10 Things You’re Paying too Much for (and how to cut expenses)

By Jackie Lam

Trying to save money and get ahead financially? 

Earning more money through side hustling is one way to boost your cash flow. Another way is to cut back on expenses.  

To do this, it’s a good idea to know what you’re buying and how much you’re spending. This will help you free up cash for other things, like paying down your student loans or putting money into an emergency fund. 

10 things you’re probably paying too much for, and how you can cut costs.

1. Clothes 👚👗👔

If you’re paying full-price for that blouse or pair of jeans, you probably paid too much for it. Fashion trends shift rapidly, so take stock of whether you quickly cycle through items in your wardrobe. 

2. New cars 🚗🚙

Did you know that the value of a car can depreciate right after you drive it off the sales lot? This means you might be paying more than necessary for your new car. 

3. Food 🌮🍕🍽

Sure, we need food in our bellies. But, you might be buying more food than you need.  

According to Slickdeals’ 2019 survey on the top budget killers, grocery shopping, food delivery, and buying lunch everyday made it onto the top 10 list. 

So, take a look at your kitchen pantry and take stock of the rotten produce that you may be throwing out.

4. Prescription drugs 😷💊

It’s no secret that Americans are overpaying for prescription drugs, explains Michael Bonebright, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com.

Data reveals insurance companies aren’t helping. A recent NPR poll showed that, although the majority of Americans have health insurance that covers prescription medications, more than one-third of adults said their insurance refused to pay for a prescribed drug in the past year

“This held true across all income levels, meaning that even expensive insurance plans are rejecting drug claims,” says Bonebright. 

5. Vacations  🗺🚌✈️

When booking travel, we tend to overpay because we make small, costly mistakes. For instance, if you’re traveling abroad, perhaps you could have saved money by booking a flight on a specific day or well in advance. Or, perhaps you didn’t take advantage of promo codes offered by airlines and hotels. 

For example, if you book a hotel room two to three months in advance, you’ll save $34 per night on average, points out Bonebright.

6. Free shipping 📦🚚

This probably sounds like a paradox. Yet, you may be paying too much to earn free shipping, points out Bonebright. He further explains: In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $10 for shipping when you buy something online. Yet, the vast majority of online retailers will “give” you free shipping if you make a large enough purchase.

Case in point: Walmart requires you to spend $35 to meet its free shipping minimum. At Amazon, you’ll need to purchase at least $25 worth of goods—or pay $119 per year for Prime. 

But don’t be fooled. You end up doling out more dough just to meet the minimum.

7. Cell phone plans 📲

You may end up overpaying for your cell phone plan because you’re on an old plan. So, do your homework to look for a better deal, or reach out to your carrier. Perhaps you’re not aware of a less-expensive plan.

8. Bottled water 💧

According to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), the average cost of a gallon of domestic water in 2016 was $1.11. If you’re buying water at the market or drugstore, you might be paying much more than that. 

If you drink strictly bottled water, that can add up quickly.

9. Coffee ☕️

Whether you buy a cup of coffee at a no-frills coffee shop or a gourmet roaster, you’re looking at two bucks or more. And, depending on the quality of the beans, brewing a cup of joe at home typically costs about 60 cents. 

10. Subscription services 📺🎧

Per the Slickdeals survey on top budget busters, 37% of those polled said that subscription services can cause them to go over their budget. It makes sense: It’s easy to sign up for a subscription service even when you can’t afford it. And, because these subscription services are on autopilot, you might forget you even subscribe. 

7 Ways to Save Money

Now that you know what you may be paying too much for, it’s time to figure out ways to cut costs. Here are 7 ways to save money.

  1. Shop sales. Instead of paying full price for something, wait for mega sales, or shop at discount retailers.
  2. Buy used. There’s no reason to buy new if a gently used version will do just fine. Consider buying used clothes, furniture, and cars.
  3. Make it at home. Convenience comes at a cost. Picking up snacks at a liquor store or eating on the run can add up. Instead, try to prepare meals at home. You can also save money on water by ditching bottled water and investing in a water filter.
  4. Hold off on impulse buys. As a grocery outlet junkie, I can attest to how easy it is to overspend on impulse items. The biggest culprits? Food and groceries, shoes, and clothes. 
  5. Look for cheaper alternatives. One of my favorite mottos is “swap it, don’t stop it.” In other words, you don’t have to nix something entirely. Instead, see how much competitors are charging. You can also look for the generic version or hunt for discounts.
  6. Negotiate for a lower rate. When it comes to things like subscriptions and services, it doesn’t hurt to inquire about a discounted rate. See if there are any existing promotions, or ask the company if they can reduce the cost to keep you as a loyal customer.
  7. Ask for a price adjustment. Have you ever bought something and then found a lower price within a week of that purchase? If so, try asking the retailer for a price adjustment, recommends Regina Conway, Slickdeals’ vice president of public relations and events. 

“Similarly, if you’re already shopping in store, before you buy, do a quick check on your smartphone to see if there’s a better deal available,” says Conway. 

“If yes, ask for a price match—the store may be willing to honor the lower price in order to capture the sale on site.” 

Time to Save Money!

As we’ve shown you here, shaving off a few bucks can add up quickly. And, with a little ingenuity, you can commit to putting those savings right into your bank account. From there, you can start saving money toward your financial goals!

Jackie Lam is an L.A.-based financial writer whose clients include Fortune 500 companies and FinTech startups. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Business Insider, and GOOD.

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