How to Stop Spending Money on Unnecessary Things – Cut These 16 Budgeting Expenses

4 jars of coins
You know what’s discouraging?
When you’re trying to plan out your budget, but unexpected expenses keep popping up. 
You ask yourself: What am I missing?
But here’s the thing:
It all starts with learning how to stop spending money on unnecessary things.
And to do that, you have to take a look at your monthly expenses list.
 So here are 16 expenses that ruin your budget:

(This post may contain affiliates link. Check out my full disclosure policy here!)

1 | “Free” Trials

Woman using laptop
How many times have you signed up for a new service and said you’ll remember to cancel before the trial ends?
Here’s the deal:
Companies offer free trials because many of them convert into regular memberships. (Either on purpose or by accident)
And by accident, I mean forgetting about the trial before it ends.
Or signing up for a service and letting credits build up without using them. 
Cancel the trial membership immediately (and enjoy the trial until it runs out). Or set a reminder on your phone to cancel before you get billed.

2 | Not Saving While You Spend

100 dollar bills
This is my one of my favorite uncommon tips when it comes to saving money:
Use Ebates.
I’ve been using Ebates for years. For a long time, it was my secret sauce for saving money on everything I bought.
These days, most people have heard of Ebates or seen the commercials.
But if you haven’t, let me explain:
Ebates is a rewards program that gives you cash back when you shop.
It’s free, easy to use, and it’s a great way to earn cash back on things you’d normally buy anyway.
Here’s what you do:
You sign up for an Ebates account and use the search bar to find the retailer you want to shop with.
Here’s how that looks:
Ebates homepage gif
And as you make purchases, you get cash back.
Ebates will send you a check or deposit that money into your PayPal. I’ve earned over $1,000 since I’ve started using it.
Note: the Ebates link above gives you a $10 bonus for signing up and shopping.

3 | Bank Fees

pink piggy bank
Have you checked your bank statements lately?
If you’re trying to learn how to stop spending money on unnecessary things, this is a big one.
I’m not saying any names, but at my previous bank, there was a fee for Every. Single. Thing.
An account maintenance fee here and a card swipe fee there.
There was even a fee for not keeping a certain amount of money in the account itself. What kind of weird punishment is that?
This is why you should know the terms and conditions of your bank.
Why? Because some banks will stick it to you without you knowing.
So go on your bank’s website, and keep an eye out for these:
If there’s a maintenance fee
How much money should be in the account to avoid fees
If there’s a charge for swiping your debit card.

4 | Interest

Man calculating bills
Here’s the kicker:
Interest rates are tricky. And in the end, they’re what costs us so much more in the long-run.
So this is what I tell everyone who is learning how to budget and save money on a small income:
Just because you can’t pay off the balance completely, don’t settle for a high-interest rate.
Because even though you’re making payments on your debt, it can take years and years to pay them off due to interest.
Let’s say you were paying off a $5,000 credit card with a 15% interest rate.
Do you know how long it’d take to pay it off?
6.5 years with $2,892 worth of interest.
So what should you do?
First, stop adding more debt. Step away from the credit cards.
Secondly, use a company like SoFi to lower your interest rate for you.
Someone first told me about SoFi in college (when we were talking about student loan debt).
And I’m so glad they did.
By lowering your interest rate, you’ll save thousands over the course of your loan and pay it off quicker.
And it’ll usually lower your monthly payment too.
So even though you can’t afford to pay off the balance completely, learn your options.
(If you need more info on SoFi, click here to read my review)
Note: The SoFi link above gives you a $100 welcome bonus.

5 | Unused Subscriptions

woman writing in notebook
Most people who are learning how to stop spending money on unnecessary things can relate to this one.
These days, so many of us enjoy the perks of subscription services.
And they’re fine as long as we account for it in our things to budget for.
But what about the ones that fall through the cracks?
Take a good look at your bank account. See how much you’re spending on subscription services you aren’t using.
(Or in my case, I had to look at how many unused Audible credits I’d built up)

6 | Unused Gym Memberships

Don’t we all have the best intentions when it comes to the gym?
But sometimes life gets in the way and that’s why many of these memberships go unused.
We say if you’re not using your gym at least weekly, consider canceling it and saving that money instead. 
I lost 40 pounds last year without stepping foot into a gym.
Want to know the best part?
I walked regularly, tracked my steps, and counted calories through MyFitnessPal.
Over a consistent 7-8 months, I reached my weight loss goal for free. How awesome is that?
Plus, there are tons of free workout videos on YouTube. 
If I can do it, so can you. And you’ll be cutting $20-$60 each month from your budget.

7 |  Your Friends

friends enjoying glass of wine
Even though they don’t mean to, your friends could be sabotaging your budget.
Maybe you know you should stay home, but you get an offer that’s too good to refuse.
Next thing you know, you’re ordering appetizers, drinks, and dessert.
It happens.
Don’t deprive yourself, but you need to know how to stop spending money on unnecessary things.
This means avoiding situations where you’ll be paying more than you can afford
Instead, go for cheaper alternatives:
Go to lunch instead of dinner.
Enjoy happy hour.
Invite them over for a meal instead.
Grab coffee instead of food.
Those options still let you enjoy yourself, but they also show you how to budget and save money on a small income.
It’s all about making it work for you!

8 | Your Roommates

group of friends hugging
But wait…I got a roommate to save money, right?
True. But your roommates can also destroy your budget.
This is what I mean:
Are you someone who avoids confrontation and buys toilet paper every time it runs out, even though you’ve bought it the last 4 times?
Here’s the deal:
Sit down with your roommates and come up with a plan for handling these expenses. (Ideally, before you move in together)
Make a list of necessities. Here are some things to budget for:
  • Toilet Paper
  • Dishwashing Fluid
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Paper towels
  • Cleaning Products
The goal is to determine how you’re going to alternate these costs.
And while you’re at it, split chores that way too. Decide who is going to do what and when.
It’ll be much easier to get these 2 things settled and out of the way in the beginning. You’ll thank me later.

9 | Cleaning Products

sweeper sweeping the floor
Mr. Clean erasers are nice and all, but are they really worth the money?
Cleaning products (especially the name brand stuff) kills the budget. 
I find that most people overspend and overstock in this area.
You probably already have enough cleaning products to last you several months. 
So this is an area I say to look out for when learning how to stop spending money on unnecessary things. It seems like cleaning products get more expensive each day.
Plus, it’s cheaper to make certain cleaners at home. Vinegar, tap water, and a couple of drops of your favorite soap go a long way!
You can Google ways to make DIY cleaners and then cut that expense from your budget altogether. 
Not bad, right?

10 | High Energy Bills

Did you know you can save 3% on your energy bill for every one degree you lower or raise the thermostat?
So if it’s summer and you keep your house at 72 degrees, but you raise it to 75 degrees, you’ll save 9 cents on every dollar.
If it’s winter, the same is true if you lower the temperature. 
Because nothing kills a good budget like a blazing heating bill.
Thankfully, this is one of those small tweaks that’s easy to do.

11 | Beware of “Good” Deals

shopping promotion sign
Two things are true when it comes to deals:
  • It’s not a good deal if you don’t need it.
  • Stores often mark items up, just so they can mark them down. This makes us feel like we’re “saving money”
We’ve all been guilty of purchasing things that aren’t in the budget just because we *think* it’s on sale.
Next thing you know, you end up spending more than you intended to. 
Beware of deals that are only good for a certain amount of time (like flash sales) 
Marketers are smart. They want to lock you into the sale as quickly as possible before you can think it over.
We recommend implementing the 24-hour rule next time you go to make a big purchase. Not only will you let the rational side of your brain kick in, but it also helps you flex your frugal muscles.

12 | Pet Treats

kitten sleeping
Our pets have needs, too.
…and sometimes those needs can break the budget. 
Vet care is already so expensive (but well worth it!) so save money in other areas.
I love making treats at home because I can control what’s in the recipe. And of course, the biggest benefit is learning how to stop spending money on unnecessary things.
So if you have a dog, check out these quick and healthy DIY recipes. (the frozen peanut butter & yogurt is a HIT in our household.)
If you have a cat, check out these 5 Easy DIY Cat Treat Recipes.

13 | Expensive Cable

couple watching tv
This is obvious, but yet – it’s still so hard for many people to pull the plug on cable.
I get it.
It took awhile for us to downgrade our cable package. We were paying $170/month for premium channels. Not good.
But once we found Amazon Instant Video, it made the switch a lot easier.
Amazon Instant Video only costs us $8.25/month ($99/year).
Cable is one of those expenses that adds up quick.
And with the internet and streaming services, it isn’t always necessary.

14 | The Newest Phone

They come out with a new phone all the time – and some people fall into the trap year after year.
What’s so bad about having a phone that’s 2 or 3 models old?
We all know someone who keeps the never-ending payments by upgrading to a phone they couldn’t afford in the first place.
Here’s the deal:
They make our phones pretty good these days. A phone that you’ve had for 2-3 years isn’t going to pale in comparison to a brand new one. 
Nothing feels better than being debt free. Nothing. 
So paying for that new phone every month – and continuing to upgrade yearly – is not smart for your budget.
Instead, we should just learn to be happy with what we have. 

15 | Alcohol 

red martini
I know Jamie Foxx says to blame it on the alcohol, but I’m blaming it on the budget.
Have you looked at how much you’ve spent on alcohol lately?
It can be fun to enjoy a nice drink or two, but if you’re not careful, then it could take up a large part of your budget.
(If you don’t watch your alcohol spending – it could even add up to be more than your grocery bill)
Because this is a primary example of how to stop spending money on unnecessary things.
Take a look at your budget and set aside a little “fun” money to include things like alcohol.
If you find that you’re overspending, then create a list of ways to have fun instead of drinking. 

16 | Variable Expenses

calculator and monthly bills
Because these are so easy to forget.
The budget that you worked so hard to make might become a struggle if you forget to track the variable expenses.
I’m specifically talking about car registration fees, insurance, HOA fees, and taxes.
Take a few minutes to write down your variable expenses. 
As you remember, continue adding to the list until it’s complete.
Then, plug those things in your calendar so you’ll remember to budget for them each month.
What monthly expenses do you forget to budget for? Let me know below!
Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “How to Stop Spending Money on Unnecessary Things – Cut These 16 Budgeting Expenses”

  1. Very nice suggestions I incorporate a few of them already.

  2. This article made me remember a trial subscription should have canceled last night. Thank you

    • You’re welcome Gloria. Thanks for reading!

  3. This is a great article. Thank you for writing it Jane. Small expenses add up very quickly. I especially like the part about the pet treats! When my kids grew up and got married, I was surprised to hear that they learned nothing in HS about budgeting. One of them could not balance a checkbook. I taught them the same way my dad taught me. Granted not many people use checks anymore but the process of checking their statement each month has not changed and none of the kids were doing that, saying that “the bank never makes mistakes.” I enlightened them!

    • That is very true – managing money is a skill that’s often overlooked in school. Thanks for reading Rich! The “bank never makes mistakes” bit gave me a good laugh.

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