If inflation ravaged your budget in 2022, you’re probably looking for ways to cut costs in 2023.
Some expenses are relatively easy to trim, and we highlighted many of them in “15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2022.” But there are also some less obvious ways to keep a lid on expenses in the new year.
Following are some too-often-overlooked ways to trim expenses in 2023.
1. Take advantage of higher 401(k) and IRA limits
This year, the contribution limits for both 401(k) plans and IRAs take a major jump.
As we reported in “IRS Hikes Nearly All Retirement Account Thresholds for 2023,” base limits for workplace retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans leaped from $20,500 to $22,500.
Meanwhile, IRA base contribution limits rose from $6,000 to $6,500.
Saving more in these accounts can benefit you in a couple of ways. Most importantly, it helps to grow the size of your retirement nest egg.
But it also can lower your tax bill if you make deductible contributions to a traditional 401(k) or IRA. Cutting tax expenses puts money in your pocket.
2. Use a price tracker
During the course of a year, most of us make a lot of discretionary purchases. Because these are items we don’t need right away, we can afford to be patient in buying them.
Using a price tracker can help alert you when the item you covet drops to a rock-bottom price. If you do this on enough items — a half-dozen, a dozen, or more — you can save a significant amount of money in 2023.
Those who love to shop at Amazon would do well to check out CamelCamelCamel. You tell the site which items you want it to track, and CamelCamelCamel alerts you when the price has dropped.
Sure, it takes a little extra time to set up such price alerts, but it’s a great way to save.
3. Drop at least one subscription
Over the course of 12 months — or even several years — it’s easy to gradually add subscription costs to your budget.
Cable, magazine and gym membership fees are not such a big deal when you consider them individually. But taken together, they can really eat into your income and savings.
So consider dropping one or two of these subscriptions as a test. Chances are good that you will miss these services a lot less than you expect.
If you simply cannot live without such subscriptions, at least try to reduce their cost. For more, check out:
4. Hop on a bicycle more often
The soaring cost of gasoline was a major drain on wallets in 2022. Things have gotten better lately, but fuel prices still remain elevated compared with what we paid in the recent past.
One way to combat fuel costs is to use your bicycle for more short errands. For many people — especially those who are out of shape or haven’t ridden in a long time — this is far from a painless way to save.
However, the more you do it, the easier it will get. Your heart, lungs and wallet will all thank you for making the change.
5. Contribute more to your HSA
As with retirement plans, contribution limits for health savings accounts also increased for 2023.
Base contributions to an HSA now are $3,850 for an individual, up from $3,650 in 2022, and $7,750 for families, up from $7,300.
Contributions to an HSA lower your taxes for the tax year for which you make them. The money grows tax-free and can be used tax-free to pay for qualified medical expenses. That’s an incredible deal.
Those contributions also cut the cost of your tax bill, helping you to hold on to more of your money.
For more on HSAs, read “Health Savings Accounts and Why They Are Great for Retirement.”
6. Stay out of stores
All of us have to shop. We need food on our plates and clothes on our backs, after all. But it’s all too easy to shop more than necessary.
Perhaps you shop when you are bored or sad. Maybe you shop out of habit. Whatever the reason, the more often you are in your favorite store or scrolling a retailer’s website, the more likely you are to succumb to the temptation to spend.
So try to shop less in 2023. This won’t be easy for some people, but the savings can be substantial.
If emotions are driving your need to head to the store, redirect that energy by exploring a new hobby — as long as it’s not expensive.
You will find more on breaking bad spending habits and building better ones in:
7. Pay down mortgage or credit card debt faster
Interest rates rose in 2022 — a lot.
In an attempt to slow the economy and stamp out inflation, the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked its target federal funds rate several times. That caused interest rates throughout the economy to steadily climb.
Rising interest rates are great for savers but awful for those who carry debt. As rates rise, so do a borrower’s costs. So one of the best ways to quickly save in the short term is to reduce or even eliminate credit card debt.
If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, you also can save money by paying down your loan. The next time your rate resets, your monthly payment may be lower if you have paid down a substantial amount of your mortgage balance.