Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Cut Out Unnecessary Spending

Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Cut Out Unnecessary Spending | CashCourse: Your Real- Life Money Guide

When unexpected changes in income happen or you find yourself in over your head financially, it’s important that you cut expenses in as many areas of your life as possible. It’s time to get serious about what you really need and what you really want.

These tips will help you spend less at home, on your car, and at work.


Examine your income and expenses and create a spending plan. After reviewing your financial situation, look closely at the following categories:

Phone service. ABC News reported in 2015 that the average American spends about $1,000 per year on their cellphone bill, but a large portion of that money could be spent on wanted or unused features. Review your cellphone plan and consider researching alternative, less expensive cellphone plans. For example, some companies offer no-contract plans that are cheaper monthly than an annual contract. Also, take a look at how much data you use on a monthly basis on average. If you’re paying for unlimited usage, but only use around 5GB per month, you could save a lot of money with a cheaper plan.

TV entertainment. Consider what you could live without, even temporarily. Many TV shows are available online for free and there are many inexpensive movie and sports streaming options. If you already spend a lot on video streaming services, consider pausing your subscription until you're more easily able to afford the cost.

Internet. Many home Internet providers are willing to negotiate rates with you if you’re a loyal customer. Call your Internet company to see if you can lower your bill by a few dollar per month or more.

Subscriptions/memberships. Cancel non-essential online accounts, memberships, and subscriptions. You may also be able to temporarily pause those subscriptions.

Food. Get organized with a meal plan to cook the majority of your meals at home. Cut your grocery bill by buying what is on sale and freezing extras. And of course, use coupons.

Activities. If you or your family members are involved in activities consider taking a break from them for a season, or until you are financially stable again.

Health insurance. It is important to have health insurance no matter what your financial situation. Avoiding health insurance will cause you to have bigger bills down the road. View these tips on health insurance options.


Multiple vehicles. If you have more than one car, can you get by with a single vehicle? Consider carefully which car would be the better one to keep and which one to sell. The savings in maintenance cost, storage, and insurance, plus the money you’ll receive from the sale, can be significant.

Drive less. Group all car trips by geography so you’re driving less and using less gas.

Service your vehicles. Although it seems counter- intuitive because you’re trying to cut expenses, keep up with regular, preventive maintenance on your car, such as oil changes. Doing so helps your car run efficiently and can help prevent unexpected, more costly repairs.

Insurance. Raise the deductible on your insurance policies to lower your monthly premiums. Be prepared to pay the deductible though, if an emergency does happen.


Eat in. Skip restaurant lunches and pack your lunch every day.

Breaks. Skip the expensive breaks by bringing your own snacks. Plan ahead and purchase the soda from the grocery store or a wholesaler and store it under your desk at work or bring it in daily with your lunch. If coffee drinks are your vice, consider buying them in packages at the grocery store and make it yourself, or limit to once week.

Review credit reports. You can order your free credit report every year from each of the three main credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) through Examine the reports and alert the agencies if you find errors. Follow each agency’s instructions for clearing up mistakes. It can take a while for the errors to be corrected, but be patient. Clearing up your credit reports is very important.

Alternative transportation. Consider using public transportation, walking or riding a bike to and from work. While it is often more convenient to drive, the extra time could save you money.

(Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by CashCourse or the National Endowment for Financial Education. These courses and related resources may be used only for nonprofit, noncommercial educational purposes. CashCourse makes every effort to keep the information in these courses current, but, over time, new developments as well as legislative and regulatory changes may date this material. If you discover inaccurate information, please contact us.)

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