If you’re tired of your monthly bank account balance vanishing into oblivion faster than you can say “Pay Day,” take a look at these common expenses many Americans are paying way too much for. You might be able to cut your spending by taking a few simple actions.
If you just can’t start the day without your standard quadruple-shot Venti Americano coffee, consider the hefty chunk of change this habit is likely taking out of your pocket. Starbucks and many other coffeehouse franchises are notorious for marking their products up by as much as 300%. Someone who spends $3 or more every day on fancy lattes is way overspending on coffee – you could make your own at home for less than a quarter a day.
Take a look at your monthly expenses to make sure you know exactly where your money is going. You may be surprised to find that you’re paying for things you don’t use anymore, such as a magazine subscription or a gym membership. You may also be able to cancel other subscriptions in favor of cheaper alternatives. For example, many customers have opted to cancel their expensive cable subscriptions since the rise of online video streaming companies such as Netflix and Hulu.
A recent study by Credit Sesame reported that a third of Americans are overpaying on loans by as much as $541 a month. That’s more than $30,000 in less than 5 years. If you’ve improved your credit since you first took out a loan for a car, for your home or any other reason, you may be able to refinance and get a much better rate. As a matter of fact, improving your credit score also could help lower your payments on other expenses, such as utilities, rent and insurance.
If you’ve become complacent with your insurance company and the rates you’ve been paying for years, you’re probably paying too much. It’s important to shop around every year or so using websites to compare rates and offers from a variety of providers to find the best value available for you. You may also be able to adjust your policy if you’ve had the same coverage limits for several years in addition to finding other smart opportunities to save, such as good-driver and bundle discounts.
How often do you dine in at restaurants or order take-out instead of cooking or packing a meal from home? If the answer is more often than not, you’re spending way too much on food. The $7 you spent on a hamburger meal from a fast food joint could be used instead to buy an entire chicken from a grocery store and create multiple meals for yourself or your family. Even if you only buy food from dollar menus, purchasing staples from a grocery store that can be combined to form a variety of meals is much better for your body and for your wallet than eating out.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spends almost $3,000 a year on gasoline alone. If you’re shelling out hundreds of dollars on gasoline every month, you might consider cutting back on road trips and finding alternative modes of transportation such as carpools, public transportation or bicycling. It’s also important to monitor gas prices and fill up when you’re sure you’re getting the best value. Don’t just choose the first station you see when your car is on empty – plan ahead to get the biggest bang for your buck.
It’s easy to quickly burn a hole in your pocket when you go out for a night on the town or even just take the family out to a movie. It’s best to take advantage of cheap or even free entertainment options such as a trip to the park or other community activities, but if you (understandably) need to enjoy an occasional fun night out, just make sure to a plan. Take a limited amount of cash with you to the bars, and eat a big meal before going to the movies so you won’t be tempted to blow $10 or more on an overpriced bucket of popcorn and a small soda at concessions.
The bottom line is that you can improve your bottom line by taking more control over your spending. Choose where you can cut back, and enjoy the extra cash you’ll have in your pockets.