5 Expenses You Don’t Need

Save money without making sacrifices.

May 4, 2014 at 11:39AM

Everyone likes having extra cash, and saving money every month doesn't have to mean making big sacrifices in time, effort, or enjoyment. Take a look at how you use some of the goods and services you pay for each month, and you'll probably discover that there are some money-saving alternatives.

Here are a few ways to save money on five common household expenses.


1. Cable TV
Let's face it: having lots of channels still hasn't put the phrase "There's nothing on" out of business. Most of us still spend too much time flipping through channels without any satisfaction when our favorites aren't on, and the bills keep going up.

These days, giving up cable doesn't mean giving up the ability to watch favorite television shows or movies. As the modern equivalent of the set-top box, several devices are available for streaming shows onto a television, such as Apple TV and Roku, which each run about $100 with no monthly fees, or Google's Chromecast at about $35. Each will run a variety of streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, and they also provide access to other free and subscription-based Internet TV options.

If you enjoy watching shows on your computer, or have a television that you can hook up to a laptop to run the display, you have even more options. Many made-for-television cable shows and series are available on iTunes or Amazon for a couple of dollars per episode, or $25-35 per season, and you can watch them over and over, at your leisure. If you only watch a few shows, purchasing single episodes or seasons can be far less expensive than a monthly cable bill.

On top of saving money every month, you might find that a variety of Internet-based content services and new programs that you might have missed otherwise.

2. Land line
Really? You still have one of these? If you're one of the holdouts who still has a land line but do most of your talking on a mobile phone, what are you gaining by keeping it? Even if sending or receiving faxes is a routine part of your work, there are better, inexpensive or free alternatives available. Unless you're using dial-up Internet or some other service that requires a land line, or if keeping it is part of an exceptional discount on bundled services, who needs it?

3. Pack your lunch
In general, packing a lunch and snack to take to work can result in significant savings. A can of tuna can cost as little as 80 cents to $1.50, and making a decent sandwich can cost $2 or less. Making a pot of chili during the weekend, depending on ingredients and what is on sale, can cost between $8 and $15 for frugal shoppers, and yield six or more meals over the course of a week; even more when it's combined with pasta or a topping for chili dogs or taco salad.

Meanwhile, buying lunch can cost as much as one pot of chili. A high-quality, frozen prepared meal from still costs about half as much as eating out. Ten dollars a day spent on lunch translates to $50 a week, which adds up to $2,500 a year assuming 50 weeks of work every year. Give yourself a raise and start packing your lunch.

4. Late fees be gone!
Missing a payment due date by just one day can cost $30 or more per pop. And if it's on a credit card bill, you can end up paying interest on those fees. If it's any bill related to credit or loans, then your credit rating can take a sharp hit as well.

Get on a schedule and get ahead of your bills. Use a bill tracking system like Mint or one of these alternatives to get on track.

5. Learn how to slay vampires
You're probably wasting money on energy bills every month with vampire electronics. Any appliance or electronic device that remains warm when it isn't in use is consuming energy, and probably constantly. These include DVD and Blu-Ray players, anything with a digital clock, and the cell phone charger once your smart or dumb phone is charged.

According to the U.S. government's Energy Star website, the average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices that aren't in use. This may not sound like a lot of money, but if you're tech-savvy and have a lot of gadgets, you could be spending a lot more. For convenience, but the vampire devices on a power strip and shut it off when you're done and save money.

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This article originally appeared on MyBankTracker.com

Photo: Flickr source

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4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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