You have passed on those clearance racks, took your lunch to work every week, and made your own coffee, yet you still can’t quite meet your savings goals. You may be unknowingly wasting money in one or more of these areas. Most of these areas may be overlooked because they’re a monthly recurrence, seen as a necessity, or you haven’t discovered the cheaper alternatives. Whatever the case may be, don’t let your hard-earned dollars go to waste.
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We pulled the plug, and gave up cable 4 years ago. We honestly haven’t missed it at all. You can get a digital antenna to view all of your local channels. We subscribed to Netflix for $9.99/month and Hulu for $7.99/month. We also have a lot of free shows and movies on Amazon Video included with our prime membership. Between all 3, we have plenty of shows and movies to keep us entertained. Netflix and Amazon are used more by the kids, and is great for movie nights. Netflix can be limiting if you want to stay up-to-date with your favorite shows, which is why we enjoy Hulu to fill this gap. They have most of our favorite shows that we are able to view the day after it airs. Anything that isn’t covered by these 3 subscriptions, we can usually find online through network sites, and then we can mirror those shows from our devices directly to our TV. Great devices for mirroring are Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, and Apple TV.
Cell phone expenses seem to increase every year. Before, companies would throw in a phone usually tied to a 2-year contract, but now they expect you to pay additional monthly payments on each device, yet the plans still cost the same. This can add $20 per phone on top of your cell phone plan. No wonder some families have cell phone bills over $200 per month. Luckily, more and more companies are offering an alternative. Republic Wireless, Project Fi, Straight Talk and Airvoice can all be great alternatives with some plans starting at just $15/month. If you’re looking for family plans with unlimited talk, text, and data, Sprint is the way to go. A family of 5 can currently get unlimited talk, text, and data for $90, but these promotions change often so keep checking back with them.
Interest can be detrimental to your financial health. If you can’t pay cash for it, you can’t afford to pay 15% interest on it. This applies to student loans, auto loans, and credit cards. Stop paying the minimum, and make extra payments. Pay off your debts immediately, and vow to never pay another penny in interest again.
Extended warranties on your vehicles, electronics, appliances and even your homes can be a waste of money. There’s often a manufacturer’s warranty, and a lot of times the repairs you would pay costs as much as the warranty itself. Dealing with an extended warranty can also mean jumping through hoops to get coverage due to exclusions and stipulations in their policy. Sometimes, you can contact a manufacturer even after the warranty has expired. They may not cover the product completely, but they may offer a discount on parts or a new product. We did this with our old keurig, and was able to get a new one shipped to us for half the price through the manufacturer. Instead of buying a warranty for our cell phones, we purchase high quality cases like the OtterBox . They have been dropped numerous times, but are still in perfect condition. Put the money that you would have spent on the warranty in a separate account to cover the expenses for repairs and replacements.
With the average American wasting around 40% of their food every year, it’s no wonder food is one of the largest expenses in a family’s budget. The best thing you can do to stop wasteful spending is to plan. Plan your meals, and the day that you will cook them. Start with the meals that contain perishables first, so that they don’t expire by the time you go to make them. Make a grocery list, and stick to it. No impulse purchases. Buy in bulk at warehouses like Costco or Sam’s Club. Cook at home and limit dining out.
Gym memberships can be pricey, and although they can come with a lot of perks, a lot of people don’t use them. Pass the pricey gym membership, and choose a workout program from home. iBodyFit is only $99/year, and you get the convenience of working out on your own time from home. Take the money you would have spent on your membership, and apply it towards your own equipment.
I’m all for quality, but I’ve found with a little searching, I can find more value for my money by looking for alternatives to the brands that I love. My cute buttery soft leggings were only $11.99 from VIV Collection. I replaced my $38 Shiseido BB cream with a Korean product called MISSHA for $11.98. I actually like it better. Don’t be afraid to venture out from your brands. Chances are that there’s products out there with the same quality for half of the price.
Thanks to the internet, we should be able to figure out how to do a lot of services ourselves, yet we continue to pay others to do them for us. Lawn care, pest control, hair cuts, pet grooming, and a lot more can be done ourselves. We have fixed a leaky toilet, pulled up our own flooring and baseboards, repaired a washer, and learned how to cut hair all thanks to youtube. Save the money, and pay yourself to do the job.
Alcohol and cigarettes can really eat into your budget. With the average cost of cigarettes running $5.95 per pack, a person smoking a pack a day would spend $166.60/month. If that same amount was invested over 20 years with a 7% return rate, you could have $87,695 in the bank. Alcohol can also be an expensive habit, especially if you’re purchasing drinks at a bar or restaurant. These habits can also negatively impact your health, which will eventually add to your medical expenses in the long run. Kick the habit, save your money, and stay healthy.
We seem to live in a culture of constant upgrade. We upgrade our cell phones, wedding rings, TV’s, gaming consoles, houses and cars. We can’t wait for the release of the latest gadgets, and we stand in line for hours to fork over our hard-earned dollars. The constant need to upgrade your lifestyle hinders your ability to save money. Try not to upgrade unless what you currently have no longer functions or is able to fulfill your needs. We keep our cell phones, televisions, computers, and tablets until they die. Only then do we upgrade.
If you find yourself wasting money in any of these areas, make the necessary adjustments and save your money. It can be difficult to identify these wastes when we are surrounded by a culture that deems these expenses as normal or even necessary, but don’t be afraid to step outside that box, and find alternatives. With 80% of Americans in debt, it’s time we start making better choices.