by Maurie Backman | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Nov. 29, 2019
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Cutting these expenses could free up some serious cash.
There are plenty of reasons why saving money is no easy feat. For one thing, life is expensive. It costs a lot to put a roof over your head, and let's not even get started on the exorbitant price of healthcare. Throw in the fact that many people are grappling to pay back outstanding debt, whether from loans or another source, and it's no wonder so many of us feel like we're just not wired to save.
On the other hand, if you really stop to take a close look at your finances, you'll probably find that some of your expenses are optional rather than obligatory. And those are the ones you should focus on reducing, or even eliminating, if your savings account needs a serious boost. Here are a few to focus on.
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Takeout meals may be convenient, and even tasty, but it's hard to argue that they're an absolute necessity. Sure, you need to eat, but that can be achieved by preparing meals in your own kitchen for a fraction of what a restaurant will charge you. Imagine you spend $60 a week on takeout. Chances are, you can make similar meals for a mere $15 at home. Cutting out that habit would therefore save you $2,340 in the course of a year.
It may be the case that your local coffee shop brews a tastier, more potent latte than you can whip up at home. But if that latte costs you $5 a pop and you buy one every day, that's $1,825 a year you're spending on caffeine. When you consider that you can easily make a cup of coffee at home for $0.50, you stand to save $1,642.50 a year by going that route.
Rideshares make transportation easier -- there's no question about it. But if you hail one every time you're feeling tired or lazy, your savings efforts could take a giant hit. If you're currently spending $20 a week on rideshares and you opt for public transportation instead at 20% of the cost, you'll save $16 a week, or $832 a year.
Staying in shape is important, but you don't need a paid gym membership to achieve that goal. Walking and running are free, and if you already own a bike, using it won't cost you money, either. If you're not a runner, or aren't a fan of outdoor fitness in the cold, search online for workouts you can do in your living room -- there are plenty of them. If you're currently spending $50 a month for gym privileges, canceling that membership will put a cool $600 back in your pocket each year.
Cable TV may be a nice thing to have, but how much do you actually use it? If you work long hours and tend to spend most of your free time socializing, you probably don't need access to 147 different channels. And if you're currently spending $150 a month on cable, which is in line with the national average, swapping that bill for a couple of streaming services could easily free up $120 a month. That's $1,440 a year in savings.
The more unnecessary expenses you keep paying for, the harder it will be to build savings. Take a look at your budget, or create one if you don't have one already, and think about the things you can actually live without. And then imagine what you stand to gain by slashing those costs and banking the difference.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
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