In theory, we all know we should be prudent with our finances and save money for rainy days and retirement. However, putting this into practice is easier said than done, when the cost of living is increasing every year and wages are hardly keeping up.
According to a Pew Research Center report, Americans’ real wages (adjusted for inflation) have similar purchasing power as they did 40 years ago.
With all the bills that need to be paid every month, the average Americans will be lucky if they don’t end up in debt. It may seem impossible to save money, but don’t worry, where there’s a will, there’s a way to keeping your finances healthy! Here are 7 expenses you can out of your life to save money:
1. Eating Out Way Too Much
Many people don’t realize how much they’re spending on take-outs and restaurants. A simple $10 lunch or a $35 dinner at the restaurant may not sound like a lot at first, but when you consistently eat out, the costs add up quickly.
Take a look at your dining habits for the year and you may be surprised at how much you’re spending eating out. This could cost even more when you live in an expensive city like San Francisco or New York City.
It’s not to say you should completely stop eating out. We all want to enjoy life and dining out is one form of entertainment, especially when we want to catch up with friends. Instead, create a good balance between going out and cooking meals at home to save money. You could plan potlucks with your friends and enjoy life without spending a lot of money.
With that said, you should review your food bill (plus your groceries) to see how much you’re really spending each year.
2. Falling for Convenience
With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to satisfy our need for instant gratification. Just like the trap of eating out, when hunger strikes, we can get food delivered to us with a tap of a finger on food delivery apps.
The convenience of not having to step outside the home to get food may justify the extra charge for delivery but ordering food frequently can definitely eat into our budgets.
Convenience is great, but it usually comes at a high cost. Consider making your own meals at home to cut the calories and expensive delivery fees. Even if you’re new to cooking, you can find many free recipes online that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. That’s quicker than waiting for your food to be delivered!
3. Expensive Furniture and Home Decor Items
Most of us have a soft spot for nice-looking furniture and décor items. We spend hours at home-décor and furniture shops, often buying overpriced furniture, plus adding some random knick-knack at the checkout. These include things like wall art, small rugs, candleholders, ornaments, and other decorative pieces.
Many of us don’t realize how much money we’re spending on unnecessary things. Often times, these purchases are put aside and stored away until they can be used at a later time. When hidden from our sight, these beautiful pieces slowly turn into clutter over time.
Not only does this waste money, but it’s also a waste of time because many people end up sacrificing their weekends to declutter their homes. There are more cost-efficient ways to nicely furnish your home and still save money!
4. Expensive Cell Phone and Internet Bills
These are essentials that are very difficult to avoid today. Being able to save money on these recurring services may not seem like a lot at first, but it adds up.
Instead of paying for the expensive sticker price for cell phone and Internet services, you can make a quick phone call to negotiate for better prices. Many companies prefer to give their customers a discount if they are not happy with the service or looking to bring their business to another competitor.
Be sure to search online for current promotions offered by your service providers and their competitors before you pick up the phone. Knowing the current deals in the market will give you more bargaining power in your negotiations.
It may seem like a bit of work at first, but trust me, it is worth it!
5. Auto and Renters Insurance
Similar to the expensive cell phone and Internet bills, you need to shop around and negotiate for good insurance policies.
Insurance companies offer discounts on their products to certain companies, professionals, and alumni. Don’t miss out on these savings, ask your insurance company whether your employer or school qualify for discounts.
Another way to save money on insurance is to bundle your auto and renters insurance. Most insurance companies will give their customers discounts if they buy both auto and renters insurance from them.
Doing your research and taking the time to look for discounts (along with negotiating) on these big expenses can save you a ton of money!
6. Keeping Unused Subscriptions
Did you know that you may be paying for unused subscriptions? Take a look at your past transactions for the last 12 months to see exactly where your money is going.
As you scroll through each month’s transaction, see what monthly subscriptions you’re still paying for. These include things like magazines, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix, etc. It’s completely acceptable to keep the subscriptions if you’re using and enjoying the services.
Some companies try to put fear in customers’ minds by telling them what they’d be missing out by canceling their services. But be honest with yourself and ask whether you’re actually using their services. If not, you want to consider canceling to save money. Don’t fall for the FOMO (fear of missing out) trap!
7. Buying Items at the Original Price
There are items that never go on sale and it’s perfectly fine to buy them as long as they add value to your life. Other than that, you shouldn’t buy things at the original price without hunting for the same product at the lowest price.
Most people have Internet access, so it’s not hard to look for the best price when you’re shopping for something. You can also use apps like Flipp to price match almost any product, including your weekly groceries. You can score significant savings by price matching big-ticket items like TVs, appliances, etc.
Final Tip: Finding the Right Balance
There are a lot more expenses that you can reduce without sacrificing the quality of your life. Carefully review ALL of your expenses to analyze your past spending behavior. This will allow you to cut your unnecessary spending, which helps with prioritizing your needs and wants.
It’s absolutely fine to spend on things that make you happy and your life more enjoyable. But it’s important to sock away some money for your retirement because you don’t want to end up in financial trouble down the road.
The key to good money management is finding the right balance between saving and spending. This will allow you to enjoy life today while saving money and building wealth for your future.
About the Author:
Ling understands the financial struggle of living in an expensive city. She spends her time learning about personal finance in hopes to live a life where she doesn’t need to worry about money. She looks for creative ways to save money and make money while balancing a healthy and active lifestyle. That includes traveling, exercising, and eating out at her favorite restaurants with her friends. You can find her best money tips on her blog, Finsavvy Panda.