5 Costs You Can Cut to Save $500 per Month

And they’re actually worth the sacrifice

Photo: Becca McHaffie/Unsplash

Over the years, it has become easier and easier to spend money on things you don’t need just because it’s convenient to do so, or because you want to fit in with the crowd.

When I was in high school, many of my classmates wore fancy designer clothes. As a result, I felt pressure to dress the same way. While I never did purchase those $80 boots that I thought I needed at the time, I did spend my money frivolously.

I saved up my basketball refereeing paychecks for unnecessary fashion pieces that I never even used, like a navy blue designer wallet. Even now that I’ve gained confidence in owning my casual, inexpensive style, I still get sucked into the world of convenience. Sometimes, I shop online. Other times, I buy a coffee from a drive-thru instead of making it at home for a fraction of the price.

However, I don’t think I’m alone in doing so. In fact, there are a number of ways we all can reduce our living expenses and save thousands of dollars every single year. Thus, here are five costs you can cut to save $500 per month that are actually worth giving up.

1. The Following Costly Membership

With the new year just a few months away, people will soon be excited for a fresh start, and they will begin to make some resolutions. At the top of many people’s list will be to get healthier, get fitter, or go to the gym more often.

Unfortunately, this is a big waste of money for most people. You might go consistently for a few weeks, and then gradually go less and less, until you wind up paying a monthly fee for something you don’t even use.

Shockingly,

“In the United States, 60.8 million people (~1 in 5 adults) have some kind of membership to one of the country’s 38k gyms and health clubs and pay an annual, monthly, or daily fee to work out. Collectively, gyms rake in $30B+ in revenue on an annual basis. Membership fees vary widely based on your location and gym of preference, but the industry-wide average falls in at $58 per month, or $696 per year.”

Instead, I recommend saving that $700 and working out at home with a tool you already have — your own body. You can run outside, do body weight exercises, or try following a free HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout on YouTube. Then, if you find that you’re actually consistent with it, you can consider getting a gym membership. Just make sure it’s worth the monthly fee.

2. These Convenience Foods/Beverages

Protein bars, coffee drinks, and packaged snacks may be super convenient. After all, they’re pre-made and easy to grab and take with you on the go on a busy day. However, the cost of them adds up incredibly fast.

If you buy a protein bar every day, that could easily cost you an extra $30 per month. However, if you make your own granola bars at home instead, they’ll be healthier, fresher, and way less expensive.

Overall, the cost of convenience can be extremely pricy. In fact,

“The average 25- to 34-year-old reported spending $2,008 per year at coffee shops.”

That is no small chunk of change. I would certainly rather have that extra $2,000 sitting in my bank account at the end of the year, and I’m sure you would too. If you truly don’t have time to cook snack foods yourself, try to buy less expensive, healthier options, like fresh fruits and vegetables. That way, you’ll have snacks in your house to grab on busy days and keep your costs down as well.

3. Online shopping

Online shopping is, unfortunately, a very easy way to blow through your paycheck without even realizing it. You can make a couple clicks and buy pretty much anything you want.

Whenever I get sucked into browsing Amazon, I often buy something I don’t need just because it looks enticing. In the moment, I feel like I just have to have it. The same goes for shopping for clothes online.

Interestingly, there is a “high” that results from deciding to make a purchase. According to Kit Yarrow, San Francisco-based consumer psychologist and author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind:

“The instant we decide to buy, we feel good and there’s a rush of positive emotion. But afterwards, similar to a drug addict or alcoholic, intense feelings of guilt after indulging can make it difficult to rebound.”

I try to combat this by staying away from online shopping as much as possible. I also enjoy shopping at the thrift store. There are hidden treasures everywhere you look. Plus, it’s more sustainable to buy items second hand, and the prices are far less expensive. Take this approach to save $50 or more per month. It’s certainly worth the extra effort.

4. This Monthly Subscription

Cable television is still a staple in many peoples’ households. However, with the availability of far less expensive streaming services such as Netflix, it really isn’t necessary anymore.

Now, I know that some people love their sports channels. But if you aren’t watching television very often, it might be time to re-evaluate your plan.

The average cable television plan costs $217.42 per month, so you need to decide whether the payoff is worth the cost.If money is tight, you might be better off canceling and switching to a less expensive streaming service. Then, you’ll pocketing that extra $200 every single month.

5. Eating out

This one might be a difficult sacrifice if you’re used to going to restaurants often. However, even if you don’t cut it out completely, you can save a lot of money.

According to CNBC,

“The average household spends an average of $3,008 per year on dining out.”

Therefore, even if you make an effort to eat out half as much this year, you’ll still pocket an average of $1,500, which comes out to about $125 per month. If money is tight, eating less at restaurants and more at home will help you build your savings up pretty quickly.

Final Thoughts

Bringing down your monthly cost of living isn’t easy, but it is simple. You just have to discipline yourself and cut out the expenses that aren’t absolute necessities.

I personally haven’t had a gym membership in almost a year, I started making my coffee at home, and I no longer purchase protein bars every week. While I do miss these conveniences sometimes, I’m much happier knowing that I’m building up my savings account every month.

I’m not saying it will be easy — you’ll likely miss the thrill of buying a new outfit online or the taste of that fresh, warm bread from your favorite restaurant. However, when you see an extra $3,000 sitting in your bank account six months from now, you’ll be incredibly glad you made the sacrifices you did, and you’ll have tangible results that prove it was worth it.

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Ohio U XC/Track alum. I love to run. I blog about food, health, fitness, lifestyle, + more! My Links (Blog, YouTube, etc.): https://linktr.ee/nomeatfastfeet

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