16 Expenses That Are Ruining Your Budget

expenses that ruin your budget

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 when you feel like you can’t stick to your budget, chances are it’s because of certain expenses.

 So what are they? Let’s find out!

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

1 | “Free” Trials

Budget / Frugal Living

How many times have you signed up for a new service and told yourself you’ll remember to cancel before the trial ends?

I know I have.

Companies offer free trials because they know a lot of them will convert into regular memberships (either on purpose or by accident)

And by accident, I mean forgetting about the trial before it ends.

Either cancel the trial membership immediately (and enjoy the trial until it runs out) or set a notification on your calendar.

2 | Not Saving While You Spend

Budget / Frugal Living

There are things you still have to buy to live. And since you’re buying things you’d normally get anyway, you might as well save money.

For you, this might mean shopping around your grocery stores flyer.

Or buying a FoodSaver to preserve your food. 

For me, there are several things I always buy online because that’s how I get the best deal.

And when I combine that with a cash back program like Ebates, I know I’m getting the biggest bang for my buck.

I’m sure you’ve probably seen the commercials for Ebates, but in case you haven’t, here’s what you do:

You sign up for an Ebates account (it’s free) and use the search bar to find the retailer you want to shop with.

As you make purchases, you’ll get cash back.

Then, once you accumulate your earnings ($5.01 is the minimum payout) – Ebates will send you a check or deposit that money into your PayPal.

Note: the Ebates link above gives you a $10 bonus for signing up and shopping.

3 | Bank Fees

Budget / Frugal Living

Have you checked your bank statements lately?

I’m not going to say any names, but at my previous bank, there was a fee for Every. Single. Thing.

An account maintenance fee here, a card swipe fee there, and 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.

You can usually find them by looking on their website.

Here’s what you need to look for:

If there’s a maintenance fee

How much money should be in the account to avoid fees

And if they charge for swiping your debit card.

4 | Interest

Budget / Frugal Living

Interest rates are tricky.

And in the end, they’re what costs us so much more in the long-run.

So if you only make minimum payments on your credit cards, it can take years and years to pay them off.

Let’s say you only made the minimum payments on a $5,000 credit card.

The interest rate is 15%

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, transfer the balance to a lower-rate card or 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.

Note: The SoFi link above gives you a $100 welcome bonus.

Just by lowering your interest rate, you’ll save thousands over the course of your loan and pay it off quicker.

So just because you can’t afford to pay off the balance completely, don’t settle for a high APR.

(If you need more info on SoFi, click here to read my review)

5 | Unused Subscriptions

Budget / Frugal Living

These days, so many of us really enjoy using subscription services.

As long as we budget for them then they’re totally fine.

But what about the ones that fall through the cracks?

Take a good look at your bank account and 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

Budget / Frugal Living

We have the best intentions when it comes to the gym, but sometimes life gets in the way.

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.

I worked out at home, started tracking my steps, and counted calories through MyFitnessPal.

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

Budget / Frugal Living

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 say no to.

Next thing you know, you’re ordering appetizers, drinks, and dessert.

It happens.

Just try to avoid situations where you’ll be paying more than you can afford. 

So search for cheaper alternatives:

Go to lunch instead of dinner.

Enjoy happy hour.

Invite them over for a meal instead.

You get the idea.

8 | Your Roommates

Budget / Frugal Living

But wait…I got a roommate to save money, right?

True. But your roommates can also destroy your budget.

Here’s how:

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?

Sit down with your roommates (ideally before you move in) and come up with a plan for handling these common household expenses.

Make a list of necessities (like toilet paper and dishwashing fluid) and determine how you’re going to alternate those costs.

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

Budget / Frugal Living

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. 

Also, it’s MUCH cheaper to make certain cleaners at home. Vinegar, tap water, and a couple drops of your favorite soap go a long way!

Google a few ways to make DIY cleaning products and then cut that expense from your budget altogether. 

You’ll be glad you did!

10 | High Energy Bills

Budget / Frugal Living

Did you know you can save 3% on your energy bill for every one degree you lower or raise the thermostat?

If it’s summer and you normally 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. 

Nothing kills a good budget like a blazing heating bill.

Thankfully, this is one of those small adjustments that’s easy to implement.

11 | A “Good” Deal

Budget / Frugal Living

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.

12 | Pet Treats

Budget / Frugal Living

Our pets have needs, too.

…and sometimes those needs can break the budget. 

Vet care is already so expensive (but well worth it!) so we might as well save money in other areas.

I love making treats at home because I can control what’s in the recipe and save money.

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

Budget / Frugal Living

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 my boyfriend and I to downgrade our cable package, but once we found Amazon Instant Video, it made the switch pretty easy.

We were paying $170/month for DISH, and now we’re paying $8.25/month (or $99 year) for Amazon Instant Video.

Cable is one of those expenses that quickly adds up, and with the internet and streaming services, it isn’t really necessary anyway. 

14 | The Newest Phone

Budget / Frugal Living

What’s so bad about having a phone that’s 2 or 3 models old?

They come out with a new phone all the time. Some people fall into that trap year after year.

Those people keep the never-ending payments by continually upgrading to a phone they couldn’t afford in the first place.

Here’s the deal:

They make our phones pretty good these days…so a phone that you’ve had for 3 years isn’t going to pale in comparison to a brand new one. 

Nothing feels better than being debt free. Nothing. 

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 


Budget / Frugal Living

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 surprisingly large portion of your budget.

(If you don’t really watch your alcohol spending – it could even add up to be MORE than your grocery bill!)

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

Budget / Frugal Living

Because these are so easy to forget.

The budget that you worked so hard to make and stick to 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. 

Thanks for reading.

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16 expenses that ruin your budget

5 thoughts on “16 Expenses That Are Ruining Your Budget”

  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

  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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Hi! I'm Adele

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