At some point, we have all wasted money on something we bought. But many consumers make a habit of buying. Ironically, these same consumers often complain they have no money to put into savings.
If you want to save, look at how you spend on the small stuff – yes, those everyday spending choices you make. Those choices become habits. Habits become a lifestyle, to which you quickly become accustomed.
So, if you don’t want to kick your daily coffeeshop habit or cut down on your manicures, how can you shave your current expenses to find money for savings? We all have something we might be able to cut out or avoid buying, but it’s not the same for everyone.
Here’s my list of 12 expenses I avoid so I can add to my savings account:
On banking and using credit/debit cards, I try to cut out…
- ATM fees – Out-of-network withdrawals cost $, so use ATMs affiliated with your own bank.
- Bank finance charges – insufficient funds fees, low balance fees.
- Credit card fees – annual fees, cash advance fees, late payment fees, over-the-limit fees.
On traveling and entertainment, I try to cut out…
4. Extra airline fees – like paying for early boarding, special seats, checked bags, on-board snacks, ticket changes.
5. Cable television/satellite radio – packages for stations I don’t use or rarely watch.
6. Memberships – for exercise, events or lessons I may not use. (Intentions don’t count.)
7. Subscriptions – to websites I rarely use or publications I don’t get around to reading.
On incidentals, I cut out…
8. Postage and envelopes to pay bills – online bill pay is cheaper, safer, quicker.
9. New cell phones – or contract changes before the current one expires.
10. Extended warranties – for appliances, electronics and other items.
11. Extra fees for shipping packages – USPS delivery confirmation, speedy delivery, oversize boxes.
12. Low deductibles for insurance. I raised my deductible (what you must pay upfront for a claim) a little, and saw a savings.
And finally, there’s a #13….food. Yes, food.
Most people don’t realize how much money is wasted on food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a low-cost food plan for a family of four is roughly $150 per week. A liberal plan is about $300 per week, which is food consumed at home.
Actually food (and drink) is the single largest expense category you can control, because most other expenses (housing, transportation, medical costs, insurance, etc.) are locked in amounts. Wasting food is throwing money in the trash.
How do we waste food? I bet you can relate to these 6 examples:
• Not using food by expiration dates, so it rots. Has that happened to your lettuce or bananas lately?
• Buying too much, either at a restaurant or grocery store. Have you added appetizers or dessert when the entrée ordered would have been enough, or bought 10 lbs. of potatoes instead of 5?
• Tossing out instead of saving leftovers. Okay, they got hidden in the frig, but why didn’t you plan to eat or make soup from that extra chicken?
• Buying expensive or gourmet brands instead of generic. Perhaps you can’t go without those organic strawberries at $6 per pound?
• Not comparison shopping. So you paid more per ounce for the “economy size” or you didn’t want to drive to the more thrifty store?
• Buying a high-priced snack or bottle of water. You forgot to plan ahead and bring your own?
Do you have any ideas that work for you?