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5 budget items that are painless to cut
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Do you ever feel like you cannot gain any traction with your finances? Cutting your budget down does not have to be painful. Use these tips to limit your spending and put more money into your savings account. - photo by Paul Moyer
Do you ever feel like you cannot gain any traction with your finances? Or are you just barely keeping your head above water with your budget?

While finding ways to make more money may be difficult, cutting areas of your budget can help free up money to make your bottom line look a lot better. Here are five areas that most people can cut their budgets and feel little to no pain.

Groceries

Groceries are usually one of the biggest items for any budget. According to the USDA, an average family of four will spend over $1,000 every month at the grocery store. Even for a single person or small family, groceries can take an enormous portion of your income every month.

The average family can get by on $150 per person per month per person. If you are way above this then you can start shopping at the discount stores. This can save you 20 percent to 30 percent off of what you would spend at traditional grocery stores.

If you have to shop at a regular grocery store then match your shopping up with the sales. Grocery stores will put the same items on sale every six to 12 weeks. So stock up enough to get through to the next sale on the foods you need.

For produce, buy what's in season. The prices on these items will drop significantly while there is a glut in local supply.

Insurance

One of the areas people are most surprised to hear they can save money is on their insurance plans. The average person can save anywhere from $300 to $600 per year if they haven't gotten new insurance quotes in the last 36 months.

Affordable life insurance could be as easy as shopping around. If you have lost weight or never really shopped around, you may save hundreds of dollars by getting new quotes. This goes double for people who have been classified as high-risk. Insurance carriers have different ways of evaluating a person's health, meaning that different companies will offer different rates to the same person.

Restaurants

The typical American family spends around $2,500 every year ($208 every month) on restaurants and fast food. One of the easiest ways to save money every month is to trim your restaurant spending. This doesn't mean that you can't ever eat out, but be smart about your choices.

If you have kids, look for places that have kids eat free nights or kids discount nights. Families with multiple children could save $10 to $20 every meal.

For adults, coupons and specials can cut your meal cost in half. By signing up for reward programs and downloading the apps for your favorite restaurants, you can receive free meals, drinks and desserts.

Instead of sodas or an alcoholic beverage, order water. Every water you order could save you as much $3 per person.

Activities

Weekend fun can be expensive. For example, an average trip to the movie theater could cost a family of four $50. Instead of dropping 50 bucks at the movies, find an activity that you and your family can do together. Museums, parks, picnics, hiking or local festivals can all be had for less than a movie.

If you have a hankering to hit a more expensive destination, use coupons or go during off-peak hours. This can save you as much as 50 percent.

Home entertainment

Cable and television bills seem to get higher every year. Switch to streaming services like Netflix and HuluPlus and cut out the paid television. The streaming options give you a better chance to only watch the shows you like instead of paying for all those extra channels.

Movie buffs and book worms can borrow from their local library instead of buying or renting. A library card won't cost you anything and most states will allow you to get your book or movie from anywhere inside the library system.

By following just a few of these tips you can free up hundreds of dollars a month and either balance your budget or increase the money you put into savings.
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