10 things you’re paying for that you probably shouldn’t be

Cable TV

 television tv entertainment cable

Eighty-three percent of US households have a cable subscription, which costs them about $90 a month on average. Let’s be real here – you probably don’t need cable. I used to have cable, and it was most Law & Order reruns and Geico commercials. Zzzzzzzzz.

The average monthly cost for broadband internet is $48, and you can subscribe to Netflix for less than $10. That means you could save $500 a year by cutting the cable, and still have more TV than you could ever hope to watch. Cut the cord.

New clothing

I like clothing as much as the next person (unless the next person is my husband, in which case I like clothing way more than the next person). But the truth is that you don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy new clothing. There are a million great thrift stores where you can buy quality second hand clothing for very little money, and I have found that I can get by with far fewer clothes than I used to believe possible, so I’m sure you can too.

 bottle water plastic waste

Bottled water

Seriously, seriously, you do not need to be spending money on bottled water. It’s bad for the planet, and it’s stupid expensive. Buy a water filter for your faucet, or a filter jug, and a nice, reusable glass bottle, and use that. If you spend $1 a day on bottled water, switching to a jug filter and your own bottle could save you $267 in the first year, and $327 every year after that ($20 for the bottle, $30 for the jug, $48 for a year of filters) Save money, save the planet, be a hero.

Late fees

Life is full of late fees – on your bank account, your utilities, your Redbox rental, your library books – and they are 100% avoidable. This is really not rocket science, just pay/return/do stuff on time. If you have trouble remembering when things are due, may I suggest using a pen and a notebook? Or your phone’s reminder function? Or a particularly gifted parrot? Be creative, and remember that there is no reason to pay late fees.

Bank fees

There are a lot of banks out there with a lot of account options, and if you are currently spending any money on bank fees, you really shouldn’t be. Scrutinize your bank statement, and if you are paying fees, consider switching (compare low- and no-fee options here). Switching can be expensive, but the savings can be huge over time – if you pay $10 a month in fees, you could save $120 a year.

Books, e-books and audio books

I love books, and I love reading, but honestly, there’s not really any need to pay for them these days. Your local library, which is free (unless you pay late fees, see above), is full of books that you can just take home and read whenever you like. Most libraries also have big e-book banks, and a ton of DVDs, and audiobooks. Plus, using your local library is good for the library system, which needs to show it has users to get funding. If you buy two books a month, you could save around $240 a year.


Music is another thing that I love that I just won’t spend money on anymore. Pandora is free with ads, or unlimited and add free for $4.99. There’s also Spotify, and a million others (well, not a million, exactly, but you get my point). You really don’t have to pay for the music you love. If you want to support your beloved artists, splash out on concert tickets. They get more of the proceeds, experiences are more valuable than possessions, and its cheaper than buying music every few days.

 car vehicle motor automobile

A car

OK, for some people, a car is definitely a necessity. I get that. But, consider this. For someone who drives 15,000 miles a year and owns a sedan, the average cost of owning that car is $9,122 a year. Do you really need a car? Could you bike to work, or take a train or bus, or get a ride with someone else and give them $20 a week for gas (that’s $1000 a year, if you take a 2 week vacation)?

I haven’t owned a car for five years now. I get by with a bike, public transit, and using a car share for the times I really need a vehicle (I use Enterprise Car Share, but I used Zipcar for years). I probably spend around $2000 a year on transport (excluding flights – I love to travel), so I have $7,000 more walking around money than the average American. Think about it.


Personally, I couldn’t live without wi-fi. But I work from home, so if I had no wi-fi I’d be sad and unemployed. Plus I play online games and stream TV. So, for me, wi-fi is a necessity. But, that said, I probably could get by without it. Most of the cafes in the city have free wi-fi, which you can use for hours for the price of a cup of coffee if you’re shameless. There is also wi-fi at the library. Depending on your lifestyle, you may be able to live a home broadband free lifestyle. And at $48 a month, you would save $576 a year.


This is a classic one, but so true. Paying for coffee or tea from a place like Starbucks is crazy. You can make it at home for pennies. You can put it in a giant thermos and carry it around with you all day. If you have a daily latte habit, you could save $795a year by choosing to home brew ($3 a latte, weekends excluded).