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How to hack your budget and cut costs the right way
Budgets might seem set in stone, but budget hacking helps those who practice it reduce fixed expenses and use that money elsewhere. - photo by Payton Davis
A new approach to freeing up money shows your set expenses might not be as set as you think, according to Kendal Perez of U.S. News & World Report.

Through "budget hacking," people are finding extra money they can use from their fixed, recurring expenses, rather than canceling fun activities or no longer making small purchases they enjoy, Perez wrote.

Budget hacking might seem complex; however, Lauren Bowling of L Bee and the Moneytree wrote that a bit of observation and a couple of phone calls are budget hacking's main components.

"Take a look at all the items you spend money on in one month, including utilities," Bowling reported. "If you haven't reached out in six months to a year, give them a call."

From there, budget hack believers talk to companies they owe fixed expenses to cable, security system and car insurance companies in Bowling's case to figure out which plans match their needs best if their current one proves outdated.

Bowling wrote that she scheduled a specific time each week to call companies because it takes strategy.

"It is a huge endeavor and time suck," according to L Bee and the Moneytree. "You definitely have to allocate time on the calendar to do it and create a plan of attack, otherwise youll go crazy."

However, a time suck or not, the process cut nearly all of Bowling's bills down, she wrote.

L Bee and the Moneytree reported she lowered her mortgage from $904 to $853 each month, cable from $117 to $84, security system from $48 to $38 and car insurance from $163 to $116 for a total of $141 saved monthly.

Starting with a spending review, hopefully ending with slashed expenses, budget hacking allows those involved to keep from decreasing money used for their favorite activities, Perez wrote.

Here are additional ways to budget.

Switch from cable

Netflix, Hulu and other streaming options make paying for cable and satellite unnecessary, according to Lifehack.

In fact, Nicole Graham of Lifehack wrote you could pay monthly for both Netflix and Hulu, and the cost wouldn't come close to most TV packages' rates.

Budgeters should put serious thought into this option because the decision could save $1,200 a year, an article by John Schmoll of U.S. News & World Report indicated.

Eat smart

According to Greatist, enough financial changes in regards to how people purchase and eat food exist that budgeters could probably focus solely on their diets and save some serious cash.

Nicole McDermott of Greatist wrote buying what's in season, drinking more water and understanding expiration dates all help financially.

And any person can prep his or her own food, according to Lifehack.

"Even city-dwellers can start a veggie garden," Graham's article read. "Make a list of the staple vegetables you keep around the kitchen, and then do some research on growing your own."

Exercise outside

Schmoll wrote exercising is a beneficial life decision; however, people end up paying an average of $60 per month if they commit the cash but not their bodies.

"Exercising is great, but not if you're only giving money to the local gym," according to Schmoll's article. "There are a variety of ways to get the same exercise for free and not leave your home, from online videos to stepping outside."

Greatist indicated commuting by bike or feet is a twofold: Budgeters save money on both transportation and gym memberships and stay healthy.

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