8 expenses you should never cut

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Calculate Income and Expenses in a Budget



Over the years, I've come up with hundreds of ways to trim proverbial fat from nearly every aspect of your budget. And I stand by those tips, tricks, and strategies because most of us have areas where we can pull back on the spending a bit.

But some things are nonnegotiable. There are necessities — sometimes rather costly ones — that are required for us to live decent, healthy, and satisfying lives. What are they? Take a look at these eight expenses you should never cut, and let me know some of the areas where you just can't or won't shake out savings in the comments below.

1. Health Care

First and foremost, it's critical to have health insurance. It's required in the United States, whether from a private provider or via Obamacare, and without it, you run the risk of either being denied care or racking up serious medical bills that could put your finances in dire straits for the foreseeable future.

Aside from that, when you're sick or need medical attention, you want the best care you can get. Some prescriptions are expensive, too, and health insurance can greatly reduce those costs. You should never let coverage lapse because you're generally healthy or you don't think you'll fall ill anytime soon. Murphy's Law dictates that it's in that scenario you'll need medical attention, and you'll want to have insurance on your side.

2. Personal Hygiene

Soap, shampoo, and toothpaste are essential — and readily available, like on nearly every corner of your neighborhood, for not much money. Which is weird, because I know plenty of people, perfectly well-off individuals at that, who don't seem to use any of it on a regular basis.

If you're one of those folks who likes to gripe at the cost of personal hygiene products and therefore use that as your excuse to skimp on washing yourself on a regular basis, you'll be happy to know that bargain brands, like Suave, for example, do a bang-up job of keeping you clean. Not to mention that there are always coupons available for hygiene products, especially toothpaste, that can help reduce the cost of these items. Find the items on sale plus pair them with coupons and you'll spend oftentimes less than a dollar on what you need per item.

3. Personal Safety

Most of us practice personal safety consistently. We try to avoid automobile accidents, we look both ways when we cross the road, and we never run with scissors. Those are all subconscious decisions that don't cost a dime, which is why you might be asking yourself how personal safety costs you actual dollars and cents.

For starters, the car that you drive should be rated for safety. When you're strapped for cash and need an inexpensive vehicle, choosing a cheap car that gets you from A to B may seem like an ideal option. Certainly there are times — and financial constraints — that call for this type of decision-making, but you'll almost always regret it in the long run. Instead, I recommend loosening the purse strings just a little more so you can buy a vehicle that will protect you if you're in an accident, opposed to one that's already falling apart.

Another example is safety on the water. Life vests are cumbersome, and nobody likes to wear them. But you know what? They save lives, and there are millions of people in this world who will tell you that they regret not buying or renting life preservers during an outing that resulted in someone's harm or death. It could have been prevented if they had just sprung for the darn things. Thus, spring for the darn things.

4. Healthy Food

It's true, food is expensive, especially the healthy stuff — but you shouldn't be making cuts to your budget that include reducing the amount of healthy food you're eating by replacing it with less expensive, toxic food — like that microwaveable junk that comes from the freezer section or the stuff you grab at the drive-thru window.

It's okay to indulge in it every now and then — who doesn't like to dive headfirst into a bag of Doritos from time to time? But most of your food should be fresh and nutritious. You owe it to yourself — and your longevity — to eat healthily, and there are lots of ways you can cut down on your healthy food bills if you put in the legwork before going grocery shopping. Wise Bread can help you save a substantial amount on your supermarket bills if you do a little digging for advice.

RELATED: 8 tips you should teach your kids about money management

9 PHOTOS
tips to teach your kids to save money
See Gallery
8 expenses you should never cut

Play money-centered board games or games on apps, like Monopoly or Money Race.
It's an interactive and fun way for your kids to learn about basic financial practices without feeling like they're being lectured.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Give them an allotted amount of cash to spend on lunch each week.
Your child will learn how to budget accordingly throughout the week, figuring out how to balance spending money on food some days vs bringing their own on other days (something that can be directly translated into the adult workplace).

Photo credit: Getty

Have them write down or tell you their absolute dream toy.
Then, show them that it's possible to have that toy if they save x enough money for x amount of weeks.

Photo credit: Getty

Give them an allowance.
 

Photo credit: Alamy

Stick to a set time and date each month for giving your child their allowance.
Practicing giving your children their allowance every other week or on certain dates of each month will help them prepare for set paydays in the working world--it will teach them to budget out and how to know when to save up in anticipation.

Photo credit: Getty

Match your child's savings each month.
This will imitate a 401K and show your child ways in which saving can (literally) pay off.

Photo credit: Shutterstock
 

Have your kid organize their funds in to different jars to represent different accounts.
Examples could be "Saving", "Spending", "Charity", "Emergency", "College".

Photo credit: Getty

Take your kids grocery shopping and explain certain choices you make with your purchases to them.
Your children will benefit from knowing what's best to purchase name brand vs. generic, why some snacks are better to buy in bulk, etc.

Photo credit: Getty
 

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


5. Mental Health Care

Mental health is a hot topic of conversation nowadays, though we should have started talking about it seriously a long time ago. Personally, I've suffered from depression and anxiety — and still do from time to time — and I've known too many people who have committed suicide because they weren't able to figure things out. Which is why it's my duty to tell you that your mental health is worth every extra penny you can afford. If you need medication, get the medication. If you need someone to talk to — which can help immensely when you're troubled — go see a therapist. If you have decent health insurance, prescriptions and therapy should be covered so you can afford to help yourself.

And it goes without saying that if you feel like there's no hope left, please believe me when I tell you that there is. People care about you, and you can talk anonymously about whatever you're feeling by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255. You matter; whether you believe it right now or not —you matter.

6. Insurance

By law in most U.S. states, you're required to have car insurance. So if you're thinking about cutting it because you don't drive very often or very far, you're in for a rude awakening if you have the unfortunate luck of being in an accident — and you'll probably go to jail on top of whatever expenses the crash racked up.

Homeowners and renters insurance are also areas where it's not wise to be a miser. You don't have to have super-premium, platinum, Superman coverage, but you should have enough coverage to fully cover the things you own — so they can be replaced quickly and efficiently — in the event of an accident.

7. Debt Repayment

If you're already pinching pennies because you're in debt, it can be easy to brush it to the side and try to forget about it. You're in so deep that you'll never pay it off, so why worry about it, right? Wrong.

In this case, you have few options to stay on track, but you may be able to cut something less important from your budget to continue making payments, or — and I know this is an offensive idea to some — pick up an extra job or side gig to start earning more income. The problem with debt is that it will never go away, and it's your responsibility to pay off what you've accumulated. You alone made those purchases, and you alone need to pay them off. There are assistance programs out there that can help, and I recommend researching your options in that regard, but whatever you do, don't act like it doesn't exist. It does, and it will follow you around like a black cloud for the rest of your life until you address it.

8. Things Your Kids Depend On

There's a buzzword that's being tossed around willy-nilly right now with regards to children and teenagers (and even 20-somethings). We hear it a lot: Entitlement.

While I contend that American children tend to be somewhat entitled, there are some things to which they're actually entitled — like a proper education and health services. If your child needs a tutor, hire a tutor. If your child needs a therapist, seek therapy. Hopefully, you had children for the right reasons, because you wanted to have a family to love and care for. If you're trying to be over-thrifty in these areas, you may not be doing the best job of holding up your end of the parenting bargain.

Find areas in your own grown-up budget to eliminate — like one of your many memberships perhaps, or that adults-only vacation — and help your kid stay on the right path, physically, emotionally, and mentally. You owe them that much.

What costs do you refuse to skimp on?

RELATED: The worst cities for saving money

16 PHOTOS
The Worst Cities for Saving Money
See Gallery
8 expenses you should never cut

15. Sacramento, Calif.

  • Population: 485,199
  • Median income: $50,013
  • Unemployment rate: 5.5%
  • Median home listing price: $530,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,395
  • Average gas price: $2.223
  • Average cost of groceries: $42.94
  • Sales tax: 8.5%

The capital of California is more affordable than most of the states' major cities. But that doesn’t make it an ideal place for savers. Home prices still are high, and the median income in Sacramento is lower than the national median income of $53,482, leaving residents without a lot of wiggle room in their budgets to set aside money in savings.

Photo credit: Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock.com

14. Bakersfield, Calif.

  • Population: 368,759
  • Median income: $56,842
  • Unemployment rate: 10.2%
  • Median home listing price: $245,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,395
  • Average gas price: $2.35
  • Average cost of groceries: $35.68
  • Sales tax: 7.5%

The unemployment rate in Bakersfield is the second highest among the worst cities for savers. However, the median income of those who are employed is higher than many of the other cities on this list. Housing costs also are more affordable, which is why Bakersfield ranks lower than most of the other California cities that are the worst places for savers.

Photo credit: Gary C. Tognoni/Shutterstock.com

13. San Jose, Calif.

  • Population: 1,015,785
  • Median income: $83,787
  • Unemployment rate: 3.8%
  • Median home listing price: $725,000
  • Median monthly rent: $3,300
  • Average gas price: $2.38
  • Average cost of groceries: $40.95
  • Sales tax: 8.75%

The median home listing price in San Jose is the second highest among the worst cities to save. It’s also one of America’s most expensive rental markets, according to CNN. But a high median income — as a result of its booming tech industry — helps offset the high housing costs somewhat and doesn’t make it quite as hard to save as other places on this list.

Photo credit: Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz/Shutterstock.com

12. Long Beach, Calif.

  • Population: 473,577
  • Median income: $52,944
  • Unemployment rate: 5.4%
  • Median home listing price: $479,950
  • Median monthly rent: $2,197
  • Average gas price: $2.567
  • Average cost of groceries: $36.58
  • Sales tax: 9%

This city on the Pacific Coast is a slightly better city for savers than neighboring Los Angeles. But the median income in Long Beach isn’t high enough to offset high housing costs, leaving residents with little left over to save.

Photo credit: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com

11. Stockton, Calif.

  • Population: 302,389
  • Median income: $45,347
  • Unemployment rate: 8.8%
  • Median home listing price: $ 239,450
  • Median monthly rent: $1,300
  • Average gas price: $2.21
  • Average cost of groceries: $45.33
  • Sales tax: 9%

Stockton has two big strikes against it for savers: a median income that’s well below the national median income and a high unemployment rate. The city itself filed for bankruptcy in 2012 because fiscal mismanagement left it unable to pay its workers and fund the pensions of former city employees, according to Reuters. It emerged from bankruptcy in 2015.

Photo credit: Terrance Emerson/Shutterstock.com

10. San Diego

  • Population: 1,381,069
  • Median income: $65,753
  • Unemployment rate: 4.7%
  • Median home listing price: $589,900
  • Median monthly rent: $2,850
  • Average gas price: $2.488
  • Average cost of groceries: $37.79
  • Sales tax: 8%

National Geographic Traveler magazine selected San Diego as one of the best destinations in the world. It’s certainly a nice place to visit, but it can be a tough place to live if you’re trying to save money. Although the median income in San Diego tops the national median, high housing costs can make it difficult to have money left over to save.

Photo credit: Dancestrokes/Shutterstock.com

9. Fresno, Calif.

  • Population: 515,986
  • Median income: $41,455
  • Unemployment rate: 10.3%
  • Median home listing price: $219,900
  • Median monthly rent: $1,250
  • Average gas price: $2.314
  • Average cost of groceries: $33.95
  • Sales tax: 8.23%

The largest city in California’s Central Valley has the lowest house list price and lowest median rent in GOBankingRates' ranking of worst cities for savers. In fact, housing costs are lower here than half of the best cities for savers. The unemployment rate, however, is the highest of all cities on this list. The lower housing costs aren't enough to offset other expenses, so it's still hard to save money in this city.

Photo credit: Tupungato/Shutterstock.com

8. Miami

8. Miami

  • Population: 430,332
  • Median income: $30,858
  • Unemployment rate: 5%
  • Median home listing price: $459,000
  • Median monthly rent: $2,500
  • Average gas price: $1.874
  • Average cost of groceries: $39.06
  • Sales tax: 7%

Miami has the lowest median income on this list of worst cities for saving money, which means it’s harder for the city’s residents to afford the high cost of living there. On the plus side, though, Florida has no state income tax. And the 7 percent sales tax rate in Miami is the lowest among the worst cities for savers.

Photo credit: PHOTOSVIT/Shutterstock.com

7. Santa Ana, Calif.

  • Population: 334,909
  • Median income: $52,519
  • Unemployment rate: 5.4%
  • Median home listing price: $430,000
  • Median monthly rent: $2,598
  • Average gas price: $2.545
  • Average cost of groceries: $40.42
  • Sales tax: 8%

Forbes named Santa Ana one of the coolest cities in America in 2014 based on a ranking of entertainment and recreational amenities, diverse population and foodie culture. But that cool factor comes with a high cost. The median home list price and monthly rent — as well as average grocery and gas costs — are high, and the median income in Santa Ana is slightly below the national median, all of which can make it a tough place to save money.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Davel5957

6. New York, N.Y.

  • Population: 8,491,079
  • Median income: $52,737
  • Unemployment rate: 4.4%
  • Median home listing price: $699,000
  • Median monthly rent: $2,700
  • Average gas price: $1.984
  • Average cost of groceries: $46.17
  • Sales tax: 8.88%

Frank Sinatra was right when he sang the following line about living in New York: “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.” If you can manage to save money while living in this city with its exorbitantly high cost of living, then, yes, you can probably find a way to save in most other cities. Not only is it hard to save in New York because housing costs and daily expenses are high, but the median income is below the national median.

Photo credit: Atanas Bezov/Shutterstock.com

5. Anaheim, Calif.

  • Population: 346,997
  • Median income: $59,707
  • Unemployment rate: 5.4%
  • Median home listing price: $535,000
  • Median monthly rent: $2,500
  • Average gas price: $2.545
  • Average cost of groceries: $47.72
  • Sales tax: 8%

Anaheim is home to Disneyland Resort, which is great for visiting, but the city might not be the best place to call home if you want to save money. This city near Los Angeles rivals its bigger neighbor when it comes to a high cost of living. But a higher median income and lower housing costs keep Anaheim from being ranked as high as LA on this list of worst places to live if you’re trying to save money.

Photo credit: Juan Camilo Bernal/Shutterstock.com

4. Irvine, Calif.

  • Population: 248,531
  • Median income: $91,999
  • Unemployment rate: 5.4%
  • Median home listing price: $847,922
  • Median monthly rent: $3,400
  • Average gas price: $2.545
  • Average cost of groceries: $44.67
  • Sales tax: 8%

Irvine is an affluent city in Southern California that has the highest median income of the 15 worst places for saving money. The city has been included in several "best places to live" lists in recent years because of its strong economy, well-regarded schools, and, as a planned community, thousands of acres of green space. But high home listing prices, rent, and daily expenses such as gas and groceries can take a big bite out of the big salaries in Irvine, leaving little money to save.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Davel5957

3. Oakland, Calif.

  • Population: 413,775
  • Median income: $52,962
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%
  • Median home listing price: $480,000
  • Median monthly rent: $4,650
  • Average gas price: $2.373
  • Average cost of groceries: $53.43
  • Sales tax: 9.5%

For years, Oakland has been considered the cheaper alternative to San Francisco. However, it’s by no means a cheap place to live relative to other cities in the U.S. In fact, rent prices in Oakland increased more in 2015 than any other major city — including San Francisco — according to the 2015 Zumper National Rent Report. Considering the median income here is lower than the national median, residents have little left over to stash into savings after covering high housing costs and daily expenses.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Davel5957

2. Los Angeles

  • Population: 3,928,864
  • Median income: $49,682
  • Unemployment rate: 5.4%
  • Median home listing price: $650,000
  • Median monthly rent: $3,950
  • Average gas price: $2.567
  • Average cost of groceries: $39.01
  • Sales tax: 9%

For the second year in a row, California’s largest city lands in the second spot on GOBankingRates' list of worst places to live for saving money. LA is considered the worst major city for housing affordability, according to a report by Southern California Public Radio. Although places such as San Francisco have higher rents and home listing prices, median income in Los Angeles is lower, making it harder to cover the high cost of living and leaving little room in household budgets to save.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Sean Pavone

1. San Francisco

  • Population: 852,469
  • Median income: $78,378
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%
  • Median home listing price: $998,000
  • Median monthly rent: $4,650
  • Average gas price: $2.516
  • Average cost of groceries: $58.76
  • Sales tax: 8.75%

San Francisco retains its No.1 spot on this list of worst places to live if you’re trying to save money. Known for being one of the most expensive areas in the U.S., the City by the Bay has the highest median home listing price, highest median rent and highest average cost of groceries on this list. With such high housing costs and daily expenses, a median income of $78,378 doesn’t go far in San Francisco.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Lenin RzSz

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


More from WiseBread
9 money lessons to take from the Great Depression
One smart thing you can do for your retirement today
9 money moves to make the moment your credit cards are paid off

Read Full Story

People are Reading