Sticking to your budget is hard.
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Like most people, I'm guilty of going over my budget every so often, whether it's another pair of Lululemon leggings I definitely don't need (but very much want) or an impulsive trip to Ireland (yes, really). And according to a new survey, my overspending habits are pretty typical.
After discovering that the average American spends $7,429.24 over their budget each year, OnePoll revealed the 10 things that they call the biggest budget killers, a.k.a what adults most commonly spend too much on. Below are the results, plus our own experts' tips on how to save more money.
Online shopping is simultaneously the best and worst thing that's ever happened to me. If you—and your wallet—can relate, our senior e-commerce writer, Shayna Murphy, has a few secrets to spending less. "My number one rule of online shopping is that I never pay full price on anything. I'm constantly looking for sales," she says, adding, "I use price-tracking tools like CamelCamelCamel and Invisible Hand to monitor and compare price drops. It's super insightful!"
There are few things more depressing than watching as the cashier scans your groceries and the total just keeps going up... and up... and up. If you're trying to cut down your grocery bill, our kitchen & cooking writer, Valerie Li, recommends buying in bulk as much as you can. Not only does she stock up on herbs and produce, but also on meat: "When it comes to meat products, I buy bulk and then freeze half of them with labels indicating the date it was thrown in the freezer so I don't forget about it because all frozen foods also have an expiration date," she explains.
Whether it's a Netflix subscription or a meal kit service, the convenience of having things delivered straight to your home is not cheap. While some things may be worth the added cost, it's smart to reevaluate your subscription services every couple of weeks (or months) to make sure you aren't overpaying. A.k.a if you only made one of the six meals you got delivered, it's probably not worth it anymore.
iPhones, smart gadgets, 4K TVs, oh my! Technology is definitely not cheap but there are budget-friendly options out there for anyone who doesn't want to completely empty their bank account just to have the latest and greatest. For instance, you can buy a laptop for under $200 (our experts recommend the HP Chromebook 11-v031nr) or a high-quality Bluetooth speaker for as low as $28 (our favorite is the Anker SoundCore).
Buying lunch every day is tempting (I too am addicted to Chipotle) but those $8 burritos add up fast. A better option is to pack your own lunch, which Valerie says you can prep in big batches at the beginning of the week to save time. She prefers storing her meals in glass containers like these Prep Naturals ones (they keep food fresher for longer) and swears by this bento box which she never goes to work without.
Toilet paper, cleaning supplies, paper towels—they're all things you need but not exactly things you want to be spending your hard-earned money on. However, just like with groceries, you can cut costs on basic household must-haves by buying them in bulk, like at Costco or another wholesale retailer.
Take it from our e-commerce editor, Samantha Gordon, who gave up her daily coffee run in favor of making it herself: skipping Starbucks can save you a lot of money. The trick to becoming your own barista is first stocking up with the right equipment. Samantha personally loves the Takeya cold brew coffee maker (which happens to be the best cold brew maker we've ever tested) and the JavaPresse coffee grinder. It can even help you lose weight!
There have been many a Saturday nights where I've ordered late-night pizza delivery—followed by many a Sunday mornings where I ordered bagel and coffee delivery. And while it's convenient, it isn't exactly cost-effective. But it's something that 32 percent of Americans struggle with. If you're ordering delivery because you hate to cook (or are just plain lazy), there are a lot of gadgets that can make it easier. Use a slow cooker—like the Cuisinart Multi-Cooker, which is the best slow cooker—that you can set and forget. Or opt for our favorite pressure cooker, the Instant Pot Ultra, which can make delicious meals in minutes.
Who knew staying in shape as an adult could be so expensive? The average gym membership costs $58 per month (and can be double that depending on where you live and the type of facility). Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to stay—or get—healthy at home for a fraction of the price, like with these fitness products that have a cult following on Amazon.
While some entertainment experiences are totally splurge-worthy (like an ACDC concert or a skydiving trip), there are others that you could do without. Like going to the movies. Instead of splurging on tickets and overpriced snacks, recreate the cinema experience at home with the TCL 6 Series—which is the best budget-friendly TV that we've ever tested—along with our experts' favorite streaming device, the Roku Ultra.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
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