It's one of life's little horrors, scrolling through your online banking and seeing how much you spent over the last month. You know the feeling. Your eyes pop out of your head, cartoon steam comes out of your nose and ears; you basically become a Looney Tunes character. How did you spend THAT MUCH MONEY in 31 days?
Life is expensive, it's true, but it doesn't have to be that expensive. If you're looking to slash your budget, below are some small-but-significant expenditures that you might want to consider tossing overboard.
Eating outside the house is the mac daddy of money sucks. We all do it and it's wreaking havoc on our budgets. Even if you're just going out a few times a week, you're looking at several hundred bucks a month that you don't actually need to be spending. Do a better job grocery shopping. Pinterest better recipes. Make the time to cook. You can do this.
Yeah, it's Thursday night and you are the TIREDEST and all you want is Grubhub/Postmates to bring you some Pad See Ew from that Thai place a few miles away, but with delivery fee and tip? You could be looking at another ten bucks just to get your food delivered, which is basically what that Pad See Ew costs to begin with. If you really want to slash that budget, like we said, you really shouldn't be eating at restaurants at all, but if you need to eat Thai food in your pajamas on your couch to feel like all is right with the world, throw a coat over those PJs and and go pick up your takeout yourself.
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You KNEW this was coming, you KNEW it. "It's only five dollars!" you say, defending the Pumpkin Spice Latte you will be ordering every day from now until Pumpkin Spice Latte Season is over (whereupon you will of course, switch to Christmas Chestnut Praline Latte, and then once it gets a teensy bit warm, you'll be doing iced lattes until it's PSL season all over again). But just remember, five bucks times 30 days in a month is 150 bucks and 150 bucks times 12 months in a year is a whopping $1,800, AKA enough money to take yourself on vacation. So you've really got to ask yourself if you really need a latte every day or could you make do with your Starbucks being a sometimes drink. Also — did you know you can make coffee at home? It's true!
The Uber/Lyft Revolution has changed the way we do weekends, but you're spending another 30-something bucks every weekend (and if you ride during surge hours, may the angels be with you, because you are NOT going to like that e-mail receipt). "But I had to take an Uber, I had like a bottle and a half of wine, I couldn't very well drive!" you snap. No driving under the influence, yes, this is true, but speaking of said influence, if you really want your budget to love you, we seriously advise cutting...
We know, we're ruining all your favorite drinks, but if you want to know where all your money is going every month you need to check the $12 cocktails you keep ordering. Yeah, we know, going to drinks is a part of networking and work culture, but you're actually allowed to order a soda or seltzer water. And if you're like "Ugh, no, hard day at the office, you can't take my alcohol away from me," then try the cheapest bottle of beer or glass of wine on the menu. No one's looking, no one's judging, just do it.
You really have to ask yourself these days if a movie is worth the fifteen bucks it takes to go see it in the theater (make that twenty bucks for 3D). Plus the popcorn and the parking, ugh. You can rent this movie in a few months for like five bucks on iTunes. If you need to see it in theaters, go get 'em kid, but if you're just looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon, remember that hikes are free and you get exercise and the beauty of nature.
A small leak will sink a great ship — so says Benjamin Franklin, a guy who really knew his stuff. Movie/TV subscriptions, Spotify, dry cleaning, gifts, monthly pedicures, car inspection, prescription copays. All of these little things happen and are mostly forgotten. Don't forget to account for them! Take a look at the month ahead and see what you'll need to put aside.
At home entertainment
Don't spend 80 bucks a month on cable. Do not do this, not when Amazon Prime has most of the shows you like for $99 a year (plus all that free shipping goodness). That said, if you're doing Prime plus Netflix plus HBO Go plus Hulu Plus, you're looking at almost 50 bucks a month which is almost as bad as cable. Think about choosing one streaming service, watch all the good stuff, cancel your subscription, and move onto the next service.
Just remember: All of this is about choices and priorities. So evaluate what you can live without...and what you can't, PSL be damned.