When it comes to living expenses, the truth is that most Americans live on a very thin margin. Seventy-eight percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to CareerBuilder. The good news is that if you take a closer look at how you live, you're likely to find many areas in which you can trim expenses and give yourself an extra buffer.
Click through to see dumb expenses you need to slash from your budget now — and see how you can save thousands of dollars.
1. Streaming Services
Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu can seem like a dream come true. The services are much cheaper than a cable TV package, and you can get original programming as well. But the costs can add up.
Netflix Premium charges $13.99 per month, Hulu with Live TV runs $39.99 per month and Amazon Prime Video costs $12.99 per month. If you bundle all these together, you're paying a lot every year for these seemingly inexpensive services.
Monthly Savings: $66.97
Annual Savings: $803.64
Check out 25 things that aren't worth the money.
2. Phone Games
Many smartphone phone users fall into the trap of playing online or app-based games that entice them with in-game purchases, which average $9.60 per month for the average paying user. Sticking with free entertainment could end up saving you a bundle.
Monthly Savings: $9.60
Annual Savings: $115.20
3. Newspaper Subscriptions
Nowadays, you can get news from any number of sources, both online and televised, often free of cost. Old-line newspapers are transitioning to digital editions, but those average a cost of $10 per month. Whether dropping paper delivery or digital subscriptions, you can save some cash over the course of a year.
Monthly Savings: $10
Annual Savings: $120
See Also: How the Newspaper Industry Makes Money
4. Satellite Radio
Satellite radio lets you listen to over 100 channels in your car and online. The industry is known for promotional pricing, but the regular cost of a satellite radio subscription can run $20.99 per month for the Sirius XM All Access subscription. With other low-cost or free options like Pandora or Spotify available, you can save a lot and still have access to music.
Monthly Savings: $20.99
Annual Savings: $251.88
5. Designer Coffee
Face it: Some people just need their daily morning coffee. But if that applies to you, it doesn't mean it has to cost you a fortune. Specialty coffee shops like Starbucks might charge $3 or more for a coffee, but you can go to the McDonald's down the block and get a cup for just $1. You might even end up preferring the taste of McDonald's coffee better, making it a win-win.
Monthly Savings: $56.70
Annual Savings: $689.85
6. Life Insurance
Life insurance is an essential benefit for many. If you're married and have children, life insurance can provide protection for your spouse and heirs if you die prematurely. This can be especially important if you have a mortgage or other debts to pay off. But if you're young and single, you likely don't even need life insurance. If you're paying for your own life insurance, look for a job with employer-paid life insurance.
Monthly Savings: $22.06
Annual Savings: $264.72
7. Brokerage Commissions
Traditional full-service brokerage firms can charge you hundreds of dollars per trade. Well-known, reliable discount brokers like Fidelity still have brick-and-mortar branches and only charge $4.95 per online stock trades. To cut costs even more, you can do your trading with online-only broker Robinhood, which charges zero commissions on stock trades.
Monthly Savings: Variable — $100 or more at a rate of one trade/month
Annual Savings: Variable — up to $1,200 or more at 12 trades/year
Check Out: Here Are the Highest CD Rates in Every State
8. Investment Costs
Pay attention to the costs attached to the specific investments you purchase. Many mutual funds still charge commissions of as much as 5.75 percent to buy, but you can eliminate those costs by purchasing no-load funds from reputable firms such as Vanguard. Don't overlook annual expense ratios when buying investments like exchange-traded funds. The Schwab Standard & Poor's 500 index fund charges just 0.03 percent annually, whereas the SPDR S&P 500 index fund charges 0.09 percent — three times as much.
Annual Savings: $1,437.50 for a $25,000 investment in a load versus no-load fund
9. Cable TV
Cable television has grown from a minor utility into an expensive mishmash of multi-level packages and premium channels and content. Switching to streaming services is a step in the right direction, but you can go all the way and eliminate your cable TV altogether for the most savings.
Monthly Savings: $106
Annual Savings: $1,272
10. Premium Gas
Unless your car specifically requires premium gasoline, you don't need to buy it. According to AAA, the price difference between premium and regular gasoline averages 40 cents per gallon. With the average American driver paying for roughly 656 gallons of gas per year, sticking with regular can result in some real savings.
Monthly Savings: $21.87
Annual Savings: $262.40
11. Warehouse Club Memberships
Shopping at warehouse clubs is on trend these days. But if you're young and single, you don't need to buy at a store that requires you to buy in bulk, which can possibly result in food waste. Shop during sales at other stores and save on the membership fees.
Annual Savings: $65 or more
12. Bank Fees
You don't need to pay $12 or more per month to have a checking or savings account. Many online banks offer these accounts for free. If you don't like banking online, check out your local credit union, which might offer free accounts and free ATM access as well.
Monthly Savings: $15 ($12 checking + one $3 ATM fee)
Annual Savings: $180
Related: 13 Banking Fees You Should Never Pay
13. Bottled Water
Per capita, annual consumption of bottled water in the U.S. reached 39.3 gallons in 2016. At an average cost of $1.27 per gallon, versus Baltimore's $0.003 per gallon for municipal tap water, for example, you're paying 400 times the cost of essentially the same water. Costs for different-sized bottles can be even higher.
Monthly Savings: $4.16 (minimum)
Annual Savings: $49.91
14. Gym Membership
Latest statistics indicate that the average gym membership costs $58 per month and that 67 percent of people with gym memberships never use them. If you're among the two-thirds — and even if you're not — dropping that monthly cost can add up to big savings.
Monthly Savings: $58
Annual Savings: $696
Smoking rates have fallen lower than ever, with just 15 percent of adults still smoking, according to the Washington Post. If you aren't on the bandwagon yet, here's another reason to quit smoking: you'll save an average of $6.16 per pack.
Weekly Savings: $43.12 (pack a day)
Monthly Savings: $186.85
Annual Savings: $2,242.24