Everyone wants to save money. When we decide we want to store some funds away for a rainy day, we often make cuts first on things we consider little luxuries, like going out, buying something nice, or taking that weekend trip. We don’t think about some of the places in our everyday lives where we are practically throwing money away. Our spending often becomes a habit, as we reach for the same items in order to streamline our way of doing things. Every single day at the grocery store, the gas station, and everywhere else we pull out our debit cards or reach in our wallets for some cash.
These are products that you can get way cheaper, or make yourself at home. Remember when we made everything at home? Or at least tried to? It actually can save you so much money that you won’t have to automatically cut off going out money when you want to save. Imagine all the things you could do with this extra moola! We are going to share 15 items that, whether you realize it or not, you are throwing your money away by buying. Here’s to saving more money and being more frugal in 2019!
Buying bottled water can be tricky. There are so many options at the grocery store, from many different part of the world, that it can be overwhelming. Do you buy local brands? Or water from the other side of the world? Go cheap? Or buy the most expensive option? Whatever’s on sale? You might be shocked to find out that the water you think came from some pristine source is really just reprocessed tap water. So yes, you are paying about $1095 a year for tap water that is free. If you live in a place that has hard water, or water which requires you to resort to purchasing the bottled variety, you can always get a water filter, or filtered pitcher. You can then pour this water into a reusable water bottle that you can take with you, on the go. Now, imagine what you can do with an extra $1100 every year.
The perk that coffee give us is a total necessity to most of us. It seems that we can’t function without it. No one is saying you have to get rid of your coffee habit, but maybe it’s time to look at how much you are really spending each month and year at your favorite big-name coffee shop. CBS News found that we, on average, spend about $3.25 each time we grab coffee outside the home. No big deal, right? Wrong. If we only did that five days a week, that totals $780 every year! It is way cheaper to buy the coffee from the supermarket (they have your favorite coffee shop’s flavors there too), make it at home, and take it to go in a portable coffee mug. It also helps cut down on waste, helping the environment!
We want to have the best, and take care of the things we have. It’s just human nature; however, businesses play into this, creating fancier options for purchases that we can’t help but say yes to. Take gasoline, for instance. Why wouldn’t you want to put premium gas in your car. I mean, it’s premium! But AAA recently found that premium gas might just be a waste of your money. Unless your car (examples were Ford F150, Audi A3, Jeep Renegade, Ford Mustang, etc.) recommends it, it might not make any difference in your vehicle’s performance and fuel economy. Even those that do recommend it only saw a “modest improvement” in both.
Name Brand Medications
You may trust name-brand medications more than the generic versions, but by buying them, you are throwing your money away. Generic medications are just the same as the name-brand ones. In fact, the FDA “requires generic drugs to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand-name drug. The generic manufacturer must [also] prove its drug is the same (bioequivalent) as the brand-name drug.” So, now that you know, you can opt for generic over-the-counter drugs, and tell the pharmacist that you’d like the generic option for your prescribed medicines (after making sure with your doctor that the quality is the same across the board; some name-brand medications have better-quality ingredients, for example). Your wallet will thank you.
Cell Phone Service
Cell phone service has gotten so mainstream, and streamlined, that you shouldn’t be paying too much on your monthly cell bills. There are family plans, unlimited data plans, and prepaid plans that should keep you from getting overage charges. Also, since there is Wi-Fi practically everywhere, if you remember to sign into the various networks, you should have free data wherever you go. If you are constantly getting three-digit cell phone bills, and getting fees for going over your data (or for any other reason), get out of your contract, and find a more affordable option. There’s no reason these days to overpay for cell phone service.
Airport food can be very hit or miss, depending on what airport you are at. There will be convenience-store like food, such as trail mix, candy, chips, and soda, water, and other snacks. And it will be marked up way over what you would pay for it at your local hometown stores. Then you have the gourmet options, served at cafes and full-on restaurants near your terminal. These will usually be delicious, and again, overpriced. Your healthiest, and less expensive option is to buy your snacks and meals ahead of time, and pack them for the airport. Or, if you practice fasting, choose the day of your flight as the day you decide to lower your caloric intake or completely fast.
Food Delivery Fees
Ordering out has gotten easier as ever. Even Amazon has a section where you can order from practically all your local eateries for home delivery. It’s so convenient, and saves on gas. But those pesky delivery fees and added fees (not to mention the tip) add up. It is easier to order your meals for pick up, go eat at the restaurant in person, or just make something similar at home.
Brand Name Products
Remember how we mentioned that brand-name medications are just about the same as the generic version? Well, the same goes for name-brand anything. When you purchase name brand, you are often paying more for the name. Buying the supermarket or drugstore’s house brand version will save you some bucks. Just make sure to check the ingredients, as some name-brand options might have better, or more natural ingredients.
Rental Car Insurance
When you rent a car, you have several decisions to make. What type of car, how long you want to rent it for, whether you want to drive it one way, or bring it back to the same location, etc. But, you should know that you don’t have to opt for their insurance options. Your personal car insurance usually covers rentals as well, and probably so does the credit card you will be using to pay for the car. The only time where this won’t work is if you rent a car outside the country.
Remember the days when you used to have a ton of magazine subscriptions? When you ponied up for 12 months of this mag and that one? You don’t have to do that anymore. Apps like Texture gives you access to over 100 magazines (and their back issues) for about $10-$15 a month. If you have Amazon Prime, a ton of magazines are also included with your service. Lastly, you can always get a bunch of magazines at the local library–for free.
Whether it’s the boxed foods that live in the center aisles of the supermarket (fresh foods like bread, produce, and meats are always on the perimeters of the store), or packaged healthy, fresh food, you are paying too much. You are paying for the packaging, as well as the food. You are also paying for someone to prepare, arrange, and package it, to essentially make life easier for you. It’s healthier, and cheaper, to buy the fresh food yourself, and store them in the food containers of your choice, at home.
It’s an automatic reflex to order your contact lenses at the optometrist’s office once you’re done with your appointment, and have your lens prescription. But don’t. It will be more expensive, and nowadays, you can order your contact lenses online (from places like 1-800-CONTACTS) for cheaper. Just make sure the website you find your contacts on is reputable!
Movie Rentals and eBooks
Just like we mentioned with magazines, paying too much for eBooks or movie rentals is unnecessary now. Amazon Prime has a ton of free shows, movies, and eBooks. Affordable subscription services, like Netflix and Hulu, have a large selection of shows and films you’ll most likely want to watch. So you shouldn’t feel the need to rent individual digital movies, unless it’s something not on these, or other platforms. A little Googling can also find many movies online for free. And, there’s always the library!
A Gym Membership
I’m not trying to be negative, but if you join a gym (especially in January, when you feel the pressure to), there’s a good chance you won’t end up going as much as you’d like to. And you will keep paying for it, until you go in person to cancel it. It just happens. These days, your cable service usually comes with an array of fitness programs you can watch whenever you want to, or you can find options on YouTube. Finally, just getting out and talking a walk or jog around your neighborhood is free, and works.
Bank Overdraft Fees
In 2017, banks made a whopping $37.3 billion on overdraft fees. Yes, you read that right. When you spend a few dollars more by accident, you are often charged with high overdraft fees, like $35. Which you don’t have! Some banks also charge on top of that for everyday you stay overdrawn. Imagine going over by $1 and having to pay $36 for that mistake. Banks are waiting to make that money off of you, so make sure to keep track of your finances, and sign up for overdraft protection if you feel you need to.