Monthly expenses may feel like they can bog you down and limit how much fun you can have each month, but, fear not, because there’s still a way to live the elevated lifestyle you hope for without allowing FOMO to fully sink in. Calculating a monthly budget (and sticking to it) helps, but it takes more than just crunching the numbers to make your paychecks go further each and every month.
For instance, all of those small monthly expenses that don’t seem like a lot, well, over time, they really add up. Sure, you don’t have to give up all the little extras that give you instant gratification, but check out these four “small expenses” that you can cut down on to smartly treat yourself — and still hold onto a healthy stash of cash.
It’s true, coffee is the definition of a money suck. If your morning routine includes grabbing a cup of joe or latte at the corner coffee shop on your way to work, you need to dial back on the to-go cups. The average millennial spends, get this, $1,100 a year on coffee — yet you really don’t need to be contributing to the $100 billion industry on the daily. We’re not saying to go completely cold turkey on your caffeine lifeline, but you can be smarter about how you consume. Instead of saying, “sup, I’ll have the usual” to your favorite barista each day, invest in a coffee maker to get your morning jolt at home, and save the coffee house visit for a once a week treat.
Happy Hours And Eating Out
“Wanna grab a bite?” “Meet for happy hour?” “C’mon, it’s just one drink!” These are all invites (and monthly expenses) that we all find ourselves having difficulty saying no to. Sure, we all want to keep up with our friends, feel as though we’re on the same financial playing field and avoid the hassle of cooking and dirty dishes. However, when your balance is dangerously close to zero because you, “just couldn’t say no,” it’s near impossible to feel in control of your finances. If you’re not part of the 22 percent of millennials who feel comfortable discussing their finances with friends, start living within your social means by starting a “fun fund,” a savings account specifically for your personal entertainment. This will successfully allow you to spread your social butterfly wings and stop you from being caught scrambling to pay for your basic everyday needs. Trust us, it’s totally OK to pass on impromptu plans, your friends will still like you.
Streaming Services Subscriptions
You’re not the only one who wonders why there can’t be one streaming service that has every single show and movie you can’t stop binge-watching. Sure, the $9.99, $14.99 and promotional offer prices seem like small peanuts in the grand scheme of your monthly expenses, but, by the end of those 30-some days, you’re potentially shelling out upwards of $60 to stare at a screen! Next time you settle in for a series binge session, take note of which service you’re using the most and cancel the rest. If you absolutely can’t do without more than one streaming service, try asking friends if they’d like to split a subscription or swap passwords.
How many times have you seen incredibly low introductory rates to gyms, streaming services or meal plans? Probably all the time, right? Well, instead of giving in and getting the instant gratification each brings, learn how to say no by compartmentalizing which ones you really need, and which ones are just an added luxury — like food delivery services that offer the first three orders for free, then charge a monthly rate. Once these introductory periods end, the auto pay kicks in and drains your funds like a slow leak, and often times you can’t even remember all the monthly expenses that are eating up your paycheck. Sure, feel free to sign up and give these services a spin, but don’t forget to mark your digital calendar with an alarm to warn you when it’s time to cancel your subscription in order to keep yourself financially funded.
Now that you have a few of the small monthly expenses worth eliminating from your budget each month, here’s an additional tip to help stretch your paychecks a little further. When struggling to say “no” to certain activities or services, simply keep track of those things each week to give you an idea what spending can be dumped. You’ll be surprised at the amount of money you were ready to part with for unmemorable things, which, in effect, will allow you additional cash to transfer into your fun fund or other savings account!
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