Alex Thomas Sadler, Clark.com
We’re all guilty of paying for convenience sometimes, whether it’s a quick download or an overpriced bottle of water.
But when it comes to the things you buy on a consistent basis, even if it’s just a few bucks, those purchases can start to add up to a lot of money. Before you know it, $3 or $5 here and there can end up costing you $100 a month.
The good news though is that very often, there are cheaper options out there — you just have to know where to look. By cutting out little unnecessary expenses, you will not only save more each month, but you’ll also start to develop better long-term habits.
So to help you keep more of the money you make each month, here’s a list of things people often pay too much for — and how to get them cheaper!
12 things you’re probably paying too much for
When was the last time you went through your bank and credit card statements line by line to see exactly where all of your money is going each month? If it’s been a while, you should go ahead and do that!
Print out the last three to six months of statements and look at all of the recurring expenses — bills and payments going through every single month.
If you haven’t checked in a while, there could be old subscriptions you forgot about or don’t use anymore that you’re still paying for every month.
Look for any costs that you can easily reduce or cut out completely — as well as any that you can get for free!
Here are a few examples of expenses you can reduce or cut, as well as other ways to save:
- Magazines: Go to the library or see if your company offers online access to certain digital subscriptions.
- Audio services: Just use the free version! listening to a 15-second ad is not that big a deal when you’re trying to cut costs — and when you cut out several $3.99 expenses, that can free up a good amount of cash each month.
- Streaming services: If you subscribe to services like Netflix and Hulu, consider sharing them with a friend or family member to reduce the monthly/annual cost.
- Amazon Prime: Sharing a Prime subscription with a friend will give you all the same access and perks for half the price!
- If you’re a student, you can get a discounted price on an annual Prime membership.
Cable/TV/Movies: If you have Internet service at home, you can hook your computer up to your TV and get access to pretty much anything you want to watch. If your computer has an HDMI output, that should work, but you may need a converter – depending on your computer and your TV. You can also sync the display wirelessly. Just do a quick Google search on how to sync your particular laptop with the TV you have.
If you have an Amazon Prime membership, or decide to get one with a friend, it comes with free access to thousands of e-books (on top of music streaming, photo storage and more).
You can also download free e-books from your local library and/or sign up for services that alert you when your favorite genres have downloads available on super deep discount.
Bottom line, if you’re paying for e-book downloads, you’re probably wasting money — as there are tons of ways to get them for free or super cheap. Here are more ways to save on e-books.
3. Bottled water
Something you can get for free has turned into an $18 billion industry. And considering the fact that a lot of the bottled water out there is just filtered tap water, it’s safe to say that paying for the convenience is a big waste of money, especially if you buy bottled water on a consistent basis.
Clark uses a Contigo water bottle, which you can get for around $20 or less on the Contigo website, depending on the size and your other preferences. You can also check Amazon for deals on all types of reusable water bottles.
Read more: See all of today’s best deals and discounts!
If you must have bottled, or purified, water, then you might as well save on it.
Whether it’s for taste or health concerns, you can save a lot of money by filtering your own water at home (rather than buying bottled water). The prices of filters vary — from less than $20 to hundreds of dollars, depending on your needs and the amount of water you want to filter. Check out Consumer Reports’ guide to buying water filters here.
If you don’t want to fool with filtering your own water — and you prefer the taste and convenience of bottled water — look for cheaper options. When you buy it in a case, you can pay about 8 cents per bottle at places like Costco and Aldi. At Sam’s Club it costs about 10 cents a bottle. Even at traditional supermarkets, you can typically get bottled water for around 15 cents a bottle (when you buy a case).
4. Movie rentals
Another perk of Amazon Prime — access to tons of free movies and TV shows.
If you have a DVD or Blu-ray player, you can rent movies from your local library for free!
It’s no secret that Americans are struggling to afford prescription medications — in fact, 19% of adults say they have either skipped taking a prescribed drug or cut it in half in order to reduce the costs, according to data from AARP.
But what’s even more alarming is that only 17% of people have comparison-shopped their prescriptions to see if they can get a better deal at a different pharmacy, according to a report by Consumer Reports,
Bottom line: If you aren’t shopping around for the best prices on your prescriptions, then you’re probably paying too much for them! To give you some context, the same exact medication can cost as much as 10 times more at one retailer versus another — even if the two stores sit 10 feet apart.
Here’s the good news: there are tons of ways to save on the cost of prescriptions — whether it’s buying generic, finding coupons or just changing where you get them filled. Here are 14 ways to save on the cost of prescriptions.
Here are Clark’s favorite strategies to find the cheapest RX prices in your area!
6. Extended warranties on electronics or appliances
When should you buy an extended warranty? Never, ever on appliances or electronics.
Any time you buy an electronic device or appliance, the salesperson probably tries to talk you into buying the extended warranty — to “protect your investment.” But a TV, washer and dryer, DVD player — these are not investments — and an extended warranty is typically just a waste of money.
Read more: Is an extended warranty ever worth it?
7. Anti-virus software
There’s actually a scam going on right now that involves thieves duping people into clicking on a pop-up alert that looks legit, but once you click on it, malware is downloaded to your device!
So when it comes to protecting your computer, and any mobile device, there are free options available for all types of models and systems. Check out our free virus, spyware and malware protection guide for details on which one is right for you.
8. Cell phone service
If you’re paying more than $20 a month, you’re paying too much for cell phone service!
Everyone has different needs (and wants) when it comes to cell phone service — especially data plans. The problem though is that most people don’t shop around for a new plan and just continue paying the high bill — while there are tons of cheaper options available these days!
Check out this list of the latest best plans and deals that can save you BIG bucks!
The key to saving on auto and home insurance is shopping around! And not just when you initially sign up — frequently shopping around for the best rates can save you a lot of money.
Here are a few ways to save on the cost of insurance:
- Best auto insurance companies
- Best home insurance companies
- How to shop for car insurance
- 4 hidden factors that determine your insurance premiums
10. Toilet paper
If you just grab the first package of toilet paper you see, you’re probably paying too much for it! Or if you have a brand you’re stuck on, you might want to consider switching it up, because over time, the extra costs can really add up!
According to Consumer Reports, the best toilet paper for your money is a Walmart exclusive — White Cloud Ultra Soft and Thick. At 25 cents per 100 sheets, White Cloud got a high score of 77 based on softness, strength, disintegration and tearing ease.
So if you want to stop overpaying for toilet paper, head to Walmart and stock up when it’s on sale!
Do you know what you’re paying in management fees for your investments? If not, you need to find out – because it could cost you a whole lot of money over time!
The fees and expenses of your investments could have a significant impact on how much money you’ll have down the road. In fact, a new study from BuyUpside.com shows that just a difference of 1% in annual fees can mean an $80,000 difference in retirement.
When you buy a mutual fund, an index fund, a stock fund, an exchange-traded fund or whatever else, you pay an annual management fee. Morningstar, a leading independent investment research company, revealed that picking low-cost investments is actually more important than picking according to their own respected 5-star rating system.
So if you don’t know what you’re paying in fees, find out! And check out these cheaper alternatives:
- What to know about investment fees and how to lower them
- Best discount investment brokers
- Low-cost investment options
We can’t say it enough: changing where you shop is the easiest way to save on groceries! On top of that, there are easy ways to save at any store if you know what to look for! Here are some ways to reduce your grocery spending: