In my early days at TFD, I needed to make more significant adjustments in my finances to accommodate a different working situation — one from which I did not draw a predictable income. This new dynamic forced me to review my spending habits with increased scrutiny, and cut out the excess “fat,” so to speak, that had been dragging down the health of my finances. I’ve learned to not take any dollar for granted and to view the purchase of items such as music software memberships and fancy grocery store snacks with a discerning eye, for the sometimes wasteful expenses they can be. In the past, I’d spent a good deal of money on stupid things that I would usually regret afterward, but that changed when I didn’t have a reliable paycheck to count on to offset those purchases.
Throughout this process, I identified eight wasteful expenses that I needed to eliminate, and ones that I feel can help anyone ~purify~ their own spending habits.
8 Wasteful Expenses To Cut Out Of Your Life This Week
1. The lingering & outdated gym membership.
Let’s not fudge facts here — a staggering 67% of people who have gym memberships never use them. I’ll raise my hand high for all to see, for I myself was one of those people who had a gym membership and never went. I simply did not have the time in my schedule to hit the gym on a busy day, and it is, unfortunately, the first thing that gets cut out. I canceled my membership for a period of time, and it felt incredible to have been relieved of that expense. Nowadays, I will often opt for going on walking meetings, quick half-hour jogs around the park, or an inexpensive community yoga class that I can walk or drive to. If you haven’t been to the gym since the first week of January, it’s time to let go. I say, get outside! Get some fresh air! I am a HUGE advocate for staying physically active and in shape, but that doesn’t mean conforming to the reigning notion that the gym is the BEST and ONLY place to do that.
2. Overpaying on auto and home insurance.
Shop around frequently and know the market so you understand the range of the rates you can work with. You could be vastly overpaying and have no idea, so if you have one of these types of insurance, do your research and makes phone calls to various agencies to try and get a better rate. A close friend of mine recently contacted an alternate insurance provider for a quote, after having been a responsible and accident-free driver for some time. She had a bad accident years ago and believed that no one would be willing to insure her. It turns out that she was able to pick up a different auto insurance policy for nearly half the price she was currently paying. It’s essential that you aren’t wasting money by overpaying on insurance when you’re keeping close track of your finances. See these tips before heading out to do your insurance recon work.
3. Buying individually packaged food items.
Everything from bottled water and juice, to individually packaged yogurt and hummus to-go packs, are not only more expensive than bulk items, but much more wasteful. When I go to the grocery store I make sure to buy items in bulk quantity and portion them out when I get home in reusable containers.
4. Leaving online coupon codes blank!
Try your best to never buy something full price. If you aren’t using coupons as often as you can, you’re throwing money away. If you are online shopping and arrive at checkout, only to be greeted by the floating blank “coupon code” space, make sure you have a code to put in, and never feel assaulted by its emptiness again. Websites like RetailMeNot, Promocodes, and Honey offer incredible coupon codes across a wide range of stores for which you can get stellar deals.
5. Wasting electricity use.
As a child, I always scowled at my mother and father who would all too frequently remind me to, “close the refrigerator door,” “turn off the lights when you leave the house,” and “don’t leave the water running!” As an adult, I now understand the weight of how these wasteful behaviors increase your water and electricity bills. Bloated bills mean you can reduce your overall energy use and smartly create an eco-friendly house today, to avoid overspending on it tomorrow! Your wallet will thank you. Tips for reducing your use of energy can be found here and here.
6. Thursday night AND weekend outings.
When it comes to your big night out, often we get ahead of ourselves and do it up big on a Thursday night (because it’s soooo close to the weekend), only to repeat the whole thing on the weekend itself. And while there can be better deals to be found on Thursdays, you also might find yourself wishing you had waited til the real weekend to spend that going-out money (and hangover). So really plan out your weekends, starting with Thursday. And if you know you’re going to want to do something on the weekend itself, when Thursday comes around, instead of going out, select a free activity like reading a book you’ve meant to, going for a walk, finding a fun meetup, or drawing yourself a bath for a night of at-home pampering.
7. Premium cable.
You know you don’t watch a majority of the channels you pay for, making cable one of the most wasteful expenses out there. I know that there aren’t enough hours in the day to scroll up to channels in the 800s. I recently got my parents to cut back on their cable bill because I find it to be an absurd waste of money to pay for something you barely use. While it’s a nice luxury to have when guests are over, or when you want to catch a new show premiere, premium cable is a gross misuse of your money when trying to stick to a tight budget. Let it go. Leeeeeeeet it go.
8. Fancy cleaning supplies.
As a designer, I am certainly not immune to the fancy packaging on artisanal ~small-batch~ goods, but household cleaning supplies are considered a luxury in my mind. Of course, I always prefer using natural and organic cleaners to the chemically laden alternatives, but this only means that the cleaners are easier to make myself at home! Don’t waste your money on expensive items like these when there are perfectly great DIY alternatives out there. A majority of them require minimal effort to make, and simple ingredients you may already have on hand. See the gallery here for 67 all-natural homemade cleaning product recipes.
See Where You Can Cut Back
I encourage you to take a look at where you’re spending frivolously, and where you can cut back to keep more money in your pocket. Implementing these eight changes significantly helped me in the short term and helped me sustain my long-term financial health.
This post was originally published on May 11, 2015 and has since been updated.
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