If you’re like many people (Victor Antonio of the “reality” show Life or Debt says 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck without savings – – yikes) you may be looking for a way to save more money and cut expenses, or you made need to in order to make ends meet. It can be painful to cut costs and do away with necessities but here are 10 things you may consider necessities but can quickly and easily discard.
1. Gym Membership
I know, I know. Working out is healthy and there are some gyms that have significantly lowered their membership but this is one expense you can do away with, at least temporarily. There are a plethora of fitness DVDs available, many costing less than your monthly dues. With warmer weather on us, look toward brisk walks/jogs/runs in your neighborhood or bike rides. If you have willing neighbors, buddy up and start a group. As a bonus, having a dog makes this part much easier.
2. Starbucks (and the like)
I get it. I know how much coffee aficionados love their java and hitting up your local ‘Bucks makes going to work and that terrible commute much more tolerable. However . . . each time you run in or drive through, it’s likely costing you an average of $5. May not seem like much but if you’re doing it on the daily Monday through Friday, that’s $25 a week, $100 a month and a whopping $1,200 a year. Just for coffee.
This also works if you’re dropping change in your vending machine or running downstairs to the deli each day for lunch.
This is a biggie and a basic no brainer. Do we really need 300+ channels? Sure, it’s good to be able to watch Law & Order at any time of the day and in multiple languages but it’s costing you. Dump your cable altogether, going old school on your t.v. with local channels and use your computer to watch programs (many are now available online.) If you have an Amazon Prime membership and don’t want to lose that, you can watch many movies and shows via Amazon. (And Amazon has an annual charge of around $99 to be a Prime member versus paying anywhere between $30-$100+ monthly for cable.) Don’t want to give up your premium stations? Call your cable company and bargain for a deal by threatening to discontinue service.
4. Cell Phone
How much are you paying for your cell phone? Are you paying for minutes and/or data usage you don’t need? Carefully check your cell phone bill and determine how many minutes and gigs of data you truly need and cut that bill!
I love mani/pedis. I consider them my “pamper me” time – -but I don’t get them often. They are a special treat. If you’re getting them weekly or bi-monthly, you can definitely cut here. It’s not as much fun to do your nails yourself but how about getting a group of your girlfriends together for a girls’ night in to have a quasi-slumber party, where you do each other’s nails? Good for bonding time and good for your bank account.
6. Go DIY
Are you paying top dollar for facial cleansers and moisturizers? How about for laundry detergent and soaps? If you’re crafty and willing, you can find dozens of recipes online to make these items yourself, saving not only money but going green in the process!
7. Name Brand Items
Do you buy name brand labels at the grocery store? Stop. Store brands and generics are usually just as good – – canned goods, paper products, cleaning supplies, cereals . . . and they cost significantly less. Don’t pay for that label any longer.
8. Nights Out
We all need to have fun, socialize, be with friends and blow off steam. But if going out is a common ritual for you, you may want to think twice about it and the financial price you pay. Dinner and a movie averages to around $30 per person (and that’s with no drinks at dinner and no snacks at the theater.) If you do go out, choose carefully and make your dining experience count (even if you’re going on the cheap.) Maybe skip the movie or club and have a nice dinner conversation with friends. Skip ordering the drink unless you’re at Happy Hour. Hit the movies up during matinee showings or on Tuesday nights (when many theaters offer discount tickets.) Check out stores like Costco for the purchase of a bundle of movie tickets at a discount. Run by your local Target or WalMart to buy movie theater style boxed candy to take with you to the show (but you must hide it away.)
9. Car Insurance
This is like your cell phone provider and service. You should revisit your car insurance once a year to make sure you aren’t missing any discounts (and to make sure that as your car is getting older, your rate is dropping.) Have you moved? Your insurance may be less expensive depending on the city/county/state you are in. Have you changed employment and your new office is closer to home? You may qualify for a low-mileage discount. Have home or renters’ insurance as well? Bundle your policies for further discounts. You may also want to boost your deductible so that your monthly premium lowers.
10. Credit Cards
Always, always, always shop for the lowest credit card rate. Many have introductory rates that are extremely low or even at zero percent. If you need to and can, consolidate high interest cards (or loans) onto a card that has a zero percent rate on transfers. Just make sure to pay it off (or transfer to another such card) before the set time limit expires.