So there are numerous ways to save money as I have written about here, here, and even here, but have you thought about some of these less obvious money wasters? Sometimes we can save money simply by getting rid of things we really aren’t using or by paying attention to fees we are paying without really giving them much thought.
If you are ready to get serious about saving money or even getting rid of your debt, here are 12 “out of the box” ways that you could save money without even realizing these things had been costing you money in the first place.
- Get rid of extra phones. We have not had a home phone for over 10 years as we have found cell phones to be more than sufficient. If you have always had a home phone, the thought of getting rid of it can seem a bit scary (I am still working on my parents on this one), but once you get past the first few weeks of not having a home phone you will find you don’t even miss it.
- Shop around for home and auto insurance plans every six months. I switch companies like crazy, but I have saved thousands doing so. Rates simply vary at different times. The company who had the cheapest rates six months ago, very well may not anymore. I keep a reminder in my calendar about one month before my policies expire, and I start calling around to shop rates at that time. I always call, Allstate, State Farm, Geico, Progressive, Liberty Mutual, and Farm Bureau at least. I have had every one of these companies at one time.
- When you are shopping insurance rates, don’t assume that one company will have the best rates on both. Even though most companies give you a discount for carrying more than one policy with them, it can often be cheaper to separate your policies even with the discount because one company can be cheaper on home insurance but crazy high on auto insurance, for example.
- Maybe you’re not ready to get rid of cable altogether, but do you really need all the channels, bells, and whistles that you currently have? Maybe cutting back will be a way of easing in to making changes in this area in a less drastic way. Maybe you don’t really even know exactly what programming options you are paying for…haul out your bill and really look it over to see where you can make changes that will add up but won’t be as painful as getting rid of cable would be.
- Bank fees. Paying bank fees really is a thing of the past as countless banks offer free accounts these days. Not only do you not want to pay fees just to have an account, but you will want to pay attention to their guidelines for using the ATM and their overdraft policies. This is an easy way to get zapped with fees without even noticing it. Even if you are aware of the fees, see what you can do to avoid them. All these little things add up over time.
- Credit card fees. Do you have credit cards that have fees attached to them? You don’t need to. There are also numerous options that don’t have fees and still offer great incentives like cash back offers. Only use credit cards that have no fees (and pay them off as quickly as possible to avoid interest).
- Overdue library fees. If you could see me right now you would see that I am waving my hand frantically in the air because I am SO guilty of this one. I could blame it on my crazy life and the amount of people I have checking things out, but really, I just have to be more on top of this one. I used to be really good at putting due dates in my calendar, but I have gotten out of that habit, and it has cost me money.
- Unused memberships that you are paying for. Things like the gym or local museum. Examine whether the amount you use these things make the membership fees worth it. Sometimes we are just afraid of canceling things because we fear it will appear rude. It isn’t, and canceling can save you some money.
- Buying lunch every day if you or your spouse is working. Shoot for only two times a week and bring a lunch from home the other three. Even if you only cut out one time of eating lunch out a week, it will make a huge difference over a one year time period.
- Impulse shopping. This is huge, and this used to be huge in my life, too. Even an amazing deal is not a good deal if it is something you don’t really need. Maybe you need to not pay attention to the SALE signs in the stores, maybe you need to stop going to your favorite deals website so often, or maybe you even need to stop looking at these sites if these things are causing you to impulse buy. Examine what you want to buy for a time before you actually buy it. I have friends who use a 48 hour rule before buying something they see.
- Expensive beer and wine. These things can be costly, and at times there are brands and varieties that can be just as good for a fraction of the cost. Aldi is supposed to have really great wine at an affordable price. Instead of just grabbing your favorite brand that is a bit pricey, try a less expensive option instead.
- Newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Do you really read enough of the newspapers and magazines you receive to make it worth the price tag? My local paper is cheaper to buy at the store just to avoid the delivery cost. If you are not reading these things every month, canceling your monthly subscription and just buying the magazine or paper you want when you want it can save you money and space in your home for storing these things you don’t read anyway.
Changes don’t have to be big to add up to savings. These are some of the out of the box things I have come up with, but look at where you spend your money over a one month time period and see what you could add to the list.
Where is one place you could save money today?