A $1.99 song on iTunes. A $9.99 eBook on Amazon. A $4.99 newsstand copy of your favorite magazine. Taken separately, these expenses don’t seem like much. However, when you begin to add them together, they can end up accounting for hundreds and hundreds of dollars spent each year. We like to refer to these seemingly innocuous expenses as the “why we’re actually broke” portion of our budget, as we’ve found that adding the last twelve months of such costs together is an exercise one should only attempt with wine at the ready. Since many of these thoughtless expenses are unnecessary—unlike, say, whatever you just bought at Topshop—we’ve compiled 5 ways to cut them out of your budget altogether.
Cut The Cable
You can stream almost anything online or through apps these days, making cable all but obsolete. A Hulu Plus costs $7.99 a month (with Showtime available for an additional $8.99/month), Netflix is $7.99 a month, HBO Now is $14.99 a month, and Amazon Prime—which includes tons of free video streaming—is $99 for the year, or around $8 a month. Split your subscriptions with family or friends (shhhh) to further cut costs.
Cancel Unused Subscriptions
On the other hand, if you already have an HBO Now subscription but haven’t used it for months, cancel it. Unused gym memberships? Cancel. Any random monthly fee associated with something you don’t actually benefit from using regularly needs to be given the axe immediately. Carefully comb through your most recent bank statements for these sneaky expenses.
Trim The Fitness Fat
Most fitness classes worth their salt cost around $20 a pop, which can add up fast. Always consider buying packages over single classes, if you think you’ll actually use them to their full value. Also, try searching Groupon and other such apps for deals on new fitness locations or new outposts of your favorite studios, as they’ll often offer great deals (for first-time students) that will save you hundreds of dollars. If you’re a self-motivator and don’t need public shaming to push you through your workouts, opt out of live classes altogether. Instead, try free YouTube workout videos, a subscription streaming service like YogaGlo or exercise apps on your smartphone.
Dine & Dash
Nothing’s worse than when you order an app at dinner and everyone else orders ten rounds of drinks and a three-course meal—and then you have to split the bill. To avoid over-paying just to be agreeable or make things easier for everyone, bring cash to dinner and throw in only what you owe. This will save you hundreds over time, without requiring that you skip out on group meals altogether.
Curb Your Impulses
eBooks are the best and worst thing that have ever happened to us. Now, whenever someone mentions a book, we can download it immediately. This is awesome for our ADD, but not so great for our bank account, as those $10-$15 charges can really add up. You can spend a small fraction of what you’re spending on eBooks by going old school with your book buying: Used books are even cheaper than eBooks, and you can resell them after they’ve been read. Amazon has tons priced at under a dollar, which means you’ll come out ahead even with shipping costs factored in.
If you’re also prone to impulsive iTunes purchasing, we suggest you delete your credit card information from the app. That way, the next time you want to hear something, you might consider going to Spotify first. If you still really love the song after several listens, you can then go back into iTunes to purchase it.
Magazines are always cheaper via subscription than they are on the newsstand. Pick your favorite(s) and subscribe rather than impulse buy.