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Easy Changes to Make to Your Monthly Budget

Easy Changes to Make to Your Monthly Budget :: Mint.com/blog

A budget isn’t a set it and forget it type of thing.

Every so often, you want to check back in with your monthly budget, to make sure you’re actually sticking to it and to be sure that you’re still on track when it comes to your financial goals.

We’ve all gone wildly off course when it comes home expenses and budgeting. Take a few minutes to review your budget and look for a few quick and easy ways to trim your costs.

Rethinking Midday Snacks

Everyday around 3 or 4pm, I get a little hungry. Since I’ve already had lunch and it’s way too early for dinner, I typically reach for a little snack, usually a protein or energy bar. The trouble is, those bars are pricey.

While some bars are around $2, others can cost up to $4, just for a single bar. Since I don’t want to give up my midday snack, and I doubt you do either, I’ve found a compromise that’s a lot kinder to my monthly budget.

I now buy the bars in bulk, in packages of 12 or 15. A 15-bar package of Luna Bars is usually between $16 and $20, or just over $1 per bar. A 12-pack of Kind bars costs between $20 and $23, or just under $2 per bar.

Working Out for Cheap

Although exercise is important for your health, gym memberships and unlimited classes at your local yoga studio are typically one of the first things to get the axe when you trim home expenses.

You don’t have to stop exercising or practicing yoga because you are trying to trim your budget, though.

If you love the gym, sign up for a “no-frills” gym membership, at a place such as Planet Fitness or Retro Fitness. You’ll pay between $10 and $20 a month instead of around $60.

If yoga is your thing, keep your eyes open for pay-what-you-can classes or community yoga classes.

Instead of charging the standard $15 or $20 per class, you usually pay around $10 or an amount based on your income. Some studios are dedicated to pay-what-you-can pricing while others offer discounted classes as a way to reach out to the community.

Check in with the studios in your area to find out if they offer reduced price classes.

Trade In Your Light Bulbs

You probably know by now that incandescent light bulbs are bad for your wallet and use way too much energy.

If you haven’t made the switch to more energy-efficient bulbs, it’s one of the quickest ways to cut your home expenses.

You can go with compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs, but if you really want to get the most bang for your buck, LED bulbs are the way to go.

Don’t think that an LED bulb requires a large outlay of cash in order to save money over time. According to the “New York Times,” you can get an LED bulb these days for less than $10.

Once you have the bulb, it’ll cost around $33 per year to operate. Plus, that $10 bulb is likely to last you for decades.

Trim Your Commute

Getting to and from work really eats into your monthly budget.

Depending on where you live, your commute can cost as much as $16 a day, even if you take the train or another form of public transportation to the office.

The best way to cut down on the cost of your commute is to participate in a Rideshare program or a carpool with others in your neighborhood.

If you aren’t buddy-buddy with your next door neighbors, there are apps to help you find a ride to work.

RideScout is an app for iPhone that shows you all of the ground transportation options in your area, plus the cost of each. TwoGo is another app designed to match up employees who need a ride to work.

Refinance

Admittedly, refinancing a mortgage won’t cut monthly costs for everyone. But, given the low interest rates these days, refinancing can help lower costs for a majority of people.

Compare what you’re currently paying to what you would be paying if you were able to refinance to the low rates now available. You might save anywhere from $60 to $175 each month.

Kelly Anderson is a financial planner who blogs about financial advice you can use in your everyday life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.