by Lyle Daly | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Jan. 6, 2020
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Here's how you can tighten up your budget this year.
If one of your New Year's resolutions is to save more money, then seeing where you can reduce your spending is a great place to start. Most consumers, including those who aren't big spenders, have at least a couple expenses that they could do without.
Every dollar counts when it comes to your expenses, as even trimming a small amount per month can save you hundreds of dollars per year. To give you ideas on where you can save, here are some common expenses that you could and should eliminate.
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As exciting as it is to get the newest smartphone every year, it's not a good decision to finance a phone on a payment plan. You're taking on an extra monthly bill for a device that you don't need.
The smarter approach is to pay for your phone upfront and keep it for as long as it's working well. If having the latest model is that important to you, then you should make that one of your savings goals and put away enough each month that you can pay for it in full.
Bank fees may not be super expensive, but if you're paying them on a regular basis, they can add up. And with all the great bank account options available, there's no reason to pay any of them.
There are plenty of banks that won't charge you a monthly maintenance fee, regardless of how much you have in your account. You can find a bank that either reimburses ATM fees or has a large network of ATMs for you to use. The other common bank fee is an overdraft fee, but you can avoid that by keeping track of your balance or setting up overdraft protection.
Odds are you have a cell phone that does everything your home phone does and much more. If you're still paying for home phone service, it's time to pull the plug.
A storage unit can be useful in situations where you're short on space and need somewhere to leave some of your belongings, but you should only view it as a temporary solution.
If you have property sitting in storage for months or years, you should start working on a plan to get it out of there. That could mean selling your stuff, finding a place in your home to put it, or a combination of the two. But it doesn't make sense to pay hundreds or thousands per year to store things you're not using.
Gone are the days when you needed cable to watch the best shows. These days, there's plenty of quality content available through the growing number of streaming services.
And while it used to be challenging to watch live TV or sports without cable, that has changed as well. Several online services offer channel packages with live TV, and if you're a big sports fan, most of the major sports leagues also offer online subscription packages to watch their games.
Subscription services can be valuable if you're using them -- I did just mention the benefits of entertainment subscriptions, after all. The issue is that it's easy to forget to cancel a service you're not using, or to hang on to one that you only use every so often.
With these types of services, the smart approach is to be ruthless. If it's not something you use often, cut it. Save yourself the money for the time being, and if you decide you need it later, you can reactivate your subscription.
There's nothing wrong with paying an annual fee for a credit card, but if you have multiple cards with fees, you should probably choose only the one that provides you with the most value. Unless you're a travel rewards enthusiast and you spend a lot of money on your credit cards, it's difficult to carry several cards with fees and get your money's worth from all of them.
You don't need to make big, sweeping changes to your life to save more money every month. All of the expenses on this list are things that you can cut without reducing your quality of life.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
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