Do you ever find yourself looking in your wallet and wondering where your cash went? We all know it’s a good idea to watch our spending and keep track of where our money is going. But there are some ways spending can sneak up on us in surprising places.
How about those monthly subscriptions? I’m not just talking about magazines, either — more and more companies are popping up with new ideas for boxed services that cost you a monthly fee. You can get meal kits, groceries, cosmetics, alcohol, office products and even a personal stylist by box. These services often offer big discounts as an incentive to give them a try, but many of them can be quite costly once that introductory rate expires. The average subscription box costs between $10-40 per month, which means you could be spending well over $100 a year just on one service. Ask yourself if you’re truly using the majority of the items in the box on a regular basis, or if it’s just a fun indulgence.
Think about those grocery delivery services as well. They also tend to offer free trials, but once that trial is over, you could find yourself spending upward of $100 per year to continue the service, and those costs do vary according to where you live and which service you select. Keep in mind that there are small upcharges for the groceries, as well as tips for the delivery people. While it’s nice to not worry about when you’re going to grocery shop, it also may simply seem like a lavish idea to cross that chore of your list. You may think you need it when you don’t, and remember that budgeting your time can be just as cost-efficient as budgeting your money.
Streaming services are another way spending can get out of hand, as they also lure you in with that promotional rate that switches — sometimes unknowingly — to a higher rate. In addition, there are a lot of streaming services out there — Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and Amazon Prime, to name a few — yet they all offer pretty much the same thing. Ask yourself if you really need more than one, and think about how much television you’re actually watching. Think about this when you’re considering their various rate structures as well. You may be just as content with their standard service instead of their premium, and the choice could save you upward of $80 per year.
It’s important to take a close look at any service that requires you to set up an auto-pay or recurring charge on a regular basis because those are the easiest areas where charges can change without you knowing. Often — especially if the charge is going on a credit card — you may not even remember it’s there.
We are committed to educating everyone about finances. Our workshops are free of charge and are packed full of valuable, relevant information that matters to you and your retirement. Topics include taxes, social security, and we regularly host established financial figures from around the country.
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