If you’re budget-conscious, chances are you’ve already looked over your monthly expenses to see where you can cut back. Coffee at home in the mornings instead of a Frappuccino on the way into work? Check. Replacing your pricey salon shampoo with store brand? Done (begrudgingly).
But what about the things you shouldn’t even have on your budget to begin with? While you’re slashing pounds here and there, there are some big things you can be eliminating from your monthly costs altogether — and you may not even have thought about them, you’re so used to paying for them.
Here are 10 things you don’t need to be paying for that could free up tons of extra money in your budget. (Maybe even enough for a Frappuccino now and then!)
- Pricey TV subscriptions. With the advent of services like Hulu, Netflix and other streaming sites, you’ve got a world’s worth of TV at your fingertips for free or for a fraction of the cost of expensive services like cable or satellite. And how many of us seriously watch all 300 channels that we’ve subscribed to anyway? With these cheaper options, you just watch what you want, when you want to watch it — and save on paying for all that extra fluff you never even use.
- Landline phone service. Most people like the idea of having a mobile phone for security if nothing else. (What if you’re stuck in an emergency away from home?) But if you’re smart, you can get a bare bones pre-paid programme for emergencies and make the rest of your calls for free. How? By utilising services like Skype and Google Voice to talk to anyone, anywhere in the world, absolutely free. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that.
- Newspapers. Even many smaller local publications have online editions now. Why clutter up your house and waste paper on something you’ll only throw away tomorrow, when you could just as easily read it on your PC or mobile device, free of charge?
- Books. Remember the library? Back before Kindles and other e-readers took over the publishing world, that was where many book lovers used to go to find their fix. It’s a great way to check out books you’re not sure if you’ll like or not. (Why buy when you may be disappointed?) If, after your free read, you decide do you love it and plan on reading it again and again, then you can consider making a purchase.
- Music. This isn’t to advocate illegal downloading, just to challenge you to expand your listening horizons a little. Rather than paying for Sirius radio service, why not try free services like Pandora Radio that let you explore new artists for no cost? Decide you love a particular album and want it for your very own? Check out Amazon’s free MP3 page and the free section on iTunes.
- Gym memberships. There are so many ways to exercise on your own that paying for a pricey gym membership is just a waste. Instead, take yourself out into the great outdoors for some good, old-fashioned exercise like running, rollerblading or walking your dog. Rather stay indoors? Buy some exercise DVDs, or if you’ve got a gaming system with motion sensor capabilities, try a Zumba or dance-related game to get your blood pumping.
- Bottled water. Thirsty after that workout? Don’t reach for store-bought bottled water! There’s a wide variety of home filtration systems you can purchase, from low-cost pitchers to high-end faucet mounts, which turn your home water supply (which you’re already paying for anyway) into delicious filtered water. Invest in a few reusable water bottles for when you’re on the go, and you’re all set.
- Checking accounts. Is anyone still using a bank that charges you monthly account maintenance fees? If so, I’ve got good news for you: there are a zillion other banks, both online and brick-and-mortar that did away with this long ago. You should never have to pay a bank simply to hold your money for you.
- Software. Need a new anti-spyware programme? A “PDF to jpeg” converter? Basic bookkeeping or image editing software? Sure, you can pay a hundred quid for a pre-boxed version of the big-name brands…or you can visit a site like Cnet.com to download thousands of software programmes for free. If you need a basic all-in-one suite comparable to Microsoft Office, check out Open Office, a free alternative that lets you create all sorts of documents and save them as common file extensions like .doc and .pdf.
- Shipping. Shopping online can be a great money-saver. You can compare prices across a wide variety of sites and make sure you’re really getting the best bargain…until that huge shipping fee hits you. To really maximise your savings, check out a site like FreeShipping.org to find sites that will send you your great finds for free.
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