Eliminate These Money Wasters From Your Budget


 
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By Jonathan Ford Hughes

Regardless of how much you make — and doctors tend to be among the nation’s highest earners — we’ve all had the experience of checking our bank statement a few days after payday and wondering where the money has gone. For many, recurring credit card charges slowly siphon away our cash and raise our cost of living. These seemingly innocuous charges can add up to a big chunk of change.

If you’re looking to stop the financial bleeding and lower your cost of living, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and scrutinize your credit card statements. The objective here is to root out any unnecessary or obscenely high recurring payments to lower your cost of living. Here are 5 expenses to watch out for:

Gym memberships (if you’re not going)

Each year around January, rock-bottom memberships entice everyone who wants a beach body to sign a gym contract. Planet Fitness in particular is notorious for undercutting competitors, with rates as low as $20 per month. Let’s say you signed up in January. It’s now June. How many times have you been to the gym per month since you signed on the dotted line?

Fitness is important. We get it, you signed up thinking that the commitment would force you to go. But has it? It might have only raised your cost of living. Buy some free weights, use some of our workouts for busy doctors, try a YouTube fitness channel, and save your cash.

TV service providers

When was the last time you looked at your cable or satellite bill? TV service providers are notorious for bundling desirable channels, such as HBO, with channels you’ve never heard of or would never dream of watching. How many of these are you saddled with, inflating your cost of living?

TV service providers often cave under pressure. Sometimes just calling and threatening to switch providers is enough to get them to lower your bill. Just be ready to jump ship if they can’t deliver what you want.

Cutting the cord is also a possibility, however, associated costs often pile up just as easily. Most of the premium channels offer subscription services and most of what’s available on network television you can watch on Hulu or Amazon Prime. Just keep in mind that you will be incurring more sneaky recurring credit card charges in exchange for others.

Smartphone applications

These can be especially painful. Some subscription-based apps offer the option of charging an annual fee at a discount. But once a year — after you’ve forgotten about the upcoming bill — your credit card gets shelled by a surprise charge. The worst part is, if you have a top-of-the-wallet card that you use for everything, these $100 charges might slip by you. You might not even be using the apps anymore and they’re still raising your cost of living.

You could look through your credit card statements to eliminate these, or you could look at your phone. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings > iTunes & App Stores > View Apple ID > Subscriptions. You can cancel any of your subscriptions from the Subscriptions menu. Follow these instructions if you use the Google Play Store.

Magazine subscriptions

You probably have a few of these. How many are you actually reading, and how many are piling up on the coffee table or getting chucked into the recycling? If you have Amazon Prime, then you have access to Prime Reading. Prime Reading will allow you to check out many popular magazine and book titles at no additional charge each month for when you do have the time and energy to read.

You might even be getting home delivery of a few medical journals. If you’re an employed physician, are copies available at the office? Why foot the bill if you don’t have to.

Clothes, food, coffee, wine, etc.

If there’s a high-end luxury good, there’s probably a curated delivery service for you. Chances are, some of these services are taking small bites out of your net worth each month. Personal shopper services can be especially nefarious. Forget to return what you don’t want within the grace period, and you could be looking at a pretty hefty charge for a bunch of clothes you can’t or won’t wear.

For the thrifty, use clothing services to build a look for you, then go out and source similar, cheaper items yourself. Try meal prepping one day a week to forgo the cost of a meal service. If it’s an exceptional cup of coffee you crave, most Whole Foods locations carry local roasters, so you can support a local business and enjoy a great cup. If it’s a great bottle of wine you’re after, see if your local bottle shop has a club with free delivery service and save on the shipping.

TL;DR

Don’t let recurring chargers drain away your wealth.

-Gym memberships: Are you actually using yours? Get rid of it, get some free weights, and do some at-home workouts.

-TV service: Cut the cord, or ask your cable company to lower the price. They often will.

-Smartphone applications: Check your phone to see if there are any annual subscriptions for apps you’re no longer using.

-Magazine subscriptions: Get rid of the ones you don’t read. Eliminate any medical journals you can read for free at work.

-Clothes, food, coffee, wine, etc: You’re often being charged a premium to have somebody curate the selections. Be your own curator.

 
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