One of the biggest obstacles in managing your personal finances is figuring out how much to spend. Before you even begin budgeting, it’s essential to take a look at your assets and decide how much you do have. Cutting expenses before you make your budget gives you a more comprehensive, and often more encouraging, look at how much you do have. 


The Big Break Down

The first step to trimming down your expenses is breaking down where you spend your money and when you spend that money. Below are a few questions to use as a checklist when you break down your expenses


  • What do I pay ________? What bills are you paying yearly? Monthly? Weekly? Daily? Break down what you repeatedly pay to identify what you do or do not need. 
  • What am I subscribed to? In the age of technology and ease, you can get food, movies, services, with just the press of a button. The catch comes with how you pay for that ease. Subscription-based services often do not remind you when a payment is due but take it directly out of your account automatically. Take note of what services you are subscribed to if they are worth the repeated fees. 
  • What does my bank account say? Get into the habit of noting where you spend money and calculating how much you spend at each location. A receipt for a 4 dollar latte on your way to work may not seem like a lot. That is until you calculate how much that is every month. Suddenly you’re spending 80 dollars, at a minimum, a month on coffee. Looking at your overall spending ratio puts how much you pay into a broader perspective.
  • Where do I eat? The best part about fast food isn’t the taste; it’s the ease and speed in which we get that food that is so appealing. Try your best to eat at home when you can. Be more intentional about packing your lunch or packing snacks to minimize the temptation to eat out.
  • Is this a want or a need? Identifying the difference between a want and a need is a great way to cut down on unnecessary expenses. When you budget, start off by calculating requirements first and then wants with whatever you have left. 

Cutting down on unnecessary expenses can seem like an impossible task. When you start with a few questions and small steps, it can change the way you save money drastically. Start small, and you will see significant results.