By the time you pay the bills, contribute to your emergency fund, not to mention put in what you can for retirement, there sure is not much leftover, which makes it all more important where every dollar is going. A good way to start seeing where your hard-earned money is going is to take last month’s debit or credit card statement and actually go line by line. From there you can put together a budget of what you’re currently spending, and from there, start to trim down to reasonable levels, so there will likely need to be cuts somewhere. By making some tough choices and sacrifices, after you start to see the savings pile up, you may not even miss those non-essential items any longer.
This may be the hardest cut to make, especially if you have been used to your entire life having the ease of flipping through the channels to find something to watch. The truth is, we don’t have the patience to watch commercials so all of the shows we watch are on DVR, let alone whether you pay for cable but your entire TV watching comes from streaming services such at Netflix. By cutting the cable cord and getting used to other means to watch your favorite shows, you may not even miss not having hundreds of channels with nothing to watch.
By the time the end of the year comes you start to have a refection of where you are, and where you thought you’d be, in the form of a new year’s resolution, which usually means weight loss, or lack thereof. When you find start to join and get in the habit of going, it can really give your energy and self-esteem a boost, but once you miss a visit, it’s all downhill from there. Pretty soon weeks, and then months, are going by without going but you’re still paying every month. By saving $50 a month and just cancelling, you can take the dog for a walk more often and enjoy the fresh air.
Going Out to Eat
It’s nice to have someone else do the cooking, cleaning up, not to mention waiting on you, but that comes at a premium price. Whether it’s stopping for coffee in the morning, going out to lunch at work, or grabbing carryout for dinner on your way home, that adds up pretty quickly to what could be hundreds of dollars a month, and could be double that if you go out to a restaurant multiple times a month instead of going grocery shopping at eating at home.
Stopping for Snacks at the Gas Station
Even if you’re eating healthy and are avoiding the chips and energy drinks, that doesn’t mean that going to the gas station or liquor store for items that you can buy at the grocery store, for much cheaper and a larger quantity, makes sense. Sure, it’s the ease, hence the name ‘convenience store’, but single serving items costs significant more, so if you make a habit of stopping for a bottle water and a snack often, you could find this could be an easy place to make a cut to save money instantly with great results.
Hitting the Bar Scene Every Weekend
I enjoy going to the bar as much as anyone, as it’s a nice way to catch up with friends and be out in public after a long week of work, or you want to have a night out with the guys. The problem is, beers are $5 and mixed drinks and shots are $8, so if you plan on staying out all night, that can add up pretty quickly, probably not getting out under a hundred dollars. While you can certainly scale down on the bar weekends, that doesn’t mean you can stop hanging with friends. Even having drinks at a house first to listen to music and drink for free, can make a later appearance at the bar worth it.
Ditching Your Current Credit Card for Rewards
As long as you can pay off the statement balance every month, using a credit card for all purchases makes sense, provided you have a rewards credit card. If you don’t, you are missing out on free money just by making the purchases that you would have made anyways, that come in the form of points that you can use for gift cards or earn free hotel room nights, not to mention even just getting cashback once a year, that could add up to hundreds of dollars a year depending how much you spend.