15 Budget Cuts Without Deprivation

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned,
to buy things they don’t want,
to impress people they don’t like.”

― Will Rogers

Why aren’t you able to save the amount of money you know you need to save?

While there are many reasons, one of the primary reasons is that your money is going towards products and services that aren’t really necessary … and some are not even utilized. Like other areas of your life, spending for an unnecessary or a non-utilized product or service has become a habit that needs to be broken.

Let’s take a look at some expenses you can cut from your monthly budget without feeling deprived. While some may seem minor, cutting out just a few of these can free up thousands of dollars a year that you can put into your savings account.

Late Fees

Few things are more aggravating than being hit with a late fee on a monthly utility bill because you forgot to pay it. Let’s face it, it’s so easy to misplace or forget about a particular bill, whether it’s sent to you via the postal service or by email.

You can easily solve the problem by gathering all your monthly recurring charges (utility bills, credit card payments, auto loan payment, mortgage payment, etc.) and putting them on autopay.

You’re still going to have to monitor bills when the amount due changes each month. The first time you have your water or electricity turned off because you forgot to pay the bill will make you a believer of autopay.

Magazine Subscriptions

Magazines offer a media form that can’t be replicated. However, you may be able to read the latest issues for free.

You almost certainly know that your public library subscribes to a large variety of magazines, from mainstream interests to the obscure. The library may also allow you to download e-versions of magazines. Visit your library’s website to find out.

If you subscribe to Amazon Prime or Apple News+, free online magazines are a benefit of your subscription.

Rental Car Insurance

Driving a rental car often means you’re driving in a different city, on strange streets and highways, heading to places where you don’t regularly drive. Accidents can happen … and do happen. So, when you pick up the rental car, you may buy the extra insurance offered by the rental car company.

However, that “insurance” isn’t really insurance — it’s a collision damage waiver. You may not need to buy the collision damage waiver if you have adequate insurance on a car you own. Check with your car insurance agent or company to make sure.

Additionally, your credit card may already have you covered as long as you pay for the rental car with your credit card. Check with the issuer of your credit card to for details.

Bottled Water

Why are you paying for something you can get at home at a fraction of the cost?

Carry a high-quality, leakproof reusable water bottle with you whenever possible. Best of all, you can usually find a place to refill it at no charge.

Car Washes

There are times when a professional car wash is the right thing to do. If your young child gets sick all over the car seat, or the pitcher of fruit punch you were bringing to the beach sloshes all over the floor, take it to the pros.

But for regular cleaning, you may save big by just washing your car in your own driveway. These tips from the car-repair chain Meineke make it clear just how easy washing your car at home can be.

Warehouse Club Membership

Warehouse clubs are so enticing, and at different times in your life, they may make sense. If you regularly host large parties, then buying a large package of napkins might be saving you big bucks.

However, many people acquire a Costco, Sam’s Club or similar warehouse store membership and rarely or never use it. This is a waste of money. If you’re one of those people, it’s time to cancel your membership.

For normal family needs, buying things on sale or using a coupon at your local supermarket, hardware store, appliance center or department store will serve your need to save money.

Food Delivery

It’s easy to see why so many tired, hungry Americans use food-delivery services. That’s especially true during the pandemic, when we try to bring our favorite restaurants to our homes rather than taking the risk of being infected at the restaurant itself.

But chew on this: Delivery fees and tips really add up. So, try cutting back on or eliminate food delivery fees. Cook at home as much as you can, which is healthier and cheaper anyway. Make preparing meals a family event. Families that work together have closer relationships.

Brand-Name Products

One of the greatest marketing schemes ever is convincing shoppers to buy a product simply because of the advertised brand name on the label. This is obvious at supermarkets like Walmart, where the company’s Equate labeled products are displayed next to more colorfully wrapped famous-brands products.

The laundry detergent and fruit punch look the same, but the prices of Walmart branded products are almost always cheaper. Ignore brand names where you can, and you’ll almost always save big.

Gym Membership

During the coronavirus pandemic, many people have learned that working out in a gym — which seems like a good thing — comes with some risks. Not only is it difficult to remain socially distanced, you are in an atmosphere where people are breathing hard and potentially spreading the virus.

Now might be the perfect opportunity to give up your gym membership and find other ways to get and stay fit. Maybe working out at home, with inexpensive weights or yoga DVDs, is a cheaper and safer option.

If you dream of professional-style gym equipment at home, check for-sale websites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. You may find that other exercisers have abandoned their fitness plans and are trying to sell — or give away — the very equipment you pay to use at the gym.

Auto Club Membership

A membership in AAA, once known as the American Automobile Association, can be a lifesaver for some drivers. Need a tow in the middle of nowhere? Pulling out your AAA card and calling for help is as hassle-free as it gets.

But there may be other ways you can enjoy those benefits offered by AAA. Your car insurance may include towing coverage. Check with your auto insurance agent or company for details.

AAA has other benefits. Many people appreciate their hotel and travel discounts. Take a look at your own needs and at any other organizations you may belong to that might offer similar benefits. AARP, for example, offers travel discounts.

Gift Wrapping

The biggest gift-wrap season of the year is Christmas. Do you usually spend money on gift wrap paper, bows and tags? In 2021, give yourself all that cash back. Your family and friends will still enjoy your thoughtful presents, and be assured that almost no one will miss the expensive, wasted wrapping paper.

You can wrap gifts in plenty of creative, no-cost items from a newspaper to magazine pages and even old maps and wallpaper.

Premium Gas

While electric vehicles are becoming more widely available, most of us have a car that necessitates gasoline. But you need to be careful at the pump. If your car doesn’t require premium gas, choosing that option is just a waste of money.

Cable TV

Many people are ‘cutting the cable’ for TV service. There are a multitude of streaming services and other ways to get video entertainment other than a $100+ per month cable bill that includes channels you neither asked for nor watch.

Many viewers have held off on cutting the cable for one reason: live TV programming. That’s become easier to get these days. With live-streaming TV, you may be able to ditch your cable service and save money.

Several services are likely to be more affordable than your current cable choice. They include:

Landline Telephone

In this era of omnipresent cellphones, are you still clinging to a landline? Rethink whether that’s really needed.

It could be when cell reception in some areas can still be iffy, or if you have children who are occasionally home alone without a mobile phone.

But many reasons once touted by landline lovers are no longer valid.

Paper Towels

It is highly unlikely that you can give up paper towels entirely. With pets and kids, they’re just too handy. But when you’re at home, using cloth rags instead of paper towels is like having eternally reusable paper towels. Over a year, this will save you a bundle.

Everyone’s needs and lifestyles are different. Even so, I’m sure there are a few of these dollar-eating expenses you can do without and not experience any real pain to your way of living. And in many cases, it’s simply a matter of changing a habit.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution 4.0 International License.

Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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