Facing a financial crunch? Too much debt to recover from? This new year, make smarter choices when it comes to spending money on some very common things, a few expenditures which you can cut down easily and make a big difference to your finances. To come out of debt you need to focus on where you are spending most of your money on, the little things, the frivolous use of your credit cards on things you don’t need, the lack of a solid budget every month, a bit of laziness here and there. In a bid to help you plan and spend money in a better way in the coming year, we give you 10 things you need pay attention and avoid over spending your money:
No matter how much you love movies, you don’t need to buy to buy them. When it comes to watching movies at home, rely on renting services such as Redbox or Blockbuster, or even a local DVD rental store you can find. If you do want high quality prints and originals, get a Netflix membership and use it fully. Even with such a paid membership, you will end up spending a lot less than when you go to a music store and actually buy the DVD to add to your collection. Sure, you can of course buy couple of DVDs in a year, movies that you’d really like to own, however there is absolutely no need to run to the store to purchase a new DVD release every month. It’s a lot of money wasted.
Similarly, if you end up spending a lot of money going to the movie theatre every month to catch a new flick, then start reducing this expenditure today. Going to the movies is not just about the movie ticket cost, it’s also a bunch of other things we usually end up doing such as buying a large bag of popcorn and soda, or eating dinner out itself. You can cut these expenditures instantly by limiting the number of movie outings you make in a month.
Let’s face it, those extra large packs of paper towels and napkins we end up storing in the basement don’t really get used, unless you plan to throw a party. Most of us, in a bid to save money go for the cheaper varieties of paper towels to use in the kitchen or bathroom, however these are never worth the money. They are found to be made of bad quality paper that has little or no absorption, tears quickly and we end up using 10 of these towels at once to get the job done. Why not just use cloth rags instead? If you are going to spend on something like toilet paper, then buy a better variety, even if it costs a few bucks extra. But when it comes paper towels, there is absolutely no need. Because you won’t end up using them, and if you do their quality serves no purpose at all. A couple of dollars spend on 10 packs of paper towels will all go into the bin. Resist buying things with the idea that they “might” come in use in the future because they usually don’t. And resist buying things just because they come at dirt cheap prices. You still are spending your money on them.
If coffee is your preferred beverage in the morning, then it’s best you learn how to make it. It won’t taste like your Starbucks cappuccino but it will work. Invest in a good French Press or a simple coffee maker to make your morning coffee and save those 10 dollars every morning. You can purchase coffee beans from leading chains like Starbucks itself if you want a particular taste, and in doing so you will still save more than if you go every morning to get a fresh cup of coffee. It’s also about being a little less lazy and spending 5 extra minutes in the kitchen. Morning coffee is something a lot many people spend on, and it’s honestly a wasteful expenditure. You can of course buy your morning coffee once or twice a month, but if your finances don’t permit it, then don’t make it a habit.
We all love credit and debit cards, don’t we? Convenient, fast, reliable. Those of us who use cards to withdraw cash frequently are all guilty of being lazy and using an ATM that is nearby to withdraw the cash, paying 2-5 dollars extra on each transaction, than walk a little further to find an ATM for our own bank which is completely free. This is nothing but pure laziness, which makes us act against our own benefit just because something is convenient and closer. If you average 5 transactions in a month, then at an average of 5 dollars per transaction, you end up spending 300 dollars a year just on ATM transaction fees. Wasteful.
Eight years back you could afford to buy a car, but economic conditions have changed drastically since then. So even if you do own a car, remember that you’re spending a significant amount of money every month on gasoline to use your vehicle. A sure shot way of saving money is to spend less of personal means of transport and instead opt for public transport, or even walking. Instead of using your car to go to the local supermarket, walk it. It will save money and also give you some exercise. Use your vehicle only if the distance is considerable and you’re in a hurry. In all other cases, be it to travel to work, college, or the nearby mall, either use the subway or a public bus. In this regard, start spending less of cabs as well. If you really need to go somewhere and are pressed for time, opt for a cab only then. If you’re stranded in the middle of the night, and all public transport options are shut, look for a cab. Spending on cabs is no less wasteful than gasoline because if you plan your time and travel well in advance, there will always be a cheaper option available.
Late Payment Fees
How hard is it to just pay your bills on time? Because believe it or not, the late payment fees that keep piling up against your bills amount to hundreds of dollars over the year, a significant amount of money you could save up and put to use somewhere else. Be it your credit card bill, phone, electricity, water and other services, track your bills and payments with utmost care to avoid defaulted payments. Make it a habit to pay the bills well within the deadline to avoid rushing to make the payment on the last day. If you’re prone to forgetting, get an automatic payments facility wherever possible so that payments get debited from your bank account whenever due and save you time. But for services which do not offer this facility, note down the last date of payment and put a reminder for yourself. Take time out for these things, it’s for your own benefit,
High End Cosmetics
Ladies, this one is especially for you. A 15 dollar sunscreen lotion is going to serve the same purpose as a 100 dollar lotion from a high end brand. Spending money on expensive cosmetics and skincare products might be your way to indulge in yourself, but it is certainly not amusing for your pocket. There are tons of things you can buy at a nominal cost instead of going for one high end product. Sure you can splurge on products such as nice perfume for yourself, however if you’re in the habit of hitting a Dior or Calvin Klein showroom for every basic necessity of your skincare and makeup regime, then stop. You’re wasting your money on something which will do the same job, finish in about the same time or even less and the vicious cycle will continue because the moment you find yourself able to buy something expensive, you cannot stop buying it again and again. But your money is hard earned and you’d want it to go in the right places too. Spend a few hundred dollars less on yourself, and instead buy something for your parents and family once in a while instead.
Book lovers might have every reason to disagree, but it is the ugly truth. Hardback books are a waste of money. If you love reading, the first thing you must consider is getting a membership of a good library. This way you will be able to read more while spending less. If you want to buy books, that is alright as long as you don’t go overboard. If you want to buy books, always opt for the paperback version of the title – no matter how beautiful a hard back version might look, it has the same content inside. From a strictly financial perspective, borrowing books is the most cost effective way of indulging in your love for reading. To altogether reduce the amount of money you spend on books, look for some good second hand stores where you might even find hard back copies for a cheaper price. Similarly, look for ebook versions online. A lot of people consider money spent on buying new books as money well spent, but for the individual who knows his/her finances are limited and can be used somewhere else as well, some intelligent choices need to be made when it comes to books and even magazines.
How many times have you considered making lunch for yourself in the morning before you leave for work or study, instead of buying it at the cafeteria or going to the local fast food joint to eat? There is a considerable health impact of junk food which we all are already aware of in hindsight. Spending money eating at McDonald’s 6 out of 7 days a week might seem fine because it is so cheap, but if you actually start adding up the money you spend on junk food every month, it comes out to a lot. Brown bag lunch atleast 5 out of 7 days a week and learn how to make some simple dishes at home if you live on your own. If you try hard enough, you might be able to make the very same dish you pay 20 dollars for outside, for 1/10th the price at home. If you want to start controlling your expenditures and use money more wisely to prevent financial crunches, something as basic as food is the best place to start.
Super Saver Packs of Almost Everything
Supermarkets will have giant super saver packs of almost everything you need to survive. Household necessities like soaps, shampoos or food items like ketchup or spices. The problem with these super saver packs is that they seem to be incredibly priced and give you the impression that you’re going to be saving up a lot if you buy more. Which is partly, true however the question arises – how much of it are you actually going to end up using? When it comes to food items, one should absolutely avoid large packs because they’re mostly perishable, unless of course you’re certain that you will be able to consume it all within the product expiry. When it comes to household necessities, be selective. Items like toilet paper, detergents etc. which are used on a daily basis are still worth purchasing, but if you spot a new shampoo and buy a large bottle of it just to save a few cents, you’re being stupid. Without trying out a product, it is wasteful to buy a large pack. Super saver packs should be an option only for items you have tried and tested. When it comes to things like soaps or shampoos, mix it up and go for variety. More than saving a few dollars and then ultimately having to throw half of what you bought because it’s either expired or because you don’t want to use it anymore, you want to spend a dollar extra on something you like and will be able to use fully, giving you value for money.