Six ways you can save by cutting out daily indulgences

By Douglas Matus

In the modern world, gratification is often just a touchscreen or mouse-click away. Between technological temptations and daily habits, it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of overspending. Though it can feel painful to give up everyday indulgences, saving money can become its own reward. As a person learns to stick to a budget, fewer financial worries can lead to an overall improvement to quality of life.

For many, it feels as if there’s never enough money to go around. However, the solution for this is as obvious as it seems: eliminate certain unnecessary expenses. If you don’t know where to begin, try integrating these six easy ways to save money.

1. Cut the Cord

Most people balk at the suggestion to give up television. But, it becomes impossible to justify the bloated price of cable packages when you consider other available options. According to NBC News, the average cost of cable has risen to over $100 per month.

“Cancel your cable subscription,” says Jess Chua, career and personal finance coach with Inner Life Goals. “Get a streaming subscription instead. A TV antenna will also allow you to watch free broadcast TV. You can watch all your favorite shows and movies at a fraction of the cost.”

If you cut the cord in preference of streaming providers like Netflix and Hulu, you can easily save $60-$80 per month. Also, don’t forget about the ubiquity of a certain free movie rental service: your local library.

2. Break Out of the Gym

If you need to cut corners in your budget, make your gym membership an early candidate for the chopping block. Unlike many indulgences, your membership can get replaced from self-actuated endeavor. Daily walks or runs, hikes on the weekend, combined with more attention to everyday opportunities for movement — taking the stairs, for example, or parking at the back of the lot — can more than satisfy your daily need for 30 minutes of physical activity.

As for the 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity recommended per week, there are plenty of alternatives outside Pilates and Cross-Fit. The Mayo Clinic has many suggestions to satisfy this requirement, including mowing the lawn, brisk walks, runs, or strength training with your own body weight as resistance.

3. Brew Your Own

Daily trips to Starbucks can add up fast, and easily account for $120 to $150 at the end of each month. Luckily, the ease of brewing coffee at home means there’s no need to give up your caffeine fix. If you only skip the coffee-shop a few times a week, you’ll still save a good bit of money; bring your own coffee mug or tumbler, and most shops — including Starbucks — will give you a small discount.

“You can easily prepare a standard cup of coffee at home, or even a fancier, more ‘Starbucks’ version, and save up to $5 a day,” says Lori Askins of BR Finance Solutions. “You can also use reusable containers, such as canteens or glass cups, to save money in the long run.”

If you find it hard to give up your fancy coffee, there are plenty of ways to dress up a home-brew. French presses are available for less than a standard drip coffee-maker, and you can make cold-brew coffee in your own fridge. If you have a blender, you can experiment with blended coffee concoctions to replace your daily Frappuccino.

4. Potluck for Dinner

If you have a lot of friends, you understand the financial burden of social obligations. Every weekend can bring a reason to eat out or hit the bars, which creates a serious drain on finances. On the flip side, more friends makes it easier to organize a festive pot-luck or cocktail party.

Instead of getting together at a fancy restaurant, organize a potluck and ask everyone to bring a favorite dish or cocktail ingredients. You’ll save plenty of money on food, not to mention what you would have spent on tax, parking, and tips. Outside of a hectic restaurant, you’ll also have more opportunities for conversation and connection among your guests.

5. Rethink Your Bad Habits

A reconsideration of some bad habits can save you an enormous amount of money — both in the short and long-term.

“Cigarettes, alcohol, soda, and junk food can cost you thousands of dollars every year,” says Katie Ross, education and development manager for American Consumer Credit Counseling. “Stopping these activities is difficult, but if money is tight, it’s worth it to at least cut back.”

If the notion of eliminating a vice terrifies you, try at first to simply limit the behavior. Stop ordering alcoholic drinks at restaurants, for example, or limit your consumption to every other day. If you consume six to seven alcoholic beverages a week at bars or restaurants, you’re spending about $650 a month. As for cigarettes, smokers spend on average $2,555 per year, while bad eating habits can lead to compounded medical expenses, insurance costs, and higher clothing and food expenditures.

6. Buffer Those Impulses

Online shopping has made it possible to have anything we want with the click of a button. Because of this ever-present temptation, most people need a system to help manage impulse buys.

“Be careful with impulse clicking,” says Kevin McErnerney of McEnerney Tax Advisory Group. “Don’t get caught up in the frenzy when you see coupon codes or flash-sales on your screen. Remember, if you haven’t budgeted a want, or can’t adjust your weekly spending, you can’t afford it.”

A 48-hour waiting period on purchases over a certain amount can help you reign in those sudden impulses. In most cases, you will find that ‘wants’ evaporate over time. This practice also encourages better mindfulness with your money, which helps with any finance-related goals. When you work on it day-to-day, saving money becomes easier than you think. With immediate rewards and the satisfaction of change, these easy ways to save money can make frugality your new daily habit.

Written on September 28, 2016

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