The average American spends over $5,000 a year on unnecessary purchases. This isn’t to say that it’s wrong to treat yourself from time to time. You’ve worked for the money, and you have the right to spend it on anything you desire.
But when times get tough, it’s a good idea to reevaluate your current spending habits. With a few changes, you could save thousands every year without changing your quality of life. For example, you could switch to COBRA health insurance alternatives to enjoy the same coverage while spending less.
Save money by cutting some of the most common offenders. Here are five things that can save you money.
1. Home Cooking
Takeout and delivery services top the list of nonessential purchases. On average, Americans spend over $600 a month on restaurant food and drinks. Rather than going cold turkey, start by tapering off your reliance on these food services.
If you buy lunch during your break every day of the week, choose a day to bring a packed lunch instead. This simple change will net you about $50 in savings every month.
For more impressive savings, get into the habit of cooking your own meals at home. Nowadays, there are plenty of free recipes and instructional videos to guide you through the process even if you lack even the most basic of culinary skills.
Don’t think you have enough time? Meal prep is more popular than ever. Choose one day of the week to create a massive portion of lunch and dinner meals.
This type of cooking is so time-efficient that you’ll only spend a few hours in the kitchen every week. Your health and wallet will thank you.
2. COBRA Health Insurance Alternatives
If you lose your job, a legal requirement ensures your company will provide your current health insurance program through COBRA. This may seem like the only available option to stay insured while unemployed. Unfortunately, many insurance premiums balloon under COBRA since you become responsible for the entire plan.
Thankfully, COBRA health insurance alternatives are available. They tend to slip under the radar since the offers aren’t publicized while the COBRA offer is sent to you by mail. By using an alternative, you can enjoy great coverage without paying hundreds of dollars extra to keep your existing plan.
Since you’re unemployed, you may be making very little or nothing at all. In which case, you could find adequate coverage under the Medicaid program. You can also discover private and marketplace options if you don’t qualify for government assistance.
For more ways to save on insurance, read about COBRA health insurance alternatives.
3. Free Banking Services
With easy access to some of the world’s best banks, there’s no reason to stick with one that doesn’t treat you right. Although it’s a bad practice, many banks tack on ATM surcharges and monthly checking fees that can add up over time. Don’t put up with these extra expenses just because you don’t want to deal with a bank transfer.
In fact, switching banks often comes with a real financial incentive. Since these banking institutions make money off the interest in your savings account, they’re willing to pay you to become a member. Most regional and national banks offer hundreds of dollars if you open an account with them.
So not only can you save, but you can make a bit of spending money, too.
On the subject of banking, do your best to avoid credit card interest while you’re at it. Credit cards are one of the most expensive ways to purchase an item if you know you can’t pay the balance that month.
4. Public Transportation
Car payments may seem like a necessity, but that’s no longer true in urban environments. Many cities have decent metro and bus systems that can help you get from point A to point B without breaking the bank. While it may cost a little more than gas every month, you’ll save hundreds on car payments and car insurance.
Still need your vehicle? That’s okay.
You can also save by avoiding the use of rideshare programs like Lyft and Uber. You’re paying for the car, so you might as well drive it. It beats spending $40 on a one-way trip downtown.
5. Streaming Services
Cable services have been bleeding customers for almost a decade. That’s because there are plenty of free or cheap alternatives to cable television. If you haven’t yet made the switch, it’s time to.
SlingTV has many of the most basic networks such as TNT, ESPN, and the History Channel. With an average cable bill exceeding at least $100, SlingTV is a fraction of the price. You can also indulge in a service such as Hulu or Netflix and still pay way less than you do now for cable.
As far as free alternatives go, you may be surprised. Love watching the local news station? Almost all now stream their programs on their online websites.
And don’t forget: There’s nothing wrong with using an antenna to supplement some of the channels you won’t find with your collection of streaming services. It may take some time to put together, but micromanaging your channels will help you avoid a bloated cable bill every month.
Save Money, Live Better
Nobody’s budget is perfect. But if you want to save money, it doesn’t take much to start seeing the results. Swapping to COBRA health insurance alternatives, cutting cable, and avoiding takeout could have you pocketing thousands of dollars every year.
And you’ll hardly notice a difference. So what are you waiting for? The sooner you save, the better.
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