You don’t need us to tell you that right now, it’s smart to function on a leaner, meaner budget. But it’s hard to do that when you’re oblivious to where all your cash goes. Well, stop scratching your head, and consult this list of innocent little expenses that may be siphoning off your bottom line.
1. Eating out. Catching up with friends over dinner is something no girl should have to give up. But you can enjoy the fun vibe of a restaurant without racking up a big bill by eating bar food instead of pricey entrées. Start a dinner club with friends and eat for amazing meals for the price of one.
2. IRS withholdings. Many people have money withheld from their paychecks in the hopes of getting a fat refund. But doing that is like giving the government an interest-free loan. Instead, change your W4 filing—just ask your employer for a new form—so that you get as much money as possible up front. Then discipline yourself to put that portion in the bank, where you’ll earn interest.
2. Dry cleaning. Dropping off your nice clothes at the cleaners can cost $5 or more per item…and that adds up. But thanks to such products as Tide Total Care and Dryel, you can give TLC to your finer duds while using your home washing machine and dryer. They both cost under $15, will clean at least 16 garments, and can be found at your local drugstore. While you’re there cash in on these great deals.
4. Movie rentals. Unless you’re pulling in a Jolie-Pitt–size salary, it’s a good idea to sign up with an online movie-rental company, such as Netflix. For $4.99, you can get two rentals a month, which is about what it costs you to check out just one flick at your local movie store. Or opt for the $8.99 plan and get unlimited rentals.
5. Manicures. Let’s do some grooming math: Getting a mani once a week can add up to $60 a month. That’s $720 a year! Stretch your nail maintenance to every two to three weeks by picking only light-colored polishes—when they chip, it’s not as noticeable.