Save More and Spend Less: 5 Ways You’re Wasting $300 a Month

If you're looking to save more and spend less in the new year, then cutting unnecessary services can really help beef up your piggy bank. Photo by www.SeniorLiving.Org.

It’s New Year’s Resolution time! And according to basically every study on the topic, one of the top resolutions every year is to save more and spend less.

As you’ve probably garnered from my many posts about Mustachianism, we’re actually pretty frugal around Mrs. Millennial HQ. Despite living the DINK (double income, no kids) lifestyle, we keep our spending much, much lower than many others we know in similar positions. And the #1 way we do so isn’t by cutting back on shopping (though that’s always good), or being freakishly good at couponing (although I certainly try my best.)

It’s actually by cutting back on services. Those recurring monthly charges can really add up – in fact, if you’re living a middle class life, you can probably pretty easily save more and spend less just by cutting at least one of these services:

Money Waster #1 : Cable TV – $100/month

We’ve talked about this on the blog before, after our 2-year anniversary of cutting the cord. Cable service is, quite simply, outrageously priced and completely unnecessary. Especially with digital over-the-air access and the many streaming services available (at far lower costs), you can save a big chunk of money every month by simply scaling back this one service, and you usually don’t even need to give up your favorite shows to do so.

Money Waster #2: Men’s Haircuts – $25/month

This one always freaks people out. But as long as your hubby’s occupation isn’t that of male model, chances are his hair probably isn’t really that complicated. Look at it this way: if you really screw it up, you can always take him to an actual barber to fix it. Get yourself a good pair of clippers and a barbering kit, watch some YouTube videos, and you’ll be fine. I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair for four years now, and he very rarely looks like a rabid hobo.

Money Waster #3: Out-of-Office Work Lunches – $50/month

I get it. It’s nice to leave the office during the day, to get away from that one obnoxious coworker for an hour, and just relax. But if you’re spending $10 a day for the pleasure to do so, that’s roughly $2,500 a year that you’re blowing just because you don’t want to BYO. I regularly use leftovers as lunches, because it’s easier to cook four servings of most dishes than to just cook two, but even if you need to create some make-ahead lunches from scratch, it’ll save you a lot of dough in the long run.

Money Waster #4: The Gym You Don’t Go To – $50/month

So right now you’re thinking “but I need my fancy-pants gym membership in order to achieve my other New Years’ Resolution of getting in shape!” And I believe you. But if you’re not going to said gym at least 3 times a week (or using up all the available classes in a class-based membership) then you’re wasting money. Either go to the gym more, or get rid of it. There are literally THOUSANDS of workouts available on YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix (because, remember, you cut your cable service…) that you can do at home. Alternately, you can always go for a very-free walk, run, or hike just by going to any local park, and if you’re really trying to get big swoll, I guarantee you there will be tons (get it? that was a weight joke) of cheap free-weight sets available on Craigslist or at Goodwill in about a month or so, when people start breaking their resolutions.

Money Waster #5: Lawn Service – $75/month

Hey, you’re the one that decided you wanted the pretty green lawn instead of environmentally-friendly xeroscaping. So now it’s time to pay the piper. And the good news if you just cancelled your high-priced gym membership: you’re reward is a FREE hour or so of exercise twice a month, in the form of walking slowly around your lawn behind a fancy machine. Really. Walking slowly. You’ve got this, I know you do. There’s a reason high school kids start lawn care businesses. It’s because it’s just not that hard.

“But Whitneyyyyyy……” I can hear you already. “Isn’t my precious TIME worth more than doing these things that are slightly uncomfortable or inconvenient? Won’t it make me HAPPIER to outsource them?”

I’ll leave you with this: if you are efficiently spending every hour of your day, then absolutely, feel free to outsource the more menial life tasks. But if, like many of us, you’ve got a whole lot of hours in a given month taken up by watching Big Bang Theory reruns on that cable tv you haven’t yet cancelled (don’t worry, they’re still available OTA) or scrolling Facebook for the umpteenth million time, then you could probably stand to take on a few more tasks and save yourself the cash.

And if I still haven’t convinced you, then let me show you the money if you save more and spend less:

  • If you were previously paying for the above five services and stopped, you’d save $300 a month.
  • If you did absolutely nothing with that money but save it, by the end of the year, you’d have $3,600, which you could put towards an emergency fund or a sweet vacation.
  • If you put that extra $300 a month towards paying off your mortgage early for 10 years (assuming a $250,000 mortgage, with a 30-year term and a rate of 4.5%), you’d pay off your mortgage 2 years and 3 months early, saving yourself $7,142 of interest in the process.
  • If you invested that $300 a month in a brokerage account earning 7% returns for 25 years, you’d add $236,241 to your retirement savings. Meaning, assuming you spend about 50k a year in retirement, you could maybe even retire 5 years earlier.

So, you ready to cancel some unnecessary services yet so you can save more and spend less? Happy New Year!

Header photo by Flickr user Ken Teegardin under a Creative Commons license.

Whitney