How to Save Money » Budgeting

5 Non-Essential Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget

When we try to save money, we usually look at the usual suspects, like groceries and clothes shopping, and we attempt to cut back on those expenses. However, sometimes it’s not the typical offenders that are wreaking havoc on our monthly expenses. Sometimes it’s just the little things that we don’t even think about that are the main culprits. Here are a few items which we tend to pay for that are, for the most part, completely unnecessary.

1. Coffee by the Cup

Coffee is a wonderful beverage that gives you that pick-me-up that we so often need when the post-lunch malaise sets in. It absolutely baffles me, however, that so many of my friends or co-workers will set off to Starbucks for an exorbitantly priced coffee when using a coffeemaker is so much easier and cheaper. Buy in bulk and make it yourself.

2. Bottled Water

Another essential beverage, water is a very important part of staying healthy. But you don’t need the supposed “healthier” fancy bottled waters to accrue the same benefits as drinking from the tap. Sure, tap water doesn’t necessarily taste as good, but investing in a water filter usually takes away the taste and adds the satisfaction of knowing you aren’t wasting money or polluting the environment with wasted plastic.

3. Cleaning Supplies

There are millions of home cleaning supplies out there. And each is supposedly better than the others, although almost all of them contain harmful toxins. But guess what? For a fraction of the price, replacing all those cleaning products with some baking soda and vinegar will save you money and keep your home spotless without the toxins.

4. Music

Unless you are a serious audiophile who enjoys collecting music, paying for music is a thing of the past. CDs are costly and have a pretty poor shelf-life; they get scratched and simply take up a lot of room. Downloading music is much easier, and with a little resourceful searching online, you can find virtually anything.

5. Internet

This one may be a little harder to stomach for those of you who wish to be constantly connected. But the fact of the matter is that Wi-Fi is available free of charge virtually anywhere. If your job doesn’t require that you be online after work, it’s good for the mind to take a break from the Internet. Whenever you need to check your email, Facebook account, or do some of the aforementioned downloading, simply go to a local cafe or the library.

Author Bio: This guest post is contributed by Olivia Coleman, who writes on the topics of online colleges and universities.

Comments

  1. Dan

    On point 4: Are you advocating illegally downloading music?

    On point 5: Wouldn’t it be more prudent to say, get rid of Cable/Satellite TV or your Phone or your movies or anything else that can be replaced by the internet, instead of advocating getting rid of the internet itself?

    • Tom Drake

      Dan,

      While I can’t speak really for Olivia, I think the point of #5 was that internet itself can be had for free.

      #4… I was wondering the same thing 😉

  2. Natalie MacLellan

    1-3 are great tips, but I’m also questioning Point #4. Frugal writers often tout “making more money” and “getting paid to do what you love” as ways out of a rut, and yet here, stealing the work of others is a way to save? Doesn’t seem fair.

    I have considered #5, but I think before I’d do that, I’d go Dan’s route – cut TV and phone, and use internet for both.

  3. Car Negotiation Coach

    I agree, i think just about any kind of liquid bought one-by-one can suck your finances dry. I try to stock up on soda, water, coffee, juice, etc. at BJs/Costco and avoid the one off’s at the gas station, coffee-shop, etc.

  4. Ray @ Financial Highway

    My personal biggest issue is Cell phone bill! Although I have a “good plan” it still is costing me about $75/mth before taxes due to data plan and addons … I don’t need most of it but just cant seem to let them go ;p

    • Stampy

      I used to pay the same for barely significant usage. $50 was the minimum for the months I never used the phone at all! After I got a bill of $500 one month, I cancelled my service (after paying the bill of course) and just faced the consequences for a few months. I wasn’t a big deal. Now I have a pre-paid SIM which I load with $25 for a year. Use is when I need it. No surprises.

  5. Sandy @ yesiamcheap

    Sorry, but I have to pay for my internet. I don’t live near a cafe that offers free internet (and I mean for miles) and my job doesn’t really like be surfing during work hours. I’ve tried stealing the neighbor’s bandwidth, but they closed their network. Internet stays.

    Regarding music, I honestly don’t buy or download. I just stream for free when I’m in the internet from Yahoo! Music, Playlist or Youtube. Works for me. Otherwise I turn on the FREE radio in the car.

  6. Jason

    While it may not have been your intention, it really sounds like you are suggesting the theft of music. You are right, I can find any music I want for free on the internet, is it free, no.

    However, there are a lot of good streaming radio stations on the internet that are free to listen to, and this has been my primary source of music for 10 or so years now.

  7. I like the general idea of finding the leaks in our budgets. Your list is a good start to help us think about what could be done better. But it really is an individual choice to what will work in your life.
    For me 1 and 2 I’m already doing. With number 3, thats not going to cut it. I need real cleaning supplies. Number 4 i don’t really use. Number 5 I pay for at home, for myself and big family, internet cafe is not going to cut it. Today the internet is used more than the phone and TV. Got to have it and I will pay for it. I am only paying $20 per month, its a bargin.

  8. Janet

    #5 is not only an issue of convenience but one of security. Numerous articles have pointed to the dangers of WiFi … perfect strangers with just a little bit of tech know-how can hijack your personal information in most password-protected accounts.

  9. Rich

    I agree about making your own coffee, and would also add making your own sandwiches for lunch, too.

    If you buy your lunch every day, rather than make it, it soon adds up.

  10. Ann

    I use vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in spray bottles and buy them in bulk.

  11. Xavier

    I’m trying to give up my habit of drinking coffee at Starbucks since last few days but its easier said then done.

  12. kevin

    Great advice…starts out with not paying for coffee and then ends up with using wi-fi at a cafe….nice to know people are getting paid to write without thinking.

  13. Alex

    Does anyone else notice the points 1 and 5 contradict each other? How exactly am I to expect to hang around in a coffee shop constantly without buying anything? Sure, spending short amounts of time might not get you noticed for a while but it’s all to the same end. At some point they’ll recognize you as “that guy who never buys anything/the tight-wad with the mac”. I’d suppose that’s when the trouble starts.

    Also, thank you for advocating screwing over artists everywhere. You CAN in fact find just about anything online, even the work of the ones who are struggling. It’s thinking like this that turns more people to posts like this (good business for you at least!).

    So far we have 3 common sense facts, advocacy for voracious piracy (somehow we are expected to accomplish this WITHOUT an internet connection), and advocacy for loitering/mooching. A real shining star you are, Olivia.

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