What to Do When the Dollars Don’t Add Up: A Guide to Cutting Costs Where You Can
With inflation on the rise, it is more important than ever to be mindful of places where we might be able to tighten the budgetary belt a bit, especially for anyone on a fixed income. As you know, there are essential expenses for sustaining one’s quality of life, and there are nonessential expenses. Identifying areas where we can offset some of the limitations inherent in a fixed budget becomes vital. The tips and tricks below may help you cut corners where you can while keeping the essentials intact.
Cutting Down on Cars
This can be a tough one to consider because transportation is so closely tied to a sense of freedom, but it’s important to consider the following questions when it comes to deciding what to do about the expense of extra vehicles.
- If there are two cars in the household, is owning two vehicles consistently necessary for your household?
- How often each month is there a competing need to drive somewhere independently? Could those competing needs be resolved by using senior transportation, buses, cabs, Uber or another ride-sharing service and carpooling with friends?
- Can most transportation needs be met using the strategies mentioned above?
- Can the maintenance costs of an older vehicle be better invested by upgrading to something newer?
- In your circumstances, is leasing a better option given the decreased likelihood of exceeding mileage limitations with the freedom of knowing all repairs are paid for?
Ultimately, vehicles are a financial liability in the best of situations, and when a person is on a fixed income, the added burdens associated may not be advantageous. As always, talk with your loved one about what is most important to them to discover the solutions that align best with their needs and priorities.
Shop Smarter, Not Harder
When it comes to shopping for more significant purchases, timing is key. For example, white sales occur in January, Memorial Day is ideal for mattresses, and Thanksgiving through Christmas or before the Super Bowl is great for purchasing a TV. Additionally, August and September often have excellent deals for computers. If you’re uncertain, a quick search on your favorite search engine for the best time of year to buy specific items can help you save substantial dollars.
To save on regularly used items, consider buying in bulk and split the cost if you can. Take advantage of discounts or cashback by using apps like Capital One Shopping, Retail Me Not, and similar platforms. Alternatively, for items seldom used, like serving trays, large beverage containers, extra tables, and chairs, consider creating or joining a sharing circle with friends and neighbors. Additionally, explore secondhand stores and scratch-and-dent outlets, which often have like-new items at discounted prices. These options provide excellent ways to be thrifty while obtaining quality items.
Making the Most of Your Medication Budget
In effectively managing medication costs, begin by investigating popular prescription discount platforms like GoodRx, WellRx, and SingleCare, which provide substantial savings.
Another option is to ask your pharmacy (and other pharmacies, for comparison) about discount cards or programs they offer to reduce medication expenses. Or, consider using CostPlus, a new online pharmacy, manufacturing their own generic drugs, offering potential cost savings. Lastly, don’t hesitate to request samples from your physician during each visit. (Yes, you ARE allowed to do this more than once!)
Ditch Cable for Smarter Entertainment
If traditional channels no longer enhance your daily entertainment experience, consider investing in a Smart TV or a compact streaming device such as Roku, Chromecast, or Amazon FireStick. These alternatives can offer a cost-effective solution while providing a wide array of streaming options for your entertainment needs.
Cutting Cell Phone Costs
To save on cell phone expenses, start by evaluating your current plan and usage to determine if you’re paying for more than you need. Consider switching to a more affordable plan that suits your usage patterns. Limiting data usage, utilizing Wi-Fi when possible, and minimizing unnecessary app subscriptions can also reduce monthly costs. Explore discounts through family plans or employer discounts and consider switching to a budget-friendly carrier that offers competitive rates without compromising coverage. Additionally, regularly reviewing your bill and contacting your provider to negotiate better rates or inquire about promotions can lead to further savings.
Consider exploring these options for potential cost-cutting opportunities. These small adjustments can accumulate significant savings over time, allowing you to live within your budget during times of economic uncertainty.