Cut These 6 Things from Your Budget

By Michael Peterson
In February 2, 2020

Do you feel like you have a hole in your pocket? Do you find that money just slips away from you, unnoticed? Do you have a difficult time reconciling where all your take-home pay ends up?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it might be a good time to take a step back and really analyze your expenditures. And we’re not talking budgeting, just figuring out where your hard-earned wages are actually going. You’ll likely be amazed. By raising your spending consciousness, you might find a way to cut a few sneaky expenses that you won’t even miss. After all, if you are shelling out for items you don’t even notice, do you really need them?

Of course, spending is personal. Only you and your significant others can decide what’s really critical for your lifestyle. But let’s take a look at some “usual suspects” that prey on many a bank account.

1. Late fees. These are just plain unnecessary, all too common, and a HUGE money-maker for credit card companies in particular. And with only a bit of foresight and planning, there’s NO REASON you should ever have to pay late fees. First, set automatic calendar reminders to ping yourself five days, then two days, then one day before your bill is due. Whatever combination of reminders you need, having your computer or phone automatically poke you into action can help you avoid forgetting to pay. Better yet, set up automatic payments to your recurring vendors so there’s no chance of missing a due date ever again. Why pay more than you owe?

Keep in mind that credit card late fees typically only apply if your payment is late or you make no payment at all. They aren’t normally assessed if you don’t pay your statement in full. So don’t make the mistake of delaying your payment until you can pay it off. As long as you pay the minimum amount due on time, you’re in the clear (although you’ll still get charged interest, but that’s another matter!).

2. Dining out. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice meal, prepared and served by someone else? Whether it’s the convivial atmosphere of your local gastropub or the adventure of tasting something new, dining out is fun. But have you ever thought about how much it would cost to cook those same entrées at home? Likely pennies on the dollar. Try ditching the restaurant markups, or at least cutting back to once or twice a month.

If you really don’t want to cut out this indulgence – heck, you deserve it after your crazy week! – at least try to GO out. Visit your favorite restaurant rather than calling in for delivery. Those sneaky delivery fees and driver tips seem innocuous, but they can really add up over time. So delete those restaurant delivery apps from your phone, and force yourself to venture out. 

3. Gym membership. Gym memberships typically involve a monthly charge that really adds up over the year. Instead of paying to use someone else’s workout machines, why not invest in your own equipment — at a fraction of the cost? A quick internet search will reveal a plethora of for-sale sites peddling drastically discounted (or even free!) workout gear, from barely used treadmills and rowing machines to like-new weights and medicine balls.

4. Plastic water bottles. While working out at home, don’t forget to hydrate! Remember, your tap water is free. This isn’t news, but it’s another thing to think about. Many people don’t like to drink tap water. Whether they don’t like the taste or have concerns about lead pipes, they resort to bottled water. 

If this describes you, there are other routes to take instead: Buy a filter that fits over your tap or a pitcher that filters your tap water. Or check your local grocery store to see if they have a water refill station. These allow you to purchase reusable 5-gallon jugs and refill them in-store. Both the one-time jug purchase and each refill cost is minimal in comparison. Ditching the plastic water bottles has a two-fold benefit: it’s better for your wallet and better for the earth. Bonus!

5. Cable TV. Do you really surf through all your 177 available channels? If so, you clearly still like cable. If not, consider the countless other options for your TV viewing pleasure. Live streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube Red do charge monthly fees – and, of course, you need the requisite hardware like Roku or AppleTV – but these alternatives are significantly less expensive than traditional cable. 

cut the cable cord

You can pick up local channels (for free!) with an HD antenna – your local hardware store probably sells them. If you’re holding onto cable for the sports package or premium channels, know that you can also stream specific providers like ESPN and MLB or HBO and Showtime. Again, there’s (always!) a cost involved, but it’s usually a lot less AND you’re only buying what you really want.

6. Brand name groceries. Unless you are legitimately brand-loyal (you’ve open-mindedly given all varieties of ketchup a go and still think Heinz tastes the best), brand names are often unnecessary expenses. That said, you may simply prefer the taste of your brand-name condiment – but when it comes to your cleansers, check the labels: There’s often no difference in formulas or quality. Go for the generic store brand for real savings.

Or there’s an even cheaper option: Make your own cleaning solutions. You can find countless recipes online for making your own products, or investigate the magical all-purpose qualities of vinegar and baking soda. (And that baking soda doesn’t need to sport a muscular arm and industrial hammer on the label to provide industrial-strength cleanings.)

Tried these tips and still losing money? Think none of these ideas are practical for you? Looking for more ways to save? Contact our team at DebtGuru.com to brainstorm other realistic ways that you can start to trim unwanted expenses and boost your savings. 

Michael Peterson

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.