4 Things You Can Live Without to Save Money
You don't have to go bare-bones to save money in your everyday life. Here are four things you can do without to give your wallet and budget a break.
We all need to double-check our spending habits to save money sometimes. Whether it's buying certain home goods out of habit, signing up for rarely-used subscriptions that we always seem to forget to cancel, or even just indulging in something that quickly adds up by the end of a month, here are four things you can give up now and be happy about when your wallet is a bit thicker later.
#1: Name Brand Products
Whether you realize it or not, there are many products out there that are store brand items yet just as good quality and functional as name brand products.
Food, paper goods, beverages, milk, cleaning supplies—you name it. When it comes to most home goods, the only real difference between generic and name brand products is the packaging. In nearly all instances, the ingredients and other aspects of a food or home necessity will be the exact same.
Although some name brand products may have unique features that you won't find in a more generic form—such as decorative or extra-absorbent paper towels, certain flavors of potato chips, or even batteries that are rechargeable instead of for one-time use—if you're already skipping over those extra-pricy additions anyway, you'll save even more money by simply going with the store brand version instead of the cheapest name brand option.
#2: Cable TV
Cable television is something most of us have grown up with. Having it in the home was just a normal part of life. Now that we're getting older, we may feel the need to continue such patterns, leaving us with a monthly cable bill for a service that very few of us really have the time to watch.
Bundling services can sometimes save you money when it comes to home-related expenses and monthly bills (at least until your contracts are up), but how often do you really sit down and watch cable tv instead of just streaming something on YouTube or your phone?
Cable tends to be a background expense for many people. If you have children in the home, you can easily use a free service such as YouTube Kids (which also includes age restrictions for various age groups). If you have certain shows you want to check out anyway, consider asking a friend to record the episodes for you, renting DVDs (of older series) from your local library), or finding an online source to stream strictly just the content you're looking for.
#3: Subscription Services
If you consistently use these services, disregard this one. If you're one of the many individuals who signed up for Netflix, Hulu, or other services and then sat around without watching them very often, you're the target audience here.
Netflix can cost from $10-$20 per month. Hulu can cost $7-$75 per month. Most other streaming services fall into this average range, too. They may not seem very expensive, but all of those additional charges each month will add up quickly. The two just mentioned can end up costing you an average of $120 or more dollars per year!
When you're trying to cut costs, this is a good first step when you've enrolled in services that you really just never use. If you actively use your subscriptions—or if you subscribe to something beneficial in the long-term, such as Noggin, for your kids—then enjoy these paid experiences to your heart's content.
#4: Candy and Snacks
If you have any type of skill in the kitchen or are even willing to learn and experiment, this last option is a great way to help you save money if you're a notorious sweets addict.
The average candy bar costs anywhere from $0.98 to $2.49, and those prices are only going up. Now, it may not be easy nor practical to try to recreate a candy bar at home, but if you're willing to exert a bit of effort to bake, you can spend the same amount of money used for a couple of candy bars to buy the raw ingredients for your pantry to bake cake and cookies at home. (For those also looking to improve your health, you can simply cut out unnecessary sweets all together!)
The initial investment may cost you a small but reasonable amount (for flour, sugar, butter, cocoa, etc.), but once you learn to use these ingredients, your possibilities are endless. Sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pound cakes—you'll be able to make larger batches of much-less-processed desserts and save a ton of money while doing so! It's a win-win for both your mouth and your wallet, even if you may not be able to perfectly recreate a Snickers bar in your own kitchen. (You can easily make some Snickers-flavored cupcakes by using cocoa, peanut butter, and some crushed-up peanuts, though!)
For those who really doubt their abilities in the kitchen, you can also purchase nearly any easy-to-make, pre-mixed, boxed cake kit for cakes, cupcakes, or even cake-mix cookies.
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