It’s the start of a new year and many people are having the same thoughts: It’s time to tighten the wallet. You may be a college student thinking how you are going to survive financially. Or perhaps you’ve started a family and are feeling the financial squeeze. It’s normal to experience anxiety and fear when cutting expenses, especially if this activity was never on your to-do list before. You can allow your lifestyle to teeter-totter with your wants versus your needs that add more to your monthly bills.

No matter what your living situation may be, you can cut your monthly costs in the following four ways.


Cut Your Energy Usage

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The prices of gasoline, coal, and other types of fuel we use for energy continue to rise. But you can decrease your energy bill by taking simple steps such as using energy-efficient light bulbs. While energy-efficient light bulbs cost more than regular bulbs, they can save you more money on your utility bills. Energy-efficient bulbs last three to 25 times longer and use 25 to 80 percent less energy.

Another simple activity you can do is clean and change your furnace’s air filters regularly. However, several factors, such as having pets in the home, can influence how often you change these filters. The average homeowner with a pet should change the filter every 60 days. Households without pets should make air filter changes every 90 days. Try to keep a calendar to help you remember when it’s time to change the filters. The calendar feature on your smartphone is a great way to set an alert.

On the day you change the filter, write the date on the filter itself. Placing the date on the filter can help you remember when you last replaced it.


Use a Prepaid Cell Phone Plan

The era of the landline is gone, and cellphone usage is at its highest. Cellphone companies enjoy offering promotions that persuade you to buy on an impulse. With many options available, you can easily get lost in the advertisement cloud and choose a plan that adds to your monthly bills. Prepaid phone options work great for cutting monthly expenses. You merely pay in advance for a certain amount of minutes, and you don’t need to have a phone contract.

Using prepaid phones from a reliable provider such as T-Mobile is one way you can cut your monthly bills. With T-Mobile’s One Prepaid phone plan, you can have access to the most reliable 4G LTE network in the United States when you use your smartphone.


Trim Your Grocery Bill

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The price of food continues to rise, which makes budgeting almost impossible. With a family, budgeting itself can seem almost impractical, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by making a grocery list and sticking to it. A list will help with impulse buying so that you get only the items you need. Make sure your list is complete so that you can make fewer trips.

If you have a supermarket that you visit frequently, confirm whether that store has an app. Many stores have apps that customers can download and use to obtain digital coupons. Some stores offer free grocery rewards for using their app. Don’t forget about cash back apps such as ibotta. Apps such as ibotta allow you to upload your grocery receipts and receive cash back.


Dine in Versus Out

To eat out or eat at home: That’s the question. The answer is eating at home. Dining out can be tempting, especially when you’re tired after working a long shift or spending eight hours taking care of your children. With those types of days, who wants to spend another hour in the kitchen cooking a meal? But dining out can add up quickly by the end of the month.

If you haven’t tried quick and easy meals such as crockpot dinners, consider this option when preparing your grocery list. The internet offers many quick simple dinner ideas that can save you time and money.

Cutting your monthly expenses isn’t a daunting task, but you have to stay consistent. Set goals and stick to those goals. You may even surprise yourself with the results.