Budgeting sucks. It feels restrictive and often leads to discouragement when we can’t follow through. That discouragement often leads to a nihilistic attitude that encourages binge spending. And the cycle continues.
The problem is that most traditional budgets just don’t work. They often espouse dollar allotments for each spending category per month; $40 for clothes, $400 for food, $300 for entertainment, and so on. The problem with that strategy is that monthly spending doesn’t fall into neatly defined buckets like that.
Sometimes you need new work clothes or your favourite pair of 10-year-old jeans need to finally be replaced. Right there, you’re over your clothing budget.
Instead, why not cut out some common expenses, focusing on the ones that bring you the least amount of joy? For many, nights out with friends are worth the expense but lunch takeout during the week isn’t. Still, many do both.
Cutting out some common expenses are a great way to save money. Of course, this advice is nothing new. But let’s take a look at just how much you can save by axing things that drain your bank account every month.
It’s important to note that these are just examples meant to show how much cash you keep in your pocket by cutting common costs. Perhaps some of these don’t apply to you; maybe they’re things you would never be willing to axe out of your budget. That’s fine. But take a look at your own budget, crunch some numbers, and see how easy it is to save extra money every month by cutting out things you don’t consider essential to your life or happiness.
Unused gym memberships
We sign up with the best intentions (usually at the beginning of January) but many allow their fitness goals to fall by the wayside come February. Not everyone of course; but if you’re someone who has an unused gym membership draining you of funds every month – cancel it.
That could save you as little as $60 per month and as much as $200 per month.
Monthly savings: $60
Remember in high school when your parents would give you money to buy lunch once a week? How special that takeout meal was as reprieve from peanut butter and jam or bologna sandwiches? As an adult, takeout lunches become much less special because we have them so often.
So, why not harken back to your younger days and save money at the same time?
Considering many takeout meals cost $10-$20, at least in Toronto, bringing lunch to work can save you $10 per day — even after factoring in the cost of packing your own.
Monthly savings: $160
Admittedly, this is one of my least favourite bits of financial advice. It seems every financial “expert” has, at one time or another, advocated skipping Starbuck’s. However, there are ways to get your daily fix and still save some scratch.
Why not opt for a simple drip coffee instead of a pricey latte? That could save you at least $3 per beverage. Say you buy a latte four days a week; switching to a coffee will save you $12 per week.
Monthly savings: $48
Online impulse buys
Online retailers are smart. Google a product? Prepare for it to show up on every website you visit for the next two weeks. And that seems to happen when even mentioning or thinking about a particular store or product near your phone.
And most shopping websites make it easier to spend cash by allowing you to store your credit card information on the website, meaning your next purchase is at the ready with the click of a button.
Simply removing your stored card info may be enough to discourage you from making purchases you will later regret. So, instead of buying things online on impulse, give yourself a few days to mull the potential purchase over.
It’s hard to estimate just how much this can save you in a month, but I’d be willing to hazard a guess you’d pocket at least an extra $50 per month.
Monthly savings: $50
How much time do you actually spend watching TV? And is that really what you want to do with your time? If so, great. Keep it. But if not, realize you don’t need it anymore.
Join the rest of us in 2018. Cut cable and get Netflix.
Savings per month: $50
There you go. Cutting five non-essential expenses can save you $368. You may be sitting there thinking “there’s no way I can get rid of cable or my daily coffee habit or my gym membership.”
And that’s fine.
The purpose of this article is to make you more thoughtful of your spending. Take a look at a month’s worth of spending and try to hone in on certain categories that you can cut out. Crunch some numbers; you’ll be surprised how much you can save.
- 15 Ways to Save Money Without Living a Bummer Lifestyle
- How I Saved $100,000
- Saving Habits of Canadians: Is There a Gender Divide?
Photo by Jordan Bauer on Unsplash