There are obvious ways you can cut back spending: avoid the $4 lattes at Starbucks (okay, the $3.25 latte, as the company insists). Go to the library instead of the book store. Ride a bike instead of driving.
Here's a list of mostly not-so-obvious things you can eliminate from BillShrink.com, a money-saving tips site:
- Pseudo health products. Think protein bars that cost three times more than candy bars, and offer about the same nutritional value.
- Just-released electronics. Technology prices come down substantially after new products have been on the market for several months to a year, says BillShrink.
- Bottled water. This is a biggie. Those bottles cost $2 or so each and many pile up in landfills. Meanwhile, the cost of tap water is pretty much negligable. If you can't bring yourself to drink tap straight, get a filter for under $20.
- Individual cups of coffee. Alright, this is along the lines of buying lattes and such. Brew your own fancy coffee at home. No coffee maker? Try a French press. You can get one for about $12.
- Prepackaged food. The cost of pre-made sandwiches, sliced fruit and veggies, and those cute little cups of Jello really add up. It doesn't take much effort to save here. Buy a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and keep it in your office. Think about it this way: wouldn't you rather save money for a nice restaurant meal than on a $7 wilted salad in a plastic bowl?
- Apple accessories. Because of its brand popularity, Apple's able to demand high prices on many aftermarket accessories, BillShrink says. If you can give up the name, there are plenty of manufacturers that make products compatible with Apple's MP3 players and other products.
- Sending faxes from a business center. Places like Kinko's charge $1 to $2 per fax, BillShrink notes, so consider a web-based fax service, for which you just need a scanner.
- Car maintenance at the dealership. Car dealerships are usually more expensive than regular repair shops, and they often claim that certain work can only be done at an authorized dealership. They're also less inclined to negotiate prices, BillShrink says.
- Music. Don't buy the album, just the individual songs you like. Pandora.com is a good way to set the mood with different types of songs along the same theme at parties.
- Warrantees on electronics. The typical lifespan of electronic products are three to five years, says BillShrink. Consider whether the cost is really worth it, especially if you plan to upgrade during that time anyway.
- Late fees and overdraft fees. Late fees for credit cards can be as high as $39. Be vigilant about paying on time. Set up an email alarm if you have to.
- Non-bank ATM fees. Another unnecessary money drain. You may end up paying $2.50 to use the ATM of another bank, then your bank might charge you the same amount.
- Print subscriptions. I obviously can't advocate this, but plenty of information is available online these days.
- DVDs. Do you really want plan to watch Joe Dirt again? Do you really want to trek to the video store? Subscribe to Netflix.
- Flowers from a florist. Buy them at the grocery store at a fraction of the price, advises BillShrink.