Budgets are frequently tight and hard to stick to. People can easily find themselves $50-$100 short at the end of the month. This is often because they are spending their money in silly ways without realizing it.
Here are a dozen routinely overlooked ways that you’re wasting your money. Best of all, fixing these habits isn’t difficult and will help add a little breathing room to your budget.
This is a big one! If you’re not using coupons, you’re missing out on easy savings. There are many apps that simplify couponing and save you the hassle of searching for deals. On the other hand, over using coupons can waste you’re money if you’re using these coupons to buy excess amounts of food that will spoil or clothes you don’t need.
Often the quality of generic brands are almost or up to par with their name brand counter-parts. If you’re on a tight budget, skip paying for the brand name and put those savings towards something more useful.
Coffee and Lunch
This is mentioned over and over, but for good reason. A $5 latte and $10 lunch over the course of a five day work week totals $75 which can add up to $3,900 a year! If you prepared your own coffee and lunch, at a quarter of the cost, you could put that $975 towards a solid emergency savings fund.
Companies charge a premium to portion and package food. Save money by slicing your own fruit and dividing your chips/cookies into small storage containers.
Ordering an appetizer at a restaurant is a waste, here’s why. A restaurant’s main course meal is most often served in a very large portion so there is more than enough to eat. Having an appetizer is just adding extra cost to the bill you really don’t need.
Water is basically free from the tap or extremely inexpensive if run through a water filter. “The average cost of bottled water runs anywhere from $.89 – $8.26 per gallon. Tap water, on the other hand, costs $.0002 per gallon and a home filter costs $.10 – $.20 cents per gallon.”** If you drink half a gallon a day, then bottled water can cost $162.43 – $1,507.45 yearly, whereas filtered water would only cost you $18.25 – $36.50 a year. That one little switch can save you enough to go on a vacation!
Review your current insurance policy and look around for comparable policies at lower rates. You can then present this to your current provider and ask for a discount or look into switching providers.
Set up auto-withdrawals so you will never miss a payment. Another way to better manage all your bills is to subscribe to free money managing apps like Mint. This app will send you reminders of upcoming bills and let you know if a bill will cause your account to go into overdraft so you can manage your monthly expenses and avoid wasteful late fees.
There are many less expensive alternatives to cable like Netflix and many TV channels stream their top rated shows online for free. But, if you can’t part with cable, then make sure to look for bundling packages. Companies offer discounts for having all three (cable, internet and phone) serviced by them. Bundling will lower the total amount you pay and combine multiple bills into one, making it easier to manage.
If you rent and you’re a good tenant, ask your landlord if they can drop the rental price during the next contract negotiation. Often landlords will take a little less money to keep quality tenants in their properties. The rental market fluctuates so look on rental websites for the prices in your area. If the rates for a comparable unit are lower than yours, present this to your landlord and ask if you can negotiate your monthly rent down to market value.
Even when appliances are not “on”, if they are plugged in they are using power. This is commonly known as phantom power. “Individually, the electricity flowing to a TV that’s been turned off or a coffeemaker programmed to brew in the morning is extremely small, but together, these sleeping devices may account for as much as 10 percent of household energy use.”* Only plug in the toaster, coffee maker, printer etc. when you need to use it.
Memberships & Subscriptions
Stop paying for that gym membership you don’t use or magazine subscription you never read. Look through your monthly bills for expenses you don’t frequently use. There are many free workout programs available online and the web is full of online magazines and blogs for every hobby.
If you start using these tips it may surprise you to see how much more money you have left at the end of the month.
* How Stuff Works. How much can you save by unplugging appliances? http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/budgeting/how-much-save-unplugging-appliances1.htm
** Financial Web. Bottled Water: a Waste of Money? http://www.finweb.com/financial-planning/bottled-water-a-waste-of-money.html#ixzz3c1kNF3cx