If you find that your income doesn’t cover your expenses month after month it’s time to take a look at your expenses and decide which of those “necessities” in your monthly budget are actually just luxuries.
oftentimes people get accustomed to a certain way of life as they grow up in the homes of their parents and as more and more kids grow up and leave the house to either go to college or work on their own they seem to have trouble seeing the difference between necessities and luxuries.
When they lived at home they were used to a cell phone, land line, internet, cable TV, Netflix, and many other types of monthly services that seemed like a necessity at the time simply because they were available and it was hard to think of life without them. What people fail to see is that their parents worked their entire lives to be able to provide all of those luxuries and in fact there may have been months where even their parents came up short when they might have needed additional help from a online cash advance or online payday loan. When you compare those monthly expenses with having food to eat, a place to live, electricity, and gas to heat your home it then becomes easier to discern between luxuries and actual necessities.
As you look over your personal finances and try to decide what you can do without, here is a list of the most common luxuries that are posing as necessities.
Cable or Satellite Expense- While cable television seems commonplace in so many homes throughout the country, it’s important to remember that being able to sit down at the end of the day and watch your favorite television program is a luxury and not a necessity. If you aren’t able to pay your bills and are amassing credit card debt to be able to pay your power and your cable bill, it’s time to check your priorities. Most service providers get you in at a introductory rate and then jack up your bill to a ridiculous amount. So while your bill might start off at $19.99 a month, by the time you add high definition an extra cable box etc… your bill could be well over $100.00 PER MONTH.
Internet- In addition to cable, internet is another one of those services that seems like it should be commonplace in any household. But again, if you can’t pay your power bills then there is no need to have internet. As an alternative to having the internet in your house; most city libraries, coffee shops and other restaurants offer free wifi. In addition to those options, most smart phones have internet and if you have an iPhone or Android based phone you can actually set those devices up as mobile wifi hotspots so that you can use the internet you’re already paying for rather than paying for internet on your phone as well as your home. If neither of those options sounds convenient, you can also look into splitting the cost of internet with a neighbor. While this option works best for people living in apartments or condos there are actually long distance routers that might be worth investing in if you live in a traditional neighborhood.
Landline Phone Bills- Most young people moving out can’t remember the last time they used a land line phone but sometimes, just because their parents have one, or one is bundled along with their internet or cable package they get one anyway. While this isn’t a huge expense in itself (usually $15-$35) it can definitely add up when combined with some of the other monthly expense on this list. In addition to the $15-$35 expense you would be shocked at how many old school telephone companies will try to set you up on an out dated plan that charged extra for long distance, caller ID and other features that are free on most cell or voip phone options.
Xbox Live and Gaming Networks- While gaming is a nice way to get away from things, the monthly membership to some of these gaming networks can add up fast. With the monthly fees in addition to in game purchases they can take a big chunk out of your monthly paychecks. In addition to all of those reasons there are definitely more productive things that you can be doing with your time to help improve your situation like studying if you’re a student or taking on a second job.
Netflix, HuluPlus- Services like these can actually be a great resource if you’re looking to cut the cord with your cable or satellite provider but if you are adding them on top of your normal cable provider the $4.99-$47.99 that they charge for their plans could definitely go towards something more essential. Also, if you decide to go the route of cutting the cord with your cable company, understand that you will need internet to take advantage of the instant streaming features that are available with these services.
Unnecessary Phone Plan Expenses- When it comes to phone plans, whether it’s a cell phone or a landline phone companies have a way of sneaking in hidden expenses. In addition to looking for hidden expense it’s also good to assess your phone plan every couple of months and confirm that you still have the right plan for your needs. Oftentimes people will be paying for features such as text messaging, picture messaging, or long distance when it might be included in a new version of the plan they already have. Also, people usually over estimate how many minutes they might need on their plan they might have a 750 minute plan and only use 200 or 300 minutes. By assessing your plan each month or even every couple of months to see your usage you can save quite a bit of money each year.
Gym Memberships- This is one of those expenses that is hard to tell people to give up, simply because the gym can be a great release for people to eliminate stress while improving your health. If you currently have a gym membership it’s important to make sure you use it, if you are using multiple times a week then see if there is any way you can get a lower fee. Just like with cable, gyms are notorious for offering a low introductory rate and then jacking up the fees. Also, if you’re not using the pass multiple times a week, look into getting rid of that gym pass. Also, there are cheaper alternatives, running is free, there are home workout programs that you can find online for free that require only your body weight and most community centers, colleges and even high schools have times when you can access their gym facilities.
Satellite Radio, Spotify, or Other Music Subscriptions- In addition to gaming and video membership there are also several options for paid music subscriptions. While these expenses seem minimal they are difficult to justify if you are having trouble paying your bills. These plans range anywhere from $10-$20 per month and when combined with Cable, Cell Phone, Netflix and other monthly expenses they can take out a considerable chunk of each of your paychecks.
While these are the most common expenses that people seem to take on without thinking twice about it there are many more out there. The biggest key to improving your financial situation is to eliminate as many costs as possible and work towards building up your three to six month savings. As you work toward improving your situation keep in mind that some months you will still come up short, if you find that being the case stop by one of your local Check City offices to see how we can help you out with a Cash Advance or a Short Term Loan.