Inflation has slowed to 7.1%. Still, Moody’s Analytics estimates that the average family spent $396 more per month this fall than they did in 2021 for the same goods and services. The Census Bureau calculated the median household income at the end of 2021 as $69,021. The average worker received a raise of 4.8% in 2022. For a family earning $69,021, the raise was $3,313 for the year, or $276 a month. That translates to a take-home increase of about $201. After paying $28 tithe on the extra salary, they have an extra $173 per month. That’s a nice sum, but it falls $223 short of the average increase in monthly costs.
If you are in this situation, now is the time to rework your budget and try to cut $223 from your normally re-occurring expenses. If you manage your money well and live below your means, you likely have some room in your budget. However, it is still important to examine your expenses and make cuts where you can.
Here is a plan to cut on spending without feeling deprived.
- Cut back on technology expenses. Most home today have an internet and cable television plan, in addition to a cell phone plan, and perhaps a landline telephone. The average household spends $116 on internet and cable and another $114 on cell phones, and many spend much more than that. This is a good time to research your options and see if you can find a more economical plan. Tom’s Guide offers an analysis of the best cell phone plans for 2023 to help you make a wise decision (https://www.tomsguide.com/best-picks/best-family-cell-phone-plan, and cabletv.com has analyzed the best home internet plans (https://www.cabletv.com/blog/best-cheap-internet-packages). Let’s assume for this example that you are able to reduce your technology expenses to $170 per month, saving $60.
- Reduce streaming services. Two-thirds of all American households subscribe to Netflix, sixty percent to Amazon Prime, and nearly half to Hulu and Disney+. The cost of these plans is about $42 per month, plus the costs of any movie rentals that are not covered by a plan. When you are researching cable television packages, try to find one that includes free movies that you enjoy. If you do so, you can cancel these subscriptions and save $42 per month. Even if you don’t find a plan with free movies, you can cancel two or three of these subscriptions and save up to $27 a month.
- Reduce food waste. RTS (Recycle Track System) estimates that the average household wastes $1,866 in food each year. That’s more than $155 per month. The biggest culprit is produce which goes bad. Meat and dairy products are also highly perishable. Reduce food waste by planning meals before you shop and making a point to use perishable food items in a timely manner. We will assume, that with some effort, you can reduce food waste by $80 per month.
- Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Estimates are that the average household could save $15 per month by unplugging the coffee pot and other kitchen appliances when not in use.
- Reduce money spent eating out. Fast food prices jumped about 15% in 2022. The average lunch out now cost more than $11 for one person, while a sit-down lunch will run closer to $20 with tip. If you cut out two fast-food lunches and one sit-down lunch per month, you will save $42 per month.
These five changes will save you enough money to make up for the loss of purchasing power from inflation. If you find that you need, or want, to reduce your spending more, coffee and beverages on the go are another source of potential savings. A large soda or a cup of regular coffee at a drive-up restaurant will cost you $2 or more, while a specialty beverage could cost you $4 – $6. If you buy one beverage each workday, you are spending between $44 and $132 per month. This amount could be significantly reduced by brewing coffee at home and buying other beverages at the grocery store.
God expects us to be faithful stewards of the financial resources He entrusts to us. Money allows us to meet the needs of our families and bless others. However, it can be a cause of great stress if it is not managed properly. Prayerfully ask God to help you budget and manage your money, and rely on Him to meet all your needs.
To learn more about how to honor God with your money and build treasure in Heaven, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management. Click here to sign up for my quarterly newsletter on managing your money: newsletter signup
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