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

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Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.

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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  • Bottled water can be useful in case of emergency when water supply is cut off.  Its essential for diaster preparation unless you are willing to drink your own urine.  I agree it shouldn't be used as a daily source of water but should stock up few cases for emergency.

  • Cell phones and VOIP phones are not very effective in case you have to dial 911.

  • Actually, what I got rid of was the cell phone.  I use the landline all the time, the cell had a much higher bill, and I didn't like the fact that I could never get away for some "off the air" time.  With the landline I never (but NEVER!) have to worry about dropped calls, batteries dieing, or poorer sound quality (and I've tried many different phones and services).  

    Bob and Shaun - exellent points about burgaler alarms.  We currently have one that is cell phone based.  It's always cutting out the way cell phones are wont to do.  I'd change back to the old landline system, but we've got another 3 years on the silly contract.  Three years to pray it doesn't "drop the call" when we need it most.

    If you couldn't figure out why your bills almost doubled when shopping for only a couple of days as opposed to a couple of weeks, then you are definitely not in any position to advise people about that.  Things don't cost more when bought separately.  Clearly you just weren't paying attention to your purchases.  I'd say that would be the thing to cut - not paying attention while shopping.

    As for the cable (I actualy have Dish TV), I don't watch much, but the only way to get the things I watch is through my chosen medium.  I'd love to be able to cut that cost, but sometimes it just isn't an option.  

    Interesting opinion piece, but that's all it is - your opinion.

  • I would love to be able to drink my tap water again.  

    When we moved to the countrry, we found that our tap water is full of sulphur and other impurities including red clay, and although we have two filters (main one on the entire house) and one under our sink that cost several hundred dollars, our water is horrible.  I've tried holding my nose while drinking, but the water makes me sick.

    We drilled a well, and that water is worse.  A waste of $10,000.

    Water is something that people seem to take for granted until they can't drink theirs, or they run out.  Protected our water is so important, or we will be having water wars in the future.

  • One other thing you can do is call those who provide services like energy, cell phone, mortgage holder etc., tell them you are struggling, and have them go through your bills and ask for ways to reduce your fees. It's amazing how many "special deals" will suddenly surface.

  • The only one I disagree with is the landline. By canceling it., you are putting WAY too much faith in cellular technology. In the event of an emergency, land line will always work - cell phones will not. They are cheap enough now that you can get one for around $10 a month.

  • Ooma Telo - Internet phone, free land line, pay tax only.  Google it.

  • Great advice-

    When my kids went off to College, out went the Cable TV. Saved a  80 bucks a month. Next went the Newspapers (we were getting three); landline phone, lawn service (now there's a ripoff) , and converted the backyard (nearly 1/3 acre) to a large garden, which comes in handy with the food bill. This year we are set for canning.

    Leftovers? You don't want em? Drop em off with our family.

    Every car I have purchased in the last 20 years is a small 4 cylinder model that is rated for at least 30 mpg highway. Locally manufactured- to keep my neighbors working.

    I can't believe we're flaming each other over bottled water and plastic bottles , when most domestic houses are supplied by 100 year old brick, steel, iron lines, and distributed internally by copper lines sweated with lead fittings. Get over it.

    Everybody's been drinking crappy water for all their lives.

    Cellphones? Shop for the best deal- you don't need all the bells and whistles.

  • My husband and I decided recently to leave our phone/cable/internet company.  We now go to the library to use the computer there.  I have a pay-as-you-go cell phone (which I've had for 3 years now) and pay $20.00 plus tax every three months for 200 minutes.  I never come close to the 200 minutes, but then again I never was addicted to talking on the phone.  My husband has a cell phone from work and uses it rarely for personal calls (usually to me).  We get all the books and CD's and DVD's from the local library so I still see movies and tv shows as well.  We have an antenna in the attic which protects it from the wind, snow and other weather and have great reception, so I don't miss current news or local channel shows either.  We use Britta for our drinking and cooking water.  We take the family out to eat once a week when we aren't away camping, and the rest of the meals I prepare at home with actual ingredients rather than box stuff which is loaded with unhealthy additives such as excessive salt and fat, etc., not to mention the high cost for the convenience of the box.

    The best way we save money however, is by going camping.  We have a class B widebody camper van (bought used for $5,000 plus taxes and registration) that sleeps four, has a toilet, shower and full (albeit small) kitchen and a cable ready TV with DVD player.   For the same money most families spend for one week in Florida or some other resort community, we go out at least three weekends a month about 7 months a year including one long trip (usually 10 days) and enjoy it thoroughly.  Instead of staying at a hotel we stay at different campgrounds for about $20 tp $30  a night and that includes your electric, cable TV, fresh water intake and sewer hookup.   We enjoy sleeping in our own beds with our own clean sheets and pillows, our own clean shower, air conditiioning and/or heating (depending on the weather)  all without spending more than you would by staying home and going to the movies or out to eat.  Add up the gas and maintenance of the vehicle plus the nightly stay and you can see how cheap it is.  The added benefit is you go as a family, spend quality time together and do things that you wouldn't be able to do if you stay at home and sit in your living room.  Another great benefit...  We always know where our kids are.

  • @DAVE......You gave up clothes? LOL!

  • Nice article, and I agree with everything.  There are valid reasons, though, for buying bottled water.  For whatever reason, tap water has contaminates that bottled water doesn't seem to have.  Those contaminants cause medical problems that are immediate and noticeable.  For me, it's a sore throat.  For others, it may be something different.  I don't know what it is in tap water that causes this problem for me, but a good quality bottled water doesn't do the same thing.  I can and do filter tap water at home through a Brita system, and I don't get a sore throat.  But when I'm on the go, as so many of us are, bottled water is essential.

  • We keep a stash of bottled water around in case the Big Earthquake strikes and our water supply gets shut off.  For day to day needs though, we have a filter on our sink.

    Consider looking around at local libraries for movies to rent (for low cost and sometimes free) and give up the Netflix habit.  We've never subscribed to Netflix and I doubt we ever will.

  • Before you get rid of your land line, consider the fact that if you have to call 911, you have to be able to give your address to the 911 operator.  Although 911 systems for the most part show the location of the caller to the operator, cell phones do not. If they have to trace the call via cell towers, it takes precious time that you may not have.

  • ERIC - I worked in and retired from the automotive sector in the safety departments, they knew thirty some years ago after extensive lab testing and documented in reports, that the film that was on the interior windows of the vehicles was and is TOXIC gases from the plastic which is being used to make the cars cheaper - only this was not for public edification.  And, yes, plastic gives off gases and leaches - think about those warnings now on baby sippy cups; maybe they don't want to be sued by the above findings.  How can anything using plastic in foods, etc. we consume advertise holistic and keep on poisioning the public???

  • You cannot manage what cannot be measured. If most people did keep accounts of what they spend, they would be surprised how expensive those habits can be. Just keep putting your change in a big jar and see how much you have at the end of the month.Then multiply times 12. Same for those smaller purchases. Time to get smarter America. And do slow down and do use those turn signals. You might avoid a rather expensive citation and or a car crash. Good luck.

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