It’s a good time to re-evaluate what you’re spending money on and give your budget an overhaul now rather than later. After all, if you’re throwing away your income, why delay in doing something about it? There’s no shortage of areas in which you could likely save money, but consider these five products and services.
[See: 20 Financial New Year’s Resolutions for 2019.]
Gym memberships and exercise equipment
According to a 2017 report from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, 60.9 million Americans belong to a health club. The numbers have been going up every year, despite the fact that many of us are joining gyms but not using them.
Monthly membership costs can be all over the map, ranging from $10 to $300 a month at some of the most expensive gyms. But even at $10 a month, if you aren’t using your membership, that’s $120 a year you’re throwing away. Plus, there are often extra fees, like annual membership fees or sign-up fees, that can run anywhere from $30 to $100 or more.
Nataliya Grygoryeva, co-owner of Araliya Valuation Consulting, a business evaluation practice in Tampa, Florida, has smart advice for anyone tempted by an advertisement to join a gym or buy expensive exercise equipment: “Don’t spend money on things that you think you will be motivated to do if you are not already engaged in those activities.”
She’s isn’t saying you shouldn’t become an exercise buff — just that if you aren’t one, consider whether buying a product (like gym equipment) or service (a gym membership) is going to change a lifetime of habits.
If you’re tempted to change your fitness routine and lifestyle based on advertising, Grygoryeva suggests trying a cheaper version of exercise first. For instance, if you want to join a gym, you might try getting into the habit of walking around your neighborhood and see if you enjoy that. Or if you want to buy some wildly expensive exercise equipment, in that case, Grygoryeva suggests considering a membership: “Enroll in your local gym at the lowest possible cost,” she says, “and see if you develop a habit of going to the gym on a regular basis before purchasing a fancy indoor bike or treadmill based on the commercials you have seen on TV.”
(Getty Images/Robert Daly)
(Getty Images/Robert Daly)
There are so many ways you can improve how you spend your money when you’re shopping, but one easy way is to avoid buying a warranty, says Marc Andre, a personal finance blogger in York, Pennsylvania, who runs Vital Dollar.
Every once in a while, buying a warranty may pay off — for a smartphone, for instance, since your odds of dropping it and cracking the screen may be decent. But most experts say to steer clear of warranties.
“Buying extended warranties is almost always a bad idea,” Andre says. “It may look like a good option since it only adds a relatively small amount to the purchase, but the chances that you’ll need that extended warranty are slim. Plus, some warranties have terms and conditions that make it hard to get a replacement.”
Meanwhile, keep in mind that many products and services you buy already have guarantees, generally for a year. Also, if you make your purchases with your credit card, it may protect you through its own extended warranty program.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Greg Shepard, CEO and founder of Emily’s Maids, a cleaning service in Dallas, makes his lunch and brings it to work.
“Why? Because forgoing eating out makes a millionaire — literally,” Shephard says.
He says he made the change back in 2001. “I read about the magic of compound interest and how seemingly small amounts of money can add up to a future fortune,” he says. “Lunch costs between $10 and $15. With 21.65 work days on average per month, forging a $10 lunch would be $216.50 saved per month.”
He adds that if he invests that money in an index fund that returns 10 percent a year, he could net into the millions over the course of a lifetime.
Of course, if you don’t work outside your home, you still may be able to adjust your dining habits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends $3,008 a year eating out, which is about $250 a month. You can probably cut back somewhere.
(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Lisa Combs)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto/lisa combs)
With all of the options available for food delivery, including DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates and UberEats, the concept is tempting but can be budget-busting. Nishank Khanna, the CEO of Clarify Capital in New York City, says he generally avoids these services.
“Unless you’re placing a larger order for the office, it’s going to make an $8 order cost $18,” Khanna says.
He has a point. Prices for delivery tend to range from $4 to $8 per restaurant order for these services, and unless you want to feel like a jerk, you’ll probably feel obligated to pony up a 15 percent tip. And with some services, if you order during an extremely busy time — such as a Friday night — you may pay a slightly higher delivery fee. Plus, you could argue that you’re getting food that won’t be quite as hot and fresh as it would be in a restaurant.
Is it a big deal to use these services? Probably not, if it’s an occasional indulgence. But if you do it at least once a week, you could save a significant amount by cutting back.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
If you have a repair on the horizon, avoid rushing to the hardware store. “Don’t buy expensive tools that you think you’ll only use one time,” Andre says. “If it’s a tool for car repairs, AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts have free loaner tools available. For other types of tools, you can check LocalTools.org/find to find a free tool library in your area. You can also rent tools from Home Depot or other rental places.”
Of course, you could also try borrowing tools from a neighbor before making that purchase. We often try to save time by spending money, and we become so successful at it that we then forget we can also save money if we spend time.
(Erika Linn via AP)
(AP/Erika Linn) [See:
11 Expenses Destroying Your Budget.]
[See: 10 Foolproof Ways to Reach Your Money Goals.]
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5 Products and Services That Are a Waste of Money originally appeared on usnews.com