When we talk about making a budget, we often focus on big-ticket expenses: housing and utilities, food, transportation. But the little purchases we make every day—the ones that seem like no big deal—can add up to big expenditures by the end of the month. Keep an eye out for these small expenses that are impacting your budget—whether you realize it or not.
Auto-pay makes it really easy to forget or ignore how much money you’re spending each month, especially on entertainment expenses. That $10 streaming service subscription might seem really cheap, but when you have three streaming services, a few magazines, a clothing or pet-supply subscription box, cloud storage fees, and a regular supply of toothbrush heads or vitamins coming your way every few weeks, the money starts to add up. Assess all those monthly charges regularly to make sure that you’re actually getting your money’s worth, and not shelling out hundreds of dollars a year for services you don’t really use. Once you’ve assessed what you’re spending, you can either drop the unnecessary subscriptions or consider if there are any services that you could split with a friend or roommate.
Ordering in can get pricey, fast. Delivery fees (which can range from 99 cents to $8 for some services) and tips for drivers add up quickly. That extra cost may seem worth it when you’re sitting in your pajamas on the couch, but if you’re ordering take-out food regularly, it can have a major impact on your budget. If you can’t stop yourself from ordering delivery throughout the week, at least try to buy enough for more than one meal, which will maximize your food-to-fee ratio.
Credit Card Fees
According to a recent study on credit cards, the average annual fee is more than $80. If your credit card is charging you an annual fee, consider switching to one that doesn’t. Discover is the only major credit card company that doesn’t charge an annual fee on any of their cards.
Home Movie Rentals
Finding a streaming movie rental online is a cheaper alternative to a night at the movies, but it can be easy to forget that you’re spending real money when all you’re doing is hitting a button on your TV. Be aware of how often you’re renting, and look for ways to lower your movie budget, whether that’s finding movies that are already part of the streaming packages you pay for each month or opting for the standard-definition version instead of the HD version.
That Afternoon Coffee
Expensive coffee gets a lot of flak as an unnecessary expense that makes its way onto most people’s budgets, and for good reason. It’s much cheaper to make your own coffee at home rather than hit up a cafe in the morning. But it may feel even more impossible for you to give up your afternoon coffee break at work than to give up that extra 10 minutes of sleep in the morning. Buying two different cafe drinks in a day can really balloon your budget, though. If your office doesn’t provide coffee, consider getting your own pour-over setup to store in the kitchen, which will tide you over in the afternoon. If you need to get out of the office more than you really need the caffeine, try going for a walk around the block instead. A little fresh air won’t break the bank like your 4 p.m. latte-and-cookie habit.
While the difference between buying name-brand lotion or toothpaste and the generic alternative might seem minimal, depending on how many products you’re buying each month, the cost can add up. Considering some store-brand items are manufactured by the very same companies that sell the more expensive brand-name products, you’re really just paying more money for the same formulas in prettier packaging. It’s not just about toiletries, either—household items like aluminum foil and plastic wrap, over-the-counter medications, and grocery items like frozen vegetables and ketchup are nearly identical to their name-brand counterparts. Even if you’re only spending a few extra dollars, if you can get the exact same product for less money, why wouldn’t you?
Being aware of your spending habits is a key to financial success, so choosing a credit card that doesn’t charge you an annual fee helps you take control of your spending. And Discover is the only major credit card issues with No Annual Fee on any card. Learn more at Discover.