We all know about the big buys that do damage to our bank accounts: homes, cars, vacations, etc. But equally insidious are the small regular purchases that we don’t really notice but add up over time, whether it’s expensive designer coffee or unused gym memberships. Here are five things you can do without, or with less of, to plump up the pocketbook.
1. Stop Going to Coffee Shops
Do you get a nice coffee from Starbucks or Timmy Ho’s everyday before getting down to work? You can be spending a couple of bucks a day or much more if you are getting some of the premium coffee-based drinks. For less than you spend in a month in coffee shops you can get your own coffee machine at home (for under $20 at the low end!) and a pound of something fair trade and delicious. That way, when you treat yourself out, it is a treat and not part of the daily grind of starting your heart for work.
2. Give up Your Gym Membership
Lots of us have unused gym memberships, meaning we’re paying hefty monthly fees for no reason. So give it up. This is not to say you should give up exercise. Do more at home. Take up walking or bike riding and, if you live close enough, bike it or hoof it to work, saving big bucks on the gas and parking of a car commute. If you like to do your aerobics or Pilates in a group, check out the local rec or community centre, where classes may be cheap or even free.
3. Stop Impulse Buying
If you’re thinking about buying something you’re not sure that you really need, make yourself wait 30 days before making the purchase. Often the impulse will pass. Or if you’re in a store shopping and see something you want to buy on the spur of the moment, circle way and wait 20 minutes before picking it up. Your consumer desire may wane. And when grocery shopping, make a list and stick to it. Yes, the tub of Häagen-Dazs may be half price but it doesn’t save you money if you weren’t planning t0 buy it in the first place.
4. Save Money on Your Entertainment Media
Spending too much on your cable TV package and pay per view? Then downgrade or eliminate your service and get movies and TV shows through low-cost services like Netflix and Redbox. Or better yet read a book. Don’t buy a book but go to your library and take one out. It’s free. You can also take out movies and even put a dent in your iTunes habit by renting CDs of music that you can rip to your MP3 player (ask your kids how).
5. Check Your Phone Plan
If you have a cellphone, check your usage to see if your plan is the most economical one for you. Also, since signing on, the phone company may have introduced lower priced plans, with unlimited Canada-wide calling for example, that they are in no hurry to tell you about. And you may be able to negotiate lower rates than the ones offered. But don’t do this at the phone company’s retail shop. They have to stick to the listed prices. Call your phone company, make noises about quitting and when they pass you on to their retention expert, swoop in and make a deal, citing the low prices to be had elsewhere (do your research). Also, if you don’t use your cellphone much, consider switching to a pay-as-you go plan. And finally, if you have both a cellphone and landline, get rid of one. Just because you grew up with a rotary phone doesn’t mean you need one now.
There are probably many other things going on in your life that drain your financial resources without giving you much (or any) value in return. Sit down and make an inventory. You’ll very likely shock yourself. Remember, you are supposed to be in charge of your life, not Starbucks.