There are some ways to save money that are obvious. Cutting out how many times a month you eat out is one. Quitting bad habits like smoking is another.
But beyond these conspicuous expenditures lurks a whole hidden world of money sinks that are devouring your budget. What’s worse, you don’t even realise it.
Even people who are money-conscious can end up getting into trouble. Sure, they spend a lot of time investigating big-ticket items, like cars, trying to get the best deal. But they neglect to consider the more everyday items that have the biggest impact on their budget.
That means that there’s a lot of spending that could constitute an unnecessary waste of your money. Are you doing any of the following?
Buying Presliced Products
“The best thing since sliced bread” might be idiomatic, but is sliced bread the best? Perhaps. But sliced anything else certainly isn’t if you’re watching your wallet.
Sliced products, like sliced meat, sliced cheese and so on cost a lot more than the uncut versions. They’re essentially a convenience food, specifically packaged to make your life easier. But often the extra convenience just isn’t worth it. What’s the harm in cutting a block of cheese yourself? Probably very little.
Failing To Use Qualifying Discounts
Do you qualify for a discount? It’s always worth checking. Companies sometimes have different prices for different groups of people. The canonical example is the student discount. Students don’t have a lot of disposable income. But bars, cinemas and attractions want their business anyway. So what if they make a little less profit on each ticket or drink? It’s money that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
The problem is that most people aren’t checking to see whether they qualify for a discount. If you see an option to get money off, apply. Once you’ve gone to the effort of applying, it’s done, and you get all the benefits each time you use the service in the future.
Making Multiple Shopping Trips Each Week
Planning for food shopping can be hard. You have to know what you’re going to eat every day of the week. And then you have to rotate items in your fridge and pantry so that you use things before they go off.
But getting groceries more than once per week is a surefire way to increase your fuel and travel costs if you take the car. In other words, it’s not desirable.
One solution is to buy things like frozen spinach and kale. Then you don’t have to worry about perishables going off as you get towards the end of the week. What’s more, frozen veggies are typically cheaper (and more nutritious) than fresh veggies.
Using Debit And Credit Cards
Many families find that they have to sell on eBay or use a website that offers a payday loan to make ends meet. But often this is only because they’re not able to “see” the money that they are spending.
When you pay by credit or debit card, it can be psychologically different to paying by cash. The payment is carried out by invisible electrons on a computer and not by you handing over big wads of paper to a cashier.
The solution, therefore, is to use cash. Seeing what you’re spending might help you reduce frivolous expenditure.
Obeying All Expiration Dates
Granted, there are some expiration dates that you want to pay attention. These include dates on any meat, fish or milk in your fridge. Also, be careful of veggies or fruit that has gone black – not good.
But a lot of expiration dates can be safely ignored. This is especially true of dates on things like cereal boxes or dried fruit. Often these types of food will have a “best before” date, simply advising you of the time in which the product is at its best. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not inedible afterward.
Buying Branded Products
Recently in the UK, we’ve seen the rise of the discount store. These stores were really the child of the 2008 credit crunch when family incomes went down. People wanted to buy all the products they had bought before the crash but didn’t want them to wipe out their budgets.
Big discount stores responded. And now we have a range of shops to choose from where we can get quality products, but without the brand premium. Remember, not all unbranded products are created equal. Some of the big supermarket own brands carry a premium over brands at Aldi and Lidl. So check what items you buy most often and which are the cheapest.