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This post was republished on October 17, 2018.
Have you ever paid attention to what you’re spending money on? I mean, really paid attention? Actually written it down and compared all of it side by by side? If you have, how much of what you spend is something that you really need?
The truth is, if you write down everything your dollars go to, you would more than likely find a bunch of things your money went to that really wasn’t necessary for your health or well-being.
Sure, there may be things that make you happy to spend money on and other things that make life a little simpler (I mean, I can admit that it’s much easier and a lot more fun to buy lunch at work instead of making something at home and bringing it with…sigh).
But if you want to get out of debt quickly and save more money, then you must find what it is you’re spending money on that you can cut back.
I have compiled a list of common areas where money is spent that are most likely not necessities. Is there anything on this list you can eliminate to help you get out of debt and save more money? Most of these you have probably heard before but sometimes the 100th time is the one that sticks 🙂
Full disclosure: I am not the best at saving money in all of these categories. But I have certainly gotten a lot better! I have most definitely cut back in all of these areas if not quit buying in them altogether.
And maybe all of these areas aren’t what you are striving for. It is OK to pick only a few and give those a shot. Start somewhere and you may decide that you’d like to add more once you realize it’s not has difficult as you originally thought.
And one more note: if there is anything on here you really love (for me it’s eating out!), then budget for it. As long as you budget for something, which means you know you have the extra money to pay for it, then there is nothing wrong with buying it. Just be smart about it!
This post was updated August 11, 2018.
Fancy coffee drinks at the local coffee shop
There are plenty of ways to make coffee a little more fun and flavorful at home. Or maybe you can adapt. For myself, it didn’t take long at all for me to LOVE black coffee once I stopped using vanilla creamer. Now I spend less money on coffee and save calories!
This one goes without saying. Obviously eating out can get expensive. Plus, it’s healthier to cook at home because you know exactly what you’re putting into your meals.
Full price movies
We don’t take nearly enough advantage of matinees. Obviously it depends on the theater, but you can usually save a few dollars by going to a movie earlier in the day.
I used to buy cheap razors from the store that would destroy my legs all because I didn’t want to spend money on decent razors. Now I use Dollar Shave Club and only spend $3 a month for great razors. Sure they’re meant for guys, but they work just as well for women!
Why do we insist on buying books when we can get them for free at the library or borrow from a friend or family member? If you do insist on buying your own, at least go to a used bookstore for a discount.
Instead of paying a lot for a professional to do your nails, have a girls night in and give each other manis and pedis!
Now with this one, I don’t necessarily think you should just go to the cheapest option out there. (I have had my fair share of bad haircut so I know you often get what you pay for.) But there are usually more reasonable options than flying off to a salon that charges $100 a haircut. Now for men, on the other hand, most can get by at a cheaper place. They also go more often, which makes this even more necessary.
Alcoholic beverages at a restaurant or bar
Getting a drink out once in awhile is perfectly acceptable. But if you go out every weekend or a few times a week and have two, three, four or more alcoholic drinks, that really adds up. Feel free to get a drink, but then switch to water or something less expensive for the remainder of the time. Or, have a drink and then go home where you have alcohol that you purchased at a much cheaper price.
A gym membership
If I had to guess, I would say there are more people who are paying for gym memberships and not using them than people who are actually utilizing their membership. I could be totally wrong about this, but when I talk to people I know and their gym usage, I think I am probably right.
In this day and age, there are countless free videos and apps that help you work out at home. You can also go outside and run or walk or play sports. There are so many options that don’t involve going to a gym.
Now, if a gym membership actually keeps you more focused and disciplined to actually work out, then by all means, keep going. But ONLY if you actually keep going. If not, cancel that membership ASAP.
Large cell phone data plans
Many of us use a lot of data on our phones but do we really have to? Lower your data plan and work hard at only using your phone when you’re connected to wifi.
Brand new cars
This one really irks me. For whatever reason, our culture tells us that we must have a shiny new car. If your is five years old, then it’s time for a new one. What in the world?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with having nice things, but only if you can afford it. If you have to make car payments, you cannot afford it. See what else you can afford instead.
My husband and I found a used 1998 Toyota Avalon at a local dealership for $2995. It looked great and was driven by the same woman for 19 years. Did it look brand new? No. Did it have all the bells and whistles? Definitely not. But guess what? We bought it and didn’t have a car payment! Woohoo!
If you really can’t see yourself going that old, then at least don’t buy brand new. You lose so much of the value as soon as you drive a brand new car off the lot!
Netflix, Hulu, network websites that air new shows for free for a time – need I say more?
Name brand products
Of course not every generic product is good – I had a generic contact solution that burned my eyes. But generic items are often name brand products with a different label. So experiment and see what you can find.
Upgrading apps to ad free
I don’t know about you, but I can deal with an ad popping up once in awhile in order to not pay anymore than I have to. I would rather those advertisers pay for me to watch something or use an app that me have to pay for it!
Doing less than full loads of laundry
As best you can, don’t waste water, soap, and electricity by washing loads that are not completely full.
Running the dishwasher when it’s not full
Same thing – only run the dishwasher when it is full or you will end up wasting money.
Running the dishwasher not during off peak hours
Check with your electric company to see when off peak hours are and only run the dishwasher during those times.
Appetizers when eating out
Is it just me, or does it seem that appetizers these days cost just as much as the meals? If you insist on eating before your meal, have a snack before you get to the restaurant so you don’t have to buy an appetizer.
Drinking anything but water when eating out
A soda may only cost $2, but remember that a higher bill also means higher tip.
Tipping on bill total
We all know we should tip anywhere 10-20% of a bill. But we often end up tipping after tax is included, which means we’re tipping on more than just the total. When you eat out, be sure to tip only on the subtotal of the bill.
Do you actually read them? If you do, then OK. But limit them to only one or two. If you barely look at them, get rid of the subscriptions immediately.
If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, get a water filer or a Brita filter.
I don’t claim in the slightest that my husband and I are experts on giving up all these things. We struggle just like everyone else. But we have certainly gotten better and continue to work at it!
And I can most certainly see how cutting back on these things has helped us pay down our debt faster and save more money. (FYI, one thing that has really helped us to cut back on buying these items is having a budget and sticking to it.)
If there are some items on this list you just don’t want to give up, then find just a few that you will. Or begin with only one or two and see how it goes. What matters is starting somewhere!
What do you like to give up in order to save money? Please comment below!
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