Do You Really Need It? 8 Expenses You Can Cut Out of Your Life

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Do You Really Need It? 8 Expenses You Can Cut Out of Your Life

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Old habits die hard.

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If you take a critical look at absolutely every penny you spend - a really detailed examination - you might realize that your money is going to a number of places that it doesn't need to go.


Some are monthly expenses you're so used to paying that you don't even notice them any more; others are regular expenses we incur that are viewed as necessities (or rather, necessary luxuries) - all of which there are reasonable alternatives for. Check it out!

Monthly Expenses You Don't Need:

Home Phone

More and more people are moving away from having a land line in their homes. With competitive cellular carriers and increasingly reliable (and cheap) VOIP plans, traditional land lines are becoming unnecessary. I've been without one for almost four years now - no problem.

Credit Card Insurance

It may seem cheap at a few pennies for every hundred dollars you owe on your credit card, but credit card insurance is not only exorbitantly expensive in relation to comparable forms of insurance, but it's also one of the least effective and most difficult insurances to successfully claim on.

Bank Account Fees

Take a look at your bank account. Do you pay a monthly fee? Could you avoid paying that fee if you maintained a minimum balance? What about withdrawal, debit, or other transaction charges? A friend of mine recently scrutinized all her bank account statements to discover she can save over $400/year in unnecessary fees, simply by paying more attention to the structure of her account and transactions.

Cable TV

For some people, television is a non-negotiable requirement, and if you're one of those people, far be it for me to tell you that you don't need it. All I ask is that you take a look at exactly what you watch on TV that gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction, and ask yourself if there's any other way to view the same show or obtain the same information (online, for example).

Years ago, I moved into a place that (accidentally) had free cable. When the cable company realized the error of its ways and revoked it, I decided to do an experiment and see if I could live without it. Although there was an adjustment period at first, I coped pretty well, and also managed to save some cool cash each month in so doing.

Other Expenses Worth Reconsidering:

Coffee Shop Coffee

As much as I love a really good cup 'o' jo, I refuse to feed my daily addiction at a coffee shop. Instead, I buy good quality coffee beans, grind them fresh daily, and use a nice French press to create the perfect cup. If I need one for the road, I take a travel mug with me. I figure I'm saving about $1,000/year on lattes, as well as the environmental cost of ordering all those coffees to go.

Bottled Water

In grocery shopping with a friend recently, I was shocked to see her load up the cart with multiple cases of bottled water. I see very little up-side to bottled water; it's largely unregulated, the plastic leaches unhealthy toxins into the water, the waste factor is horrific, and for all this you pay a formidable price. There are alternatives; please consider them.  

Lazy Lunches

After too many uninspiring sandwiches and granola bars, I lost the plot and spent a small fortune eating lunch out for a short spell. I tried to justify it by choosing inexpensive and healthy lunch options, but no matter which way I sliced it, I was consistently spending more money than I did on my packed lunches.

But I couldn't bear to prepare and force back another dull packed lunch. So instead, I started cooking larger dinners at night and taking the leftovers for lunch. Now I enjoy a hot healthy meal at lunch; one that I often look forward to enjoying during my mid-day break.

Grocery Shopping Strategies

This is yet another lesson learned the hard way by yours truly. Despite having a solid routine of weekly grocery outings armed with a well-prepared list, I moved somewhere with great shopping nearby and it all fell apart.

I truly believed I could shop just a meal or two in advance without spending any more money. In some ways I still don't understand why it didn't work since I bought many of the same ingredients, but ultimately my grocery expenses doubled. A little planning and fewer trips to the grocery store can go a long way.

These are just a few expenses that I've found success in cutting out of my life without too much ado. What expenses could you do without?


Avoiding Pain at the Pump

 Running Your Business on a Shoestring Budget

Balancing the Needs of Tomorrow with the Desires of Today

Nora DunnNora Dunn

Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under Life Balance. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions while constantly balancing life and her location independent work on the road. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today.Compensated CareOne Blogger.

Follow Nora on Twitter @hobonora and to follow us click here  

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  • If you have a burglar or fire alarm system installed in your home...  KEEP your land line phone with your phone company.    Voice Over IP protocols generally will not work with the control panels in those systems.    You won't necessarily know anything is wrong until you have an alarm and your system can't dial out to get you help.

  • @Shaun Burks -- good point, however, our system has a wireless phone attached to it for a couple dollars more per month.  We don't have a land line and didn't want to spend the $40/month to reinstall one for our security system.

  • Toxic chemicals leaching out of plastic?  Really?  Aren't you overstating this?  According to Merriam-Webster Toxic is defined as, "containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation".  If that was the case these toxic chemicals would be dropping people like flies anytime someone drank from a bottle of Poland Spring.  Also, unless you have a reverse osmosis filtration system with UV pass through, you are drinking SOMETHING in that water that's not exactly H2O; it could be minerals or it could be little bits of rust from the pipes that bring the water to your house that are in some cases 100 years old.  The FDA has strict guidelines and forces manufactures to do extraction studies on all materials used in the products of food-grade you do not have to like bottled water or plastic bottles at all, but saying the work "Toxic" is misleading and irresponsible.  I agree with you on the reduction of costs, waste and purported "safety" of bottled water over Tap Water, but saying it's because you are ingesting "Toxic" chemicals because of the plastic is a ignorant statement and if your goal in life is to limit intake of certain items in your body then I wish you good luck because almost everything on this green earth could kill you in large enough doses but is benign in moderate and small doses.  People have bigger health concerns and inadvertent "ingestion" of harmful substances than anything that leaches out of current plastic bottles.

  • @Eric: Learn to read buddy - the author stated "toxins" not that drinking out of plastic bottles was "toxic" and by any definition, PCB's are a toxin, and when consumed in quantities of a few parts per million can be "toxic" with a long enough period of exposure. Google for PCB and work on the reading comprehension. Then you can kill two birds with one stone.

  • my wife purposly makes larges meals so there can be leftovers ....only thing is I get it for dinner the next night...i can be sure to look forward to my  sandwich for only variety is turkey,chicken,or tuna.........pb & j  if we are beefin lol

  • @Abba: I may have misread "Toxic" and "Toxins"...but you are confusing PCB (Polychlorinated Biphenyl) which ARE NOT USED in plastic bottles with BPA (Bisphenol A) which is used in SOME plastic bottles.  The polycarbonate bottles MAY have BPA in it, but guess what...polycarbonate is NOT USED TO MAKE COMMODITY WATER BOTTLES that are used by Poland Spring and other major producers; WHY?  Because it's VERY EXPENSIVE and completely OVERKILL in terms of strength for commodity water bottles.  For commodity water bottles they use High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) which doesn't have BPA at all.  PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is used in soda bottles because it it stronger which is needed for items under pressure like soda.  Again, they have no BPA also.

    I am not arguing PCB's toxicity but it has no relation to plastic commodity water bottles which makes me think you are confusing acronyms.  But even if you meant BPA and since BPA is not at all present in commodity water bottles the author statement is still irresponsible because she is being misleading...maybe not intentionally, but still misleading.  I agree with EVERYTHING she said about not buying bottled water; but there is nothing TOXIC or any TOXINS in the plastic that is used in commodity bottle water from your supermarket.  

    My assertions are still correct (in relations to the chemistry of plastics) regardless, if I used Toxic or Toxins; the point is the author said plastic water bottles like from Poland Spring and the like HAVE TOXINS which they don't.  Everything else she said about it was correct but that was wrong.  Actually the most Toxic thing in a bottle of bottled water is the WATER ITSELF because if you drink too much of it, you salt levels in your body drop and you go into a coma and die.

  • now go one step further:

    everytime you brew your own cup of coffee or gag your leftovers, take a one or 5 dollar bill, stuff it in a cup and at theendofthemonth, depose this money on your roth acct or add it to repaying your mtg or credit card debt...... in reverse order! you will see wonders!

  • Those are all great ideas.  The little environmental references dropped here or there really don't help the article, though, and tend to lower the instinctive credibility to no purpose.

  • Great suggestions for the people needed to save/expenses..I'm already doing some of the topic this article mention,such as using top water instead to bottle water/used leftover foods to bring for work/used prepaid phone pay as I used it and bring my own mug to make hot/coffe/chocolate drinks.I saved more many by doing it.Thank you

  • You probably just blinked and the prices on groceries went up....AGAIN !!  It is still good to plan meals and ingredients.  Sure you can cut out certain things.  Our grandparents didn't have half the things we think we need, they worked hundreds of times harder than we do, they had no telling how much less to live on...of course they grew much of their on food, raised cows, goats, chickens, etc. for their own use.  Actually, my mother-in-law who lived during the depression, lived longer than many American health nuts do or ever will today.  So, Americans just have to quit whining, go to their history books (if they can find any that have not been burned or otherwise destroyed or edited to death, and see just how childish they are when it comes to tightening the belt or doing without.

  • I would reverse the logic and say - consider whether you (and every member of the family) truly NEEDS a cell phone.  A bare bones landline is about $20-$25 a month, less than even the cheapest individual cell phone plans.  Families can easily spend $150-$200 a month just on cell phone stuff - voice, text, data, not to mention phone replacements and upgrades.  Consider that the whole world got by just fine for many decades with nothing but a landline home phone.  How many conversations are really necessary to have the instant they pop into your head? Do you truly need to be accessible every minute, 24/7, in every location?  Could you just look up a restaurant address before you leave the house (hint: the answer is yes).  Are all those things really worth spending thousands of dollars a year?  Just because something is possible doesn't mean it's necessary.

    For safety in genuine emergencies like car breakdowns, you can always keep a prepaid cell phone in the glove box for around $6-$8 a month.

  • Well, I gave up haircuts, clothing, laundry soap, environmental impact of running the laundry machines, fix my own cars, repair my own house, mulch my lawn so it feeds itself, plant trees to shade the house, drive a small car, have a pay as you go phone, use appliances at night for a rate discount, paint my own house, guard my house with rescue dogs, recycle gutter water for plants, have a bare bones land line for dsl service, have an 11 year old laptop,and keep my cars for t least 200,000 miles.  The only thing I buy is gas, food, oil, dog food.  can't get much cheaper than that!

  • How can you leave bottled water, one of the greatest rip-offs and wastes in the world, off your list?

  • I LOVE my landline and would never, ever get rid of it. I pay $24.95 a month for it, which I believe is far cheaper than most people pay for cell phone service. I do have a cell phone, too, for emergencies, and must prepay $31.88 every three months for it, but really, I depend on my landline and answering machine.

  • VOIP requires either ADSL (phone line), cable or a dedicated Internet.  If you get rid of phone and cable, you are assuming that dedicated Internet is available.  Unfotunately, very few homes have fiber running to it - only apartments and urban multi-family dwellings have such connectivity.  So, the advice to get rid of both phone and cable is useless for 90%+ of the population.

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