June 19, 2014 at 12:42 PM ET
With spring cleaning well under way, why not add your finances to the task list? Just as you work to simplify inside and out, there are many small, hidden ways to clean up your spending with little hassle or fanfare. Cheapism.com identified 15 items you can just stop paying for and save.
1. Items you didn’t purchase. Do you check the receipt after every purchase? Just glancing over it may reveal scanned items you didn’t actually buy, or items you only bought once but were scanned multiple times. This happens fairly often and a quick check can save you bucks that add up.
2. Pest control. Infested with dreaded stink bugs, spiders or ants? These plagues afflict lots of us but not everyone pays for pest control. Save your money and combat the bugs on your own with help from websites like StopStinkBugs.com. Pinterest also offers lots of DIY tips for combating bugs. The results will be cheaper, less toxic, and most likely just as effective.
3. Yard work. Unless you have an ailment preventing you from tending to your own yard, get out there and do it yourself. This is a chore that comes with owning property and it’s wasteful to pay someone else to do it. You’ll protect your wallet and may even find you enjoy the exercise and being outdoors.
4. Cell phone insurance. Ask yourself how many times you’ve used your cell phone insurance and how many times it has come through for you. The answers may be a revelation. But if you feel more secure paying for cell phone insurance, get the right package — one that covers accidental damage, including from water.
5. Things you don’t use. We’re all guilty of this one: You make a purchase and never use the product or service. There are probably several things you can stop paying for right now, such as magazine subscription renewals, half of a double-large latte you didn’t finish, the coconut butter you thought would prove useful, and so on.
8. Computer software. Microsoft Office and other software programs cost a pretty penny, but there are lots of cheaper options, such as Open Office and Google Docs, to name just two. These can easily replace any software you’re paying for and they’re free. If you need something else, search online; you’ll be surprised by what’s out there at no cost.
6. Bank fees. A checking account should be free of fees, and if it isn’t, stash your money elsewhere. ATM fees are also completely avoidable — just use your bank’s ATM or go to the bank during open hours and work with a teller free of charge.
7. Utilities. When you’re not sitting in a room, turn off the light. Not quite ready to jump in the shower? Don’t turn on the water until you are. These are the basics, but many people forget these little things. There’s no reason to pay for utilities you’re not using.
9. Bottled water. Is there a bigger waste of money than paying for bottled water? We spend about 800 times more for bottled water than plain old tap water. And if you don’t like the taste of tap water, buy a filter — it’s still cheaper than the bottled variety.
10. Baby food. Do you know how easy it is to make baby food? You really don’t need the fancy gadgets on the market today. Just steam whatever you have, mash it up and there you go. So easy and far cheaper than commercial baby food — and you know exactly what’s in it.
11. Extended warranties. Most experts assert that extended warranties just aren’t worth the money. In fact, Consumer Reports notes that products like appliances rarely break down within the extended warranty period. Still not sure? Check out our recommendations on extended product warranties.
12. Landline phones and fax lines. If you have a cell phone, do you really need a landline, too? Most mobile plans cover long distance calling and offer unlimited minutes. And a fax line should be a no brainer. These days you can scan documents and email them, and some computers have faxing capabilities that don’t require a dedicated fax line.
13. Books and newspapers. If you have a smartphone or tablet, there are tons of apps, many free, that enable you to read the newspaper. Some ebooks are also free while others cost money, but less than what you’d pay for a paperback. If you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, the local library is the place to entertain yourself at no charge amidst shelves of books, newspapers and magazines.
14. Shipping rates. Sometimes there’s no choice but to pay those dreaded shipping fees, but other times there is. Many ecommerce vendors offer free shipping, typically with a minimum purchase. For details, check out FreeShipping.org, search online for free shipping codes, and read our shipping rates comparison. If you still can’t snag a free shipping deal, consider buying from a brick-and-mortar store.
15. Cable. This may make you cringe, but think about it. Cable TV is a luxury, and cutting the cord is a sure-fire way to dramatically reduce your monthly spending. If you can’t live without television, get your TV fix for less through sites like Hulu and Netflix.
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