If you look at your bank account at the end of the month and wonder where all your money is going, it may be time to look at your spending habits and make some changes. Whether you are good with money or not, you could probably eliminate some unnecessary costs.
Take a look at the list below of the ten most common habits that may be costing you money. How many of these can you cut out or do less of to save some money?
1. Not Having a Budget
No matter your relationship with money, you should always have a budget. Even if you are in a good place and you don’t need to account for every dollar to make things work, a budget helps keep your overall spending in check regularly.
- At the very least, you should have a general idea of what it takes to pay all your bills each month and what is left out of your monthly take-home pay.
- Then, you should allocate a certain amount to savings, investments, and day-to-day expenses out of what’s left.
It’s essential to know how much money is coming in each month and where it needs to go. This allows you to make tweaks and cuts to unnecessary expenses or identify areas where you could save, invest, or spend more accordingly.
2. Takeout Addiction
The allure of takeout is understandable. Whether you’re a busy person or don’t love cooking, takeout is a great way to quickly get a meal on the table.
However, regularly ordering takeout adds up. The cost of the meals, delivery charges, taxes, and tips can cost almost as much to order takeout as eating at a restaurant.
If you are looking to cut back on some spending, examine your takeout habits. If you are ordering out more than a few times per week, it may be time to cut back. It can put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket each month.
Pick up the ingredients to make your favorite takeout meals at home. Then, find food blogs or Instagram foodie accounts to inspire you with some new recipes. Not only will it save you money, but it will probably help you eat healthier too.
3. Unused Subscription Services
How many subscriptions have you signed up for that you hardly ever use?
For example, did you get a new TV streaming service to watch a show last year, but you just kept it because it’s only a few dollars a month? What about paid apps on your phone? Membership communities?
Look at your bank statement for the past month and look at the recurring subscriptions. If you haven’t used the subscription in the last 30-60 days, consider canceling it or downgrading to a lower plan if possible.
Companies regularly draw you in with low-cost subscriptions. It’s easy to sign up for something that’s “only $10 per month,” but that $120 per year adds up when you are trying to save money. So, stay on top of what you use and cancel the rest.
4. Credit Card Interest
It’s no secret that credit cards can get you into a world of financial hurt if they aren’t used responsibly. Almost everyone is aware of the risks associated with credit cards, but countless people are using them irresponsibly.
If you have credit cards, you must pay off your balance each month. However, if you are unable to pay it off monthly due to a larger balance, devise a plan to pay it off in a focused manner each month.
Credit card interest is a silent killer. Whether you signed up for a credit card with a zero-interest promotional period or planned to pay off your balance sooner, it can impact your financial situation once the interest starts racking up.
Avoid opening credit cards with high-interest rates like store cards and focus on paying down the accounts with the highest interest first. Put as much of your income as you can towards paying down balances and try to pay more than the minimum whenever you can.
5. Shopping as a Hobby
Shopping for new things is fun. There’s a rush of excitement when you find an item you want, like a new gadget or a great pair of shoes. But unfortunately, a shopping habit can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful, so it’s important to shop smart.
If you find yourself regularly tempted by the barrage of emails and text messages you get from your favorite stores alerting you of sales and coupons, unsubscribe! Although they make you feel like these sales won’t last forever, you can always catch the next one.
Maybe you shop because you’re bored or sad and buying something gives you a dopamine rush that may make you feel better in the moment. But it likely doesn’t make you feel better when you check your bank account and see how much you spent.
Suppose you want to shop less and set yourself up for success. Cut out the notifications that are enticing you to go online and spend. Don’t walk around the mall on your lunch break. Furthermore, don’t spend time with people who make you feel like you need more stuff to keep up.
6. Your Daily Coffee Order
Getting a coffee out can be a hard routine to break because it feels like such a small expense. But, if you spend just $4 per day on a cup of coffee, that’s $120 per month or $1,440 per year on coffee. So, what else could you do with that money?
Coffee from the coffee shop feels like such an everyday luxury. Of course, it’s made just the way you like it and tastes great every time, but there are plenty of coffee maker options on the market that could have you feeling like a barista in your own home.
Whether you like espressos, lattes, or delicious French press coffees, there is a coffee maker for everyone. So splurge a little and pick up one that will make coffees just like the one your local coffee shop whips up for you and bring that luxury right to your home.
By making coffee at home, you have one less stop to make on your way to work or school drop-off, and you can save yourself a ton of money!
7. Not Keeping Tabs on Your Bills
So many of us blindly receive our bills in the mail and pay them every month without giving them much thought. But have you ever noticed that your utility or insurance bills seem to be creeping up and wondered why?
Take time at least once a year to review all the bills you have and look at the statements. Look closely at the charges, extra fees, taxes, and more to make sure you fully understand what you are paying for. If anything looks off, investigate it.
Many companies offer introductory rates that expire after a few years or have a model where the cost increases each year. These companies bank on the fact that most people never look into it, but there might be a way to negotiate lower bills if you do.
Make sure you need the services and coverage that you are paying for. Then, if you can cut back, ask for a rate reduction, or switch providers on any of the bills, you can save yourself quite a bit.
Many people think that gambling means only going to a casino. However, gambling includes scratch tickets and playing the lottery if you are regularly dropping even just a few dollars at the gas station to pick up scratch or lottery tickets, which adds up quickly.
It can be fun to occasionally play the lottery and dream about what you might do with your millions, but you may want to rethink your strategy if you do so regularly. This is because your odds of winning big are low, and you’re eating into what money you do have to play the game.
The same goes for going to a casino and putting it all on black or taking your chances with the slot machines. While this can be a fun activity, it should be reserved for special occasions like celebrations or vacations.
Gambling can create an addiction because, even when you only win a little bit, the excitement will draw you in and encourage you to keep playing. A gambling habit is a slippery slope that could end up costing you money in the long run.
9. Gym and Fitness Studio Memberships
Like the subscription services that often go unused, gym memberships are another recurring charge that we sometimes overpay for each year.
Maybe you signed up during a New Year’s Resolution deal at your local gym or bought a package to the fancy barre studio near your office.
If you can’t remember the last time you scanned your key tag at the gym or made it to a workout class at your favorite studio, consider canceling your membership. Of course, you can always sign up again if things change or find a different club that’s less expensive.
Gym and fitness memberships are expensive and are some of the least-used memberships every year. You are likely paying anywhere from $10-$200 plus each month for these memberships.
Pick your favorite one and cancel the rest if you have multiple fitness memberships. Or, if you’re looking to change things up, cancel them all and check out the countless free fitness resources on YouTube or consider paying for a low-cost digital fitness subscription instead. Read more at Living on the Cheap on how to cut this habit.
Smoking is a habit that affects your health and your wallet.
At an average cost of $7 for a pack of cigarettes, that adds up quickly over time. Whether you smoke regularly or occasionally, money spent on cigarettes is quite literally money going up in smoke.
For your body’s health and your bank account, consider quitting smoking. It will save you money in the short term if you stop buying cigarettes and save you on doctor bills.
Image by [Maxbelchenko] via [Shutterstock.com]