Spend More Money on What You Actually Want

Americans aren’t spending money on what we want, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Instead, we’re paying more and more for things like groceries, utilities and healthcare and less on fun stuff like travel and eating out. Bummer.

While you can’t control the fluctuating costs of health insurance or natural gas, you can figure out some smart alternatives for expensive budget items. Free up more money in these four areas of your life:

1. Cable/Satellite—There’s no need to pay a big cable bill every month, thanks to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Roku and Sling TV. The ways to watch your favorite shows get better and more affordable every year. Figure out which options work best for you, then call the cable company to wish them a fond farewell.

2. Groceries—The same food can cost a lot more depending on the grocery store you’re in. We all know that. But a much simpler way to save is this: Make a meal plan. It’s easy and it works. Write down exactly what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and buy only what’s on the list. You’ll eliminate stress and stop wasting money.

3. Household Goods—When it comes to toiletries and paper products, go generic. No one will know you’ve switched to the store-brand paper plates and napkins. And no one will care! Stretch your money even further when it comes to shampoos and laundry soaps by buying in bulk. These items practically last forever anyway, so save some cash per unit and purchase larger amounts less frequently.

4. Healthcare—Never leave a gap in your family’s medical coverage. Ever. But if the cost of your monthly premium is on the rise, it’s okay to shop around for a better deal. If you decide on a lower-premium-higher-deductible plan, go ahead and save enough to cover the deductible in your emergency fund. Assume you will need it. Before you make any big healthcare decisions, talk to an insurance pro who can advise you based on your family’s specific needs.

If you save on these four areas of your budget, you’ll free up more money for everything from restaurants to retirement. You know, the fun stuff. Put yourself back in control of your money by making it work as hard as you do.

Create a budget that frees up money for things you actually want to do with EveryDollar. It’s free, and it only takes 10 minutes.