Budgeting Insider: 5 Ways to Trim Your Budget

Times are tough. The economy is still on the rocks, and your financial life has yet to get back to normal. You might be following a budget, but you might also still be having trouble making ends meet due to a pay cut or job loss. How do you trim an already slim budget? Try these tips on for size:

  • Give up a bad habit. Whether it’s smoking, drinking way too many cups of coffee, or overindulging in snack foods, add up how much you’re spending on these items each month. Once you have a better idea, either cut back on these vices or go cold turkey and cut it out altogether. Your heart, waistline, and wallet will thank you.
  • Look inside your medicine cabinet. If you take prescription drugs, consider switching to generic medications. Target offers generic drugs for as low as $4.
  • Rethink your gym membership. Most gyms debit their monthly fee directly from your bank account each month. If you rarely visit the gym, you’re giving money away and you probably don’t notice because you don’t have to write a check or fork over cash. If you don’t go regularly, shut that membership down and take a walk around your neighborhood or work out at home.
  • Skip the movies. With movie tickets as high as $13 per person, and an additional charge for 3-D, consider watching movies at home. Why shell out more than $52 on movie tickets for a family of four when you can rent a movie online for as little as $.99 from iTunes, Blockbuster and Netflix?
  • Share meals. Cut back on your grocery bill by joining a dinner-swap group. Here’s how it works:  Get a small group together to share meal-preparation responsibilities. Each member takes turns grocery shopping and preparing meals for the group on a day of his or her choice. You’ll find it’s cheaper to buy in bulk, you’ll have plenty of leftovers, and best of all, you’ll get a few nights off from cooking.

Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.