Sorry to be the first to tell you, but you’re not going to win the lottery.  Nor are you going to discover the best way to pick new hot penny stocks.  Multiple income streams?  Eh, maybe, if you have a little part-time gig.

So what, you say?

Your most powerful wealth-building tool is not day trading; it’s not a long-shot deal you got going with some buddy; it’s not the sad but true fact that grandma will pass someday and you might get a little bit of it.

Truly, your income is your most powerful wealth-building tool.  And that means that if you’re trying to get out of debt, save money, or invest, you gotta get a handle on your own income.  Working with clients I see a number of areas that people can trim their budget so they can leverage their income to start winning.

Here are a few places to start trimming if you’re trying to win with your money:

1) Eating out – Man, I love eating out.  I love it, okay?!  I know this is a bear.  Eating out adds up probably faster than any other “little” expense.  Lets say you went out for dinner and drinks just once a week with your significant other, and at no other time.  $50 easy, right?  $200/month, $2400/year later, and you’re going to be wondering why you didn’t make more progress.  Add lunch a couple times a week, and you’re getting into some significant money.

2) Cable – The big companies push “bundle deals” as SO amazing, while still charging you like $50 month for stupid cable.  Maybe you resolved to spend more time with family and friends, or start a small business this month.  Redeem your time and some money each month and take the plunge!  Cut the cable and pick up Netflix or Hulu plus for a measly $7/month.  Buy a $20 digital antenna to get CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and some others in HD for free, and get back your $50/month.

3) Groceries – This is another category where it’s easy to get out of hand.  Look, grocers are good at selling you stuff.  It’s their job to make everything look amazing.  This is one I get some pushback at times, but I would challenge you – are you really eating everything in your fridge and pantry most months?  How much food do you throw away?  Check that, and be intentional about eating what you have; then watch the savings pile up.

4) Coffee – Do I want Starbucks, or do I want lunch from Subway?  Do I want Starbucks for a week, or a sweet new digital antenna to replace my cable?  It’s easy to build this habit into your lifestyle, but it can be a real drag on your progress.

5) Blow/Spending money – You may not actually have “budgeted” amounts for blow money, but believe me, you still blow money just working through normal life.  Things happen: a little money for parking, a small gift for a friend’s birthday, some over-the-counter medicine that ran out when you needed it.  Not to mention leisure activities and shopping.  These expenses can add up if you don’t watch out for them.

6) Cell phone plan – If it comes down to it, you could struggle through for a few months without a data plan.  Or maybe just a smaller data plan.  New plans and companies are offering unlimited talk/text/web for low flat rates.  New options are out there that didn’t even exist 18-24 months ago.  Look around at your options, and make something happen.

7) Insurance review – Have you had someone look at your insurance coverage?  Like someone who knows the market and knows what they are doing?  There are numerous insurance brokers throughout the country that Dave Ramsey endorses, and ours here in Raleigh has been hugely helpful to Nancy and I, saving us money and increasing our coverage.  Matthew Clark of Clark Insurance has been a huge help when it comes to our insurance policies.

So if you need to trim some money out of your budget, start with those categories, and start winning!

What are some other good spots to trim your budget?