Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save $36,000 a Year?

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If you’ve looked over your budget and think you can’t cut it down anymore, maybe you need to look a little harder.

There are probably some expenses you still could reduce — or drop altogether — to save thousands of dollars a year.

We found some examples of these costs. Here’s how to slash them if you are really determined. If you eliminated all of these expenses, you’d save a whopping amount — around $35,900 per year, based on averages.

But even by shaving off just 10% of these expenditures, you’d be around $3,590 richer by this time next year.

1. Rent

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The national average rent was $1,702 per month as of February, according to real estate research company Yardi Matrix. That’s $20,424 per year.

If you were to move to a place where the cost of living is lower, or bring in a roommate, you could cut your housing costs significantly.

And if you moved in with accommodating family members, you might be able to go rent-free, at least for a time.

If your home has an extra room, another option to offset housing costs is to rent that room to travelers. Try listing your spare space — or the entire home — on a vacation rental website like Airbnb, Homestay or VRBO (short for “Vacation Rentals by Owner”). Read more in “Do This a Few Days Each Month and Watch Your Mortgage Disappear.”

Total annual savings if you could:

  • Give up the expense: $20,424 (based on the national average rent)
  • Reduce the expense by 10%: $2,042

2. Car payment

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The average monthly new-car loan payment was $730 as of April, according to Edmunds. That’s $8,604 per year.

If you can, don’t buy a new car. Instead, opt for used vehicles. Cars are one of the first things cited in “11 Things You Should Never Buy New.”

Ideally, you would save enough money to buy a used car outright instead of financing it, to avoid paying interest on the loan. If that’s not possible, at least try making a bigger down payment to lower your monthly car payment.

Getting rid of a personal vehicle and taking public transportation, walking or biking instead would be a major money-saving shift.

Or, depending on how much you drive, a ride-share service like Lyft or Uber might help you save money. You’d stand to also save on car payments, insurance, gas and on the biggest auto expense of all, depreciation.

Total annual savings if you could:

  • Give up the expense: $8,760 (based on the average new-car loan payment)
  • Reduce the expense by 10%: $876

3. Cellphone

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American households spent an average of $1,244 per year on cellular phone services as of 2021, the latest calendar year for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released consumer expenditure data.

You could cut costs by adding a few friends or family members to your plan, or by changing your plan.

Also, see what you can save by comparison shopping among carriers using Money Talks News’ cellphone plan comparison tool.

If you don’t use your mobile phone a lot or are home enough to justify a landline, consider ditching your mobile service, or get a prepaid plan.

Total annual savings if you could:

  • Give up the expense: $1,244 (based on average household spending)
  • Reduce the expense by 10%: $124

4. Dining out

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Sometimes you don’t feel like cooking, and that’s allowed. But let it become a habit, and that convenience can cost a couple of hundred bucks a month.

The average household in the U.S. spends $3,030 per year dining out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cooking at home is much cheaper.

Reducing your restaurant spending can make a noticeable difference to your budget. Here are tips and tricks to help you shave costs: “9 Ways to Save up to 50% on Your Next Restaurant Meal.”

Total annual savings if you could:

  • Give up the expense: $3,030 (based on average household spending)
  • Reduce the expense by 10%: $303

5. Cable

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If you haven’t cut the cord yet, you might want to consider it. The average household cable and internet package costs about $143 per month as of February, according to That’s $1,716 per year.

Cutting the cord could cut that cost dramatically, with the many free and affordable alternatives to cable and satellite TV. “The 8 Best Money-Saving Cable Alternatives” gives pricing for some of the best TV alternatives.

Lowering your costs is great. Free is even better. For no-cost options, read about “17 Streaming Services That Are Completely Free.”

Total annual savings if you could:

  • Give up the expense: $1,716 (based on the average cable and internet package)
  • Reduce the expense by 10%: $172

6. Gym membership

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If you’re a committed gym rat who gets your money’s worth from a monthly gym membership, more power to you.

But many of us sign gym contracts in a burst of enthusiasm and quit after a few months. The gym membership contract, however, can keep you making monthly payments, whether you use the facility or not.

While membership programs and costs vary, Strong Home Gym says as of October 2022 memberships average $50 per month, or $600 per year.

Maybe the COVID-19 pandemic already got you exercising on your own for free. If not, give it a try. Running or walking regularly and doing a strength-training program at home, for example, lets you eliminate gym fees entirely.

We have other ways to trim costs in “7 Ways to Save on a Gym Membership.”

Total annual savings if you could:

  • Give up the expense: $600 (based on the average monthly gym fee)
  • Reduce the expense by 10%: $60

7. Movie tickets

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The cost of a movie ticket averaged $10.53 in 2022, according to the latest data from the National Association of Theater Owners. Prices have been creeping steadily up at least since 1971, when a movie ticket cost $1.65, on average.

Hoping to treat the family to a theater outing when the pandemic has passed? Ka-ching.

If you won’t give up the movie theater entirely, there are cheaper options. For example:

  • Attend matinees.
  • Take advantage of senior discounts.
  • Look into independent cinemas that charge less for films that were released earlier in the year.

Total annual savings if you could:

  • Give up the expense: $126.36 (based on the average movie ticket cost and assuming you’re seeing one movie per month in a theater)
  • Reduce the expense by 10%: $13

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