Saving money is one of those things we know we have to do but is often associated with giving something up. The good news? These two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. You can budget, meet your financial goals, and still grab a morning latte or take a dream trip to Fiji. The following are 12 things you don’t have to give up in order to save money.
1. Cable Television
Many financial advisers will insist that when you want to save more you must focus on needs and limit wants. They may also try to convince you that cable TV is one of those wants. Well, sorry, but I need The Walking Dead, I need Game of Thrones and you surely need your (fill in the blank…). The good news is there is a happy medium!
Most of the premium cable shows are now available on popular streaming services like Hulu and Netflix for less than $20 per month. Even cable channels are providing access to networks without needing a cable provider, like HBO NOW, which charges $14.99 per month for access. Cutting your cable service and replacing it with one of the aforementioned will have a significant effect on your bottom line.
2. Dining Out
Dining out is one of those expenses that can burn a hole in your pocket if you aren’t careful. However, occasionally enjoying good food with your family and/or friends should not be in jeopardy. It is possible to still dine out while saving—you just need to be smart about it. First, budget an expense for dining out. Then, be sure to take advantage of brunch and lunch specials, coupons, and dining out on days that are not as popular.
3. Daily Workouts
Gym memberships are usually the first things that get sliced from a budget. Thankfully, you do not need a gym to be healthy! Besides the ability to work out at home or use online workouts, there are many other small things you can do to maintain your health at a low cost. Look for free classes online, Groupon deals, or local workouts offered through your city’s health initiatives.
Also, when the weather is nice, try getting outside for a walk, bike ride, or head to the park. Even small changes (like taking the stairs or getting off a stop or two from your destination so you can walk a bit extra) can make a big difference. See more of our tips for staying healthy on a budget here.
4. Daily Caffeine
Many people need daily caffeine, and because we are always on the go, tend to frequent designer coffee shops that charge a premium. There’s nothing wrong with being caffeinated, but $5 per order can really drain your bank account. So brew your own coffee at home or pitch in to buy a proper coffee machine for the office. Either option can save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars yearly.
5. Gourmet Lunches
I know buying lunch every day can be a big expense, especially if your workplace is located by high-end restaurants. But at the same time, you don’t have to settle for tuna salad every day in order to save money. Try buying bulk food at your local BJ’s, Costco, or Sam’s Club and prepare lunch. Or try finding a nearby college and buy lunch in that area—it’s typically great food that’s priced on a student budget.
6. Convenient ATMs
This one is dear to my heart because so many hard-earned dollars go toward ATM fees—money that can be used for savings, investing, or even vacationing! The convenience of the ATM may make paying for your own money seem worth it, but you are literally throwing money away! Instead of paying those unnecessary ATM fees, use your card at stores that have a cash back option or open a bank account at a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees (like BankMobile).
7. Impulse Buying
Do you think you need to give up impulse purchases completely? Not necessarily! Impulse buying is only a negative if you are using money that is allocated for something else. Try matching your savings with an impulse buy fund so you have money available for times when the sale is irresistible. By continuing to feed your need for instant gratification, it will increase the chances of sticking to your overall savings goal and ultimately help you create financial freedom.
8. Movie Night
Saving money does not mean you have to cut the experience of watching a new movie in the theatre. In fact, what really makes it expensive is the concession stand! My tip? Try going to the movies during matinee times and forgo the popcorn and soda. Then movie night will be well within your budget!
Who doesn’t need a bit of a break and allocated relaxation time? So I say your annual vacation shouldn’t be on the chopping block! You can save a significant amount on vacation by simply choosing to go during a non-peak time of year. Also, consider taking advantage of group pricing or even using Airbnb to save on lodging costs. Learn how to travel overseas on a budget here.
10. Unlimited Service
Once upon a time, and not very long ago, your phone bill had the potential of putting you in the poor house. Now, because of stiff competition, many phone carriers are practically giving phone services away. Some may even pay you to leave your old provider! So make sure you are not caught up in an old phone plan that is charging you unnecessary fees. Choose a company that will help you save on your monthly bill without sacrificing on quality.
11. Designer Clothes
Saving money doesn’t mean you have to look shabby! There are many ways you can be fabulously frugal. One of those ways is to do some research and find flash sale sites that offer designer clothes at a less expensive price. Also, shopping in the off-season allows you to pick up some really great deals for less than retail price. Lastly, don’t be afraid to swap with friends.
12. A Night Out
What is living the good life without the occasional visit to your favorite bar? A bar expense on a monthly budget may seem a little out of place, but if you limit your visit to happy hour and/or events with an open bar then you can have your drink and drink it too.
All in all, it’s important to make sure you’re paying yourself first by automatically having a percentage of your income go into a savings account each week (or month). This tactic will help you take the guess work out of saving regularly, ultimately doing what’s right financially. Now the only thing you have left to do is to live—so happy spending!