by Maurie Backman | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Nov. 14, 2019
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It's possible to spend less and save more without completely wrecking your lifestyle.
Do you need to slash your spending? Perhaps you're loaded up with credit card debt. Or you have little to no money in your savings account. If either of those is the case, spending less could be your ticket to a healthier financial outlook. But lowering your spending is easier said than done, especially once you grow accustomed to a certain lifestyle.
Of course, there are probably a number of expenses you have the ability to cut back on. For example, you could pack up your home and downsize to a smaller space to lower your housing costs, or get rid of a vehicle and deal with the hassle of public trains and buses to save on transportation. But let's face it: Both options are bound to hurt.
Furthermore, there are some expenses you really can't cut back on. Take healthcare, for example. You need insurance, and when you get sick or encounter medical issues that need treatment, you have no choice but to pay for tests or prescriptions.
But if you're serious about saving money, shedding your debt, or meeting whatever financial goal you have in mind, then you can start by cutting back on expenses that are easier to live without. Here are a few to consider.
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It's nice to walk into a coffee shop every morning and have your local barista whip up a steaming latte for you to sip en route to the office. But if you're spending $5 a pop, that's money that's preventing you from meeting other objectives, so rather than continue to uphold that habit, cut back to one fancy coffee a week, and brew your own for pennies the rest of the week. You won't be giving up your daily dose of caffeine -- you'll just be getting it on the cheap.
Rideshares may be convenient, but they can sure get expensive. Cutting back is a good way to free up cash for more important purposes, so to this end, make the following promise: You'll only pay for a lift home when the weather is truly abysmal, or the circumstances are such that walking or taking public transportation isn't safe. If you go from six rideshares a month at $15 a pop to just two, you'll bank $60.
Streaming services can be an affordable alternative to cable, but if you're paying for a streaming service on top of cable, and you rarely watch it, then why continue throwing out $10 a month? You're better off socking that money away for a rainy day, and discovering new content that's available to you at no cost.
The appeal of subscription boxes is easy to understand -- it's like getting a fun surprise at your doorstep every month. But chances are, the novelty will wear off after a period of time, and that's when it pays to cancel those services you don't actually need. Depending on the subscription in question, you could save yourself anywhere from $10 to over $100 a month in the process.
Working out is an important and healthy thing to do, but it's also something you can do without spending money. Running in parks or on the street, after all, is free. And there are plenty of fitness workouts you can access online at no cost and complete in the comfort of your living room. Will you lose access to some fancy equipment by canceling your gym membership? Sure. But can you still stay in shape? Absolutely.
There's a lot of money-saving advice out there that requires you to make misery-inducing compromises, but that's not what we're talking about here. In all of the above examples, you're not being asked to completely give something up; you're just being asked to alter your approach to it.
In the case of coffee and rideshares, you're cutting back -- but you can still drink caffeine and go places. With regard to streaming services, you're not pledging to spend your time at home staring at walls; you're just canceling those platforms you hardly use. You're allowed to sign up for subscription boxes on a temporary basis as long as you cancel them once they stop being exciting, and you still get to work out, just not at a gym you pay for.
So yes, you're giving things up, but not to an unreasonable extreme. And also, you don't have to make all of these changes at once. But if you implement the ones that are the least painful to you, over time, you could improve your finances in a meaningful way.
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