Have you ever experienced the joy of adding up all your income, subtracting every expense, and discovering money left over?! If you answered, “Yes,” then you know the joy of growing your wealth with a budget.
However, you know that budget busters can creep up on you. They are those small, seemingly insignificant purchases that add up quickly. Here are the top expenses that will ruin your budget: Every. Single. Time.
1. Paying Too Much For Services And Unused Subscriptions
The power of streaming services is that you get to watch what you want on your schedule. Want to watch your fave Rom-Com from your high school days? Fire up Netflix. Want to listen to the latest music? Cue up Spotify. Streaming services are great, but they can add up in a hurry.
A simple way to cut your expenses is to rotate your streaming services. Watch a show or two on Netflix and cancel. Then sign up for Hulu the next month to watch the next show on your list. Rinse and repeat.
Something to watch out for is the forgotten subscription service. How do you forget you’re paying for a subscription service you don’t use? You sign up for a free trial with a credit card and don’t cancel the service in time. You can go through your credit card or PayPal statements to see what services you are paying for, then log into your account, figure out how to cancel, then end your subscriptions and save.
Use Trim to Cut Unnecessary Subscriptions
If you do not want to dig through the trash and unearth old bills, then you should check out Trim. The Trim service finds and cancels old or unused subscriptions. Trim identifies recurring payments and asks if you want to keep the service or cancel it. How slick is that?
Trim also specializes in lowering common monthly bills. Wifi bills, cable bills, and medical bills, Trim will call these companies and attempt to lower them for free. If Trim can’t lower your bills you pay nothing. They only charge a one-time fee of 15% of what they save you.
So if you don’t want to comb through your credit card and bank statements, canceling each subscription one by one, try Trim.
Please note that Trim takes payment immediately. For example, if Trim saves you $10/month, they will request their 15% fee ($40) right away. But you keep 100% of the savings after that.
2. Don’t Let Food Shopping Eat Through Your Cash
Do you know how much you spend each year on food? The amount ranges from $4,000 to $12,245 a year (and growing higher), according to the USDA [source]. Because food consumes a lot of our budget, it only makes sense to save dollars and cents when we shop for groceries. Here are some tips you can start using today:
- Check the sales, create a list, and stick to it.
- Don’t shop for groceries while you are hungry, you will shove more food into your cart.
- Consider using a curbside pickup or grocery delivery service to eliminate impulse buys.
- Use a cashback shopping app to earn rewards and cash, which will save you money.
Earn Cash Back at the Grocery Store ($20 Welcome Bonus)
Ibotta pays you to shop for groceries. Download the free app, create a cash-back grocery list, and go grocery shopping. When you get home, take a picture of your receipt with the Ibotta app, and money will immediately be deposited into your Ibotta account.
It’s real money too! Deposit your Ibotta money directly into your bank account, or redeem it for free gift cards to your favorite stores like Amazon, Walmart, or GameStop.
Want to hear even more ways Ibotta can save you money? Check out our Ibotta explainer video, here!
3. Impulse Purchases at Checkout
So, you have a budget, and you’re following it. You make your way through the brick-and-mortar store or e-commerce site, purchasing only the items you intended. While getting ready to check out in the grocery store, you thoughtlessly reach for a candy bar or a soda pop and add it to your items. Online, just as you get ready to finalize your order and hit the Pay Now button, you are offered an incredible discount on this other item. Without thinking, you add it to your cart.
These kinds of mindless purchases cost us money. While $2 here and $25 there doesn’t sound like much at the moment, over time they add up. A survey of 2,000 people estimated the average person spends $450 a month on impulse purchases [source]. It’s OK to have fun with spending your money, just be mindful about what makes it into your cart and make sure it is in the budget.
Free Workshop – Join our free Simplify Money Workshop
The *only* way to save money is to spend less than you earn. That means you need to decrease your expenses or increase your income.
We want to help you do both.
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This workshop has everything you need to accomplish the cardinal rule of personal finance: keep your income over your expenses.
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4. Failing To Comparison Shop
Did you ever get that feeling in your stomach when you pick up a new phone, high-def TV, or a new outfit at what looked like a good price … only to find out after you parted ways with your cash that you paid too much? Comparison shopping could have prevented that sinking feeling in your gut. On the one hand, the internet makes it a breeze to compare prices. On the other hand, there are so many retailers that it can be time-consuming, and time is money.
Do you really want to spend an hour of your day to save $10 or $20? For many, the answer is a resounding yes.
Compare Prices Instantly and Effortlessly to Find Better Deals
If you want to save money shopping online, especially at Amazon, add the free Capital One Shopping extension to your browser. Capital One Shopping tracks price fluctuations across multiple retailers. Not to mention, they have a database full of active coupon codes that you can apply at checkout.
What’s more: Capital One Shopping works automatically. Before you check out, Capital One Shopping will let you know if there is another retailer offering a better price, or it will alert you to a promo code for your order. I was on Staples.com to look for a new computer chair, and Capital One Shopping popped up and let me know about a Shopping Rewards opportunity for my purchase. So, I activated it. I can then redeem my Shopping Rewards for free gift cards to my favorite stores.
Capital One Shopping works automatically. Add the Capital One Shopping browser extension for free and be an informed shopper.
5. You Don’t Automate Your Savings
Every morning in an African village, women head out to gather wood so they can make a fire for cooking. As they collect the wood, sometimes just a small twig or branch, they think of an African proverb: Stick by stick makes a bundle. So, it is with savings. If you consistently deposit money into a savings account, over time, you will have a “bundle.”
To avoid the temptation of needlessly blowing money on wants instead of needs, you should automate your savings. The long-term benefit of automatically depositing money is a gradual building of wealth. The short-term benefit is you will not waste that money on stuff you don’t need. Life is easier to navigate when you have money saved if you need it, so put your savings on autopilot.
Automate Your Savings With a CIT Bank Savings Builder Account
A great way to grow your savings fast is to open a bank account with a high APY (annual percentage yield). The higher the APY, the more interest you earn on your money in the bank (i.e. your money grows even faster).
The free, FDIC-insured CIT Bank Savings Builder Account pays a top-tier interest rate. When you make at least one monthly deposit of $100 or more , your savings will add up faster than you think. Check out the live banner below for CIT’s current APY.
Get Amazon Prime Free for a Year
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Here’s how to get your free year of Prime: Open a CIT Bank Money Market Account and enter the promotion code AMZN22. Maintain a balance of at least $15,000 for 60 days. At the end of the 60 days, you will receive a Prime code to use.
CIT Bank makes it easy to open an account. Your money is insured by the FDIC, and there are no monthly service fees. Open a Money Market Account today and claim your free year of Amazon Prime.
6. Unchecked Insurance Premiums
Watch every commercial for insurance and you will immediately detect the central theme: Switch to us and save! That’s a powerful message. If you are not checking your insurance rates every year, you will probably end up paying more than necessary.
Insurance companies use complicated formulas when coming up with their auto and home rates, and part of the calculation includes how many claims you have filed. So, the math is simple: If you file a lot of claims your rates will go up (maybe even canceled). If you have several claims, you definitely want to shop your insurance to find better premiums.
Let Insurify Do the Work for You
Insurify is an insurance tool that finds you low rates on home insurance and auto insurance. When you sign up for Insurify, you will be presented with quotes from the top insurance companies for insurance that is comparable to your current coverage. Simply choose the policy that’s best for you, and boom! You lowered your home and auto insurance bills.
What’s more? You can buy your new insurance coverage directly through Insurify. Insurify will even cancel your old policy for you.
Insurify helps customers save an average of $489 per year, and all it takes is a matter of minutes. Did I mention it’s free? Time to stop overspending on insurance!
7. Avoid Alcohol, Keep Your Cash
Alcohol, and we’re talking about the adult beverage variety not the isopropyl kind, is expensive. If you enjoy a few too many drinks, your budget will be leaking cash. How much? A lot. In fact, our government has an alcohol spending calculator to show you precisely what you spend a month, week, and year [source].
Alcohol you buy at a grocery or liquor store is expensive enough, and you can expect to pay five times as much or more when you decide to enjoy a drink at a restaurant or bar. The true cost of alcohol goes beyond what you paid per drink. If you are out and the alcohol flows a little too freely, then you might end up springing for an Uber, too. If you decide you want to imbibe a little, put it in the budget and drink at home — it will be cheaper and safer.
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*Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the Capital One Shopping extension using the links we provided*
Bobby Warren is a former award-winning journalist who founded Wooster Media Group LLC, an SEO/content creation company. He lives in Northeast Ohio with his wife, Wendi, and their pets.