Most people write out their budgets from time to time in search of little costs that could be eliminated in order to stretch their paycheck a little further. The problem is that it’s easy to identify the big costs that we are responsible for each month, but think about all the small things that we spend money on without even thinking about it. The fact is that most people could save hundreds of dollars every month and thousands of dollars every year by making a conscience effort to eliminate some of these small costs.
Everyone has different areas that they could cut spending on in order to save more money, but here are some of the more common areas where improvement can be surprisingly easy.
– Buy Generic Brands: You may not want to buy generic brands of everything you use, but there are some items in just about every aisle of a grocery store that feature a generic product that is virtually identical to the original. Saving just $5 a week by picking generic instead of brand name goods will result in almost $300 a year in savings.
– Brown Bag Your Lunch: Think about how much money you spend on your lunch break each day. Many people routinely spend $8 – $10 a day on a sandwich and a bag of chips. If you’re spending $40 a week on lunch, plus occasional dinners, breakfasts, and trips to the coffee shop, then you’re devoting a significant amount of money to eating at restaurants. For a real eye-opener, write down every dollar you spend on food at restaurants for a month. Bringing a lunch even two days a week can result in savings of over a thousand dollars over the course of a year, and that’s real money!
– Avoid Banking Fees: Look back at your past few banking statements and add up the amount of money you spent in fees. Things like ATM fees, overdraft fees, and other charges for the privilege of banking somewhere are great for banks, but terrible consumers, especially when you’re earning almost no interest on your money. Open a free checking or savings account with a bank near your home of office that you can use to access cash without paying fees or get cash back with your debit card at grocery stores. A $1.50 ATM fee doesn’t sound like much, but they add up quickly.
– Buy Only What You Need: We all like to treat ourselves to something once in a while that we wouldn’t normally buy, but impulse purchases need to be kept to a minimum. One of the easiest traps to fall into is buying something because it’s on sale. If you weren’t planning to purchase that item when you walked into the store, then the few dollars you save compared to the regular price has just caused you to spend money that you had not budgeted for. Coupon shopping can lead to the same unnecessary spending.
– Break Bad Habits: If you smoke, drink excessively, or have some other habit that you spend money on each month the financial benefits to ridding yourself of that habit can be just as important as the health benefits. Think about how much money a smoker spends on cigarettes each month. Quitting smoking will not only lead to better physical health, but it will make a big difference in a person’s financial health as well.