1. Your refrigerator is full of take-out containers
There is a difference between food loss and food waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1/3 of the food globally and 40% of food in the US is lost along the food supply chain from the farm to the market.
Food waste is what we put in the garbage. Both are bad, but food waste is something that we can affect immediately, helping the planet and our wallets. The first step is to increase the number of times you cook at home. Plan what you’re going to eat for the week, create a weekly menu, and buy only what you need for that week.
Don’t like to cook? There are now many meal-kit delivery options that offer a wide variety of tasty, fresh, easy-to-make food for less than take-out.
3. You’re not using your gym membership — but you’re still paying for it
Once, I calculated how many times a week I would have to go to the gym to make my monthly membership fee less expensive than signing up for the per-class option. The number was 20. In other words, I would have to go to the gym every day after work every month in order to get the return on my investment.
While I am committed to exercise, I’d be deluding myself if I believed that I was going to go to the gym five days a week.
Instead, I buy a monthly class pass, which I primarily use during the winter. At other times I walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and park my car at the furthest end of the parking lot each day in order to get my steps in.
4. Your bank is charging you to be their customer
The need for banking services is so great that we often forget that, first and foremost, we are bank customers and have choices about which businesses we support.
Before selecting your bank or credit union, read the fine print in their marketing materials and ask questions.
Are there perks and discounts for having your paycheck deposited automatically? Are there fees for using an ATM outside of their network? How much interest will they pay on certificates of deposit?
What are their overdraft fees, and do they cap them? In other words, once your account is overdrawn, do they continue to submit items for payment? If so, you could end up with hundreds of dollars in fees for attempting to withdraw $20 from the ATM.
As customers, we should shop around for the best benefits and lowest fees from banks, just as we would for someone to paint our house or mow the lawn.
5. You have a shelf full of books you bought but have never read
As much as I love to read, I’ve moved too many times to keep hauling boxes of books from new address to new address. Instead, once I’ve unpacked, I get a library card and use it regularly; after all, I’ve already paid for the library books with my local taxes.
In addition to being able to reserve the latest best sellers at your local branch, most states offer inter-library loan services so that you can access the book collections of other in-state branches for free.
Plus, libraries will order any book for you, and most offer e-books, which you can access on your screen of choice without leaving your couch.
6. You’re using your car for work
I once worked at a company that provided company cars for employees to drive to business meetings. Later, due to insurance liability expenses, the company changed their policy so that employees had to use their own cars.
I submitted expense reports for the mileage and gas, but I did not realize that I could deduct a portion of my car’s maintenance expenses on my taxes. Small deductions like these can add up.
Also, for those who work from home, you may be able to claim tax deductions for office supplies, your internet services, etc. Consult with an accountant and save all receipts.
7. You’re paying for content you’re not watching
Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, HBO, Starz, Amazon Prime, CBS All Access, etc. There’s so much choice! And it costs so much money!
Together those services can take over $100 or more out of your budget every month. That’s in addition to having to pay for internet access.
The good news is that it’s possible to subscribe, binge watch an entire season of your must-see program, and then cancel your subscription. The bad news is that you have to remember to cancel the subscription.
Since I don’t have time to watch all the shows I like, I rotate subscriptions. While “Billions” is on, I subscribe to Showtime. Once that season is complete, I move to Starz. Amazon Prime has additional benefits, so I keep that one year-round.
You’ve worked hard to earn your income. Small changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference in your wallet. Don’t miss those obvious places where you are wasting money.
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