There is money we all have to spend and money that we all do spend that we could and should cut out. Check out our list of 6 expenses you need to ditch now and see if you’re a multiple offender.
You Could Live Without Them But…
Of course, we could list a million little expenses you could cut, but we want to focus on more significant, regular expenses that will actually impact your bottom line.
If you go to your favorite coffee shop on Sunday mornings with the newspaper and order a coffee and a pastry, that’s a small pleasure for you. We don’t want to take away that pleasure, and even if you gave it up, it wouldn’t save you that much anyway.
The expenses we’re going to discuss are things that you might think you can’t live without but once you eliminate them, you’ll hardly notice. Or you might even wonder why you ever thought they were essential in the first place.
The other kinds of expenses that are easy to eliminate are the ones you don’t realize you’re making, but they cost you a lot of money. These sorts of expenses can easily slip through the cracks. We want you to seal those cracks.
We are hit by fees from all sides. Sometimes they’re our fault, we didn’t pay a bill online and got hit with a late fee. Sometimes they aren’t our fault; we have a bank account that charges for every little thing.
Lose your debit card and need a new one? That’s a fee. Want a paper statement mailed to you rather than just getting an online statement? That’s a fee.
Americans each pay an average of $290 in just bank fees each year! Most of these fees are easily avoided.
If you are late paying your bills because you don’t have the money at the time they’re due, there are a few things you can do. First of all, you need a budget.
A budget will show you where your money is going so you can see what is causing a shortfall. As we said, all of us have areas where we could cut back, and a budget is how you spot them.
A budget may show that you do have enough money coming in to pay all of your bills, the problem is that you have too much going out. If this is the case, it’s easy to fix. You need to stop spending so much on whatever category your budget leaks are in and reallocate that money towards paying your bills on time.
The issue could just be one of timing. The second half of the month is tougher than the first. There are some bills that have flexible dates. This probably won’t work with things like utilities but credit card and student loan due dates can often be changed to better fit your money flow schedule.
If you have already tightened your belt as much as you can and you’re still falling short, you need to bring in more money. Ask for a raise, work overtime, start looking for a higher paying job.
Get a more traditional part time job like retail, serving or bartending.
Some of us are late paying our bills not because we don’t have the money but because we’re disorganized. There is really no excuse for this, especially if it’s happened more than once.
If you can’t keep track of the due dates for your bills on your phone or computer’s calendar or a paper calendar, use your bank’s website to set up auto-pay.
Autopay should be a last resort though. Money is something that you need to be mindful of and automating it this way removes that aspect. It also may mean that you’re not looking at your bills and that lead to paying for charges you don’t actually owe.
There could be fraud on your credit card, or a utility company could double bill you by mistake. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it can happen.
2. Subscriptions You Don’t Use
When is the last time you went to the gym? If you signed up for a membership, you’re being charged for it whether you actually go or not. Did you move and forget to change your mailing address with a magazine?
The new residents of your old place are now getting a free magazine subscription that auto-renews each year paid for by you.
Did you sign up for a free trial offer of something like Audible or Netflix and you forgot to cancel it before the end of the trial period? They’re billing you monthly even if you aren’t using their services.
These kinds of subscriptions are usually not a lot of money individually which is why a lot of us either forget we have them or don’t bother to call or go online to cancel them. But if you have more than one, they really can add up.
It’s a pain to deal with canceling these things, another reason we don’t. But Trim will do it for you! You link your bank and credit card accounts to your Trim account. Trim has an algorithm that will go through your transactions in the past 90 days.
It recognizes the names of companies that charge on a recurring basis and also sees transactions for the same amount of money going to the same merchant on the same day of the month.
Trim will send you a message through Facebook Messenger or text message and ask if you want them to be canceled. If the answer is yes, Trim takes care of the rest. Trim sends the merchant an email telling them to cancel your account.
If that doesn’t work, they start making phone calls and can even send a registered letter if necessary.
What is the cost of this magical service? It costs nothing which is a real bargain considering not only how much Trim can save you each month but also because it saves you the time and hassle of having to do it yourself.
We mean all kinds of drinks, not just alcohol although we’ll get to that. Why are you still buying bottled water? Just buy a reusable bottle and fill it up. No matter where you are, you’re almost never far from a drinking fountain or at worst, a bathroom sink.
The water from the bathroom sink is just as drinkable as water that comes out of any other tap.
I have an Amphipod bottle. It’s meant for runners, but I use it as my everyday water bottle. It’s easy to carry, contains no BPA, and it has a spout which I prefer because if I knock it over, I haven’t spilled an entire bottle of Poland Springs on my desk.
The bottle is dishwasher safe and sturdy. I’ve had just two in about a ten year period and only had to buy the second one because I lost the first. Get one, they’re great!
Stop buying hot drinks on your way to work and throughout the day. Drink the coffee or tea in your office. If you don’t like it, ask them to buy some you do like or buy one of those mini coffee pots and keep it and your preferred brand at your desk.
The same goes for tea bags. As we said, the Sunday morning coffee is a treat. The hot drinks every day are just a habit.
Stop buying soda during the day. Really you should stop buying it at all, it’s terrible for you, but you aren’t here for health advice. If you can’t be happy drinking water while you’re at work, buy cases of soda when they’re on sale and keep some at your office.
If you like a more adult beverage from time to time, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it can add up, especially if you like to have your drinks at a bar or restaurant. Either cut back on the frequency of going out, find a good happy hour, or a restaurant that charges a corkage fee.
You can bring your own inexpensive bottle of wine, and for a fee, the restaurant will open it and serve it for you.
If you like the social aspect of having drinks, have your friends over to your house, order a pizza and tell them BYOB. Much cheaper than going out and your place doesn’t have last call.
4. Unplanned Trips
Not stealth vacations that just sneak up on you. I don’t know of anyone who has ever had that happen. What I mean is unplanned trips to the grocery store, the drug store, Target, the mall, etc.
You are just passing by on your way home from work and decide to pop in quickly just to pick up “one or two things.” Because those trips are unplanned, well you haven’t planned for them.
You don’t have a list; you haven’t checked the stores circular to see what is on sale, you haven’t checked online to see if there are any coupons. So you run in for one or two things and come out an hour later with a buggy full of stuff, most of which you don’t need.
Avoid these kinds of last-minute trips. They always end up costing a fortune. It’s a well-known fact that no one in history has ever come out of a Target store with less than eight items, two of which were irresistible fluffy new bath towels.
Whatever it is you think you need to run in for can wait until your regularly scheduled, well-planned shopping trip.
5. Food Waste
The average American throws out $640 worth of food every year. It’s not only wasting food; it’s wasting money. The first step in eliminating this is to eat the kitchen.
That means that until there is almost nothing left in your kitchen aside from a few spices and some flour, you are not buying any groceries. You have at least a week’s worth of stuff you can eat.
This might not be the tastiest time of your life, but it will save you money and more importantly, it will teach you how to make do with what you have, an excellent skill to learn when it comes to food or anything else.
There are lots of websites devoted to telling you what you can make from the ingredients you have. Check out Supercook for some good ideas. If soggy vegetables are your problem, turn them into soup or the stuffing for an omelet.
Once you have bare cupboards, you can restock, but hopefully, you learned some good lessons. You know that you can cobble together a meal with what you have on hand, you learned some new recipes, and you learned you wouldn’t starve even if you don’t have exactly what it is you might feel like eating that night.
A useful method to cut down on food waste is actually to go food shopping more often. It sounds counterintuitive, but a big part of the reason we waste so much food is that we buy too much at once.
It’s not usually that the food goes bad before we can eat it, it’s just that we buy more food and what we already have gets shoved to the back of the fridge or cabinet, and we forget about it. And then it does go bad.
If this is happening to you, add an extra food shopping trip to your schedule. If you go once a week, go twice. Buy only enough food to last that amount of time. This way you will be more likely to eat it all up before you need more. This is also a nice practice because it means you get fresher food and fresher food tastes nicer.
There are exceptions of course. If there is a sale on something, you use a lot, feel free to stock up. That can help save money. But it’s usually perishable things that we waste like fruit and veg and meat. So we should be buying those in smaller quantities more often.
Some people throw away cooked food because they don’t like eating the same thing for a few days in a row. There is an easy way around this. Freeze the leftovers and eat them a week later or ever how long it takes to crave that dish again.
Are you regularly paying someone to clean your house, take care of your yard, manicure your nails, or do your laundry?
If you have a fully funded emergency fund, are maxing out your 401k and IRA accounts, and have zero credit debt, you can outsource these things. If you can’t tick all of those boxes, you need to roll up your sleeves.
We understand that sometimes you hire people to do these jobs because you are working so much, you don’t have the time. But you don’t have tons of extra money either. It’s a tough choice, time or money but in this situation, money usually wins out.
If you are working a lot, it’s okay to let your standards slip a little. The house doesn’t need to be spick and span; it just has to be tolerably clean and reasonably tidy. Maybe your Hank Hill-esque neighbor will tut-tut about how it’s been ten days since you last mowed your lawn, but you’ll live and so will he.
It’s true that DIY manicures don’t last as long as salon manicures, so it’s easier and less frustrating just to leave your nails unpolished. If you have a particular occasion, go ahead and splurge for a professional manicure but the weekly trip to the nail salon has to stop.
Unless your home or building has no laundry facilities, it’s hard to justify sending your laundry out. Going to the laundromat is time-consuming because you have to sit there babysitting your clothes.
But when you have on-site facilities, you can just throw the clothes in the washer and dryer and do something else why they do their thing. No reason to pay someone else to do this small job.
You can probably cut down on the number of times you send your clothes to the dry cleaners too. If it’s nice enough to need dry cleaning, it’s unlikely that you are getting it very dirty when you wear it.
You’re not mud wrestling in a wool suit or a silk dress. You can wear most things more than once between dry cleanings and if you feel like the garments need to be “freshened up” you can get a DIY dry cleaning kit like Dryel.
Money is Meant for Better Things
At Frugal For Less, we know that being frugal doesn’t mean never spending money. It simply means spending money wisely and getting value for your money. These 6 expenses are not money spent wisely, and they don’t provide value for money. Ditch these expenses and let your money treat you better.