20 Things Gen Y Needs To Stop Spending Money On

12/11/13 10:26AM EST

20 Things Gen Y Needs to Stop Spending Money On 20 Things Gen Y Needs To Stop Spending Money On

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Think about your purchases in the last month. Try to make a quick tally in your head of where your money goes. The biggest chunk probably went toward rent, with some smaller amounts going toward other essential items like utilities, groceries and transportation. Everything else – from morning coffee to bank fees – is nonessential.

How much money have you spent recently on nonessential items? If you’re around 19 to 36 years old and part of Generation Y, there’s a good chance your answer is along the lines of “Too much” or “More than I can afford.”

We’ve all spent money we shouldn’t have, but now is as good a time as any to cut down on nonessential spending. Here are 20 things you should stop spending money on today:

1. Coffee

Some millennials practically breathe coffee. But whether you’re grabbing a $1 cup on your way to class or spending $5 at Starbucks on your lunch break, coffee is just plain overpriced. Switch over to the free coffee offered at your office, or invest in a single-cup coffee maker for your home. Cheap ones start around $20 and will pay for themselves within the first month.

2. Brunch

Groceries may be essential, but dining out is not. Enjoy a Sunday brunch after a night of debauchery? Homemade pancakes will cure your hangover just the same. Friday dinner? Turn cooking into a fun activity with friends. The average American spent $2,171 on food for the home in 2011 and almost as much – $2,058 – on dining out. Try spending a little more on groceries and a lot less on dining out.

3. Nights Out

Like food, drinks provide an easy way to overspend. You might be tempted to open a tab at the beginning of the night and lose track of just how much you’re spending. Instead, decide beforehand how much you’re willing to fork over. Then bring that amount of cash with you and pay for each drink as you order it. That way, you won’t have any surprises at the end of the night. And don’t forget about pregaming. A shot of vodka will cost a lot less if you drink it at home.

4. Subscriptions and Memberships

Remember Zumba, and how big it was a few years ago? Now it’s been replaced with CrossFit and spin class. These are the Richard Simmons and jazzercise of Gen Y. Skip the workout crazes and exercise on your own. While you’re at it, cancel any other subscriptions you don’t regularly use, like for magazines and websites.

5. Manicures and Cosmetics

It’s fine to splurge here and there on your appearance, especially if you’re trying to build a professional image, but it’s important to keep those weekly manicure and wax appointments in check. These are things you can usually do at home for almost no money.

6. Diet Pills

Generation Y is all about instant gratification, and that includes fast weight loss. Millennials are big spenders when it comes to diet pills, meal replacers and other weight loss products. While the worth of these products will certainly vary by person, the items are often a pricy waste.

7. Delivery Fees

Online shopping doesn’t have to come with shipping charges. Most stores offer free shipping when you spend a certain amount. But don’t spend extra just to avoid shipping costs. Instead, put off your purchase for a while until you need something else also. Avoid delivery fees for food, too. If you’re splurging on take-out, pick up your food at the restaurant. This can save you a few dollars on the delivery fee and a few more on the tip.

8. Cable Television

Paying for cable is fine, but only if you use it and can afford it. Many millennials have replaced their cable subscriptions with Netflix and Hulu Plus. These monthly subscription sites are much cheaper and provide access to enough shows to satisfy casual television fans.

9. Media

You don’t need to shell out a lot of cash to enjoy new books, music and movies. Your local library can often provide you with all three, free of charge. If that fails, look for cheap ways to access media. You can get started by using Spotify for music and Netflix and Redbox for movies.

10. Gas

Transportation is a necessity, but it doesn’t have to cost you so much. Bicycles are making a comeback with this generation, and they’re a great way to save some cash and the planet. If biking’s not your style, look into public transit or ask coworkers if they want to carpool.

11. Buyer’s Remorse Items

Keep your receipts for a while. You may decide you don’t want that new shirt or the latest gadget, after all. Instead of counting it as a loss, bring it back to the store for a refund or exchange.

12. Phone Plans

Take a look at what’s included on your phone bill. You may be paying for things like unlimited texting and data. Figure out how much you actually use each month and find out if you can downgrade your plan while still covering your needs.

13. Late Fees

Late fees are a complete waste of your hard-earned money. You’re paying without getting anything in return. Avoid late fees on bills by setting up automatic bill payments or by creating monthly reminders on your phone.

14. Bank Fees

Like late fees, most bank fees are completely avoidable. It might be tempting to get $20 out of the ATM at the bar, but you’re wasting money on that hefty service fee. Plan to to the bank rather than an ATM when you need cash. Also check your balance frequently to avoid overdraft fees and ask how you can avoid monthly service charges.

15. Interest

If you have no debt, keep up the good work. Continue paying bills in full to avoid interest altogether. But most people in Generation Y have some form of debt, whether it’s a credit card balance, a mortgage or student loans. If you already have debt, you may still be able to spend less on interest. Often, you can simply call up your creditors and ask if you’re eligible for lower interest rates. For major debts like mortgages, you can also look into refinancing or debt consolidation programs. Keep in mind you’ll be more likely to have your interest rates reduced if you have a pattern of on-time bill payments.

16. Gray Charges

Gone are the days of balancing a checkbook and automatically keeping track of every penny that leaves your account. But it’s still a good idea to know exactly where your money goes. Be on the lookout for “gray charges” on your credit card statements. These are charges that companies slip onto your bill each month in hopes that you won’t realize or won’t care. More than a third of debit and credit card users are subjected to such charges. They can include things like automatic renewals you didn’t want, free trials that turned into paid memberships, and miscellaneous service fees you didn’t realize you agreed to. If you find gray charges on your statement, call the retailer and ask for them to be cancelled.

17. Short-Term Purchases

This one is counterintuitive for some people, but you can actually spend more now to save in the future. If you have to pay for parking every day, for example, paying for a full month will give you big savings over paying for each day individually. Likewise, if you take the bus or train every day, get a monthly pass. Think of it as buying in bulk.

18. Brand names

Brand name products aren’t usually better than those from store brands. It’s OK to buy no-name food, home goods and clothes. They’re usually comparable in quality and come with a much lower price tag.

19. Movie Theater Snacks

Don’t do it! We all know how overpriced they are, and you can enjoy the movie without $10 popcorn.

20. Impulse Purchases

Just say no to impulse purchases. If it’s not in your cart by the time you get to the register, you probably don’t need it. Save yourself a few dollars and put down the magazine, lip gloss, candy or whatever else you picked up.