A higher cost of living coupled with no increase in the working wage has meant that many people are now finding themselves in a position where they have to tighten the purse strings and cut back on some of the things they took for granted.

Which can be a pretty difficult thing to do! Cutting back on luxuries can be hard enough but cutting back on the everyday essentials can be near impossible…I guess that’s why they’re referred to as ‘essentials’.

However, if you find yourself in this position then do not despair as there are a number of ways that you can reduce your expenditure without making too many alterations to your lifestyle.

1. Reduce your bills

Gas, electricity, telephones, television, credit cards…all monthly bills that you can probably cut back without even noticing. A good way to cut back on utility bills such as gas an electricity is to simply go online and use a price comparison website to see which provider is offering the cheapest tariff.

If you are on a mobile phone contract check which tariff you’re on and see if you are actually making the most of it. For instance, if you have 500 minutes of free calls each month yet barely call anyone then it makes sense to switch to a cheaper tariff that gives you fewer free minutes.

And, if you are a subscriber to cable television you need to consider whether you actually need every channel that is available to you or you could change to a cheaper, more focussed package that may offer less channels but still includes most of the ones that you actually watch.

If you have credit card bills each month it is worth transferring them, if possible, to an interest free or low interest credit card as this will mean that you are paying less each month and you are paying more off your actual debt rather than paying off interest.

2. Watch what you eat

Eating out is usually a lot more expensive than preparing your own meals so you can save yourself a lot of money by sacrificing the odd meal out or takeaway every month. It’s likely that this will also have certain health benefits too!

And even more savings can be made by simply extending this practice to include breakfast and lunchtimes. Instead of paying in excess of £2.00 per day on a sandwich you can make your own for a fraction of the cost and by simply foregoing that morning coffee on the way to work you can save even more. It may not seem like much but if you are saving around £3.00 every working day then this could net you around an extra £60 per month.

3. Check your memberships

Are you a member of a gym or fitness club but very rarely go or very rarely get a chance to go? If this is the case then it may be worth biting the bullet and cancelling your subscription, at least until such time when you will be better placed to utilise it more frequently.

Or, if you really do not want to cancel your subscription, it may be worth seeing if you can get it at a reduced rate either through an ‘off-peak only’ membership or a corporate membership taken out through your place of work.

4. Reduce energy consumption

Whilst you can save money on your energy bills by simply switching provider, the best way to do this is by cutting back on your energy usage as this will help to save you money and help to save the environment.

Some energy saving measures, such as installing energy efficient bulbs and cavity wall insulation can come with a fairly expensive initial outlay but will effectively pay for themselves in time.

However, you can also save energy by simply switching appliances off instead of leaving them on standby, use only as much water as you need when boiling a kettle and even by turning down the thermostat on your central heating by just one degree.

5. Never pay full price

It seems that the one positive thing to come out of these tough economic times is that you no longer have to pay full price for a lot of things. So, when shopping for food, try to take advantage of bulk purchase offers on non-perishables or discounts on the things you regularly buy.

In addition, when eating out, try to use discount codes, vouchers or save your eating out for times when restaurants offer discounts or even two-for-one offers.

Author Bio: Robert Fox is a freelance writer, author, and editor for money-fox.com, a personal finance blog geared to making your money go further.