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Challenge Your Expenses

Some people think that the only way to save is to make massive spending cuts and others think the best way to save is to make many small changes. We think it’s both. No reason why you can’t analyze and adjust both the large and small expenses.

The first thing is to quit spending money on stuff you aren’t using. It’s easier than ever to rack up monthly subscription bills since many products and services offer monthly plans and it’s easy to forget about those that are on auto pilot. Go through your bank and credit card statements and review your charges to figure out which items can be discontinued, such as a gym membership or streaming services you never use.

Use a list when you shop. If you go to the grocery store when you’re hungry you’ll find lots of stuff to buy, but when you get home, those items may not have been good choices. It looks yummy in the store but don’t waste money buying things you won’t eat or use.

Before buying groceries, make a list of what you need for the upcoming week, based on what’s on sale, what is in your pantry and the meals you plan to make. That way, you only buy what you’re intending to use and you’ll keep waste to a minimum. If you are wandering around looking at what to buy with no plan in mind, you will definitely spend more than you need to.

Retailers often give a much better deal on products such as paper towels, toilet paper, detergent, etc. if you buy in bulk. But make sure you understand the price per unit because bulk buying is not always the cheapest way to go. Knowing the ordinary price on the things you use regularly helps you calculate if bulk buying will actually save you money.

There are lots of ways to save money while also being conscious of the environment. Although they do cost more than traditional incandescent bulbs, CFL and LED bulbs can last for years without having to replace them.

Another way to be good to the environment is to look at what you throw away. If you are using a stainless steel straw to eliminate plastic straws that’s great. But the impact of not using straws is more than offset by the 5 cases of water bottles you are throwing into the environment each week. Think about buying a whole house water filter or a long lasting water pitcher with a filter to eliminate the waste of bottled water.

While we do not encourage spending money unnecessarily, there may be times when a large purchase will save you money over the long term. Maybe you need to replace old single pane windows with double pane insulated windows to save money on heating and cooling.

Or you may need to add insulation to the attic to help keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The important thing is to do the math and calculate the cost of the upgrade against the savings you will achieve.

Track your daily habits to see which purchases to challenge. Smoking is bad for your health, and smoking one pack per day costs over $2,000 per year! Stop smoking and save money on both the purchase and your health care.

Stopping at the fancy coffee store every day is another waste of money. Over 52 weeks, you’ll spend about $1,300. It’s much less expensive to buy a travel carafe (about $25), provide your own coffee (about $0.27 per serving) and save the cost of the fancy coffee. Plus you are eliminating wasted time waiting in line.

The amount spent on a daily basis is minimal, but it adds up to big bucks when you spend every day without looking at the cost over one year. And the amount of money you are wasting just gets larger when you calculate the total cost over many years.

Insurance companies are always competing to win your business, but if you turn a blind eye to rising costs and keep the same policy in place for a long period of time, your rates may have increased.  So check the rates you are paying against other policies that are available and you may be able to save significant costs. Be sure the coverage is the same!

Take advantage of discounts available to you through organizations you belong to such as AAA, loyalty member of a business such as hotels or rental cars, Military discounts, or discounts through your employer. You’ll never know if you could save money using discounts unless you look for them, so be proactive about looking for potential ways to cut costs.

Be sure you aren’t wasting anything you spent you hard earned money to buy. Don’t buy fruit or fresh vegetables unless you know you will be able to consume them before they go bad. Clothes shopping is fun, but not if you buy things you can’t or won’t wear after you get them home – make smart purchases.

Use up all the product – we stand ketchup bottles on top of each other to drain out all that yummy Heinz 57. We will also cut a tube to get inside it and scrape up every bit of body lotion or that last nurdle of toothpaste. I have a teeny-tiny spatula which helps get out that last little bit of cosmetics from the tube or bottle. We are careful about totally using up what we buy so our hard earned money doesn’t go to waste.

These recommendations are fairly simple and easy to implement. They are a good starting point that will encourage you to do more once you have achieved some small successes.

Job 8:7 (NABRE) “Though your beginning was small, your future will flourish indeed.”  We pray that by being a careful spender and a wise consumer your financial future will indeed flourish.

Join us on the Compass Catholic podcast for more about challenging your expenses.

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