You don’t have to cancel your Amazon Prime or turn your vacation into a staycation in order to save money.
Here are some less painful things you can cut from your budget.
Resolve to stop buying your favorite piece of clothing in every color of the rainbow.
“People wear the color they like best,” said Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and author of “Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy,” in an email.
“The extra one in a different color is usually forgotten and a waste of money.”
Before you buy a blue sweatshirt to hang alongside those identical yellow and green ones that are already in your closet, think twice.
The cost of disposable products like paper plates, paper towels or floor sweeper pads adds up over time, and is especially noticeable if money is tight.
Washable products are generally cheaper than one-time-use products, according to Annette Economides, author of “America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money.”
To get started, opt for a hand towel instead of paper towels; instead of disposable sweeper pads, use a washable rag and a bucket of water.
Small daily expenses
Even small purchases can become expensive over time, says Ross Steinman, a professor of psychology at Widener University who studies consumer decision-making.
Take coffee, for example. “If you purchase two drinks from a Starbucks-type cafe every day, that’s approximately $8,” Steinman says. “Over the course of the year, it’s well over $2,000.”
For coffee, the cost-effective solution is to brew your daily cups at home. But look for other small expenses — gum or lottery tickets, for example — that could also be costing you.
If you don’t keep a close eye on your heater and air conditioner, money could be seeping out of your pocket.
To save money if you leave for the day, try using a programmable thermostat that lets you set the temperature remotely. That way, you can wait to turn on the heat until shortly before you get home, Steinman suggests.
Many of the apps you download on your phone, such as games or photo editors, have paid versions and options for in-app purchases. But spending even a few dollars here and there can add up.
Opt for the free version of the app, and limit in-app purchases. In most cases, the nonpaid version work just fine, as long as you’re content with sitting through a few advertisements.
Coupons are great, as long as they’re not encouraging unnecessary spending.
If a coupon or sale announcement spurs you to buy something you wouldn’t have otherwise, you’re not really saving money. A better approach? Find a coupon to lower the cost of an item you were already going to buy anyway.
Alcohol and sweets
Discretionary purchases like alcohol and sweets are also costly, so consume with caution.
Restaurant beverages in particular have a high markup, Yarrow says. She recommends skipping the coffee, iced tea or extra cocktail and having water instead.
But not necessarily all of the above…
If removing all of these things from your budget sounds too painful, choose a few to see how much money you can add to your pocket each month. And pat yourself on the back if you weren’t spending on some of these to begin with.
Regardless of which expenses you trim, now is a good time to hit reset on your budget.