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There’s no doubt budgeting can be tight. It’s easy to say spend less than you make, but it’s not always that simple. Since increasing your income can feel impossible at times, it might make more sense to try and reduce your expenses as much as you can. From reducing your insurance premiums to cutting back on brand names, here are 15 expenses you can cut from your budget.

If you’re looking to squeeze extra money out of your budget, you might be surprised by just how many unnecessary items are hiding out in your everyday expenses.

Banking fees

I absolutely hate banking fees. Paying $10 – $25 a month to deposit your money at one of the big banks is absolutely ridiculous. Add in the fact that you’re not getting paid any interest and it feels like you’re losing twice. To get around this, see if your bank will waive the monthly fee if you keep a minimum amount in your account. Alternatively, you could get a high-interest savings account with a digital bank such as EQ Bank. With digital banks, you pay no fees and you get a decent interest rate.

Streaming services

I’m not suggesting you cut all your streaming services, that would just be crazy. However, you should probably check to see what you’re subscribed to and see if you can cut anything. For a while, my wife and I had Netflix, Disney+, and HBO. We also had Spotify and Google Play. That was about $50 a month which is a bit more than I would have liked. We ended up cutting HBO and Google Play which brought our monthly streaming bill down to $30. I would have cut Disney+ too if my daughter wasn’t obsessed with a show on it.

Gifts

Let’s be clear, no one needs to be Scrooge, but if you’re concerned about your budget, cutting back on gifts will likely help you. Come the holidays, thinking hard about who you’re going to buy gifts for. Does your hairstylist or mailman really need a present? There’s also no need to get every family member a gift for the holidays. Go ahead and buy something for the people you really care about, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to do so.

High interest debt

Having high interest can be crippling if you don’t have some kind of action plan in place. The key thing is to consider ways to get out of debt. The best way to start would be to get a consolidation loan or a low interest credit card. If you transfer any balances you have to these lower interest loans/credit cards, you’ll pay less interest in the long run. 

Food delivery apps

Food delivery apps have become incredibly popular over the years, but have you ever looked at the fees? Even though some restaurants will advertise no delivery fees, the app will add a surcharge and you’ll still need to tip. Also, many restaurants add a markup to the costs to offset the fees they have to pay. Instead of ordering with an app, call the restaurant for your takeout orders. Quite often they’ll offer you a discount so you can save a bunch, but you need to pick it up on your own.

Dining out

One of the easiest expenses you can cut from your budget is dining out at restaurants. I get that restaurant food tastes better than home cooking, but it also costs much more. If you’re struggling with your budget, eating out is one of those things that needs to be cut. You don’t need to cut it all out, just set a hard budget for yourself. It likely makes sense to combine this budget with your takeout food budget so you set a hard limit for yourself.

Cable

With so many streaming services available these days, you may not need cable anymore. Why pay $50 – $70 a month for a cable when you can just get Netflix for $12 a month. You could also purchase an over the air antenna that would allow you to pick up a few cable channels. If you’re big on live sports, you could just stream it online and then cast it to your TV.

Brand names

Admittedly, many brand name products taste much better than the no name stuff, but that’s not always the case. I’m a huge fan of President’s Choice and find that most of their products are comparable to the name brand stuff. In addition, as a PC Insiders member, I earn an additional 10% in PC Optimum points on all President’s Choice products so it’s an easy way to save. Remember, brand names don’t have to apply just to food. You could buy other generic items such as cleaning supplies, stationery, and even clothes to save big.

Apps

It seems like every app these days has a premium version, subscription service, or in-game purchases and they can drain your wallet pretty quickly. For a while, my wife was subscribing to three fitness apps. I got stuck in a game I was playing on my phone where the easiest way to continue was to buy items. I also used a few different apps to help build my business. E.g. social media managers. I don’t mind paying for useful apps, but most people don’t think much about $205

Movies

I used to love going to the movies, I would go almost every week, but that’s when I had more disposable income and the cost of a movie ticket was less than $10. These days, admission costs are $15-$20 and the cost of snacks has gone way up. Yes, you can skip the snacks, but going on to see a few movies multiple times a month is not a good thing to do if you’re trying to save money. Go ahead and watch one a month or just stick to your streaming services if you’re looking to save money.

Books

With just about every book available at the library, there’s no reason to buy books anymore. If you prefer to own them, then buy them online where the price is much cheaper than the book store. Another good place to shop for books is in a used book store. Buying a book off the shelf and paying the cover price is not a good use of your money.

Club memberships

Club memberships can be worth the money, but quite often you’re not getting value out of. What’s the point of paying $60 a month if you’re only going to go to the gym once a month? Sure, purchasing 10 yoga classes in advance will save you money, but those are useless if you don’t end up using them all. 

Foreign transaction fees

Most people don’t realize that they’re charged a 2.5% fee whenever they make a transaction in a foreign currency with their credit or debit cards. It may not sound like a lot, but it adds up fast. Think about the hotel room you’re staying in, the money you’re spending at restaurants or even online purchases you’re making in U.S. dollars. That’s a lot of money you’re spending. To avoid the fees, just get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees

Unnecessary insurance

Having the right insurance is vital, but sometimes people have unnecessary insurance or more than they need. For example, if you already have life insurance, you likely won’t need mortgage insurance. Speaking of life insurance, do you really need $1 million in coverage when $500,000 will do? A lower payout means lower monthly premiums. The same thing applies to your health benefits, are there cheaper plans that will still cover you for what you need? If the answer is yes, then make the switch.

Electricity

Okay, cutting back on your electricity may seem like a stretch, but it’s easier to do these days. Buying energy efficient light bulbs is the easiest thing to do. If you need to upgrade your appliances or HVAC, you might as well get Energy Star models since they may lower your electricity costs. Monitoring your thermostat so the heat/air is off when no one is home can also help you save some money.

Final thoughts

There are plenty of expenses you can cut from your budget, but that doesn’t mean you should get rid of them all. Making small cuts will help, just be sure not to spend any of the money that you’re saving. If you’re going to make drastic cuts, make sure it’s for the right reason such as paying off your debt.

15 Expenses You Can Cut From Your Budget
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About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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