Saving Money 2023: How To Live Below Your Means Without Feeling the Crunch
More than half of American adults earning over $100,000 annually say they’re living paycheck to paycheck, according to the latest Paycheck-to-Paycheck report from LendingClub.
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As the cost of living keeps rising, what can you do to cut back and live below your means without feeling the crunch? Here’s what financial advisors and money management experts recommend.
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Get Rid of the Comparison Mentality
Social media makes it easy to compare your life to others, especially influencers who have extra cash to spare. But beware of socially motivated spending, warned Faron Daugs, CFP, wealth advisor and CEO of Harrison Wallace Financial Group.
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“The lifestyles of the rich and famous are constantly showcasing exotic vacations and the latest brands — encouraging a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality to splurge and live beyond one’s means just to fit in with the culture,” he said. “You can cut down these expenses by not constantly making purchases to have the latest products or travel just for social gratification.”
For example, instead of upgrading to the latest smartphone, consider buying an older model or a used phone. Or simply keep the one you have if it still works well.
See Which Expenses You Can Easily Cut
Start by reviewing your bank and credit card statements to analyze every expense over the last several months. Make sure to pay special attention to your auto-pay subscriptions.
“Many people take advantage of an app or service’s ‘free trial’ and then forget to cancel it within that free-trial window,” Daugs said. “All of a sudden, you’re on ‘auto-renew’ annually and don’t even realize you’re paying for it. Those $20 to $49.99 annual renewals add up.”
As you evaluate your statements, you might find you can cut down on some of the common expenses below.
Coffee might be an easy cost to cut, said Andrew Aran, managing partner at Regency Wealth Management. An occasional Starbucks latte may not be a big deal; but, if you’re spending $5 or more on specialty drinks several times a week, try brewing your coffee at home.
Consider cutting back on eating out and food delivery, too, said Naoko McKelvey, senior financial advisor at Blue Chip Partners.
“Uber Eats and DoorDash have become very popular for their convenience,” she said, “but they’re very expensive and can sometimes double or triple the cost of what you would spend if you made your own meal at home.”
McKelvey also recommends choosing generic items over name brands when grocery shopping. And be careful of wholesale clubs, she warned. You may be able to get a discount from buying in bulk, but if products expire or spoil before you can finish them, your money is wasted.
Next, take a look at what you spend on cable TV, internet, streaming services, magazines, music and app subscriptions. Can you cut out any of these without feeling deprived? You may find you can still get your entertainment fix with just one or two of these services.
After all, slashing entertainment costs doesn’t have to eliminate fun and relaxation. With some creativity, you can turn an ordinary evening into an affordable yet enjoyable event. For example, low-cost board games or card games can make for an entertaining group get-together.
“Also, you can still throw a party — but make it a potluck,” McKelvey said. “If everyone chips in, you can find ways to make it fun and affordable without feeling restricted.”
Health and Fitness
Do you love hitting the gym? Memberships can cost anywhere from $10 to hundreds of dollars per month, so consider working out at home or switching to a more affordable gym to save money. If you need guided workouts, download a free exercise app or one with an inexpensive monthly subscription.
If you’re feeling under the weather, remember that FDA-approved generic medicines have the same active ingredients as name-brand drugs — but a lower price tag. So consider reaching for more affordable medicines next time you get a cold.
Re-evaluate Your Insurance
Insurance policies make it easy to “set it and forget it,” Daugs said. But doing so can cause you to miss out on money-saving discounts or more affordable plans. Connect with your insurance agent to see whether there are more affordable options for your car, life, health and home or renter’s coverage.
“Does the coverage still make sense for your situation? Are there policy discounts you can take advantage of by combining your coverages with one company?” Daugs said. “Or perhaps there are discounts available through certain memberships or affiliations such as AARP or AAA.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Saving Money 2023: How To Live Below Your Means Without Feeling the Crunch