When I finished my bachelor's degree, reducing my monthly expenses was not a priority.

I was a young woman with two good-paying jobs. I bought what I wanted, when I wanted, including a used car and nice things to fill the house.

To finish my my aforementioned degree, I took out a student loan to continue my education from a good university. To turned out to be a problem when, unfortunately, I lost one of my good-paying jobs. This obviously meant paychecks would drop drastically while the bills kept coming. Unless I made some extreme changes in my home, my debt level would continue to climb.

I sat down and thought about how I could live off with low income AND pay off my debt. It boiled down to one daunting task: cutting my monthly expenses in half.

There are many ways to ensure that you’re living within your means, but it can sometimes be difficult to see what one should be doing in today’s hectic world that simply predisposes us to constant spending. But I believed as long as I took an organized approach to this, I would be able to see improvements almost immediately.

Here are 10 effective ways I reduced my monthly expenses.

1. Make A List

I now know exactly what I’m spending and how it compares to my income. It’s as simple as making a list of expenses and breaking it down by days, weeks and months! There are even free apps on the market today that helped me with this. I downloaded an awesome money managing app from Mint.com.

2. Trim The Waste

There are plenty of expenses we all make on a daily basis that we don’t even pay much attention to, but they can quickly stack up over time. That five dollar cup of coffee you get on your way to work every day? Another five dollars for an occasional bagel — these things can become very expensive very fast. And if you're not careful, they might even overtake your regular monthly expenses!

3. Use Alternative Transportation Methods

If you have a good public transportation network, make use of it. The same goes for a place that allows for easy navigation on a bicycle. There are many ways to cut down on your expenses when it comes to moving around, and sometimes you’d be surprised. I personally go with carpooling, which is a great option if your local community has programs in place for that.

4. Prepare Lunch In Advance

Spending a lot of money for your work lunch is another major factor that people tend to overlook. Preparing your own and bringing it with you can be a surprisingly refreshing experience, not just in terms of savings, but also in regard to the variety of your food!

5. Shop In Bulk

I look out for deals and special discounts and take full advantage of them. There is often no shortage of opportunities to get a better deal on your most commonly bought items, as long as you take the time to look around the market more carefully. This can benefit you a lot in the long run if you do it regularly.

6. Re-Evaluate Your Insurance

Whether its life, health or auto insurance, shop around, compare prices and make sure you’re getting the best deal for the least amount of money. But remember, the cheapest does not always equal the best. I did my research and finally bought car insurance after reading this article about how to find cheap car insurance.

7. Save Your Change

Don’t just toss those small coins away! Keep change in a jar or something similar, and every once in a while you’ll be able to add a few dollars – or more – when paying the bill. This can be a surprisingly simple, yet effective way to improve your spending habits and save a little money in the long run! Recently when I counted those small coins, I had $300 in my jar.

8. Get A Better Deal On Services

Occasionally check if you can’t get a better deal on things like insurance, your internet contract, phone plan and more. You’d be surprised at how much you can save by simply asking companies to renegotiate on those things, even if nothing specific has recently changed in their terms. The prospect of losing a customer is a pretty bad one for any business, and they never want to go that far.

9. Be Careful With Loans

Another common mistake that many people in difficult situations tend to make is to rely too heavily on loans, especially when it comes to more predatory ones, like payday loans. Be careful about what you’re doing to get yourself out of a difficult situation, and never put yourself in a position that will be more compromising in the long run just to make ends meet now!

10. Earn Extra Cash With Freelancing Jobs

If you're an IT or computer literate, or good at writing, you can earn quick extra bucks by taking some freelancing jobs from Freelancer.com or Upwork. I’m earning handsome money by teaching online English classes through VIPKID.