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5 Monthly Expenses That are Hurting Your Budget

Posted by MoneyKey on June 3, 2019
budget to handle financial issues

Do you ever look at your bank account at the end of the month and wonder how the number staring back at you got so low? Well when you’re not keeping a close eye on your budget, it’s easy to lose track of where your money is going. You may feel like you have your spending under control, but there’s a chance that there might be a few monthly expenses eating away at your budget that you could work to reduce.  

Here are five things that may be hurting your monthly expenses, and some tips to help you cut back.

Your cable bill

You may love to get home, kick back on the couch, and mindlessly search through the channels on your TV, but the high cost of a cable subscription may not fit into your budget if you’re trying to make ends meet. Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap cable alternatives out there if you’re looking to cut the cord.

If you want a traditional cable experience without the usual hit to your monthly expenses, Sling TV might be your best bet. For those looking for a more modern streaming service, you can’t go wrong with choices like Netflix and Prime Video. You may not even want to pay anything at all if you’re budget is tight or if TV isn’t an important part of your life. If this is the case, there are some great free sources of TV and movies like cable network apps, YouTube, or even your public library.

With all of these options at your disposal, you might find it overwhelming to pick the best service for your needs, but with a little research, you may be able to find something that fits your lifestyle and your budget.

Expensive gifts

expensive gifts are unnecessary monthly expenses

When you’re looking ahead to Christmas, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, and beyond, it may feel like the onslaught of holidays is never ending. These days often come with the expectation of gifts, and costs can start to add up. How are you supposed keep up with the all of this gift-giving when you still have to keep up with all of your normal monthly expenses?

It might be time to start rethinking the way you’re spending your holidays with friends and family. Try planning a fun outing into nature or put together a DIY gift that you know your significant other would love.  

Holidays are about celebrating a special occasion, and this doesn’t have to involve spending money normally reserved for your monthly expenses.

Expensive gym memberships and eating out

As important as it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the idea of going to the gym four times and week and stocking your pantry with “superfoods” may seem a little out of reach to someone living paycheck to paycheck. Gym memberships are pricey, making a healthy meal every night may seem time consuming, and you might have little time in your busy schedule to look after your health. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to stay in shape without being forced into paying high gym fees. Here are a few ways to help you do it:

Create a home workout plan

This will allow you get in a workout without leaving the comfort of your home. You don’t need an entire home gym, either. All you need is some room to move around and perform a few simple exercises. Want to know how to get fit on a budget at home but don’t know where to start? Check out these free fitness apps to help you design a home workout plan that works for you.

Healthy budget meal planning 

The thought of coming home after a long day of work just to start working again in the kitchen may send a shudder up your spine, even if you’ve already managed to cobble together a fridge full of healthy ingredients. To get out of this trap, you may want to set aside some time on Sunday to put together your meals for the week. If you need some help keeping your pantry stocked with healthy foods while keeping your grocery bill within your budget, check out this guide for tips.

Vacations

Taking a well-earned vacation can be a great way to rest, relax, and clear your head of the everyday stress you feel in your normal day-to-day. It can also be a great way to throw your monthly expenses budget completely out of whack.

expensive vacations shouldn't be monthly expenses

While you likely won’t be going on a vacation every month, if you’re living on a tight budget and just barely making enough to pay your bills, one pricey vacation you can’t really afford could throw your budget into disarray. But if you’ve been saving money all year to take a trip, there are some ways for you to cut back on travel expenses:

  • Create a thorough travel budget that includes things like transportation, accommodations, food expenses, daily expenses, and excursion prices
  • Cook your own meals
  • Get rail passes
  • Find free accommodations through a service like Couchsurfing

If you want to do some travelling but want to avoid pricey airfare, put together a road trip budget and consider hitting the open road!

A smoking habit

Not only does smoking damage your health, it also hurts your bank account. And the price of smoking doesn’t just extend to the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

According to a 2013 paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, smokers earn less money on average at their jobs than those who don’t smoke. They only earn around 80 percent of the wages of their non-smoking counterparts. And if you think that you’ve reduced your smoking habit to the point where it shouldn’t affect your wages, think again. According to Julie Hotchkiss, one of the co-authors of this paper, people who smoke even a single cigarette a day will experience the same hit to their wages as people who smoke an entire pack a day.

If the cost of cigarettes and the hit to your wages wasn’t enough, smokers also pay more for insurance premiums. This includes life insurance, health insurance, and long-term care or disability insurance. These are add-ons to your monthly expenses that you may not be able to afford.

Paying full price

don't pay full price on monthly expenses

It may seem like a lot of work to diligently scour fliers, coupon booklets, and online promo codes in search of the best deals, but when there’s so many ways to get what your looking for on sale, it might be worth your time if you’re looking to cut back on your monthly expenses. And it doesn’t need to be as difficult as you think. Whether you’re looking for groceries, clothes, or household appliances, there’s likely a savings app out there for you. Here are a few for you to consider:

  • Flipp. This app is great if you’re looking for grocery savings but don’t want to sift through stacks of ads. Flipp will compile coupons from different circulars for the week and show you the best deals at nearby grocery stores.
  • Honey. Honey will help you find online coupon codes without you lifting a finger. All you need to do is download the Honey browser extension, and it’ll search the internet for coupon codes that it’ll apply automatically when you’re at the checkout of your online purchase.
  • Billfixers. Your bills are a drain on your budget that you can’t avoid, but Billfixers can help you reduce these monthly expenses. They reach out to your service providers on your behalf and try to negotiate better rates for you. You won’t get charged a dime unless they manage to save you money!

Don’t let these monthly expenses destroy your budget

When you feel like your budget is bursting at the seems with all of the monthly expenses you need to keep track of, it might seem impossible to take note of every little thing you spend your money on. But there may be a few larger or recurring things that you might be able to cut back on. Start by looking at some of the expenses we’ve listed and see if you can start to whittle them down. You may be able to cut back just enough each month to get a jump on your monthly expenses and start contributing to your long-term financial goals.

Are there any monthly expenses that consistently hurt your budget? Share below!

Posted in: Financial Tips

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