Take a good look at your spending habits. Are there things that you really shouldn’t be buying? Whether it’s something expensive that you can cut back on, something you can make or do yourself, or something that you just don’t need at all. Regardless, there are probably some things in your budget that you should stop buying in order to save money.
1. Dining Out
Eating out at restaurants can really add up, especially if you are feeding a family. The total cost of buying dinner at a restaurant can end up costing double what it would cost to buy groceries and cook a meal—and often even more than that. Cut down as much as possible on dining out. Also cut down on going out to lunch during the work week by packing your own lunch. That’s not to say you can never go out for food, but try to limit those trips to special occasions. Buy groceries and cook your own meals as much as possible. You will be amazed at how much money you can save.
2. Services You Can Do Yourself
Why pay others for something you can do yourself? If you are healthy and have no physical restrictions, there should be no reason why you should pay for services like housecleaning, laundry service, a car wash and yard work. Set aside some time on the weekend so you can do these things yourself and save what could add up to hundreds of dollars every month.
3. Things You Didn’t Buy
This seems like a no-brainer, but, shockingly, it happens too often. Make sure you aren’t paying for something you didn’t buy by keeping a very close eye on your bills. Go over your receipts after any purchase to make sure it accurately reflects what you bought. If you see something strange or something that you didn’t buy, go back to the cashier and let them know. Mistakes happen all the time.
You should also regularly check your bank accounts, and debit and credit card statements to track your spending. You should be able to recognize each transaction. If you see something you don’t remember purchasing, investigate further. The benefit of using a credit card to make purchases is that if there is something you didn’t purchase, or any fraudulent activity, many credit card companies will not charge you for those transactions.
The cost of transportation is another area you can probably cut down on. If you want to go big, you can sell your car and rely on public transportation, if it’s available where you live, or ride a bike. Doing so will help you shed the cost of gas, car maintenance, insurance and car payments, if you have an auto loan. If you aren’t ready to sell your car, you can still cut back on costs. Use public transportation as much as possible and bike to work if you can. There are also many eco- and wallet- friendly ride shares that are popping up in many large cities that can help you save money. Another option is to take turns carpooling with a co-worker to work to cut down on gas costs.
Make sure you aren’t racking up your electricity bills by keeping on lights and appliances you aren’t using. Only turn on lights when you need them and be very careful to turn them off when you don’t need them. You should not only turn off your appliances when you’re done with them, but you should also unplug them to save electricity.
You can take it a step further and make sure you have energy efficient light bulbs in your home. Switch to light-emitting diode, or LED, bulbs and keep your energy costs low. These light bulbs use less energy and emit less heat than others, like incandescent light bulbs.
If you really want to save money, you should consider getting rid of cable. Depending on what you include in your cable package, bills can easily run up to at least $100 a month. That’s a lot of money for something that you don’t really need to have. Cable is a luxury. If you are trying to save money, you should cut out the luxury items in your budget. If you absolutely love to watch TV and movies, you should consider switching to internet-based media, like Netflix or Hulu. These companies offer streaming services at a monthly rate that is much lower than what you would pay a cable company. As of August 2014, for example, new Netflix subscribers can sign up for the service for only $8.99 a month.
7. Phone Service
Do you pay for a landline? Do you ever use it? These days, most people rely on their cell phones to communicate. If you have no compelling reason to have a landline, go ahead and cancel it and save some money every month.
8. Interest Costs
Make sure you aren’t overpaying on Internet costs or that you aren’t paying unnecessary fees. First, you should not be making any interest rate payments on your credit cards. You should be paying off your balance each month to avoid making those payments, or you should be paying off as much as you can. If you are making interest payments that you cannot avoid, such as on a student loan or a mortgage, then you should make sure that you get the lowest rate possible. Find out if you can refinance your mortgage at a lower interest rate. If you have multiple loans outstanding, find out if you can consolidate them.
9. Things You Can Make Yourself
Here’s a list of costly items you might be buying, when instead, you can make them cheaply yourself:
- Baby food: Buying baby food out of jars or expensive gadgets to make baby food is simply a waste of money. All you have to do is take food you already have, steam it, mash it up, and serve it.
- Bottled water: Well, you can’t necessarily make water, but you have access to it from your water faucet. Buying water in a bottle is expensive and wasteful. If you are concerned about the water quality, make a one-time purchase of a water purifier, and use that to filter your own, free water.
- Coffee: Cut out the trips to Starbucks and other coffee shops and brew your own coffee. At $3 a cup per day (and even more if you opt for the more expensive lattes and cappuccinos), your coffee-drinking habits can add up. Instead, purchase a coffee maker, buy coffee beans every couple of weeks and brew your own coffee. You can buy insulated travel coffee mugs to make sure your coffee stays warm if you take it with you to work.
These are just a few ways you can stop buying and start saving. Take a moment to sit down, make a list of your monthly expenditures, and identify which ones can go. You’d be surprise at how much money you don’t have to spend.