Fix Those "Fixed" Expenses

Chin up! You can lower your fixed
expenses. You're not doomed to
poverty forever!

When I read articles in the newspaper about "how hard it is to make ends meet these days", there is always some mention of fixed expenses, as in, "After fixed expenses, this poor unfortunate soul only has $100 left to spend each month." Rarely is it mentioned that "fixed" expenses are not always fixed.

Say you have house insurance for $400. Have you called around to several agents recently? Have you considered a higher deductible? Have you grilled the agents on all available discounts? If not, the $400 is not really a fixed expense. The same thing goes for auto insurance and health insurance. Keep in mind, the purpose of insurance is to guard you from financial ruin, not to cover every eventuality. If you have an emergency fund, you can cut down on your insurance.

Another example: You struggle to pay $800 per month for a house payment or rent. Were a small mishap such as a major car repair to arise, you couldn't pay the house payment without charging the car repair. A smaller house, a cheaper area, or a fixer-upper--even renting an extra bedroom, your basement, or garage--could relieve financial pressure.

Utilities, usually seen as a fixed expense, aren't  really "fixed" Turn off lights religiously. Take fewer showers (not to the point of stinking, please). Turn the heat down, maybe way down, even wearing a hat and layering clothes inside. Invest in insulation. Wash clothes in cold water and line dry. Cancel pay television and Netflix. Get bare-bones phone service; consider axing the mobile phone or landline.

Property taxes hurt. Consider a cheaper house or an area with lower property taxes when you're looking to buy. If you already own the house, look at your tax assessment to see if it is fair. Compare it to what other houses in your neighborhood have sold for, not including foreclosures. We successfully contested our taxable value three years in a row, resulting in a savings of about $300 a year. This will save us money for the rest of the time we live here, which could be our whole lives. This is not pocket change.

Form 8880 saves us hundreds
of dollars each year.
For income taxes, study the available tax credits and tax deductions. An especially lucrative one is the Savers Credit (Retirement Savings Contribution credit) (IRS form 8880). You can get an absolutely huge tax credit for putting money away for retirement if you meet the criteria.

I'm sure there are more "fixed" expenses I haven't mentioned. The main idea is to approach all expenses as flexible, and to apply creativity to all of them. You may decide you are absolutely not willing to cut back on certain things. That's a personal decision. But if you at least approach every expense as one where you could potentially save money, you may find that the fixed expenses aren't as fixed as they seem.

Most people offered a money-saving idea immediately think of why it won't work for them. A simple attitude change from It won't work for me because... to I will make it work by... changes poverty to plenty.
What fixed expenses have you lowered? How did you do it? 


  1. I find ways to reduce electricity when I can, but my water bill has gone way up since we have been watering the garden. Not thinking the few veggies we get will counter that increase. :/

  2. 1. renegotiating the car insurance (I spend serious time and energy on it)
    2. turning off lights, unplugging appliances when they are not in use
    3. prepaying debts to save on the interest
    4. trading down on our cell phone plan. We had to pay a fee to switch but the reduced payments paid for the fee in a few months


I'd love to have your comments and reflections!