Ways to Save With a Maxed-Out Budget

Have you ever thought to yourself, "if only I had an extra $50 a month?" Coming up with extra savings can seem challenging, especially when you're living on a maxed-out budget. The good news is there are simple ways to save money without sacrificing the things you love.

As I reveal in my new book, Burn Your Mortgage, many of us have our spending on autopilot. We pay those monthly recurring expenses like our cable and cell phone bills without giving them a second thought. By taking a closer look at where you're spending your money, you can find new ways to save and free up your cash flow to repay debts like your mortgage.

Here are some of the big expenses where you might be able to find extra savings.

Cable

If you're only watching TV for 30 minutes a night, is it really worth spending anywhere from $50-$150 a month on cable? If you're only watching a handful of channels, you might decide to only subscribe to basic cable.

Many are deciding to cancel cable and live cable-free (these people have been nicknamed “cord cutters"). If you decide to cancel cable TV, you don't have to just stare at a blank TV screen. There are alternatives where you can still get your entertainment fix, such as installing a high definition antenna on your home. In cities like Toronto, you may be able to get about 20 channels. You might also consider subscribing to an online streaming service to watch your favourite shows.

Cell Phone

Similar to a mortgage, when you're looking for a cell phone and plan, it pays to shop around. Don't just sign up for the first offer. Look for a plan that suits your phone usage needs. If you use your cell phone infrequently, you might want to consider switching from a monthly plan to a prepaid plan. If your cell phone contract is coming up for renewal, don't be afraid to ask for a better deal. Other ways to save include bundling your cell phone, Internet and cable together and sharing your plan with family.

Food

After mortgage/rent and transportation, food is the third highest household expense for most families. If you can save just 15 or 20 percent on your grocery bill, you might be able to free up an extra $50 or $100 a month. The easiest way to save on groceries is to stop throwing out so much food. Take the time to do a shopping list, so you don't end up buying items that you already have in your fridge.

You can save big bucks on non-perishable items by buying them in bulk and on sale. When something like canned soup or spaghetti is on sale, stock up so you have enough to last until the next sale. If you're in the habit of shopping at a premium supermarket, consider shopping at discount stores. You'll still enjoy most of the same items like breakfast cereals, but you could be saving $1 or $2 per item, which adds up quickly.

Transportation

As I mentioned above, transportation is the second highest monthly expense for most families. If you can get by without owning a vehicle, you can save a lot of money. If you live in a big city, there are plenty of alternatives, such as car sharing services, public transit and cycling.

If you need a vehicle, there are still ways to save. Instead of owning two vehicles, maybe your family can get by with only one. And instead of driving a new car off the lot, consider buying a second-hand vehicle from a registered car dealer. Besides gas, auto insurance is another costly expense. You can save by shopping around and bundling your home and auto insurance.

These are just a few examples. Why not get creative and see what other savings you can come up with? By making smart spending decisions, you can save money and live well while doing it.

Written by Sean Cooper.  This article originally appeared on Tangerine’s site: Forward Thinking.

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