15 things you're paying too much for

Never over pay again. Cut your monthly budget drastically by slashing costs on these 15 common items.

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  • We work much too hard to waste money on things that won't get us ahead in life. Make your money work harder for you by not over paying for these 15 items.

  • 1. Food

  • There are so many ways to over pay for food, from eating out too often to not shopping sales at the grocery store. Your best bet for slashing your food budget is to eat at home more frequently, meal plan each week, and always shop with a list.

  • 2. Television

  • Thanks to the Internet, it's possible to meet your TV needs for next to nothing. You can save hundreds of dollars each year by ditching cable or dish and opting for subscription services such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Roku.

  • 3. Phones

  • Gone are the days when every house needed a landline. For many families, cell phone usage is the norm. Also, reevaluate your cell phone bill. Do you really need that much data each month? Do you really need a smartphone at all?

  • 4. Transportation

  • Leasing is the most expensive way to drive a vehicle, followed closely by buying new. Let someone else feel the sting of depreciation and purchase used.

  • 5. Clothing

  • Are your designer tastes tanking your monthly budget? Consider less expensive brands for trendy items or buy designer goods from resale sites such as Thred Up or Twice.

  • 6. Overdraft and other bank fees

  • Stay on top of your accounts so that you don't incur charges, and use ATMs within your network. Spending money for disorganization is the financial equivalent of throwing 20s in the toilet.

  • 7. Prepackaged items

  • Bottled water, individually packaged snacks, and single serve meals are bad for your pocketbook and bad for the planet. Purchase larger quantity containers and divide them up yourself.

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  • 8. Electronics

  • You could buy the latest and greatest cell phone, tablet and computer each month, but that doesn't mean you should. Tech is constantly changing and trying to keep up is a huge money drain.

  • 9. Interest

  • The inability to save for what you want will cost you big. Purchasing with credit cards and racking up interest charges are bad habits that need to be broken today.

  • 10. Gifts

  • Buy flowers at the grocery store instead of a florist, look for jewelry at membership clubs like Costco, and hand make cards, especially if they're coming from kids. Then, stand back and bask in the savings.

  • 11. Books

  • Your local library is free and waiting anxiously for your patronage. Instead of shelling out money for the latest best seller, get it for free.

  • 12. Car maintenance

  • Once you've bought that used car, it's worth it to maintain it well. However, dealerships are often the most expensive place to have work done. Take it to an independent shop instead.

  • 13. Cleaning items

  • It doesn't take a DIY enthusiast to make your own cleaning products for much less than the cost of store brands. You can clean just about anything with baking soda, vinegar and lemon.

  • 14. Music

  • You can get most of your music needs met with free streaming services such as Pandora. If you must have a specific song, buy the digital track instead of an entire album.

  • 15. Medications

  • When you're shopping for over-the-counter meds, opt for store brands with the same active ingredients as name brand options. Also, choose generic prescriptions when possible.

  • Living the lifestyle you deserve means never paying more than something is worth. It's hard to get ahead financially if you're always falling behind because of everyday purchases. Look at your monthly budget, or make one today if you don't have one. You're sure to find painless ways to cut back. Little changes in spending can mean big differences in your overall quality of life.

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Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys.

Website: http://moderatelycrunchy.blogspot.com

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