If you find yourself stretched uncomfortably thin every month, you are aware of the constant stress of living paycheque to paycheque. You may have already considered needs and wants when it comes to your spending, but it is very common for people to waste money on some overlooked expenses. This is a bad habit that can impact your quality of life month to month, because your cash flow is seriously restricted.
The remedy? It’s time to go back to the drawing board for your budget with a more critical eye.
“You’d be surprised at how much money you are essentially wasting each month if you don’t have a detailed budget. In addition to helping you keep your finances in order, having a detailed budget, along with a tracking system for your spending helps you identify these areas of unnecessary spending and overlooked expenses,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“You’ve also got to be proactive by doing research on what things should cost and what you are actually paying for them. That means adopting a creative deal-finding mindset around each and every expense,” says Schwartz.
Here is a list of commonly overlooked expenses that may be threatening your budget. If they sound familiar, it’s time to cut them out.
The bad news is that energy bills take a bite out of your budget. The good news is that this is one expense that can be reduced by your own actions. Simply by turning your thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter by a couple of degrees, making sure that your windows and doors are airtight, turning off lights and appliances when not in use and using the lower cost hours for energy use, you can bring your bills down.
Yes convenience makes your life much easier, but it comes at a significant cost. Prepared food at the grocery store, for instance is handy, but comes at a premium. Consider this- how long does it really take you to cut, wash and assemble food? Does the extra cost make sense in that context? Probably not.
Another convenience item- taking money out from an ATM that is not owned by your bank. It is common for people to visit the one that is closest to them, paying extra fees. Plan ahead for your withdrawals and keep your money in your account.
With the evolution of the internet, Cable TV and the sizeable monthly bills are a luxury that you may not even need. How much and what kind of television do you really watch? Is it available through other delivery channels that are less costly? If you’ve got your heart set on cable, consider bundling your internet and phone service along with cable. You’ll most likely get a decent discount.
How do you get to work and around town? Are there opportunities to save? How about walking, biking, taking public transport or carpooling? It can cut down on this expense a lot.
The business model around gym memberships is built on great intentions, which often see the consumer not getting full value for their dues paid. Exercise is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. What if you cancelled your monthly gym membership and invested in some at-home workout programs? Or go online and choose from millions of free workout videos? Or how about strapping on your shoes and going for a walk or a run, rather than paying a premium for a treadmill at the gym? That could really get your cash flow going.