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In your personal budget, you will have a list of fixed expenses and variable expenses. A fixed expense is a recurring expense that doesn’t change — it will cost you the same amount every time you need to pay it. Your monthly rent or mortgage payments are often considered fixed expenses.

Variable expenses are recurring budgetary expenses that can change. One month, it might cost you more, and in another month, it might cost you less. 

It’s difficult to trim fixed expenses in your budget, especially if they’re essential. You can’t ask your mortgage lender to lower your monthly payment so that you can save some money. On the other hand, variable expenses are easier to trim for the sake of savings.

Why Should You Trim Variable Expenses?

Trimming your variable expenses can help you improve your budget and save money for better goals, like building up an emergency fund. Without an emergency fund, you will be vulnerable to surprise expenses outside of your budget, like car repairs and plumbing troubles that need your immediate attention. You might not have enough savings to fix these problems.

If you’re ever in that situation, you could use a credit card or short-term loan to cover the urgent expense — find out what are short term loans and what qualifications you’ll need to apply for one. Both of these options allow you to manage the emergency in a short amount of time and make repayments later on.

It will be much easier to use savings to cover an emergency than to use a credit card or short-term loan. If your budget is tight, these are five variable expenses that you can trim this month to get more savings.

1. Groceries

Use coupons and discount codes to lower the costs of items in your shopping cart. You can find these coupons and discount codes through your neighborhood newspapers and store flyers. You can also find them online and through apps like Snip Snap and Coupon Sherpa. 

2. Coffee

Buying a single cup of coffee from your favorite coffee shop won’t have an impact on your finances. But, buying cups of coffee everyday will. 

How can you trim this variable expense? Skipping the coffee shop and brewing your own coffee at home can potentially save you $1000 in an entire year. 

3. Clothing

When you need to buy new clothes, go to the neighborhood thrift store first. You can find plenty of top-quality, affordable items there. If you need a new outfit for a special occasion, like a wedding or cocktail party, consider renting one instead of buying one. Use an app like Rent the Runway or Tuileries to borrow a stellar outfit on a budget. 

4. Rideshares

When you don’t have a car, you can spend quite a bit on taxis and rideshare services to get around. And unfortunately, rideshares are getting more expensive and increasing their surcharges to compensate for steep gas prices. 

You can trim this expense by taking public transportation to your destinations. This will cost a lot less.

5. Date Nights

You can shrink this variable expense by planning budget-friendly activities that aren’t as expensive as your usual dates. Instead of going to the movie theater and spending a fortune at the concession stand, go to a summer outdoor film screening and bring your own snacks. Instead of going out to an expensive restaurant, cook dinner together. 

Your budget isn’t set in stone. You can trim your variable expenses and finally save some money. 

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