Despite your best efforts to live frugally, sometimes it's hard to figure out just where all your hard-earned dollars are going. One of the best ways to save money is simply to eliminate unneeded costs. Pay attention to these often overlooked expenses that may be draining your wallet:
Convenience Stores and Vending Machines
Stopping off the convenience store for that last-minute purchase of a quart of milk or loaf of bread is an expensive habit. Prices for these staple items are far higher than your local supermarket, and you'll be tempted to spend on extras like pricey coffee drinks, candy bars, and snacks.
It's three o'clock and you're heading to the office vending machines for a quick pick-me-up. The cost of that bag of chips and your daily Diet Coke is many times what you'd pay at the supermarket. Bring your own and save. In fact, bringing your own snack is one of the best ways to save money. While you're at it, invest in a reusable water bottle rather than pay for bottled water.
Overlooked Automatic Payments
Remember that "free" magazine subscription that you opted for months ago? The fine print in many subscriptions provides for automatic renewal. Check your monthly credit card or bank statement to be sure that you are not paying for unwanted subscriptions.
Multiple Streaming Services
Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and the multitude of new streaming services are enticing. But are you really fully utilizing all of the streaming services that you are paying for? Narrow down your favorites, and then consider completely cutting the cord with your cable company. Eliminating any type of unneeded subscriptions is one of the easiest ways to save.
Unnecessary Insurance Coverages
If you haven't reviewed your auto, homeowners and life insurance policies in a while, you may be overpaying for coverages you no longer need. Give your insurance agent a call. Be sure that you're taking advantage of all the available auto insurance discounts, like good driver or safety features. If you're driving an older vehicle, find out whether a reduction in collision coverage is feasible.
Utility bills get expensive. One of the best ways to save money is to simply be conscientious of your energy usage. A few easy steps can save you plenty on your utility bills:
- Repair leaky toilets and sinks, and fix drafty doors and windows with weather stripping or caulk.
- Make sure your vents are not blocked by furniture and change your furnace filter each spring and fall.
- Turn your water heater down a few degrees. Make use of a programmable thermostat to automatically turn down the thermostat when you're asleep or at work.
- Replace your incandescent bulbs with LEDs; these last longer and use 75% less electricity.
- The ominously named "vampire" power is using electricity when equipment is turned off or in standby mode but still plugged in. Unplug devices like gaming systems, chargers, and printers when not in use, and invest in "smart strip" power strips that turn off power to devices, not in use.
Choose a Better Credit Card
Review your credit accounts; can you find a card with a lower interest rate or with better cashback offers? Check your monthly statement for unused points or cashback bonuses. Having a credit card that best fits your needs is one of the smartest ways to save money.
Check Your Tires
Under-inflated car tires use more fuel. Invest in an inexpensive tire gauge for routine checks and be sure to maintain correct tire pressure.
Be aware of your bank's fee policies. Depending on the type of account, monthly service fees can be as much as $15 or more, but can usually be waived by maintaining a minimum balance or by linking another savings or checking account. Avoid costly ATM fees by limiting your transactions to your own bank's ATMs.
Closely review your cable bill for added fees. You can score long term savings by purchasing your router, modem or cable box rather than paying a monthly rental fee for each of these devices.