Starting a home business, becoming a one-income family, paying off existing debt or boosting a savings account are all grand aspirations. Right now you may think none of these are likely given your current financial situation. However, nothing is impossible. Take a look at these 10 Ways to Live On Less and start working towards your goals today! The following list examines regular home budget items and suggestions to reduce expenses in each category. Not all home budgets are the same but these ideas for cutting expenses may help your family generate other ways to live on less.

Utilities

Each household expense in this category is usually calculated on current market prices and usage. While we can’t do much about what the electric company is charging per kilowatt, we can limit what we consume. Turning off lights when not in use, adjusting the thermostat, and repairing/replacing leaky faucets are common ways to save money. Take it a step further by turning off the thermostat completely or hanging laundry on a clothesline to dry. Tip # 1: Learning to live without saves the greatest amount of money.

Rent/Mortgage

We can take on a roommate or move in with extended family to reduce this living expense. Downsizing to a more manageable home is another suggestion. Keep in mind that a dwelling has expenses other than rent or mortgage payments. Size, location and condition of a house can influence additional expenses like insurance, homeowner association dues, property taxes, transportation and utilities. Upscale neighborhoods and sprawling floor plans can be intoxicating when looking to purchase but don’t let status overcome the reality of your budget. A house is where we live, but a home is what we make of it. Tip #2: The Joneses won’t be there when bills come due so there’s no need to keep up with them.

Food

Next to lodging, the grocery budget is one of the largest expenses for a family. It’s also one of the easiest categories to control once we’re educated. Preparing home-cooked meals instead of restaurant dining is an obvious money-saving suggestion. But with a little effort we can knock even more off our food budget.  Shopping for savings, calculating unit price, using coupons and implementing a variety of other savvy shopping tools can drastically reduce this budget category. Tip #3: Poor planning can lead to a waste of time, money, and food.

Transportation

Selling a newer vehicle with payments and paying cash for an older car can drastically lower your overall budget, especially if the older car is a more economical model. Not only will you save at the gas pump but insurance will be cheaper too. Reduce the number of trips to the store, walk or use a bicycle, and carpool with the spouse to further reduce the transportation budget. If you are a one-income family, consider becoming a one-vehicle family. Tip #4: Giving up a material convenience for a worthy goal diminishes the pain of the sacrifice.

Insurance

Many people don’t understand how the proper insurance coverage can provide security. In some cases, having or not having insurance can mean the difference between being protected and losing everything. Car, home, medical and life insurance can mystify the average consumer with all the legalese involved. Don’t let a complicated explanation or multi-paged contracts lock you into your current provider. Living situations change and so do rates. Be sure to regularly get quotes from other providers to ensure you’re paying the lowest possible premium. It doesn’t hurt to negotiate a lower rate from your current provider if you’ve been a long-term, loyal customer. Tip #5: Before paying full price for anything, attempt to negotiate a fair price with the seller.

Credit Cards and Revolving Accounts

If you don’t have any, keep it that way. If you do, cut them up and work towards getting rid of the debt. Credit cards, gas cards, store cards and any other revolving accounts which charge you for the convenience of buying now and paying later should be avoided. Save up and go without until you can pay for it. Tip #6: If you can’t afford it today, chances are you won’t be able to pay for it in 30 days either.

Entertainment

Going to the movies, dining out, video games, cable TV, Internet, magazine & online subscriptions, buying books, girls/guys-night-out, etc.  There is a variety of expenses that can fill this budget category. Sometimes the amount of an entertainment purchase is so small in comparison with other household expenses, we justify the spending. We tell ourselves we work hard so we deserve it. But how often do we do it? How many little justifications are adding up to a sizable amount? There are many, many free opportunities to be entertained. The public library, local museums, city parks, book clubs, and picnics in your own backyard can delight and entertain at no cost. Tip #7: Free stuff takes a little time and effort to locate but it’s the right price for our budget.

Professional Services

Beauticians, barbers, dry cleaners, computer technicians, web designers, master gardeners, landscapers, plumbers, electricians, roofers, car detailers, auto mechanics, veterinarians, etc. Unless you’re trained in one of these fields, chances are at some point in your life you’ll need to hire a professional. Some projects can completed be researching a how-to online or by taking classes. Learning a new skill and making a repair yourself is to be commended. However, the time involved may not be less expensive than hiring an actual expert who knows all the ins and outs. Negotiate, barter, or assist in the work in order to reduce the bill but keep in mind these folks are often self-employed and trying to live on less just like you. Tip #8: Do what you can, know your limits, and leave the rest to the experts.

Medical Expenses

Many medical expenses can be avoided by practicing good health habits. Routine checkups, annual exams and a healthy lifestyle can circumvent big ticket medical bills. There’s some truth behind the saying, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Tips listed under the Insurance and Professional Services sections will apply to this budget category as well. Tip #9: Eat well, exercise, avoid stress and enjoy life.

Clothing

What we wear says who we are. Or so we’ve been told by fashion designers, magazines, advertising agencies and store clerks—all of which make money if we buy into the hype. Clothing doesn’t make us who we are. Our personality traits and values don’t come tucked into the pockets of the latest fashion trends. We don’t need a closet full of labels to define us. Obviously we must be dressed to interact with society but we aren’t required to blow our budgets. Yard sales, consignment stores and thrift shops are the perfect places to keep us clothed. Our clothing budget can be stretched even further by learning to sew, buying laundry-friendly items and sticking to a color pallet in order to mix-n-match for more mileage. Tip #10: Modern and trendy products come and go, classic styles last forever.   What would you do if you with more free income? Take a vacation? Start a Business? Tell us below.