If you’re looking to squeeze extra money out of your budget, you might be surprised by just how many unnecessary items are hiding out in your everyday expenses. From subscriptions you may have forgotten you’re paying for and hardly use to pricy services you can downgrade, GOBankingRates has found 35 expenses you can slash from your budget today for quick savings.
Last updated: Dec. 18, 2020
Buying things at full price may be a habit, but there are always discounts, sales and coupons to look for. Comparison shop for the things you want — see if it might be on sale somewhere else. Clip coupons and download coupon apps such as Ibotta, Rakuten and Honey.
If your checking account charges a fee and you can’t get out of it, it’s time to look elsewhere. As little as $15 a month can add up over the course of a year.
With an account like PenFed’s Access America Checking1, you can avoid a monthly fee with a monthly direct deposit of at least $500 or a minimum daily balance of $500. Saving on that fee every month will allow you to not only have more money but possibly use it to make even more.
1Federally Insured by NCUA.
Check Out: Best Checking Accounts of 2020
If you’re a person who shows appreciation to your family and friends through gifts or whose holidays involve a lot of shopping, consider downgrading to cards or messages instead. These add up. Families who opt to save on gift giving report saving a lot of money (and reducing their pressure, too).
High-Interest Credit Card Debt
High-interest credit card debt can be a killer on the budget. To avoid paying only interest, be sure to make your minimum payments and more if you can. You’ll also want to consider how you can lower your credit card interest. If you have a good amount of credit card debt with a high interest rate, consider doing a balance transfer to a credit card that offers a 0% intro annual percentage rate.
Every cellphone plan is different, but most of them have some limits on how much cellular data you can use before you are charged extra. To save your data, log on to Wi-Fi networks whenever possible. Also, turn data and roaming off when you’re not using your phone, as some apps will use your data without notifying you.
It’s just common sense that if you stop eating out at restaurants and start eating in at home you’re going to save money. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average family spends $3,000 a year on dining out. And how you shop for food can save you even more money. Be choosy and look for sales, deals and bulk items.
Financial experts suggest there are circumstances where life insurance may not be necessary. If you’re young and healthy without children or dependents, you probably don’t need life insurance. If you have enough financial assets to pay for you and your spouse’s care, you may also not need it. And if your children are grown, you can probably cut this cost.
Getting Coffee Out
Your favorite coffee drink at a coffee shop can quickly add up (not to mention causing waste). With coffee drinks easily running more than $4 per cup if it’s fancier than a straight cup of joe, try going back to basics with a French press or a Mr. Coffee at home.
If you’re looking for places to cut costs, consider getting rid of landscaping or gardening services, which can start at $25 per hour and run significantly higher. At worst your lawn gets a little wild, at best you get exercise mowing it yourself.
Attending a wedding can come with considerable costs, from a new outfit and shoes to gifts for the newlyweds, travel and a possible hotel stay. Depending on how many invites you get in a year, you might want to pick and choose only those people who are closest to you and hold off on others.
The world lives in a digital age where thousands of shows are available at your fingertips, depending on how you wish to view them. Cable TV is slowly becoming a thing of the past now that Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other networks allow for individual subscriptions. Consider abandoning the high costs of cable, which can run upwards of $49 to even more than $105 per month.
Then with the possible $100-plus you’re saving each month, make smart money moves with it. By using a checking account like the one from PenFed, you can grow that money you’re saving depending on your daily balance with its annual percentage yield of 0.20% or 0.40%1 with a monthly direct deposit of $500 or more. PenFed’s APY pays up to 10 times2 more than the average checking account, which means you’re doing the most with your money even as it sits in your checking account.
1APY (annual percentage yield) is accurate as of Sept. 18, 2020, and is subject to change at any time.
2 Sourced directly from: www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates as of Sept. 18, 2020.
If you have a daily commute, chances are you’re spending a tidy sum on gas, not to mention car maintenance. The average American spends $2,600 a year on commuting, according to the Citi ThankYou Premier Commuter Index. Instead, consider carpooling with a colleague, public transportation or a bicycle if that’s feasible.
Expensive Gym Memberships
Everyone intends to use the gym, but not all do — Glofox finds that only 18% of people with a gym membership use it regularly, and 50% of gym members quit after six months. You might be wasting money on a gym membership you rarely use. Even if you do take advantage of the gym, there are tons of free internet exercise videos and don’t forget the great outdoors for your exercise needs.
Magazine and Newspaper Subscriptions
That glossy magazine you toss in the corner every time it arrives, that newspaper whose headlines are the only thing you read, they might be wasting precious dollars every month. Many people have at least one, if not many, subscriptions to publications they don’t really read. Getting rid of these can save you money in the long run.
Retail Subscription Services
From Amazon Prime to Bed Bath & Beyond’s Beyond+, retail subscriptions charge you a fee that enables you to take advantage of special discounts and offers. But Consumer Reports warns you may never earn back the amount you spent on the fee if you don’t shop enough to make them worthwhile. Better to dump those services before they re-up your membership.
Brand names mean a lot more to the companies that create them than to the consumers who purchase them. Why pay more for something with a recognizable name when you can buy generic? Generic makers often spend less on research and development and advertising and pass those cost savings onto consumers. From medicine to food to clothing, generic options are almost always cheaper.
When it’s time to buy new duds, remember that brand new doesn’t always mean best. You can save money shopping second hand, find a wider variety of clothes than those currently in stores and contribute to a more sustainable world in the process.
When you’re looking for quick ways to cut costs, look no further than your liquor cabinet. Americans spend anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year on alcoholic beverages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Save money, and possibly improve your health too, by banning the booze.
Dry cleaning may be convenient, but depending on how many items you’re having cleaned, it can also become quite pricey. Invest in a good iron and ironing board if you don’t already have one, and start doing your own laundry. Or switch out your clothes to washer-friendly ones instead.
Looking your best no longer has to mean paying high prices. Retailers like Ulta and Sephora make high-quality makeup available at a fraction of the cost of high-end retailers. No one will know the difference.
Incandescent Light Bulbs
Older incandescent light bulbs are no longer an efficient way to light your house. Just switching your old light bulbs to newer LED bulbs can save you $45 in energy costs each year, according to the Department of Energy.
Excessive Heat and Air Conditioning
Depending on what part of the country you live in, life without a heater or an air conditioner may seem out of the question. But, learning how to layer clothing properly in cooler months can help you cut down on heat or cooling. In fact, multiple thin layers are more effective at keeping you warm than one big jacket. Try to dress in cool fabrics in summer, such as cotton, linen, rayon or chambray, to hold off using air conditioning as long as possible.
To cut out the costs of a house cleaner, consider putting in your own elbow grease to keep your house tidy while saving money. Good Housekeeping reminds you that you don’t need expensive supplies either; baking soda and vinegar can do a lot of tough jobs. The key with all housecleaning is just to stay on top of it a little bit at a time during the week rather than waiting until you’re knee-deep in dust and grime.
That app to help you get organized, lose weight or sleep better might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s time to get real. How many of them do you really use? Do they cost you money on a monthly or yearly basis? Consider getting rid of them.
Going To the Movies
The cost of a movie ticket on average in the U.S. is currently $9.11 per ticket. Add in snacks and a drink, and a night out for two can run you close to $40. Instead, save money by renting a DVD from most local libraries or stream a movie from a service such as Netflix for as low as $9 per month or Hulu, starting at $5.99 per month for its streaming services.
Year in Review: Here’s What People Watched From Streaming Services in 2020
While you may not be able to cut your own hair, consider how much you’re spending at a salon on a cut and color. Switching from the luxury salon to a basic barber style shop might save you several hundred dollars per year.
Facials and waxing services may feel good but when money is tight, stop paying salon prices and consider using over-the-counter products to perform these same services at home. Worst case scenario, go without or cut down on the number of times you go per year.
While it’s important to keep up your literacy year-round, buying a new book can easily run over $15 a pop. Utilize the library, borrow books from friends or buy older paperbacks only to reduce your costs but keep yourself entertained and educated.
That pricey jar of olives and fancy cheese from France may be delicious going down, but they also stretch your wallet unnecessarily. Affordable alternatives can be just as tasty to the palate, especially when you see your cost savings. Try out less expensive options to be pleasantly surprised.
A dirty dog or matted kitty coat can be a hassle, but for the price of professional grooming, which can run between $45 and $75, it’s worth learning the fine art of shampooing and trimming your fur baby’s coat and nails yourself.
Don’t buy the hype that you need the latest in smartphone technology. Newer models typically mean locking into a new plan with a higher upfront cost for the phone or longer commitment, which means more money. An upgrade is no guarantee of vastly superior features. One tech website recommends you ask yourself five questions to determine if you’ll really benefit from an upgrade.
Not Buying Some Things in Bulk
While buying in bulk, in general, may seem more expensive upfront, depending on the number of people in your household and how often you use certain items, bulk can save you money in the long run. Buy those things you use frequently, such as toilet paper and toothpaste, in bulk.
Paper Towels and Napkins
Save money and make your life a little more sustainable by purchasing or making cloth napkins and towels. Though it may take a few months to see cost savings, when you’re reusing instead of repurchasing, you’ll start to see you’ve got money to spend on other necessary expenses instead.
Craft lovers know how quickly paints, paper, cloth and other crafting items can add up in costs. Consider repurposing materials found in your home and turning to such places as Pinterest for ideas. Don’t forget natural crafts such as homemade dyes or potato stamps.
Coworking spaces usually involve paying some kind of rent. According to Desk.org, the average cost of a coworking desk space in the U.S. is around $387. But you also may find you’re eating out, buying coffee and paying for snacks. By moving your office back home, you can save money on multiple fronts.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 35 Useless Expenses You Need To Slash From Your Budget Now