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15 Things You Should Do to Increase Income and Decrease Expenses

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Are you one of the millions of Americans who wishes you could cut expenses and increase your income? Perhaps you recently (or not-so-recently) were laid off, had a child or found yourself at the receiving end of a nasty, budget-busting bill. Most of us have experienced at least one of these events. Did you have a nest egg to rely on? Did your employer provide you with paid maternity or paternity leave? For many, the answer to both questions is no. Without a financial safety net, what do you do when you’re faced with a loss of income and spiraling expenses?

About seven years ago, I found myself in this predicament. I was working part-time as a consultant when my husband was laid off from his full-time job as a technical trainer. We had some savings, but not the recommended amount, so it was an extremely stressful time for us. He received unemployment benefits and I was fortunate to be in an upswing with work, but still the loss of his full-time paycheck was devastating.

In addition, we lost our very affordable insurance coverage, which was replaced by considerably pricier COBRA coverage. With three children – and one with a seizure condition and developmental delays – we had no choice but to continue my husband’s employer-sponsored plan. My oldest son’s monthly prescription bill alone would have been more than $1,000 without that insurance.

After the initial panic subsided, we took stock and knew we had to make some changes. While my husband pounded the virtual pavement looking for a new position, I devised a plan to stretch our remaining income while reducing or eliminating expenses. Certain payments that were fixed - the mortgage and school tuition - could not be adjusted. However, there was plenty of wiggle room in other areas, particularly in our steep monthly grocery bill.

Please note: some of the steps I took may not be feasible to every situation or geographic location, but they're worth considering as they may spark an idea that is workable for your specific situation. If you have unique recommendations, please leave a comment at the end of this blog post and share your experience with our readers. Information is power!

Step 1: Cut Expenses

#1: Review your auto insurance coverage.

You may be able to increase your deductible and reduce your payments. This was one of the easiest changes I made. We use State Farm and their website makes it quick and easy to adjust both your deductible and coverage. If you have questions about coverage, consult your auto insurance agent before making any changes.

#2: Do you need 1,000 channels?

Consider changing cable plans or cutting the cord altogether. This one was a fight with my husband and three boys, for sure, but we eventually compromised with basic cable until our situation improved.

These days, companies like Netflix and Hulu offer great deals on monthly access (less than $10/month!). Amazon Prime members also have access to some great programming and it’s free with membership. In addition, if you’re an avid movie-goer, Redbox awards Text Club members with specials and a free Redbox movie every month just for joining. If you’d be content with the basics, consider investing $10 or so in an antenna. You’ll likely receive eight channels using this method. Don’t worry: now that channels are digital, the reception is far better than what bunny ears used to deliver!