack up and move overseas tomorrow, with no promise of coming back, and were only given a suitcase and a carry-on for your belongings, what would you take with you? You'd probably ditch the pile of fancy coffee devices, decorative knick-knacks, and years-old magazines you haven't touched in ages, and opt for the more practical and sentimental stuff, right?
Even if you're not put in that position - do you really need all of those extras where you are? Probably not.
Try tackling one room per week and go through every drawer, cabinet, closet, and box. Toss out the trash, box up the donates, and set aside items that you'd like to try and sell at secondhand shops - like Half Price Books, Plato's Closet, or Mega Replay - or a yard sale for some extra cash later on.
If you're drowning in collections - books, vinyl, DVDs, shoes, and so on - go in with the goal of getting rid of a set amount, or only hanging onto a set amount. Lessen the load by five items, or ten. Vow to only have twenty-five items left after you're done. Set goals and stick to them.
Related: 8 Things You Can Discard to Downsize Your Life
Your lifestyle might benefit from some downsizing, too. Sign up for that platinum gym or tanning membership, but hardly able to work a visit into your weekly schedule? Look into cheaper packages, more suitable to you, or ditch them altogether.
Never home to watch cable or rarely sit down to enjoy your monthly issue of Vogue? Opt to rent these items from your local library or buy them at secondhand shops - often at half the price or less - and you can save a good chunk of change month to month.
Related: Cut Subscripions, Cut the Cable
Your Eating Habits
When most people really sit down and look over their budget, it's the cost of food that floors them. Not always the grocery spending - but the cost of eating out. If you currently eat out five or six times a week, try cutting that down to two or three times and you'll save several hundred dollars over the course of a year.
Related: Meal Planning to Save Money, The Pantry Principle
And downsizing doesn't have to stop there. If your family can manage living with one car rather than having two, then sell one. Go crazy on holiday gifts? Set a price limit for each person. Buy generic. Enjoy dinner and a movie at home rather than going out.
Clear the clutter. Simplify. You'll feel better. And so will your wallet.
Related: 16 Ways to Downsize Your Life and Be Happier, 365 Less Things Challenge