After the holidays and at the start of the new year, getting your finances in order can mean taking a hard look at how much more money has gone out than you’ve put in. Adjusting your finances may be a necessary step, or simply a way to get ahead and save for next year’s financial goals.
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When it comes time to cut back on expenses, other than your necessities like housing, food, and utilities, you may not know where to start and where to stop. While there may be some obvious places you can cut back, here are nine expenses experts recommend you don’t cut back on, for reasons ranging from health and safety to affording a little entertainment.
While it may be tempting to cut the often-high cost of health insurance during tough financial times, doing so isn’t a good idea. It may save you money in the short term, but it may cost you in the long term; If something were to happen to you or an uninsured family member, the medical costs could be astronomical.
Instead, consider switching plans to one that costs less money each month. While this may mean you have a high deductible, at least you know the highest amount you’ll pay in a worst-case scenario, which is still cheaper than the average cost of a medical emergency.
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Car insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense, especially if you’re a good driver with a spotless record. However, not only is auto insurance mandatory, what you would have to pay out of pocket if you were in an accident for physical damage to your vehicle or someone else’s, and even bodily injury, would be much more than what you pay every month for insurance.
While you can’t call the Internet a necessity, in and of itself, it has become a lifesaver for many over the last couple of years. Additionally, we live in a digital age regardless of the pandemic, so not having access to the Internet can affect things like banking, keeping in touch with distant friends and family, and enabling online shopping.
If your budget allows, it’s worth keeping your Internet. What you can do, if you’re spending more than you want, is negotiate with your provider or a new provider for a better rate.
Many people have started ditching landlines in favor of mobile phones. According to a study by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, nearly a third of American households still pay for landlines in addition to owning a cell phone. But even if you still have a landline phone, cell phones are now much more than just ways to communicate: you can use them to bank, shop, read, listen to music, and more. What you can do, if times are tight, is negotiate a lower plan with your service or consider switching to a new service.
Debt is an expense that unfortunately tends to increase if you don’t pay it; Most credit cards and loans have an interest rate that adds up quickly. Making a minimum payment that doesn’t touch the interest rate will only end up biting you in the long run when your debt grows to an unmanageable level. Strive to pay off credit cards with the highest interest rate first.
When finances get tough, we often look at our leisure and entertainment expenses as the first places to cut back. But if we’ve learned anything from the early days of the pandemic, when most of us were spending much more time in our homes, you may not want to give up everything that brings you pleasure if your budget allows. If you have multiple subscriptions, like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, it’s time to focus on the one that gives you the most at the best price.
At prices ranging from $4.99 to $14.99 per month, these services can add up when you have multiples. Unlike cable, which typically requires a long time commitment, most streaming services are available at any time. So you can also play month to month to see what you can afford.
Prioritizing healthy eating can sometimes be difficult when finances are tight. While it’s okay to buy the slightly less healthy version of the items you eat regularly, there are ways to afford healthy foods year-round. For example, you may not be able to afford all organic foods, but you can focus on buying the organic foods that are in the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen,” such as strawberries and spinach, rather than buying all the organic items. .
Other tips include using coupons and shopping deals, buying in bulk, and limiting waste by making sure you eat all your leftovers.
In tough financial times, you can easily convince yourself that you don’t need things you once considered essential, like mental health care. But if your budget allows, you’ll really want to consider sticking with these services so you don’t struggle unnecessarily. And while the cost of therapy can be high and isn’t always covered by insurance, there are now more affordable ways to get therapy than ever before.
Apps and services like Talkspace and BetterHelp offer therapy at significantly lower prices than the average marriage and family therapist. Many of these also offer chat and text-based interfaces.
It may seem silly to keep paying into an emergency fund when you’re facing the brink of a financial emergency, but if you still have money left to save, things may not be as tight as you think. An emergency fund can save the day in situations ranging from sudden unemployment to a car or home repair emergency. These are expenses that normally cannot wait. Even just $10 a month for your emergency fund is $120 at the end of a year.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 9 Costs You Should Never Cut During Tough Financial Times