Some tips to save money are obvious, such as travelling by public transit, reducing the number of times you eat out or abandoning expensive bad habits such as smoking. Some means are rare enough to be impractical to achieve constant savings, such as choosing cheaper hotels on holiday or buying a used car instead of a new one. While this is good advice, it will not help you control your monthly expenses.
You may be wasting money in an extremely common but often overlooked way. Here is a list of 18 common and very unnecessary expenses that you probably make without even realizing it.
18. Buy branded products
Trademarks and generic brands must be one of the most underutilized ways to save money on a variety of products. Whether it’s food, skincare or over-the-counter medications, chances are your local grocery store or pharmacy will have a brand name for them or sell a generic version. Check the labels; in most cases, the ingredients are almost identical, but you don’t have to spend money on the big brands.
Also, if you have prescriptions, you can sometimes ask your pharmacist for the generic version of your medications. They work the same way as the brand and can save you a lot of money if your share is high.
17. Pay someone else for simple car repairs
Basic car maintenance is something we learn less and less, perhaps because of our increasingly busy lives and because some people make it their job. But, assuming you own a car, it can be very expensive to go to a mechanic. Many of the simplest automotive problems do not require the intervention of a professional mechanic, and even routine maintenance tasks can be performed at home. You can find several very simple instructional videos on the Internet.
16. Buy a snack at the gas station “from time to time”
Quotation marks are there because “from time to time” usually means that you don’t keep track of all the small snack purchases you make on the road. All these soft drink bottles and chip bags you pick up when you fill up or stop at the pharmacy add up. Get into the habit of bringing lots of fluids and a snack or two with you every time you go shopping or anything else that might bring you close to the temptation to buy snacks on the road.
15. Consideration of expiry dates
For some of the most perishable foods, expiry dates have more authority, but you can usually tell by the odours or colours that develop when your food is no longer safe to eat.
Many foods that usually deteriorate when labelled, such as raw meat or bread, can be stored in the freezer before their expiry date if you don’t think you can eat them in time and be perfectly fit when you defrost them again. You can also use online databases to check the actual shelf life of certain foods and compare them to what the label says.
14. Pay for the cable
Cutting the cable cord may seem like something that only the new generation and technology experts can do without sacrificing some of their favourite shows. But there are now billions of television and cinema streaming services and other non-wired options, the quality and variety of which will only increase in the coming years. Almost all streaming services are cheaper than cable or satellite dish, and you don’t end up with all the extra channels you’ve never watched before and for which you still have to pay.
13. Use only credit/debit cards
If you use your card almost exclusively to pay for things, it is much easier to spend more than you intend to because you don’t see the money coming out of your bank account. Just press a few buttons and boom, the purchase is made. You might not be so enthusiastic with your funds if you had to watch the money come out of your wallet. If you use mobile banking or financial management applications to keep control of your finances while using your card, and it works, keep doing your thing. For the rest of you, you might consider going to your bank or ATM every week or two and withdrawing a fixed amount of cash for your expenses.
12. Your bank in general
Banks and everything that has to do with them are just money and fees in general. Take a look at your accounts and card fees and see if there are better options than you currently have. Try to use ATMs for your bank only, as using ATMs at another branch usually involves unpleasant fees.
Better yet, completely abandon the bank. Try a local credit union instead.
11. A poorly insulated living space
If you pay large heating and cooling bills, you may be paying more than you need because of inadequate insulation. If you can afford it, you can install tighter windows and maybe even a door or two. But in most cases, it is possible to obtain effective insulation without having to replace your windows entirely.
10. You play games online
These $1 or $5 purchases here and there will add up, and you will suddenly look at your bank statement with a lot of shame and regret. Remove your credit card information from all sites or applications where you play games, and if you’re frustrated by a level you just can’t seem to beat, just look for a practical guide on Google.
9. You do not keep your tires properly inflated
If your tires are not properly inflated, it can increase your car’s fuel consumption. Keep your tires properly inflated and you’ll save money on gas you didn’t even know you were losing. Set up a regular alert on your phone or leave a note in your calendar to make sure you check them.
8. Irresponsible use of coupons
Coupons save you a little money, yes, but if you use coupons just for fun, or if you convince yourself that you’re going to buy these things on this discount site without really needing them, you’re still wasting money. Don’t use coupons as an excuse to buy things you wouldn’t normally buy, even if it’s only $5 more than your regular purchase. You will end up doing it much more often than you expected when you could focus on coupons and discounts when you need them.
7. Pay the high price for clothing
Some cities have excellent second-hand stores or, for the most demanding, consignment stores. If there are none near you, you can find many sites that sell used and good quality clothing. Also, by buying better quality clothing that has been used infrequently instead of cheap new clothing, your business will probably last longer. Cheap clothes break and tear.
6. Skimping on health and hygiene habits
You don’t think it’s going to happen to you, but it always happens to you in the end. Your dentist is not only an annual visit, but you also need to maintain the health of your teeth or you will pay for dental care in the not too distant future, and this can be very expensive. Not washing your hands, alcohol and junk food, and not taking care of yourself in general, will cost you dearly, even if you think you are invincible. It is much less painful to adapt to new healthy lifestyles than to pay large medical expenses.
5. Exorbitant hygiene and beauty products
Many of us continue to buy a lot of chemicals to coat our faces and bodies in the hope of fighting our wrinkles, firming our skin or brightening our complexion. However, it is important to pay attention to the list of ingredients in your grooming products. Choose products with fewer ingredients at affordable prices. Also, try to choose products with ingredients that you can pronounce, so they are much less chemical.
4. Unnecessary washer and dryer accessories
You don’t need a softener for your laundry. You will find many easy and inexpensive laundry detergent recipes online, as well as substitutes for softening sheets such as reusable dryer balls.
3. Grocery shopping when you are hungry
Avoid grocery shopping at all costs when you are hungry or when you do not have enough time to shop. If you shop at the grocery store when you are hungry, you are more likely to buy products that you don’t need or that you will waste later. The same applies if you don’t have time to go to the grocery store. If you do your groceries while you have other errands to do and only a certain amount of time to do them, you are less likely to spend time exploring all the shelves and collecting food at a discount.
2. Energy drinks
If you are used to consuming energy drinks, it is time to get rid of them if you want to save money. These things are not cheap, and chances are you have to start drinking more than one glass a day to keep their energizing effect. If this habit is due to poor sleep, try to go to a doctor instead.
1. Disposable shavers
Disposable razors lose their sharpness quite quickly (or become too dirty with deodorants and other product residues), so you end up throwing them away quite quickly. However, there are non-disposable razors that are not expensive and once you have purchased it, you only need to replace the blade itself, which you can usually buy in large quantities on the internet.