The Miscellaneous Expense
Treasure Chest

A great place to begin trimming expenses is your miscellaneous expense category. These non-essential items are full of potential savings, so you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to cut expenses in this area. Let me give you several examples:

  • How often do you buy coffee each week? Whether you’re a Starbucks junkie or drive through McDonald’s each morning, you can find extra cash by making a change here. Eliminate just one coffee each week and you will save $2.00-$4.50 per week. That adds up to a monthly savings of $8.00-$18.00. Don’t ignore this tip just because coffee is not your drink of choice. You can find similar savings with almost every specialty beverage, from smoothies to iced tea to a bottle of fresh-squeezed juice off the catering truck.
  • Eating lunch out during the work week adds up to a pretty big chunk of change. Let’s say you pack a lunch instead of eating out one day a week. Figuring conservatively, you’ll save an average of $6.00 for each meal, which translates to $24.00 per month. If you can commit to taking lunch two or three days a week you’ll capture $48.00-$72.00 to use in other areas to help balance your budget.
  • Do this same exercise with dinner and you will save $24.00-$80.00 a month, or more depending on the extras (appetizer, drinks, dessert) you normally enjoy with your meal.
  • If you really love eating out and can’t give it up, try eliminating the soda or other beverage with your meal. This is another easy way to find savings in the miscellaneous expense category. Beverages in restaurants and fast food places can be costly. Do without it just twice a week and you’ll not only save $8.00-$20.00 per month (depending on the size and the restaurant) but you’ll also be taking a step toward better health. Two benefits in one!
  • If you are an avid reader, save money on books in several ways. Visit your local library instead of spending the money to buy new books. Check out the used book store – you can typically trade in your slightly-used books in exchange for others you’d like to read. Or set up a book club with a group of friends. If you each buy one book and then trade them as you read them, you spend just what it costs to buy one book instead of all of them.

The extent of budget savings you can find in your miscellaneous expense category will depend on what type of expenses you’ve included under the “miscellaneous” label.

Be realistic about your cuts – you have to be able to live with the budget you’re putting together. Don’t set yourself up for failure. On the other hand, if your expenses are much higher than your income you will have to give up some pleasures in order to balance your budget. That’s a tough fact of life. So before you move on to your other categories, do your best to find all of the treasure hiding in your miscellaneous expense category.

Return from The Miscellaneous Expense Treasure Chest
to Step 4: Trim the Fat