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6 Things to Stop Wasting Money On

6 Things to Stop Wasting Money On

With costs on the rise, we're all looking for ways to save money—probably so we can afford a tank of gas. Outside of taking courses on money management, there are ways we can buckle down and trim down our spending. Granted, a budget is a great way to control spending. But let's dive deeper into what is and isn't a necessity. Or, in the words of my grandmother, what to stop "throwing money down the drain."

It's tough. You may have to have an open mind on some of these, and others, well—you may wholeheartedly disagree. But at least take the time to consider some of the savings and tally up the total at the end.

1. Food 

Okay, we do need food to survive. So, we're not suggesting that you eliminate eating. What we are advising you to stop wasting money on is regularly eating out. Especially if you're a career person, you can go back to packing a lunch and spare yourself some cash. You'll be eating healthier too, and odds are, your workplace has a microwave, a fridge, maybe even a toaster over.

Not a career person? How often do you grab snacks at the local gas station? Perhaps swing through for fast food on your way with the kids to a Saturday sports event? Maybe, you're more likely to grab a doughnut/scone in the morning with your coffee?

Let's do some math. Based on a weekly average of two lunches per week valued at $10, or a weekly spending allotment of $20 for random food purchases, at the end of the month, you have spent $80.00. Reduce it to two lunches out per month (I know, it's painful) and $5 a week for a snack, and you've reduced your monthly expenses by half—a $40.00 savings.

2. Coffee

Now I am the first person to scream if you even dare to threaten my coffee. However, take it from someone who basically owned stock in the local coffee chain. There are savings in saying goodbye to the barista and hello to the home coffee-making options—many of which rival professional services anyway.

Let's take a basic drink at a local coffee chain. A latte. Throw in some syrup. Swap milk out to almond milk, as it seems many do, and your average-sized latte will run you between $5-8. If we settle on a mid-range price of $7 per cup and assume we stop a minimum of 3 times per week, that totals $21 per week or $84 per month.

Reduce it to one cup per week (that's honestly generous if you reroute your coffee fund and buy your own steamer and espresso maker), and you've dropped your monthly expenditures on coffee to $28—a $56.00 savings.

3. Apps 

Some apps on your phone are necessary for coordinating family events and for work. Some are even more cost-efficient than purchasing software for your home computer, DVDs/CDs, etc. But there are a lot of wasteful apps that we can cut back on as well.

For example, an audiobook app may incur monthly fees of $15-$25 to access 2-3 audiobooks. Your local library has an app that allows you to borrow for FREE. There are also a lot of gaming apps that are a lot of fun once you value up by purchasing the additional value packs or full rights to the game where you don't have to listen to a 20-second advertisement. Often, many of these games you can level up by playing a bit harder or longer, and really, a 20-second break from staring at your screen not only makes the game FREE to play but also gives your eyes a chance to rest.

It's hard to average out costs for apps simply because many of us have various habits. But let's go with the audiobook app and a $15/month allotment for that, plus an extra $10/month for other gaming and non-essential app expenses. This totals $25/month. Reduce it to no audiobook app in exchange for your library's app (and needing to have some patience to get that new release), and you've introduced a monthly savings of $15.

We have taken three very popular "money-wasters" to paint an example of what you could potentially save per month. Let's assume this is the only area we can save money. Based on our calculations above, we can save a total of $111.00 per month, or, more shockingly, a savings of $1,332.00 per year! Is giving up some of these luxuries painful? Absolutely. We've become accustomed to things "on the go" and easy, immediate access to what we want. With a bit of patience, a little preparation, and some planning ahead, you can significantly increase your savings account. Maybe a grand isn't a lot to you, but for this Midwestern gal, it's critical.

But those aren't the only areas you can save money in. There are other areas we throw money at that really aren't necessary. Bear with me when I suggest the following areas:

4. Beauty 

Pedicures and manicures can easily run $60-$100 per month. Expensive cosmetics can also launch you rather quickly to that monthly $100 price tag. Are these wrong in and of themselves? That's not the argument we're making. Stop and consider how necessary these are to your needs.

5. Lottery Tickets 

Some of us are already vehemently "no-ing" this, but many also buy them for a lark, a weekly challenge, or a personal competition. It's not uncommon for someone to drop $25-50 a month on the "fun" of playing the odds. Maybe this translates to casinos instead of the lottery, but regardless, "luck" is usually not a lady, and you can save quite a bit if you choose to gamble over Blackjack at home using toothpicks.

6. Gym Memberships 

All of us who are not in love with exercising just sat up and noticed this, didn't we? But let's talk straight. How many of you have gym memberships you use less than four times a month? This means you go to the gym once per week. If you're a regular gym user, this example isn't for you because you're doing what you're supposed to with your membership. However, many of us have memberships with the intention of becoming more disciplined. These aren't cheap and can end up costing us hundreds when all we really need to do is go outside for a walk. If you're going to do some focused training, then a gym membership is probably a necessity. But if you're like me and just want to work out a few times a week for 30 minutes to get your heart rate up - buuuuuuuuut you usually manage to work out maybe once or twice - you may want to rethink the reality of that monthly membership.

There are a lot of other areas we can consider. The challenge is to sit down and take a hard look at what you spend your money on and what equates to a need versus a want. And be honest with yourself. Needs and wants are very different things. I may want to have beautiful hands and fingernails via a manicure, but I will not lose my job or my position with others if my nails are homemade painted and I use lotion on my own hands throughout the day.

Saving money is going to become a bigger need as time goes on. Probably more than some of us realize. Now is a great time to get a jump start and begin saving, even if you do need to pack your own sandwich for work tomorrow.

Photo credit: ©Szymon12455/Unsplash

Jaime Jo Wright is the winner of the Carol, Daphne du Maurier, and INSPY Awards. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of three novellas. The Christy Award-Winning author of “The House on Foster Hill”, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful mysteries stained with history's secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!



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