Photo: marya/Creative Commons
One of the best ways to save more money for a big goal is to spend less of it on things that don’t matter as much to you. Here are a few expenditures you might have overlooked simply because you’re so used to paying for them.
1. Cable and Internet TV
It’s a running joke in my family that my husband’s first solution for any money crunch is to shut off the cable. I used to tell him that the little bit we spent on cable every month wasn’t enough to make a huge difference (which felt like the truth back when we had student loan and credit card debt.) Now, I have to remind him that we haven’t had cable for about three years, because we canceled it when we were saving for our year-long family vacation. However, like many households living in the digital age, we’ve replaced traditional cable with monthly subscriptions to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. I’m so used to spending $10-$20 each month so that I can watch movies on my iPhone that I’ve forgotten what life was like before that was possible.
Getting rid of those subscriptions would force me to watch my favorite shows on my laptop, download apps directly from each TV Network, or go to the library to check out free movies. None of that sounds too inconvenient.
2. Dining Out.
If you’re trying to save money, you probably don’t splurge on romantic dinners vey often. But do you still order in pizza, stop at a fastfood restaurant when you’re on a road trip, or start an evening with friends at a diner? Those meals that someone else cooked add up, which is particularly annoying if you’re paying someone else to cook subpar food. Resolve to pack a cooler for road trips, stock your fridge with frozen meals that can be reheated on busy nights, and get together with your friends over your grill.
My husband occasionally puts himself on a low-key cleanse, which means no beer, wine, or pop. Since he does a lot of the grocery shopping, that means no beer, wine, or pop for anyone. Instead, I stick with water, milk, or coffee for a while. In addition to feeling healthy for a little bit, we also save on our groceries, because those empty calories aren’t cheap. The same can be said for the gallons of fruit juice we keep on hand for the kids, even though they’d be much better off sticking with water and milk, too.
4. Trips to That Store You Like
You know the drill: you go in for milk and vitamins and you come out with a receipt for $100. Ifrunning errands is routinely causing you to unexpectedly spend hundreds of dollars, it may be time to rethink how you run errands. Don’t go to that store that entices you with cheap home décor. Stick with trips to the grocery store or small specialty shops where you can only buy what you actually intend to buy (they do still exist!). Even if you spend a little more on the items you need, you’ll probably save in the long run by sticking with your list.
5. Toilet Paper.
I’m just kidding; some things are worth every penny they cost. But you might want to consider some of the other disposables you buy every month. Paper towels, styrofoam plates, and plastic silverware might save you time at the sink, but you’re also throwing away cash every time you use them. Being more environmentally friendly and finding ways to reduce and reuse is as good for your wallet as it is for the planet.