15 Expenses You Can Painlessly Cut Down Right Now To Save BIG This Month
It’s too easy to make mindless purchases in the age of credit cards and digital banking, where one swipe can immediately get you whatever your heart desires. 61% of Americans can’t cover an unexpected expense of $1000, and while some people don’t earn enough money to support this kind of saving, for many it can be done simply through more efficient spending habits.
Obviously everyone wants more money in their pockets, but no one wants to change the way they live their lives in order to do so. But don’t worry, I have good news, saving money doesn’t have to mean making major sacrifices to your lifestyle!
We all buy things we don’t need and pay for things we don’t use, but by identifying what these things are you can painlessly eliminate them from your budget while saving a small fortune in the process. Finding the right areas to cut back on is your first step towards frugality, and pays off huge when compiled month after month.
Tired of not making the most out of your hard-earned dollars? It’s time for you to take control of your finances and put hundreds of dollars back into your bank account every month, all without changing how you go about your day to day life.
Here are the 15 expenses that you can cut back or cut out of your life right after you finish reading this article with no hassle. Let me know in the comments what tips you found the most helpful, and drop your own strategies for maximizing your paycheck.
1. Credit Card Bill
Like I just said, too many Americans get caught up in the ease of swiping their credit cards without remembering that they have to pay it all back at the end of the month, beginning the cycle of credit card debt that carries interest rates anywhere from 14–25%.
The best way to avoid getting caught up in spending money you don’t have is to just use cash. You can’t spend cash that you haven’t earned, and physically giving away paper bills makes you more mindful of the money your spending.
For the credit card purchases that you do make, be sure to pay the bill in its entirety every month to boost your credit score and avoid high interest rates. Only using a credit card for minor purchases can make it easier to pay your bill in full every month and will prevent you from getting carried away on big-ticket items.
Another helpful tip is to “unsave” your credit card information from online retailers. This makes it more of a hassle to buy something online, and forces you to think twice before making impulsive purchases.
2. Cup of Coffee
Are you one of the millions of Americans that buys a cup of coffee before they go to work each morning? If so, simply brewing your own coffee at home can save you over $1000 per year.
The average cup of joe from your local coffee shop is $3, and while this seems like an insignificant expense, it adds up to $1095 per year if you drink one cup of coffee every day. If you’re the parent of a newborn or your daily routine revolves around Starbucks, you’re probably paying a lot more.
But cutting back your coffee spending doesn’t mean you need to drink less coffee. A 1lb bag of coffee grounds goes for around $8 and makes 48 cups give or take, making each cup of coffee a measly $0.17.
You just got a 94% discount on your coffee without having to wait in line!
3. Subscription Services
The average American has become bogged down by $10/month subscription services, I mean just think about how many you’re already paying for. Netflix used to be all you needed to watch your favorite shows and movies, but now with every entertainment provider creating their own platforms, some people are paying for 5+ streaming services every month.
Services such as video streaming, magazines, gym memberships, and monthly subscription boxes all seem like insignificant charges on their own for an individual month, but these costs add up quickly when recurring 12 times a year over multiple subscriptions.
It’s important to thoroughly examine your credit card bill every once in a while and cancel the subscriptions you forget that you’re paying for. I guarantee you’ll find some.
Even for the services that you frequently use, ask yourself if you really need them or see if you can find a cheaper alternative. For many subscriptions, it’s possible to downgrade your service to a cheaper plan that may fit your needs better. Finding a group of friends to share services such as Netflix with is another good way to save money and maximize usage.
4. Cable TV
Ok, this might go against my previous point, but replacing cable television with a TV streaming service instead can save you up to 90% on your bill. The average cable bill is $215/month, which is more than all other utilities combined, and cutting this down or out of your life can save you hundreds if not thousands a year.
YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and fuboTV are the best replacements to cable television all coming in at $65/month, however there are much cheaper options available for as little as $20/month. You can also try calling your cable provider about options to lower your bill, but if that doesn’t get you the savings you need cutting them out entirely can now be done without sacrificing your TV watching experience.
If you’re already paying for multiple video streaming services and hundreds of cable channels you don’t use, scale down and make sure you’re only paying for what you watch.
Americans love dining in and taking out from restaurants, but these costs accumulate quickly if you eat out multiple times a week.
The average person spends $7.64/day on groceries. Even getting a combo meal from McDonald's doubles this cost, let alone high end sit down restaurants that can run you $20+ for a single meal. If you order take out on Uber Eats, it's even more expensive when you factor in delivery fees.
The best way to avoid the constant urge to eat out is to meal plan every week by sticking to a shopping list at the grocery store and planning out in advance what you’ll eat each night. If not wanting to cook is your biggest motivator for overspending on a pricey weekday meal, set aside a few hours at the beginning of the week to make meals that are easy to reheat, such as a casserole.
Meal planning with a shopping list helps you get only what you know you’ll use, as the most expensive groceries are the ones you throw out.
If buying lunch at work every day is the biggest part of your food budget, pack your own lunch or at least order out less frequently. Why pay for a deli sandwich regularly when you can get a pound of cold cuts and a loaf of bread for the same price at the supermarket? Making sure to eat breakfast every day is another way to avoid the temptation of paying for a pricey lunch later on in the day.
6. Bottled Water
This can be anywhere from a couple of bucks a month to a Ulysses depending on how environmentally conscious you are, but wow are bottles of water incredibly overpriced.
Just think about this for a second. The gasoline you put in your car has to be pumped out of the ground, refined, shipped on a boat halfway across the world, and you can still get a gallon of it for cheaper than you can get a 16oz bottle of water at some places.
Similar to a cup of coffee, it’s easy to get caught up in the “oh, it’s just a couple bucks” mindset, but why pay a premium for something you can get straight from your faucet? Just buy a refillable water bottle for anywhere from $10–25, and after that the water is free!
Even if gas is relatively cheap, we still need a lot of it and just like everything else, this cost adds up quickly.
The most obvious way to save money on gas is to not own a car at all. Of course public transportation and Uber rides aren’t free, but they will ultimately save you money when you add car payments and depreciation into the mix. If you live in an urban area or your job is local, consider walking or biking to work as a way to get free exercise and transportation at the same time.
If having a car is a necessity in your life, consider switching to a more fuel-efficient model. Driving a car that gets 25 MPG rather than 15 MPG saves you 2667 gallons of gas over 100,000 miles, and at $2.50/gallon that’s $6667.50 in savings! The more fuel-efficient vehicles tend to be cheaper as well.
If sacrificing on your lifestyle means trading in that BMW for a Prius, don’t. I promised these would be painless, but still consider carpooling whenever possible. Driving to work with friends in the morning can be a great way to wake yourself up in addition to saving gas, putting less mileage on your car, and helping the environment.
Obviously electricity is something you can’t cut entirely out of your life, but there are plenty of ways to knock down the cost of that electric bill.
If you haven’t already, switch the lightbulbs in your home to CFL or LED, as these give off more light at a fraction of the cost. Going from a 60-watt bulb to a 14-watt bulb will save you an average of $0.66 per month (when used for 4 hours per day). Now multiply that by the number of light bulbs in your house, and this will add up quickly.
Turning the lights off when you leave a room is one of the more obvious solutions, but even leaving appliances and electronics plugged in when your not using them constantly draws a small electrical charge. Turning down the thermostat, particularly at night or during hours of the day when you are not home, is another way to shave some dollars off your bill, and investing in a smart thermostat system for your home can help you do this. Waiting for a full load before running washing machines and dishwashers will save you water and electricity by running these machines less.
It’s also a good idea to contact your electrical provider to ensure that you’re getting the best rate on your bill each month.
It’s hard to know how much insurance you’ll need, and it varies from person to person, however there are some general tips to make sure you’re maximizing your coverage and limiting your expenses.
Be diligent about the companies and plans you select. Re-evaluating your current insurance plan every once in a while is a good way to make sure you aren’t paying for parts that don’t apply to you or that you might not need.
When going through your insurance plan, look into things such as safety features in cars and security systems in homes that could lower your premiums if you have or install them. Bundling types of insurance, particularly home and auto, can also save you a lot of money versus paying for them separately.
Another way to cut your monthly payments down is to ask for an increase on your deductible. From there, you can create an emergency bank account with all the money you save, which over time will accumulate to more than the deductible increase.
10. Household Services
Are you paying someone else to do something you could be doing yourself? If so, this is absolutely an area you can scale back spending on.
Household services such as cleaners and landscapers aren’t necessary, and unless your paying some local kid to do these jobs it’s probably costing you a fortune every year to keep up.
We’re all busy, time is money. Even for the lazy man, time is time that could be spent not doing work around the house. While doing these kinds of jobs yourself is the best way to save, if you’re still not inclined to mow your own lawn at least cutting back on the frequency you use these services can save big money in the long run.
If you have the house cleaner come every other week instead of every week, you’ll save 50% every year!
11. Car Washing
As is the case with household services, why pay someone else to do something you could be doing yourself?
It costs hardly anything to fill a bucket with soap and water and then put a sponge to your car. If you take your car to the wash once a month for $25, you’ll save $300 every year by just setting some time aside to do it yourself!
Shipping costs can quickly add up if your a frequent online shopper, and often negate the savings you get on a product from buying it online. Make sure you check if there is a shipping cost associated with your purchase, as many people only check the price of the product and overlook the other correlated charges.
If you’re a regular Amazon customer, I highly recommend getting Amazon Prime in order to capitalize on free shipping. Shipping in and of itself will probably save you the monthly fee in addition to all the other perks you get with a Prime membership.
13. Cell Phone Bill
Cell phone plans can get ridiculously expensive, and as is a common theme with things on this list, you should only be paying for what you need.
News flash, the average person doesn’t need unlimited data. Going into your phone’s settings can tell you exactly how much data you use. Find out how much you use per month on average, and downgrade to a cheaper plan where that’s all you have to pay for. Similar to insurance, shop around a little bit, and find the provider/plan combo that gives you the best deal based on your individual data needs.
The more lines you add to a data plan the cheaper it becomes, so putting you and a couple of friends onto one family plan can save all of you money.
I know a lot of the arguments I make have been for cutting back rather than cutting out, but seriously ask yourself, why are you still paying for two phones?
The average landline bill is $42 a month, and that’s on top of what you pay for the phones themselves and your monthly cell phone bill. For most Americans, there isn’t a waking moment in the day when you don’t have your cell phone on you, so why would you need a whole other phone system that lacks the mobility and functionality of the one that you already use all the time?
Ditch the landline and just use your cell phone. Simple.
This last one is probably the least significant, but paying your bills online rather than by mail saves money on stamps and saves you a trip to the post office.
The cost of one stamp is $0.55. Multiply that by the number of bills you pay every year and you’ll probably be surprised at how much you could save just by going electronic. Paying bills online saves time, money, and you’ll never have to worry about your bills being late in the mail again!
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