Create your spending plan.
Building a budget doesn't require saying goodbye to every small luxury and tiny treat. Instead, making a spending plan can help you identify budgetary leaks and make room for worthwhile splurges. Read on for details on which expenses you should be cutting from your budget, with advice from U.S. News My Money bloggers and other experts.
Credit card interest payments
If you're not paying off your credit card balance each month, you're overpaying for the purchases you charge on your cards. Make a plan to start paying down credit card debt using the avalanche method, snowball method or whatever works best for you.
Your cable bill
American subscribers spend more than $100 per month on pay-TV services. Cancel cable and replace it with streaming services and a digital antenna. "The key here is that while there isn't just one streaming solution to fit every TV watcher's needs, with research and well-thought-out priorities, you should be able to find a setup that works for you at a price you can afford," writes U.S. News My Money contributor Alex Haslam.
It's wise to regularly reevaluate your auto insurance, life insurance and other individual and employer-provided insurance policies to make sure they still meet your needs. "For instance, retirees may not need life insurance if there are no children in the house or there's no mortgage to pay off," writes Maryalene LaPonsie, a U.S. News contributor.
Pricey gym memberships and exercise classes
Gym memberships and boutique fitness classes can take a bite out of your budget, especially if you don't go regularly or let classes expire. Stretch your exercise budget by taking advantage of free trials and supplementing pricey group classes with outdoor or at-home workouts.
Birthdays. Valentine's Day. Christmas. Mother's Day. Father's Day. So many holidays come with the expectation of delivering a pricey present. Work with your family to rethink costly holiday traditions, and opt for giving experiential gifts or heartfelt homemade items.
Cigarettes and e-cigarettes
The cost of smoking goes beyond the price of a pack of cigarettes. Smokers, on average, earn less at their jobs than nonsmokers, according to one study. And they'll spend more on insurance, such as life insurance, long-term care insurance and health insurance on the open market.
Your pricey cellphone plan
Your monthly cellphone bill can stretch your budget. U.S. News My Money contributor Jon Lal recommends reducing that cost by switching to a no-contract plan, keeping your phone longer, using Wi-Fi when possible and limiting background data usage.
Takeout and delivery meals
When done infrequently, dining out or ordering out is a nice treat. But if it starts to replace home-cooked meals, it's time to rethink your habits. Cooking at home is typically more cost-effective than dining out.
Bloated financial commissions
While financial advisors can help you better manage your investments, savings and budget, overpaying for their services can quickly wipe out the advantages they bring. "For those who have a minimal amount of money to invest, robo advisors such as Betterment and Wealthfront come with lower fees, albeit with less personalized service," LaPonsie says.
With so many strategies to buy items on sale and comparison shop across retailers, it's silly to pay full price. Consider doing your buying on shopping holidays, using rewards apps, shopping secondhand and taking advantage of store loyalty programs and memberships.
Dodge these regular expenses.
While some of these expenses are small, they add up over time and put unnecessary pressure on your budget:
-- Credit card interest payments
-- Your cable bill
-- Unneeded insurance
-- Pricey gym memberships and exercise classes
-- Costly gifts
-- Cigarettes and e-cigarettes
-- Your pricey cellphone plan
-- Takeout and delivery meals
-- Bloated financial commissions
-- Full-priced items
Trim these costs to get the most out of your budget.
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