Stop Paying for These Things to Save Money Now

Furniture store owner receives contactless payment due to social distancing

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Furniture store owner receives contactless payment due to social distancing
Kemal Yildirim/istockphoto
Mowing the Lawn
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No-ATM-Fee Accounts

Bank Fees

A checking account should be free of fees. If it isn't, stash your money elsewhere. ATM fees are also completely avoidable: Just use your own bank's ATM — or go cashless, which many consumers and businesses have chosen to do since the pandemic.

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Baby Food

Baby Food

Homemade baby food is far cheaper than commercial baby food — and you know exactly what's in it. You don't need a gadget designed specifically for making baby food. Just boil or steam whatever produce is in the fridge and blend or mash it up. You may not feel like you have the time or energy while caring for an infant, but try making a big batch and freezing single servings in an ice tray. You may be surprised how easy it is.

Computer Software

Computer Software

Many software programs cost a pretty penny, but there are often open-source alternatives. Rather than keep paying for subscriptions, search online for free software. There are lots of options available at no cost.

Extended Warranties
Jorge Villalba/istockphoto


Sometimes there's no choice but to pay for shipping, but many online stores offer it free, typically with a minimum purchase. You can also research online for free-shipping codes before completing a purchase. If you still can't snag a deal, weigh whether you can save a few bucks (and get the product sooner) by selecting in-store pickup.

Related: Insider Tips and Secrets for Frugal Online Shopping

pest control
Group4 Studio/istockphoto

Pest Control

Infested with dreaded stinkbugs, spiders, or ants? Save money by forgoing commercial pest control and combatting the bugs using natural remedies. The results can be cheaper, less toxic, and just as effective.

Erroneous Charges
Pollyana Ventura/istockphoto

Erroneous Charges

Be sure to review receipts after each purchase. You may spot items that were inadvertently scanned twice, savings or coupons that weren't credited, or prices that are just plain wrong. Erroneous overcharges happen, so it pays to check — especially before you leave the store or the parking lot.

Warehouse Club Membership Fees

Warehouse Club Membership Fees

Warehouse club membership has its perks, but you don't have to join to buy everything sold by Costco and Sam's Club. For one thing, anyone can shop online without being a member (although a nonmember surcharge may apply), the pharmacies are open to non-members, and in many states alcohol can be purchased without paying the membership fee.

Bottled Water
Michael Blann/istockphoto

Bottled Water

Is there a bigger waste of money than bottled water? Consumers spend about 800 times more for it than plain old tap water. Even a filter is cheaper than plastic bottles over the long term.

PayPal Fees

PayPal Fees

PayPal users can avoid fees by requesting money using the "Friends and Family" option. Be aware, however, that a fee-free transaction requires a linked bank account or a PayPal balance. And small businesses found using the feature for commercial purposes may have their accounts suspended. 

Unplug All Unnecessary Electronics
Morning Lattes

Morning Lattes

This is has become a personal-finance platitude, but if you're still making a daily stop at Dunkin' or Starbucks, you can pocket a Hamilton or two each week by getting out of the habit. Instead of hitting the drive-thru on the way to work, buy a durable commuter mug and brew your own cup of joe at home before heading out the door each day.

Related: How to Satisfy Your $5 Starbucks Habit at Home

Cell Phone Insurance

Cellphone Insurance

These policies may seem a good idea (and fairly inexpensive), but chances are you'll never use the insurance — and if you do, a hefty deductible may apply. If paying for phone insurance makes you feel more secure, shop around and get the right package — one that covers accidental damage, including from water. Otherwise, this is an expense you can avoid.

Quiet cordless telephone


If you have a cellphone, do you really need a landline? Most mobile plans cover long-distance calling, offer unlimited minutes, and include a fee for Enhanced 911 service — and emergency calls were the only real reason to have a landline anymore. Your landline phone isn't an amenity; it's obsolete.

Dryer Balls

Fabric Softener

Skip the fabric softener as well as the dryer sheets. Reusable dryer balls ($9 on Amazon) are better for the environment and save money. Even vinegar (with some essential oil) makes fabric softer for less. Want to save even more? Try drying your clothes on a line outside.

Related: Do Wool Dryer Balls Really Work as Well as Dryer Sheets?


Apps and In-App Purchases

Many popular apps offer a free version that's funded by advertising. But in addition to ads, users often are subjected to offers for in-app purchases, especially in games. Resist the urge to unlock that extra feature. It's useless the moment you move on to the next trendy game.

Print Newspapers and Books

Print Newspapers and Books

Many free apps let users read the paper on a tablet or smartphone at no charge. Countless ebooks are also free — and eco-friendly. Although others cost money, the price is typically less than the cost of a paperback. For readers who prefer paper, the local library is the place to seek out information and entertainment.

Streaming Services

Cable TV

Cable TV is a luxury, and cutting the cord promises to reduce monthlyspending dramatically. If you can't live without TV, get your fix for less with the likes of Netflix and Hulu, as well as newcomers such as Disney+ and HBO Max. 


Streaming Services

After quitting cable, it's easy to turn around and spend that money subscribing to every streaming service out there. Avoid racking up the equivalent of a cable bill — or more — by taking advantage of free channels.

Things You Don't Use
5 second Studio/shutterstock

Things You Don't Use

We're all guilty of this one: buying things you never end up using. You probably own plenty of products you shouldn't have bought in the first place — unopened beauty supplies, specialty kitchen tools, and so on. Often you know in your gut when something's just going to collect dust.

15 Indoor Workouts That Don't Require a Gym


Working out at home is an easy way to stay in shape and ditch the gym, along with the hefty monthly membership fee.

Exercise Gadgets
Best for Active Lifestyles: Chicago


Instead of shelling out tons of cash for gas every month, look for alternative and free (or cheap) means of transportation. Depending on where you live and whether you need to go to an office to work, public transportation may be an option. (Working from home is a perk more employers have made permanent since the pandemic.) In warmer months, commuters can ride a bike to work. 

Fast Food
Brand Names
Disposable Razors

Disposable Razors

Plastic razors not only dull quickly but add to the landfill. Get a quality razor and buy the blades alone for less.

Fresh Vegetables

Fresh Vegetables

Instead of venturing to the store and paying supermarket prices, which cover all the logistics of getting fresh vegetables to the shelves, buy some cheap packets of seeds and start a garden, or use a starter kit. Growing your own takes more time, but the bounty could save you a bundle at the grocery store.

Related: Tips to Keep Gardening Dirt Cheap

Paper Towels
Pre-Sliced Food

Precut Food

While each slice of cheese might be the perfect thickness, that convenience costs extra. Buy a block of cheese or meat and slice it yourself. The same goes for precut fruit and vegetables. They may save a few minutes in the kitchen, but you can save money if you slice and dice the produce yourself. It will also stay fresh longer.



While a storage space can make sense when you're in the process of moving, renting a space monthly suggests you need to declutter. Even a 5-by-5 unit can cost more than $50 a month. Consider how quickly what you're paying will equal the value of what you're storing, and you may be motivated to take a weekend to throw a yard sale, take some old items to Goodwill, or post on eBay or other online marketplaces such as OfferUp, VarageSale, and Craigslist.

Related: Home Organization Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

Brand-Name Prescriptions
Rowan Jordan/istockphoto

Brand-Name Prescriptions

Before you get an expensive prescription filled, especially if your insurance won't pay the full amount, talk to your doctor about generic options. While your doctor may have a reason to opt for one medication over another, the generic version is often interchangeable with its pricey counterpart, so don't be afraid to ask. 

Greeting Cards

Greeting Cards

Some are beautiful, others offer a laugh — and almost all end up in the trash, quickly forgotten. Even when you spend time picking one out, it's not the most personal or thoughtful gift. Send an ecard instead, many of which are free, or better yet make a card yourself. 

Luggage Fees

Baggage Fees

Skip the hefty baggage fees at the airport and fly with an airline that allots free checked luggage. Or learn to pack light and bring only a carry-on. Tips include rolling clothes instead of folding, and choosing soft-sided luggage that can be squeezed into a baggage sizer or overhead bin.

Convenience Foods

Convenience Foods

While a frozen pizza or a heat-and-eat meal will get dinner on the table when you're overwhelmed, making a list of quick and easy recipes you can whip up in the same length of time is not only doable, it will save your family from eating processed foods. Consider making some big-batch meals so you always have something on hand and have to cook only once. 

Sales Tax

Sales Tax

While avoiding sales tax all the time is impossible, there are times when you can shop tax-free. Many states offer tax holidays at least once a year.

Discover more budget-friendly personal finance advice right here.