Top 10 Expenses You Thought Were Essential That You Can Easily Cut

Michael Dinich
Top 10 Expenses You Can Cut Out of Your Life That You Never Thought You Could
If you had asked your mom 20-30 years ago if they could envision a future without a cable box and a landline, the look you would have received would be total confusion.

Yet, fast forward twenty years, and here we are, with most adults using streaming services for entertainment, and the word “landline” doesn’t even make its way to most people’s vocabulary. 

All this to say, times change, and so do the things we think we need!

This goes for most of our expenses. We thought we could never go without the common expenses that are actually easy to part ways with, and below we’ll explore 10 expenses you can cut out of your life…that you never thought was possible! 

1. Cable, Cut It!

Okay, we already mentioned that cable is almost obsolete, but on the offhand you still have it because of some bundle deal, let’s get rid of it! 

The days of having 200+ channels just for the sake of watching five are no more. There are countless streaming options where you can save significantly and pick what channels you actually want to watch!

Consider this:

Try the app Trim or Truebill to identify subscriptions and high bills (like cable) and let them negotiate your bills for you. If you refuse to cut the cable, at least get the best deal! 

2. Bottled Water

Ask anyone over the age of 75, and they will tell you that there used to be a joke back in the day that you could get rich “bottling water.” While the obvious became true, one thing is for certain — you don’t need to purchase bottled water. 

A simple stop at a gas station for a quick bottle of water can add up. According to CreditDonkey, the average American spends $100 per year on bottled water. That’s $100 you can keep in your pocket simply by eliminating this wasteful expense (both monetarily and for the environment).

Consider this:

A knock-off Yeti or Hydroflask, such as a “Hydrapeak,” can cost you $10. You can fill it with water, clean it, reuse it, and save money all in one stop at a local discount store. Never purchase water bottles, and you will not only save money, but you will also help the environment!  

3. Eating Out for Lunch

We get it; you CANNOT go without eating lunch. 

Actually, you can! Don’t short change yourself; instead of short, change your monthly eating out budget and stop eating out for lunch. 

By going out to lunch a few times a week, American adults routinely spend hundreds of dollars per month that could easily be saved by simply packing a lunch or using meal prep ideas. 

Consider this:

Instead of going out to eat so much, give yourself a cash budget to eat out for lunch each month, say $50. Obviously, if you’re looking to eradicate the expense, you can pack a lunch. 

When coworkers want to go out to eat, bring your packed lunch (tell them you're staying fit) and leave your wallet behind so you don’t have the impulse to spend! 

4. Lose the Fancy Gym Membership

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, we are spending money on a lot of things we can keep in the house, including our fitness. 

The average gym membership ranges from $50-$60 per month, or about $600-$700 annually. That is a large expense that you can honestly go without by simply using your smartphone to help you workout at home. 

Most apartment complexes and neighborhoods have a community gym, and more workplaces are including gyms as well. Put another way — you don’t NEED the pricey gym membership. 

Consider this:

Outfit your home with some simple exercise equipment and subscribe to a few fitness apps

Making the long term investment to own your own exercise equipment isn’t so expensive, and then you own it. Not to mention, most fitness apps are month to month and can be canceled at any time, unlike gym memberships that look to lock you into lengthy contracts! 

Some at-home workout apps to consider include the Peloton cycling app, Les Mills, and Daily Yoga.

5. Student Loan Payments

This might seem funny, but you can pay off your student loans early, thus ridding yourself of that expense!

Many student loan borrowers don’t realize that if they pay more now, they can easily lose the student loan payments. It is an expense worth getting rid of so you can eventually purchase a home or start saving more for retirement! 

Consider this:

There are creative ways to pay off student loans, including making more money each month to throw at student loans, living at home temporarily, or contributing 50% of your monthly income to your loans until they’re gone.

For some, student loans might seem like another payment, but they’re not going anywhere, and you will inevitably pay them off if you have them. 

So consider just knocking them out so you can improve your debt-to-income ratio and lose the payment!

6. Credit Card Debt 

Similar to student loan payments, credit card payments are the worst kind of expense...Why? Because you are paying money for things you got in the past that, in many cases, you didn’t need, but now it costs you in interest — most of those things being things like eating out for lunch or unnecessary shopping.

So while you might not look at payment as an expense — just another bill — the truth of that matter is that a credit card bill is a nagging expense. So figuring out a plan to pay it off is worth the hassle!

Consider this:

See how much your credit card is costing you monthly in interest. Chances are, you will be surprised at how little the monthly minimum goes toward the principal owed and HOW much of your payment goes to interest. 

Let this serve as motivation to cut out other expenses to throw more money at your credit card debt until it is gone! 

7. Online Shopping

You can go without online shopping, even though you might not think so. 

Online shopping from your phone is a luxury we all might enjoy and find useful, but it is also resulting in more impulse buying than ever before. Think about it: If you want something, you can act on your urge, grab your phone, and get it.

Before, you had to drive to the store, get out of your car, and walk around looking for whatever it is you wanted. Don’t let the comfort of online shopping override your financial goals!

Consider this:

With the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping is bigger than ever. However, while necessary, some of our online purchasing is not a need but more of a want. 

Truly assess needs vs. wants when online shopping, and also consider implementing a 48-hour spending rule. Anything that costs over $48 think about it for 48 hours before buying. You will be surprised at what you don’t follow through on when you use this rule! 

8. Car Payments

After housing, transportation is the number two expense for American adults. 

But transportation costs (specifically car payments) don’t have to cost so much. However, as a whole, American’s have given into buying cars that they want instead of buying cars they can afford.

The average loan term for a car is now over 60 months; however, a car can depreciate over 60% in that same time frame. Put another way: Many people owe more on their cars than they’re worth! 

Consider this:

Transportation costs each month should not exceed 10% of your income. This includes:

  • Car payments
  • Fuel
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance budget

For many, their car payment alone sometimes exceeds 10% of their income. To help you avoid this costly mistake, implement the 25% gross rule when purchasing a car. 

In other words, consider buying cars that are valued at 25% of what you make in a given year. Hypothetically, if you make $60,000 per year, your car’s value should be less than $15,000.

Don’t fit your car to your budget — fit your budget to the car!  

9. Smoking, Drinking, or Vaping

While this might not necessarily apply to you, if you happen to be someone who regularly smokes (or vapes) and drinks alcohol, consider losing the bad habit. Smoking and tobacco products are expensive, but so is alcohol. Not to mention the associated health benefits of ridding yourself of these bad habits!

Consider this:

Make your new habit (not smoking or drinking) easy and make your old habits hard. Let’s say that you find yourself drinking more at happy hours with coworkers or smoking when you drive.  Make the habit hard by avoiding happy hour, leaving your wallet in your car, or placing your cigarettes in your trunk so you can’t get to them while driving. 

From there, introduce other creative ways to include new positive habits that will also help your wallet too!

10. Anything Else That Takes Your Money!

We can’t list every type of expense on our top 10 list, but what we can say is there are other expenses such as subscriptions, insurances, and even pet expenses that are costing you money each month that you could go without! 

Not only are these things worth considering cutting out, sometimes they’re expenses that don’t even make us happy but instead make us financially stressed. Don’t overestimate the feeling of freedom you will get when you rid yourself of some all too common expenses! 

Consider this:

Make a list of things that make you happy, like a top five list. Next, make a list of the top five things you spend money on outside of common bills like housing, transportation, insurance, etc. Compare your lists. If you really enjoy hiking and watching movies, make sure your spending lines up. There is nothing wrong with expenses that bring us joy and fulfillment. However, if your expenses don’t line up with things you enjoy, consider cutting them. Not only are they hurting your wallet, but they’re also really not doing much for you in terms of enjoyment! 

Final Word

Use the grocery store approach when applying these steps to your expenses. 

When you go to the store, you don’t buy everything you see — you buy what you need. Do the same with this list.

If one of the above doesn’t apply to you, disregard it and pick a few that you can use today. To recap, consider the following:

  1. Look at variable spending
  2. Target high areas of spending
  3. Create a 48-hour rule
  4. Look to get rid of debt payments

You may also like:

Best Personal Loan Companies - Take Control of Your Finances Now

Best Personal Loans for Debt Consolidation

Michael Dinich
Michael has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, pay down debt and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, saving money, and all things geeky.