You may have heard the news that it’s expensive to be alive today. Plus, real wage growth has been next to nonexistent over the last five decades. In other words, being in the middle class isn’t as cush as it used to be. You may not have control over the global economy or the decisions made by pompous, overpaid politicians in D.C. but you still have a margin of control over your spending.
An entertaining lifestyle can be difficult to maintain if you don’t scrutinize every penny you spend. If you evaluated your budget right now you’d probably find a few ways you’re overspending each month. Instead of wasting a few dollars here and there you can make a few adjustments and save that dough for something more entertaining than bill payments.
Ruthlessly Compare Providers
One of the good things about today’s consumer culture is the wide selection of service providers. We have options, people. But you need to do a little work to take advantage of the situation. Whether it’s your television service and the utilities, you have to ruthlessly compare providers.
The base rates are going to be a key factor but you’ve got to dig deeper to find services that will meet your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone with a new provider or have the nerve to ask for a deal even if it isn’t being offered.
For example, if you’ve never used a satellite TV service, compare DIRECTV with the competition. You may be surprised to find that they offer better deals compared to the cable companies. It’s also a good idea to compare features like on-demand viewing. With on demand may be able to get away with skirting the cost of a streaming service.
Throw a Movie Night at Home
Now that you have your home entertainment expenses under control you can save even more by shunning the overpriced movie theaters. Seriously, $12 for one ticket costs more than an entire month of watching our favorite movies from 2016 on Netflix.
Sure you can just kick back and turn the TV on, but that doesn’t replicate the movie theater experience. With a little bit of prep, you can set the tone for a movie night without spending much. Make Jiffy Pop on the stovetop for a buck, grab $1 box of your favorite candy and put a few beers on ice within easy reach. By the time the opening credits start to roll you’ll swear to yourself that you’ll never waste money on a movie theater again.
With the money you save bypassing the movie theater you can invest in upgrading your home entertainment system. Pretty soon even the Star Wars franchise won’t be able to coax you out of your recliner.
Cook Gourmet Meals at Home With Minimal Effort
If we had the cash we’d go out to eat for every meal we would. It’s way easier and paid cooks usually know their way around the kitchen, but damn is it expensive. Between the food costs, tip and taxes you’ll pay a lot more in a restaurant for something you probably could have made at home.
There’s one thing you need to cook an amazing meal at home with little effort and cash. That thing is a crockpot. It’s the ultimate set it and forget it tool. Somehow you can toss a slab of beef, some potatoes and carrots into the crockpot and within several hours there’s a warm, delicious meal waiting for you. The best part is you can make meals in bulk so one cooking session has you covered for a few days.
Go Out Earlier
For sanity’s sake, everyone should get out of the house every now and then. The earlier you do so the cheaper it will be. Happy hours, blue plate specials, matinee movies – patrons that arrive early get to take advantage of the best deals. The early hours may not fit your normal schedule but for half priced craft IPAs going out while the sun’s still up is worth the splurge.
Reassess Your Memberships
It’s easy to sign up for a membership with a low monthly fee and completely forget that you’re paying for it. Let’s get real. Do you really make use of that $15 a month gym membership? After examining your expenses over the last three months decide if it’s really worth it to keep paying for something you don’t use all that often.
On the flip side, you might find ways a membership could help you save money. Check those credit cards to see if they come with perks or special offers. Use that professional membership to get discounts and a tax deduction. Keep what you need and drop the rest of the monthly services that almost never get used.