It can be hard to save money if you’re not earning a lot to begin with. You know it’s important to stash at least 10% of your earnings into your savings account every month and that you need to have the equivalent of at least three months of living expenses saved up. But there are some months when it’s hard to save anything. You discover your car needs new tires, there’s that unexpected visit to the dentist or maybe you just fell off the budget wagon and splurged on a new tablet computer.
Fortunately, when it comes to finances there are things that you don’t really need to buy that you can either get free or at a very reduced cost. Here are 10 things you should never pay for – at at least never pay full price.
There are times when you’ll be hit with late fees that are just inevitable. But it’s really frustrating to have to pay unnecessary late fees. You can avoid this by setting up as many of your bills as possible for automatic payment. In most cases there is no charge for this service and it can ensure that you never again make a late payment on a utility bill, a loan or credit card. However, do be careful. Once you set up automatic payments you will have to make sure that there is enough money in your account to cover them. You don’t want an unexpected withdrawal to overdraw your account so that one or more of your automatic payments isn’t made due to insufficient funds.
You just shouldn’t buy magazines one at a time. A single issue off the magazine rack can cost anywhere from $3 to $7. If you really need a particular magazine, it’s much cheaper to get a one-year subscription. Just go to Amazon.com and find the magazine of your choice. You’ll probably find you can save as much as 80% off the cover price by signing up for a year. If you need just one particular issue of your favorite magazine, there’s always the library, which means it would be free. And free is tough to beat.
Trash pickup (big items)
Want to get rid of that old, moth-eaten sofa? Or maybe you have an exercise bike that just doesn’t work anymore. There are services that offer big item pickup where it can probably be removed free if it meets certain restrictions. You should also contact your trash pickup service. These services often have a limited number of “extra” pickups that are part of your trash service. You’re paying for your trash pickup at least technically so make sure that you take advantage of any perks that come along with the service. As an alternative to this, you could sell that item on Craigslist. It’s a great way to get rid of items that you don’t want anymore and turn a profit at the same time. If you do run an ad make sure it includes the fact that the sale is for pickup only.
You could save a few dollars a month simply by carrying around a water bottle. If the water is safe and potable you could fill up your bottle at drinking fountains, which would save the cost of buying a disposable water bottle. For that matter, most convenience stores won’t kick up a fuss if you politely ask to fill up with filtered water from their soda machines. If you feel you absolutely must buy filtered water, most comes cheaper in volume purchases. So either buy the biggest bottle you can and then fill up your reusable bottle to take with you or buy it by the case and really save big.
The problem with audiobooks is that they are a single use type of purchase. You buy it, listen to it and you’re finished with it – assuming you don’t want to spend a lot of time listening to it again. What’s more likely is that you listen to it once and then archive it. Your local library probably has an online site where you could get the audiobooks that interest you and in the audio format you need and they will be completely free of charge.
Holiday decor at full price
Stores load up on decorations and themed goods for every holiday – whether it’s St. Valentine’s Day, Easter or Christmas. It’s very tempting to buy some of these decorations but you’ll be paying full price for them. Once the holiday is over, prices will be slashed and there will be sales galore. For example, that Halloween scarecrow that cost $50 might now be on sale for five dollars. If you need holiday decorations, wait until the holiday has passed and then take advantage of those amazing discounts. If you have enough room, it’s totally worth storing them for the next year when you were able to purchase them at a 75% discount or even better.
If you have children, we don’t have to tell you how quickly they grow out of their clothes.
This is why it doesn’t make any sense to buy them new. Even kid’s clothes that have been worn for a few months should be perfectly fine for your child. There are consignment stores that stock kids’ clothes exclusively. In some cases they will even seem like a new clothing store because that’s how pristine toddlers’ outfits often look.
Appliances and tools you will use only once or twice
Why in the world would you pay good money for a band saw that you will be using only once or twice? Once you’ve used it, it will just sit there gathering dust and taking up space. The same is true of that high-speed blender you need for your birthday party. This is not to say that some tools and appliances can be worth the money, as you probably wouldn’t want to run out and borrow a toaster every morning you wanted a hot bagel. But you should be able to borrow some of these items from a neighbor or check them out from a lending library. Do this and you will be sharing a resource and cutting down on clutter that just takes up space in a closet or cabinet. And you’ll be avoiding the cost of buying an item that has only limited use.
Subscriptions you don’t need
There are sneaky subscriptions that automatically renew every year unless you take some action. If a service is no longer useful to you, make it a priority to get it canceled. This can be another expense that you just don’t need. Take a few minutes to evaluate all of your yearly or monthly subscriptions that automatically renew but that you no longer need and cancel them!
Disposable lunch bags
You should be able to keep and use the same lunch bag for months or even years. In the event that you want to use a plastic or paper bag, there should be extra ones just lying around the house. As an example of this, you could reuse one of those plastic bags that a loaf of bread came in as well as those bags that come with bulk purchases of grains, beans, nuts and so forth.
If you stop to think about it you may find other items you’re paying for that you should be able to get free or at very low-cost. For example, it makes little sense to pay for hardcover books these days. If you have a tablet or eBook reader, you could download the books that interest you in electronic form at a fraction of what they cost in hardcover. We’ve seen some of today’s hottest titles that would cost $15 in hardcover selling for $7.99 (or less) in electronic format. And some older titles can be had for $3.99, $.99 or even free.