By Noah Henry • September 30, 2013
Overindulgence. It’s the American way. We can place the blame on many things—mass advertising, media images casting dullness on our average lives, the need for instant gratification. But when it all comes down to it, we only have ourselves to blame for lack of trying.
How do we curb excessive spending? First, we must assess how we overspend. Then, we must recognize how to change our behavior by knowing when and where to spend. Here are seven things Americans routinely overspend on, and how to cut the costs:
If you’re in college or you recently went to college, you already know where I’m going with this. Textbook prices are ridiculously high, and unfortunately, college kids have no choice in the matter. They must procure the requested titles or they may get left behind.
The average price for a college textbook is $175, the cost of a month’s supply of groceries. In a recent survey, 70 percent of college kids said they didn’t buy a required textbook because it was simply too painful. Sites like BookRenter.com and College Book Renter give students the ability to rent and sell their textbooks online, saving up to 80 percent in the process. Half.com is another wise route due its very low prices. But if you want to spend next to nothing on your college textbooks, hit the campus library or city libraries to see if they have the textbooks you’ve been assigned.
The average cost of a wedding in America is $25,656. Everything that goes into a wedding—flowers, stationery, cake, location, food, beverages, etc.—needs to be carefully planned to the penny, or you may end up paying roughly the price of a Prius for that special day.
We’re not saying you have to go to Vegas to get hitched—although, that would be fiscally responsible. We’re saying you should be cognizant of the massive costs you accumulate from the little things.
Electronic invitations can shave off a large portion of the wedding bill. Tiny Prints offers these (currently for 20% off with code AUTUMN13), but if you must go with the traditional paper invitation, Fine Stationery is a safe bet for its low prices on an exceptional selection of invitations, table cards, and other forms of wedding stationery. For flowers, go to an online wholesaler, like Global Rose.
Let’s get real: There’s little palpable difference between a $5 bottle of wine and a $50 bottle of wine. In 2009, the average American spent $435 on beer, wine, and hard liquor—more than the amount spent on all non-alcoholic beverages.
For many, wine is essential to winding down after a long day. But say it with me: Dom Perignon is overrated. Leave $100 bottles to the Great Gatsbys and Lil’ Waynes of the world. Go to Wine.com or Uncorked.com and receive 10% off both, respectively.
4. Purses and Handbags
Designer handbags are a baffling obsession in today’s society. Just because Oprah spent $40,000 on a handbag doesn’t mean you should too. It’s just fabric tied together with pockets and holes to hold your knickknacks. A flashy luxury with no other purpose other than to give a gaudy image.
Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel have women drooling, but stores like eBags and DH Gate provide great designer bags for under $30. If you just can’t stand spending less than $50 for a shiny new bag, then try BlueFly (right now you can get 15% off with code GET15OFF), where you can find nice designer bags for less than $100.
In the same vein as handbags, sunglasses are marked up to prices well beyond their actual worth. The reason for this? People keep buying them. It’s easy to be duped into paying criminal amounts for plastic and a couple lenses considering one company has a monopoly on the market, effectively setting the price standard for designer sunglasses that cost only $30 to make.
Not everyone is subject to this duping. In fact, 50 percent of people pay between $6 and $20 for replica shades. And so should you. SharpShades.com has a great selection of replica designer shades for very good prices, which you can presently get for 10% off with code SAS10PERCENT.
6. Cable TV
Cable bills have been increasing 6 percent annually. NDP indicates that by 2020 people will spend $200 a month on cable TV. If you complain there’s not enough to watch and you pay too high a price, you may want to cut the cord.
The advents of Hulu Plus, Netflix, and the accessibility of TV shows on the Internet have rendered cable prices unfair. Hulu Plus and Netflix both cost only $8 a month, and you can watch them on your TV. As more people shun cable and leap off the wagon, you can expect prices to increase. Get out while you can.
You’ve come to work late and once again you’ve missed the opportunity to homebrew your java. Perhaps knowing American workers spend $1,092 a year on coffee can motivate you to set your alarm a bit earlier.
Don’t spend $5 a day. Starbucks Store can provide you with the beans and the machines, so you can get the same Starbucks taste for a mere 50 cents. Plus, right now you can get $50 to $100 off their coveted Verismo machines. Go self-made. Time to end your relationship with coffee guy at the window.
8. Health Club Memberships
Another wake-up stat: 15 percent of Americans have gym memberships, and of those 15 percent, only eight percent actually use them. The less you go to the gym, the higher the prices will be per visit. If it costs $55 for a monthly membership, and you go only twice a week, it’ll cost almost $7 a session. If you’re a frequent gym-goer, by all means, keep going. If you go less than twice a week, you may want to call it quits.
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!