An old financial joke says, “There is always more month at the end of the money.” If we’re very honest, those of us that live in industrialized nations have so many conveniences and luxuries that are within an arm’s reach, we often can lose sight of how much disposable income we dispose of in an inefficient manner.
With that in mind, let’s look at 10 ways you can cut back on how much you spend on certain things, without losing any quality of life at all.
Don’t pay high prices for premium gas because it’s not necessary and it won’t improve the vehicle’s performance. Higher octane gasoline only exists for cars with higher compression ratios, like high-end sports cars. These types of vehicles need the most expensive premium gas. Most cars, however, see no benefits from premium gasoline. As long as the manufacturer does not mandate high-octane gasoline, regular (octane 87) is the best option and is the best for your budget.
If you save 15 cents per gallon by switching to 87, that could put about $100 back in your pocket if you go through the 656 gallons of gas per year the average driver burns up.
Riding your bike to and from work would make some major cutbacks on gas money as well.
9. Bottled Water
To get the recommended 64 ounces of water you need daily from bottled water, you’d pay at least $3.75 a day, or $1,369 a year. But tap water at restaurants, your office, the gym, or anywhere else where the water bill isn’t in your name costs you fractions of pennies in the taxes that go toward infrastructure maintenance – it’s appreciably free. DO NOT fall for the hype of the bottled water companies – you will not die next week from poisons in your city’s drinking water. Almost none of the US municipal water sources have any contamination. Situations like Flint, Michigan are extremely rare.
8. Cable TV
Most cable plans cost at least $50 per month. You could get a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video and still pay less than that with monthly costs combined. And with a one-time purchase of a digital antenna, you can still get dozens of TV channels and enjoy sports, news, sitcoms, and so on.
Anything that need not be plugged in should not be plugged in, and any light bulb that can be switched off should be dark when you’re not using it.
Also, check with your provider to see if they offer LED bulbs. Some utilities, eager to make peace with environmentalists, offer free or greatly-discounted LED bulbs. This will save money over time from the reduced energy use and more durable bulbs. And consider keeping the home a bit warmer in summer and cooler in winter to save on heating and air conditioning.
You can save on your water bill by reducing the number of days you do laundry, taking shorter showers, and not running the water while brushing your teeth.
6. Late Fees
Paying late fees and over-limit fees on credit cards and bank accounts can be a very disheartening use of your money and time – not to mention destruction of your credit score. If a minimum payment on a credit card is missed it can result in a late fee that can be as high as $39. You might even see an increase in your current APR. Over-limit or overdraft fees can really add up too, especially when they are made in quick succession, resulting in fees for each transaction (purchase) made while an account is overdrawn.
5. Work Lunches
If you buy lunch every day, you are most likely spending anywhere from $100 to $200 per week just on lunch. Resources abound for healthy lunches we can make ourselves, so our wallets and our waistlines will thank us if we can reign this one in!
Hold on to your hat for this next number. The USDA reports that between 30% to 40% of the entire food supply in America is wasted. Assuming you have a weekly grocery bill of $200, that means about $70 wasted each week, or an astonishing $3,640 each year.
To reduce food waste, assess what you regularly toss and buy less (or none) of it, and use canned or frozen fruits and veggies when possible so you’ll stop tossing spoiled produce. Also, the #1 deterrent to food waste is meal preparation. The same day as your grocery store trip, make meal plans for the time period, and shop for the appropriate amount of food.
3. Food Delivery
Should I go get dinner myself or have it delivered? Until a few short years ago, that question could only be asked if the dinner was pizza. Now, nearly everything can be delivered, even fast food.
When you order food for delivery, you can assume at least four or five dollars tacked on for the convenience, and that’s BEFORE you tip the driver. (Please remember the driver gets none of the delivery fee; all of that goes to the delivery company.) If the restaurant from which you’re ordering is within walking distance, just do the legwork yourself. And assuming it’s within 10 miles, you’ll save cash driving yourself even if you have a car with horrible fuel efficiency.
2. Gym Memberships
If you’re shelling out $99 or more each month for, say, an Orangetheory membership, then make sure you’re not also talking about how tight your money is, because you could save nearly $2,000 by ditching it. On the other hand, Planet Fitness costs $10 per month plus a $40 annual fee, or $160 a year.
Even worse is the membership that’s not being used. At the beginning of the year, most people are motivated to make changes in their bodies and lifestyles. The motivation usually does not last past the second or third month, but they neglect to cancel their membership fees. Some gyms make it nearly impossible to cancel and this just adds to the number of people who belong to a gym but don’t actually use the membership. If you can, get rid of the membership altogether.
If you still want to keep the gym membership, try negotiating a lower fee. Let the manager know that you would still like to be a member but you are on a budget. Try asking what the cost would be if you paid for a year in full instead of paying month-by-month. You might be able to get a nice discount. If the membership includes things you don’t use, such as child care or a pool, ask for a reduced rate that doesn’t include these things.
You probably clicked on this article thinking “I bet they’re going to say coffee” and “I hope they don’t say coffee” at the same time. Well, here we are.
The majority of Americans can hardly function normally without their daily dose of caffeine in the morning. It may only seem like a few dollars, but when it is added up, it makes for a substantial expenditure. Before the coffee shops lined every block in town, people brewed their own coffee at home. It would not be such a bad idea to go back to that and see how much money you can save each month. Many people purchase coffee every day before work. It may seem like this is a necessity in order to get you throughout the work day. If you pay $4 for a coffee five days per week, you are spending $20 a week on coffee. This adds up to $1,040 a year! Meanwhile, coffee brewed at home costs about $0.60 per serving (and that’s on the high end), or $156 a year for the same volume.
Want fancier coffee? Invest $15 in a milk frother and make lattes at home. Not god enough? Invest $400 for a barista-level espresso maker – you’ll still be hundreds ahead of the game.
Further, whatever coffee shop you have pledged your eternal servitude to sells the very java you buy in bags in the grocery store. So you can have your specific fix and save a bundle.