None of us like wasting money, but spoiler: Most of us are.
You might be surprised to learn you’re probably spending too much money on even some of the most basic, everyday items.
That’s why it’s time to do a quick inventory check to find areas you can cut back. Start with these common money-wasters:
1. Bank Fees
Here’s the truth: It’s way too easy to get tangled into the expensive web of bank fees. There are the obvious ones, like overdrafting, then the ones that’ll sneak up on you, like monthly maintenance fees and minimum balance fees.
Stop wasting money on these fees by moving your money to an Aspiration account. The all-in-one cash management account gives you what you need.
With five free ATM reimbursements each month and no overdraft fees, you’ll never have to worry about sneaky monthly maintenance charges again. Avoiding those fees alone could save you up to $400 a year, according to Bank Fee Finder.
Oh, and here’s a bonus: You can actually earn money with Aspiration — up to 5% cash back on your debit card purchases and up to 11 times the average interest on your savings balance. (The FDIC reports the average savings account earns just .09%.)
It takes five minutes to sign up for an Aspiration account. Goodbye, bank fees.
2. Paid Apps
We’ve all done it. We’ve opted into an app or subscription service that comes with a shiny free trial. Only we forget to set a calendar reminder when the free trial ends, and before we know it, $29.99 is funneled out of our bank account. (We see you, LinkedIn Premium.)
Sometimes these expenses are a bit more sneaky — 99 cents for a gaming app here, $1.99 for a photo-editing app there. It adds up. That’s why it’s important to take a minute to comb through your paid apps and cancel any of these forgotten subscriptions.
If you’re on an iPhone, go to the app store and visit your account. There, tap subscriptions. If you have an Android, go to the Google Play store and navigate to the menu where you’ll see subscriptions.
You might be shocked to see what you’ve been subscribed to, but you can cancel these apps immediately.
3. Bottled Water
Water. It’s a necessity. But you can save a ton of money by replacing those big cases of bottled water with a reusable water bottle.
We get it: Grabbing a water bottle is super convenient, especially when you’re on the go, but the cost adds up. (Also, ahem, it’s wasteful.)
We’ll do some quick math. Let’s say a 24-pack of water costs about $5. Depending on how much your household uses a month, you might purchase three cases. That’s $15 — the same price you’d pay for a nice reusable water bottle you can use over and over and over again.
Bottom line: You’re wasting money (and landfill space) on plastic water bottles.
4. Streaming Services
Remember the old days when everyone said streaming services were cheaper than cable? Well, with so many options thrown in our faces now, that’s not quite the case. And it’s like those paid apps — you get sucked in with a free trial. Before you know it, you’ve got four streaming services and nothing in your bank account.
OK, we’re being a bit dramatic here, but you get the point. It’s time to take a good look at which streaming services you have — and actually use. We challenge you to cut back to your two favorites, then ditch the rest.
For example, just cancelling your YouTube Premium subscription can save you $143.88 a year. Cut Showtime, and save another $131.88.
You get the point. These add up fast.
5. Paper Towels
Packs of paper towels aren’t cheap. You usually get the best deal when you buy them in bulk, but that requires clogging up your kitchen cabinets. No fun.
But when you stop to think about it, paper towels aren’t that necessary. They’re just a habit we’ve weaved into our everyday chores and routines.
So challenge yourself this week: Hide that roll of paper towels that sits next to the sink, and set out a hand towel. If you use paper towels to clean surfaces, break out a few extra cloths.
Find simple ways to replace your paper towels, and you’ll be shocked to see how much money you can save on your grocery bill.
6. Phone Bill
For many of us, our phone bills have become more expensive than our electric bills, especially if you have a family plan. The lines, the overages, the fees — they stack up. Before you know it, you’re paying $200 a month.
Now’s a good time to break out last month’s phone bill. Take a look at everything you’re paying for, and make sure there aren’t any extraneous, unnecessary charges on there. If you have to, brush up on your negotiation skills, and call your phone company.
You can also look into switching to a discount phone service. There are a ton out there, including Twigby, US Mobile, Tello, Cricket Wireless and Republic Wireless. And it’s not like these have unreliable service. They operate on big-name carriers, like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.
What’s nice is that a number of these services will let you build your own plan, too, so you pay only for what you need. Heck, most of them offer plans starting at under $10 a month. You could actually save thousands of dollars a year by switching.
Lunch is perhaps the most underrated meal of the day, and we’ll never tell you to skip it. We’re just suggesting you pack your lunch.
We know, we know. It’s super tempting to grab lunch out — while you’re running errands or with your coworkers. But doing this every day, or even a few times a week, can really add up.
Listen to this story: Phil Risher, a recent college grad living in the Washington, D.C. area, was making $48,000 a year. Meanwhile, he had $30,000 in student loans sitting over him. The 22-year-old knew he had to start practicing some willpower, so he started a tradition called “Yum-Yum Fridays.”
Friday was the one day of the week he allowed himself to eat lunch out, and he capped his meals at $20. Making this small change to his lifestyle helped him pay off his debt even faster.
Taking a good look at your spending and finding ways to save on (or cut) these unnecessary expenses could very well save you thousands of dollars a year!
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at Codetic. She spends way too much money on paper towels. It’s an addiction she needs to break.