It's difficult to manage everyday expenses in this tight economy. How can I discover changes in daily spending habits that will yield the greatest results?

closed as too broad by Dilip Sarwate, mhoran_psprep, Chris W. Rea, MrChrister Aug 26 '14 at 17:04

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    This is too broad a question, and the answers will be all over the place because no one has any idea as to what your expenses are and which should be considered unnecessary. For example, is eight cups of mocha macchiato latte grande coffee at the most expensive coffee shop near your office a necessary expense because you cannot function without the caffeine and the ambience? Or is brewing your own el cheapo coffee in a drip pot at home and carrying it in a thermos flask to drink at your desk an adequate substitute? – Dilip Sarwate Aug 26 '14 at 11:28
  • Coupons, eating less, shopping at cheaper stores, drive less, consolidate trips, etc – Brian Aug 26 '14 at 11:39
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    I like living in the city getting rid of cars. Using public transportation and walking. Saves me about 8k a year. Listen to Clark Howard podcast is another good thought. I also have used quicken since Quicken 2.0 for DOS I keep track of all my expenses and budget there. Pull the plug on Cable too. Analyze all monthly expenses. Did some less than reputable person sell you life insurance for your children for example? – Mark Monforti Aug 26 '14 at 12:34
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    Unfortunately, this question is bound for closure. I think the two steps outlined here are right on. Identify all your costs, and then choosing your priorities to spend or cut back. – JoeTaxpayer Aug 26 '14 at 14:10
  • Yes, asking for lists of things does not fit the StackExchange Q&A format. – Jared Aug 26 '14 at 16:00

There is a saying in business: what gets measured gets done. Track every expense you make. Later, look over what you have learned. If 5% of your total budget is going to something frivolous, maybe you could halve it? If 1% or 0.1% is going to that frivolous expense, there's not much to be gained even by eliminating it. If you spend $200/mo on coffees, dropping those will help. If you spend $10/mo on coffees, you need to look elsewhere for your big savings.

Have a target: I want to put $X into savings each month. Therefore I can only spend $Y. What do you have to change about last month's spending patterns to get down to $Y? Where are the easy targets for you? They will be different than the easy targets for me. What absolutely cannot change for you? Once you know the costs of what you're doing, you will know where it's possible to save, and where it's "worth it" to economize.

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