15 Expenses You Think You Can’t Live Without…But Can

December 2, 2016

15 Expenses You Think You Can’t Live Without…But Can

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Do you have expenses that you’re convinced you need—and can’t live without?

If you are on a mission to pay off debt, live frugally, or meet another financial goal, you may have already eliminated some unnecessary expenses from your budget. And if you have, good job! But, could you take it a step further? Could you reduce expenses that you currently feel you need?

I asked a few personal finance and frugal-living bloggers and experts to share some expenses they once relied upon but have since eliminated from their spending—even though they can afford them. Their answers range from expenses that they “temporarily” removed to meet a financial goal to expenses they once valued but no longer do. All are expenses that they have learned to live without or to which they found cheaper alternatives.

Here are 15 expenses you think you can’t live without…but can.

1. Cable | Satellite

“With less expensive options like Netflix and Amazon Prime that have a great selection of programs, I don’t feel like I am missing out not having cable.” — Jessica Garbarino, Every Single Dollar

“We ditched it when we were paying off debt. We’re now debt free and have 5x’d our salary, and we still don’t have cable. It was the best decision ever! We get better TV with Netflix and Hulu and don’t plan on ever going back.”  — Rosemarie Groner, The Busy Budgeter

“I just couldn’t see any redeeming value in conventional television. There was nothing useful, positive, or valuable so why keep it? If I’m going to chill, then I prefer a good book or a movie download.” — Todd Tresidder, Financial Mentor

“We broke up with our satellite company in 2011. Though we could afford the $70/month, we weren’t watching enough of the channels to make it worth the monthly fee. Now we have Netflix and Hulu, both for less than $20/month.” — Kecia Hambrick, Online Income Mom

2. TV (As in none at all)

“Haven’t had one in years and get entertainment from my computer.” — Pauline Paquin, Reach Financial Independence

We stopped paying for any form of TV. We don’t have cable, satellite, Netflix, Hulu, or anything else. It saves us money and time. We are super happy too!” — Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, Making Sense of Cents

“I cancelled my Netflix subscription, even though at $8 a month I could have easily kept paying for it. But I’ve since freed up a lot of my time that used to be consumed by TV shows (that I can usually watch for free if I really want to) and saved myself some money in the process.” — Leah Davis, The Sweetest Way

3. Home Phone | Internet

“We get so much more from a smartphone, and it travels with us.” — Doug Nordman, The Military Guide

“We stopped paying for internet and use our phones or coffee shops instead.” — Julie, Millennial Boss

4. Car Payments

“We totally did away with them, and we will only pay cash for cars now. I still drive a beat up 2004 Dodge Durango. It is old, but I am more than content. I love not having a big payment.”  — Rebecca Wolfe, Frame to Freedom

5. Pricey Coffee

I used to spend $5 every single morning on coffee. Since I bought a used espresso machine for $15, I’ve saved thousands. I still buy premium coffee to use in the machine, but I’d estimate I spend $20/mth now versus over $140/mth.” — Emma Healey, Money Can Buy Me Happiness

“Making coffee/latte’s at home saves us $470 per person annually. We can afford it; we just choose not to.” — Cassie Seneff Michael, The Thrifty Couple

6. Eating Out

“We used to eat out each week as a family tradition, it was a fun meal but realized that it was adding up to a lot of money. At about $40 a pop, it adds up to more than $2,000 a year. We still eat out once a week as a family but at least once or twice a month, we picnic or take our lunch to wherever the family activity takes us. Savings…a little over $500 a year with one less restaurant stop per month.” — Joseph Hogue, Peer Finance 101

“I rarely eat out anymore. I bought an Instant Pot pressure cooker which helps me to make good food really quick! There is no point in eating out when I can make it faster (and better!) at home.” — Jenny Kerr, The Jenny Pincher

“Takeout food is more expensive, higher in calories and less nutritious than anything you can make at home.” — Teresa Mears, Living on the Cheap

“I seldom eat out and when I do I go to places that serve the food I cannot cook.” — Marguerite Tennier, Make Sense of Life

“I decided to stop ordering drinks/sodas with my meals when I go out to eat. It saves me about five to seven dollars a week, which is over $300 per year in savings. Basically, ordering soda at restaurants is for suckers. 🙂 ” — Jeff Proctor, VTX Capital

7. Alcohol

“There is a big drinking culture here in the UK, but we stopped buying beer, wine, and spirits at the supermarket full stop when we adopted a frugal lifestyle to pay down debt nine years ago. Once you’ve stopped doing that it’s difficult to start again. Not only does it become quickly apparent that meals, home movies, etc., are just as good without a glass in your hand, but you also realize how much money you save! Now, the only booze I buy is cheap wine for crockpot casseroles.” — Karyn Fleeting, Miss Thrifty

8. Bottled Water

“We used to drink 100% bottled water. We cut out this unneeded expense months ago to save money. Now we have a filter that cost $50, and we’re saving hundreds a month. May seem very basic and small, but it’s saving us a lot.” — John Rampton, Due.com

9. Books

I no longer buy new books. Thrift stores everywhere are full of books, and it only ever takes a couple months for new releases to start showing up there too.” — Carly Campbell, Carly on Purpose

“I stopped buying books – my local public library has 90% of the books I want.” — Marguerite Tennier, Make Sense of Life

10. Magazines | Subscriptions

I get magazines through our local library. Besides the ones they subscribe to and you can check out, there’s also a swap section & a bunch you can get electronically.” — Sherrill St. Germain, The FI Side

“I canceled all paid services for music, magazines, and newspapers as well.” — Lisa Hebert, Money Minded Mom

11. Gym Memberships

“I used to pay $30 per month for a gym membership, but I decided to join a free community gym instead. It’s close to home and has all the equipment that I need, including a pool. I love being able to get in shape for free.” — Eden Ashley, Mint Notion

12. Haircuts

“It’s been over 14 years since my last one.” — Doug Nordman, The Military Guide

We used to pay over $400 a year for haircuts, but we’ve stopped. Neither hubs or I have been to a hair salon for over two years. It was never due to not being able to afford it, but we weren’t thrilled with the results we were getting – so we just stopped and do them at home.” — Heather Jo Whetham-Fergen, HoJo’s Life Adventures

“I used to get my hair highlighted and cut in a salon every few weeks. I completely stopped going to the salon, even though it wasn’t a really expensive one in the first place. My mom now trims my hair, and my hair color is completely natural. This saves me both time and money!” — Amanda, Centsibly Rich

We stopped going to the regular salon; boys (including Dad) get cuts at home and girls go to beauty college.” — Cassie Seneff Michael, The Thrifty Couple

13. Clothing

“I stopped buying magazines and clothes, except for what I absolutely need.” — Marguerite Tennier, Make Sense of Life

“Business clothing like suits, dress shirts, ties, and vests. I no longer need to wear those items, and I’m much happier in surf wear from Goodwill.” — Doug Nordman, The Military Guide

14. Services You Can Do On Your Own

“Car washes. I do it myself now!” — Rachel Hernandez, Adventures in Mobile Homes

“We gave up a biweekly cleaning service. Our roommates were letting things go because they knew that it would be cleaned up in 2 weeks, but our housekeeper was charging a premium for their ick factor. So my husband and I agreed to use the $1750+ a year on travel or fun stuff instead.” — Crystal Stemberger, Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

15. Conveniences While Travelling

“Checked bags. I can travel for months with a carry-on, my stuff doesn’t get lost, and I don’t waste time waiting for it at the airport.” — Pauline Paquin, Reach Financial Independence

“We military retirees try to fly military Space A aircraft whenever we can. We can afford to fly commercial and even first class, but we just don’t enjoy the same value (and camaraderie) that we get from Space A.” — Doug Nordman, The Military Guide

Related Reading: How to Squeeze $500 Out of Your Budget, How to Save $1000 Quickly

You never realize that you can live without something that you once thought was a necessity—until you do. I challenge and encourage you to review some of these expenses and others you think you can’t live without and to pick one or two to eliminate or cut back on.

If these money bloggers, experts, and professionals can live without these expenses, maybe you could too?

For more ideas and tips to help you save money, grab the FREE download, 51 Ways You Can Save Money Every Day

What do you think? Can you do without some of these expenses? Are there other expenses you could eliminate?

Are you trying to cut back on expenses? Even if you're down to the basics, there may be some spending you can eliminate from your budget.