Being financially responsible means you shouldn’t spend beyond your means, and ideally you should decrease your expenses enough to pay off debt and save for your future. Decreasing your expenses is best done by out expenses you don’t need to live, and finding less expensive or free alternatives.
While it can be hard to sit down, look at your budget, and identify what you don’t need (it’ll often feel like you need it all), it’s a key part of getting your budget to balance and getting ahead with your finances.
Fortunately, I’ve had years of experience cutting budgets, and there are always a few expenses and habits that should be the first go to with tightening up a budget and cutting out the unnecessary expenses. Here are my top four expenses you should always cut from your budget:
Cable and Home Phone
Cutting your cable and home phone may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people still have cable or satellite and a home phone. With the rise of cell phones and Netflix over the last ten years, these two items have become obsolete – yet they are still very expensive and could be costing you upwards of $150 per month. That’s $1,800 per year that could be going towards debt, savings, or travel.
Instead of sitting down in front of the television each night and mindlessly consuming HGTV, ditch it and switch to Netflix. The lack of constant streaming programming means you’ll only watch television when there is something you want to watch. You’ll be more productive, and you’ll enjoy the superior programming.
If you can’t bear to give up your nightly news Olympic coverage, there are also digital antenna you can purchase online that will pick up CBC, CTV, Global and more.
Bank fees are an often overlooked expense. Very few people have a line item in their budget for bank fees because the money just comes out of their account once per month. Bank fees are also usually pretty reasonable, in the range of $10 -$20 per month for the average user.
But even though this is a relatively small item, you should still cut it because it’s so easy to cut. Switching to fee-free banking couldn’t be easier, and you can choose from several options. Typically, your current banking institution may offer a fee-free option if you have a certain number of financial products with them, such as a chequing account and credit card. Many credit unions also offer fee-free banking. Finally, Tangerine Bank has been offering fee-free chequing and savings accounts for years.
Switching your account over is often super easy because it’s in the bank’s interest to make the process as smooth as possible for you.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Books
If you are one of the few Canadians who still subscribes to a daily newsletter, good for you! I commend you. If that newspaper is doing important reporting for your community, and then maybe it can stay on your monthly expense list. But as for magazines and books, it’s time to quit that habit.
Spending on magazines and books is a pet peeve of mine because there is a wonderful place where you can consume these items for absolutely zero cost – the library!
Head to your local public library and check out the assortment of books, newspapers, and magazines that they have on hand. It’s a public service and one that you shouldn’t overlook.
Once upon a time the only way to get a targeted workout was to hit the gym for a sweat session. But this is no longer the case, and with the rise of the Beachbody empire, workouts are now only the click of a mouse away. Instead of paying a monthly fee for the privilege of working out at a gym (a privilege most people don’t even use!) pay once and purchase an at-home workout regime.
Not only will this save you money in the long run but you’ll be more likely to use it because one of the big barriers to going to the gym is that you have to go to the gym, this isn’t the case with at-home workouts. All you need to do is change into your workout gear, move that coffee table to the side and get started.
Cutting expenses from your budget can seem like a daunting task at first. If you are going to cut these expenses, I recommend starting with just one expense per month. By cutting one expense per month, you won’t feel too deprived, and it’ll increase the likelihood that these cuts will stick for the long term.