Ever wondered where all your hard-earned money goes? You think you have a good budget and aren’t spending much money on frivolous things, but are you really?
You will be surprised how many little things you buy on a daily or weekly basis that you don’t really need and could easily help you save some money.
On top of that, cutting down on things can help you live a little simpler, with less clutter that sometimes might feel constricting.
Below I have listed 17 things to cut out to help you save money and life a little simpler.
1. Cable TV & Landline
I’m going to keep preaching about cutting cable until the end of time.
Back when I was a university student and just moved into my first apartment, I had everything set up: cable TV, landline telephone and internet, because the cable company told me it was a “better” deal to bundle the services.
After a while I noticed that I wasn’t home enough to answer the calls I got on my landline, so I started listing my cell phone number as my primary number.
I would also only be home in the evenings, so I would eat my dinner in front of the TV and lose sleep while I enjoyed the movie double feature that always happened to be on when I was watching.
The only service I really needed was my internet. So, I decided to cancel the cable TV and landline. I ended up saving a lot of money, not missing too many calls and getting a bit more sleep, because there really wasn’t a reason for me to stay up to finish a movie that I couldn’t pause.
It was a win-win situation and I had a little more money left over for food.
2. Monthly Subscriptions
I’m going to be honest with you, I loved getting my monthly magazine delivered straight into my mailbox. It was something to look forward to and for a while I didn’t have much time to shop or I would forget the newest issue was available. It became my little treat, my only treat.
Since then I have cancelled my monthly magazine subscription and any other kind of subscription that keeps sucking the money out of my account without me even noticing.
That’s the dangerous part about it: we do not notice where and how quickly our money vanishes until we sit ourselves down to take inventory of our finances. Then we get a rude awakening.
The bookstore used to be a safe haven for me. I used to spend a lot of time and money there, because it was a sort of refuge. I love reading and buying books felt comforting.
Until I looked at my bank account and the stacks of unread books piling up in every corner of my shoe box-sized apartment.
And what if you don’t like the book? You can’t really return a book that looks like it has been carried around in a purse or book bag for a few weeks. You are left with a stinker you paid money for only to have it collect dust on your shelf or end up getting donated.
Replace your weekly or monthly trips to the bookstore with trips to your local library. Browse the aisles of book and I guarantee you will find a wider selection than in any bookstore.
Plus, most libraries now have digital catalogs. So, if you ever feel like browsing books late at night, you can do so and put them on hold to pick up in a day or two.
4. Upgrades and Warranties
Any kind of upgrade of any service or extended warranty is usually a waste of money.
Unless it is something that you really need for your job or your side business an upgrade will not be worth it.
I remember buying something once and having been talked into purchasing the extended warranty. The item I bought worked well until it broke down very shortly after the warranty expired.
I felt really dumb and it certainly taught me a lesson.
I rarely buy jewelry these days. At one point I realized I only have ten fingers and I never wear more than my engagement ring, wedding band and one other ring, so why would I need twenty different types of rings?
I cannot justify buying anymore, if I don’t even wear any of the items I already have at home.
6. Pet Grooming
This is a bit of a tricky one. I used to groom the family dog myself. The groomer we had used in the past wasn’t really that friendly and our dog clearly was afraid of her (I wonder what the groomer ever did to those dogs when no one was looking).
That wasn’t a problem, because I could handle the dog myself. So, I saved a bit of money.
Until very recently I used to have a pet rabbit and she was too skittish to clip her claws on my own. It would cost $5 and I would only take her twice a year, because she loved her long claws and would hold a grudge against me when I did take her to get them clipped (she had a very strong personality).
Long story short, if you can and your pet is relatively cooperative, take care of the grooming yourself.
7. Lotions and Shaving Gel
I used to pop into one of those lotion and soap stores whenever I was in the mall and come home packed like a mule with products that made me smell like smores, evergreen forests or lilies.
Then I realized I was actually allergic to perfume.
Now I buy biodegradable, scent-free soap from my hair salon that I use for body, hair, make up removal and regular hand washing. It saves me so much money.
The same is true for shaving gel. Sure, my legs could smell like strawberries during and after shaving them, but I got really bad rashes from the product and it was one more thing I had to buy. It wasn’t worth it.
8. Apps and In-App Purchases
I play a few games on my phone. It helps pass the time when I’m waiting somewhere for an appointment or when I need a quick break from work and it’s not enough time to read a book
But don’t fall for those gimmicks of having to buy an app or making in-app purchases. When you have run out of tries to solve the puzzle you have been working on, then maybe it’s time to get off the phone (or play another game for free).
Your game is probably already playing ads in between levels to make money, so why give them anymore?
9. Coffee To-Go
This is another one of those points I will keep making: buying coffee to-go.
I understand that sometimes the blood sugar levels drop and you need something to keep you from fainting. But hopefully that doesn’t happen everyday.
If you know that your blood sugar levels tend to crash, never leave the house without a snack. Also bring a travel mug with tea or coffee you made at home. If you start feeling peckish while out, rinse your travel mug and use that to buy yourself a coffee or tea.
Most coffee shops give you a small discount for bringing your own mug and it is environmentally friendly.
10. Chemical Cleaning Products
As I mentioned above, I have a big problem with strong smells and most cleaning products have very harsh smells that usually trigger bad headaches and nausea.
So, what do I do to clean my bathroom, the floors and kitchen? I use regular dish soap and make my own cleaning solution.
Take an empty clean cleaner bottle (I like the spray head on those the best), fill it ¾ with white vinegar, a cup of rubbing alcohol, a spritzer or two of lemon essential oil and fill the rest with water. It works amazingly well and has never given me any health trouble.
For an extra scrub sprinkle some baking soda on the surface you want to clean, spray your cleaning solution on it and rest assured it’ll come out clean.
11. Dryer Sheets and Fabric Softener
I used to use dryer sheets and fabric softener for a little while. Both made my body itch and my clothes would still be very static.
So, what is the point of them?
Make sure your clothes are properly rinsed in the wash and that’s all you really need to worry about, because they will smell like your natural body scent as soon as you put them on, which is anyway much more pleasant than harsh smells of tropical fruit or glacier snow.
12. Take-Out Lunches and Dinners
Can you imagine how much money you are spending on lunch and take-out dinner, if that is your go-to for meals?
Sadly, nowadays one can’t even get a quality burger for less than $6 or $7. Add a drink or fries or both and you are looking at a price tag of at least $12, if not more.
Let’s do the math: $12 times 5 lunches (one for every work day) that comes to $60 for lunch in a week.
Let’s say you stop by your favourite pizza place to grab dinner on the way home. With all the deals they have I never get out of my pizza place without spending at least $20-$25, and I’m being very hopeful here.
You get take-out a few times a week, so that would be $25 times 2 dinners (maybe you have some leftovers from your last take-out stop to use for dinner the next evening).
That still comes to $50 a week for take-out and that is only if you are alone, add a couple of kids to feed to the calculation and the total amount you spend on take-out will skyrocket.
13. Brand Name Clothing
Brand name clothing is usually just a way to pull your money out of your pockets. I bought a workout shirt from a popular brand name company that quickly got a whole in the fabric and turned yellow (yes, I washed it after every workout).
I get my essentials from places that are economical, because I know I will wear those items a lot. Wearing them a lot means washing them a lot, which ultimately leads to the items losing their luster.
For tank tops, shirts, underpants and socks I promote them to becoming cozy home wear or pajama items after they have become too dingy to wear out.
I admit I still buy a few items from brand name stores and companies when I know they will last a long time, such as quality workout clothes, I mean, who wants a wardrobe malfunction during kickboxing class?
14. Going to the Movies
Remember when we were teenagers and there was always that one little movie theater nearby that had decent prices, so for dates or just hanging out that was the place to go?
Now we are adults and have to do adult things that cut into our budget of going to the movies every Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This whole movie-going became expensive.
Now, we only go to the movies, if there is a movie we absolutely want to see. We make it our treat every few months. We also collect points to get free movies, which is nice.
We usually save until we have enough points to afford those VIP seats, which is a little consolation for having become adults and dealing with adult stuff.
15. Plastic Wrap
I still use plastic wrap from time to time, but so rarely that one roll lasts me a very long time. I can’t even remember the last time I bought any.
Instead of wrapping your sandwiches for work in plastic wrap or packing them in Ziploc bags, use reusable containers. They will save you a ton of money and help the environment as well.
As a teenager I loved those stores that had a lot of knick-knacks to sell, especially the ones that were part of a set and had to be collected.
Now that I’m in my 30’s I constantly scan my apartment, looking for those knick-knacks to put in storage, because I can’t stand cleaning them. They collect so much dust and I really can’t be bothered to spend more time than necessary cleaning things that aren’t necessary.
Plus, I have come to the realization that if an item really doesn’t have a purpose in my home, then why do I own it?
I still wear foundation with a little powder and blush everyday, because, believe it or not, it provides a barrier between my skin and the many allergens that fly around in the air (I am super sensitive and tend to get rashes very quickly).
I found that the Sephora brand foundation works just as well or even better than the very expensive high-end brands I used to buy.
One bottle of foundation and a palette of powder usually last me a month or longer and I have yet to run out of blush (unless I drop it and it smashes into a million pieces).
I only wear mascara, lipstick and eye shadow on special occasions and those are usually few and far between.
So, there is really no need to have regular shopping trips to the make-up counter at the department store or a lengthy online shopping spree at Sephora, because the products will go bad way before I will ever use them up completely.
It is remarkable how many things we tend to buy without even thinking about. They seem like necessary everyday things that we think we need, but in actuality can do very well without.
Of course, there are many more items you could come up with specifically to your lifestyle that can be cut without taking away any of your daily comforts.
And just think about it. You may take a little more time making your own lunch, but with the money you save you could pay off a debt, save for a rainy day or put towards your vacation fund.
The choices and options are endless and the rewards are very satisfying.