Extravagant Extras. Do you really need them?
HBO, AT&T, AOL.
Surprise! 58 channels, a dial tone and instant messenger are no longer free. Basic cable can run you $40 a month; the cost of just to have a cell phone is about $40 a month; and internet can range anywhere from $10 (crawling dial-up) to $40 (so-so broadband) a month. Some good advice, get an antenna, rely on your landline and check e-mail at your workplace during your lunch break.
Dining out is a common budget buster. Lunch should always be bagged, especially if you are really trying to save. Dinner out on the town should be reserved for special occasions or a once a week treat. If you must eat out, and have the choice between lunch and dinner, go with lunch. Dinner at a sit down restaurant can run you $15 to $25, almost double what you would normally spend on a light lunch. And as you know, pizza, burgers, and Friday night take-outs do add up.
New set of wheels.
Do you really need a brand new
Credit card debt is an extra that you really want to avoid. It is easy to charge everything, get the bill, see a huge total, and only pay the $20 minimum payment. But interest will follow you! Down the road, a $20 sweater could cost you upwards of $50, depending on how long it takes you to pay off your bill. Solid advice: choose paper of plastic every time.
If you are an "image is everything" kind of thinker, get ready to spend a lot of unnecessary money. Shop for clothes at your favorite stores off season for the best deals (that means "sale"); even better, check out high-quality consignment shops or stores such as Marshall's or TJ Maxx for name brands at half the price. Furniture is another big buck eater. Spruce up a flea market find or hunt for a sofa at Goodwill. Chances are your tastes will change, so why drop hundreds or thousands on trendy finds that you'll only junk when you buy a house? Only buy what you love or need.