If you're struggling to make your budget work (or just want to save some extra money), you can cut discretionary expenses. Discretionary expenses not necessarily bad expenses if you have the money to spend on them, but they are ones that we don't really need to spend our money.
Here are 10 expense you can easily cut now, including:
- Cable or Satellite TV – One big expense that you can cut out is your cable or satellite TV bill. We've gone many years without paying for TV in the past and didn't miss the extra channels at all. Here are some tips on how to cut cable to save money, which includes using an antenna for the basic channels and supplementing with Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. If you can't cut the cable entirely, you may be able to reduce the number of channels and save some money on your bill.
- Home Phone – If every member of your household has a cell phone, do you really need to spend money on a home phone also? Of course, there are reasons to keep the home phone (like if you have young kids and don't want to worry about calling 911 from a cell phone). But, often, you can eliminate the expense of a home phone and just use your cell phones rather than pay an extra phone bill.
- Starbucks Coffee – Do you really need Starbucks coffee every day? Invest in a good coffee maker and make your own coffee at home. You can always buy a premium coffee and coffee mug. Save Starbucks for a splurge every so often.
- Soft Drinks – This is a big one for me. I have a hard time cutting soft drinks out of my diet entirely (although I try every so often). But, it's really an unnecessary expense since you can just drink water. If you can't cut the expense, then look for less expensive ways to buy it. Rather than order a soft drink in a restaurant (for $2 to $2.50), keep a stash of cans at home in the fridge for an occasional indulgence.
- Dining Out – I'll admit that I love to eat out. Who doesn't love someone else to cook and clean for you? However, not only can eating out a lot be tough on the waistline, but it can also be tough on the wallet. If you can't cut dining out entirely, then reduce the number of times you eat out in a month. Make sure you set yourself up for success by creating a realistic menu plan that works for your schedule so you're not tempted to eat out.
- Cleaning Products – As evidenced by my 30 day series on DIY cleaning, you can easily save money on cleaning products by using cheap ingredients like baking soda and vinegar to make your own cleaning products. Most times, they clean just as well, and they don't contain toxic chemicals.
- Services – Are there services that you're paying for that you can do yourself much cheaper (like yard maintenance, lawn fertilization, pest control, etc.)? Sometimes it's worth it to pay for those services if you just don't have the skills or time. But, sometimes, it's not that difficult to do the job yourself for much less than if you paid someone else to do it.
- Late Fees – If you borrow books from the library or rent videos, create a system to make sure that you return your items on time to avoid paying late fees. $0.10 per day at the library can really add up over a couple of days when you have lots of books checked out!
- ATM Fees – Plan ahead and pull cash when you're near your home bank to avoid paying ATM fees at both your bank and the ATM where you pull the money. We don't live extremely close to our bank, but we do drive by it a couple of times a week. I make sure I pull money ahead of time to avoid fees (or having to pay for extra gas to make a special trip to the bank).
- Memberships and subscriptions – Do you pay a regular fee to use a gym or get a newspaper subscription? That's fine if you use it, but periodically evaluate your memberships where you are automatically charged to make sure you are really using them and that they're worth the money you're paying. With automatic purchases, it can sometimes be easier to just pay the charge month after month than to actually do something to cancel the service.
What about you? Are there things you cut and no longer pay for? What expenses do you cut to save money?