Tag: spending


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

By Jackie Lam
February 26, 2020

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!


9 Spending Rules to Follow During the Holiday Season

By Rebecca Lake
December 15, 2019

Between all the tempting sales and last-minute purchases, holiday spending can take a serious toll on your budget. 

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to enjoy the holiday season without demolishing your bank account. To help you create your holiday spending plan and budget, here are nine rules you can use to keep your finances on the nice list. Take a look:

1. Start with a holiday budget

The first rule for holiday spending is to create and stick to a budget. 

Creating a holiday budget that outlines what you can realistically spend makes it easier to avoid unnecessary extras. Your holiday spending budget should include the following: 

  • Gifts and stocking stuffers
  • Wrapping paper, ribbons or bows and tape
  • Holiday cards and postage
  • Food for holiday meals
  • Travel if you plan to spend the holidays away from home
  • Entertainment and holiday events
  • Charitable donations

It’s also a good idea to include a miscellaneous category to cover any unexpected expenses that get added on. 

Once you have your list of holiday expenses, set a limit on how much you can afford to spend. 

2. Set up a dedicated holiday savings account

Ideally, you opened a holiday savings account earlier in the year. But if you haven’t done this yet, it’s not too late. 

You can open a savings account and link it to your Chime spending account for easy access. If you worked out your holiday budget and you know exactly what you can spend, you can even schedule automatic transfers to your savings every payday. Or, you can grow your holiday savings by setting up direct deposit from your paychecks to make things easier. 

3. Create a holiday shopping strategy

A shopping game plan is a smart strategy for holiday budgeting. For example, will you do most of your shopping online or at the mall? 

Shopping online can save you time but it has its pitfalls. Many stores offer free shipping over the holidays but only if you spend a certain amount of money. And, if you spend more to qualify for free shipping, you’re not necessarily saving money. 

Take time to browse the sale ads to see how competitor stores price the same items. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday officially kick off the holiday sales season, it’s possible to find deals right up until Christmas Eve. 

Remember: Doing a little homework before you start filling up your cart can help you find the best holiday deals.

4. Check store pricing matching and return policies

Before you make any holiday purchases, check out the store’s return and price matching policies first. Both can save you money and headaches when doing your holiday shopping. 

Price matching is great because some stores will pay you back the difference if you paid more at another store for the same item. If a store doesn’t offer price matching, you may be able to return the item outright and then buy it somewhere else for less money.

5. Track holiday expenses

It’s easy to lose track of holiday expenses. But that’s the fastest way to sabotage your holiday budgeting efforts. 

If you don’t like the idea of hanging on to a bunch of paper receipts, sign up to receive receipts via email or text. And remember, you can always see your holiday spending at a glance in your Chime spending account. 

6. Consider DIY holiday gifts to save money

Shopping for the holidays can be time-consuming and expensive.

One option is to cut your shopping list down and buy for fewer people. Or, you can limit the number of gifts you buy for each person on your list. For example, you might try the four-gift rule if you have kids. 

Another option is to give handmade gifts instead of buying things. A few rules to keep in mind for handmade gifts:

  • Write a detailed list of the materials you’ll need.
  • Estimate how much those materials will cost you to buy.
  • Look around the house to see what you already have.
  • Consider buying materials in bulk to save money. 

7. Use coupons and cash back apps to save on holiday shopping

Coupons and cash back apps can make your holiday spending plan easier and potentially save you hundreds of dollars. With coupons and promo codes, you can take money right off the top of an item’s purchase price. And, cash back apps pay you back when you shop. 

If you’re planning to use coupons, promo codes and cash back apps for holiday expenses, look for opportunities to stack them. 

For example, say you’re at your favorite department store online. You have a 10% off promo code you can use and one of your cash back apps is offering 5% back on purchases. If you can double those up, you’re effectively saving 15%, freeing up money in your holiday budget.

8. Consider going cash-only

Using a debit card for holiday spending is convenient but it’s possible to overspend if you’re not tracking your purchases. The same goes for a credit card – only instead of spending money from your bank account, you’re creating debt that you’ll have to deal with after the holidays. 

Sticking with cash for holiday purchases can help you stay on track with your budget as you’ll only be able to spend money you have on hand. 

9. Start a holiday side hustle to make extra cash

If you’ve crunched the numbers and you still can’t make your Christmas budget work, consider ways you can earn extra money to cover holiday expenses. 

For example, you can declutter and sell unused items around your house, start a holiday pet-sitting service, or do some yard clean-up. 

You might also think about a holiday part-time job or increasing your regular hours at work to make more money. 

Put these holiday spending tips to work

If the holiday season is stressing you out, don’t panic. Remember to put these Christmas budgeting tips to work:

  • Make a holiday spending budget
  • Set aside savings for holiday expenses
  • Shop strategically
  • Check return and price matching policies
  • Track holiday spending
  • Make holiday gifts
  • Leverage coupons and cash back apps
  • Consider a cash-only Christmas
  • Try a holiday side hustle

Here’s a final pro tip: Save even more money this holiday season with Chime, the bank account that has your back. 

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