Tips to Save $5-10k a Year – Easy Ways to Save Money…
An early step to take once you start budgeting and figuring out your finances is finding easy ways to save money. Keep in mind, when going through ways to save money, you may say to yourself “oh, that only cost me $10 or $12 a month, I don’t need to cut it out.” but think about it, if there are 3, or 4, or even 10 things like that a month, it will add up fast. So if something is an unnecessaryÂ expense, cut it out fast. A bunch of small things stacked with big cuts will collectively save you hundreds or thousands of dollars every month. So take a look at the list below and see where you can start saving money.
Cancel gym membership
The average gym membership costs $40-50 per month, that ads up to $480 to $600 every year. Now, if you go several times a week and you are into fitness, you may not want to cut this expense. There are other options though, so keep an open mind to them. You could switch to a gym with a lower membership cost. Some more expensive gyms cost more because of their amenities if you aren’t using them though it is a waste of money.
Also, consider some home workout routines or systems. I personally ditched my nearly $100 a month gym membership for a pull-up bar I got off Amazon. I can do situps, pushups, and pull-ups and saved myself a little under $1,200 a year.
Save spare change
This one is kind of trivial and may seem childish but it works. If you use cash to buy things, empty the spare change into some sort of piggy bank at the end of the day. It may not seem like much at first, but it’ll add up over the year. I even put single dollar bills in mine sometimes. That speeds up the savings process.
A great tool to help do this automatically is the Acorns Investing App. It helps to save your spare change and invest it for you.
Stop Eating Out
This one is huge and could provide you with some huge savings. Unless you’re sticking to a couple items off the dollar menu at a fast food joint, you’re probably spending a lot everytime you go out to eat. Think about it, if you go to a sit-down restaurant you’re going to probably spend $15 on an entre, $3-6 for a drink plus tax and tip. So probably $22-26 total. Multiple that by however many are in your family.
It is easy to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars every month eating out. Quickly cut it out. Think about how much you would save if you cut it in half, or if you dropped it down to maybe one night eating out a week.
Cancel cable, Netflix, and Hulu
Have you looked at what you pay for cable every month? The average cable bill is just under $101. Like the gym membership, this could be an easy but expensive expense to cut out. The difference between this and the gym membership is with a gym membership, one could argue the health benefit of keeping it. Plus, people have services like Netflix and Hulu which add another $8-12 per month EACH. Again, remember what I said about costs adding up? Easy ways to save money right here.
There are a couple ways to get your TV show fix without breaking the bank. One of the cheapest methods to pick up a good old antenna. Don’t get scared, they aren’t like they use to be, you can get a great antenna for pretty cheap over on Amazon. That’s what I did. Also, you can ditch Netflix and Hulu and just get an Amazon Prime account. At about $120 a year, it’s on par with their prices but you get so much more than just TV shows and movies. I’ll do another post about the benefits of Prime if you don’t already have it.
While we are talking about cable bills, lets quickly discuss your internet plan as well. Since you may have a bundled package, you might want to look into downgrading your internet plan. Unless you are doing stuff that requires heavy upload or download speeds, cable companies lower packages will suffice. They have even stepped up the standards for the base packages that make them pretty good for the average user.
Cell phone bill
Cell phones can be costly but the plans have really improved over the years. It use to be common to have tons of overages and get bills as high as $400, $500 or more. Now, most carriers offer unlimited plans so you don’t have to worry about that.
If you have an old plan, you may want to look into what’s new and see if you could maybe get some savings. Also, make sure you’re not paying for a plan way bigger than you need. I use to sell cell phones at Radioshack and we were talking to oversell you so you wouldn’t go over, and then you should go down after a month or 2 once you see your usage. So check that to make sure you aren’t overpaying.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to look at another carrier. It’s easy enough to port your current phone number so don’t let that stop you, a different network might offer you a better deal. Check out some of the networks to see if you can get a better deal.
Redbox vs Theaters
This is pretty straightforward, not much to explain. Average movie theater tickets are about $9 and it costs $1-$1.50 to rent a DVD or Blueray disk respectively.Â You could see 6 to 9 movies via Redbox for the price of 1 ticket at a theater. And that doesn’t even account for paying for tickets for a significant other or kids and buying snacks. Let’s be honest, going to the movies can easily cost you $30+ depending on how many you have to pay for.
Avoid Starbucks, make your own coffee
I use to get Starbucks almost every day on my way to work. At around $5 a coffee, that added up quickly. I was spending about $80 to $100 every month just on my morning coffee, and sometimes a snack too. When you can get a big tub of coffee grounds from the grocery store for $10 and a coffee maker for $70 (There are even some as cheap as $30), it’s easy to make the switch.
Talk about easy ways to save money. To throw it out there, I bought one of these travel mugs and it keeps the coffee warm for hours, unlike the cups you get at Starbucks.
Switch soda or other drinks with water
Soda is bad for you, taste great but you shouldn’t have it in your diet, to begin with. This isn’t a health blog though, we are here to save you money. Just think about when you are out at a restaurant, $3 for a soda. Remember what we talked about earlier about eating out, soda is part of that expensive habit.
Also, when you go to the grocery store and spend a few bucks extra on the 12 pack of soda, you could just switch to water which is a cheaper and healthier alternative. I got myself a Brita filtered pitcher years ago and haven’t looked back. I’d say I’ve saved hundreds from this one change alone.
As long as people need lights there will be more efficient lights made. Over the past year or two, I have made the switch to LED bulbs. While it’s hard to put an exact amount on the savings, its estimated somewhere around $50 to $100 per year. I’ll take it though, the bulbs have to be replaced anyway and at less than $1.60 per bulb, it’s not too bad in my opinion.
Bring lunch to work
This is one of those easy ways to save money that you just can’t ignore. If you eat out for lunch every day you probably spend $8-12 easily, probably more if you go to a nicer dine-in restaurant. Assuming you work 5 days a week, that’s $40-60 per week and $160 to $240 per month. Now, if you make your lunch and bring it with you (drink as well), you’re probably looking at costs closer to $2-5. Let’s assume its $5, that’s $25 a week and $100 per month. Saving you an easy $60 to $140 or more. Remember, things add up quickly, that includes your savings as well!
Avoid going to the mall or stores to shop
I see a lot of people joke about when they go to Target to get one thing and end up with a cart full of items they didn’t plan to buy. This is why you should avoid going to stores or malls if you don’t have to. You start browsing and seeing things you “want” but don’t need and the next thing you know, you’re spending an extra $20, $50 or $100 on unnecessary purchases.
So if you have to go to the store, make sure to just get what you need. Or try shopping online, many retailers offer free shipping and very competitive pricing. I’m a huge Amazon shopper myself.
Cancel magazine, newspaper, or other subscriptions
Magazines seem cheap but do you ever end up reading them? I know I’ve signed up for some subscriptions and then when the magazines come, I barely look at them if I do at all. Just money down the drain, I cancel them as soon as I notice this. Most of the content or similar content can be viewed on the internet for free. Same goes for newspapers, some people get 2 or 3 different newspapers which seems crazy to me. I’ve eliminated all of my subscriptions except the Wall Street Journal, I get the digital subscription and that is it.
Buy in bulk
Depending on the size of your family or household, you may want to consider a membership at Sam’s Club or Costco. When you live by yourself or with only one other person, it might not be worth it to have the membership at one of those stores.
Although, you could see if other family members want to split it with you and do it that way. Anyways, buying in bulk is beneficial if you know you are going to use things. Just look at the unit cost when you’re buying something, the smaller box always has a higher unit cost and then ask yourself, “Am I continuing to buy this small box every time I come to the store because I’m out?” If the answer is yes, buy in bulk.
Snacks, shampoo, deodorant, dishwasher capsules, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. I could go on and on but I think you get the point. While the savings seem small, I will continue to harp on the fact that they will add up.
Turn off the TV and lights
I know you just bought those LED bulbs I mentioned earlier and thought they were supposed to be energy efficient. And my new TV is also energy efficient so it barely costs anything to use. While yes, both these statements are true, it still saves you money to turn them off. Not only the energy costs but also drawing out the life of the products so you don’t have to replace them as often.
Use coupon apps
This is a very easy way to save money, especially with how powerful smartphones are. I will actually make a separate post just for this.
Switch bank accounts
Have you ever seen the fees your bank charges? Maintenance fees, ATM fees, you name it fee. The hit you with fees everywhere, at some point they will probably hit you with a fee when thinking about your balance. But anyways, its ridiculous and could cost you hundreds every year. I know with Bank of America I was spending a couple hundred dollars every year in fees. I switched to USAA and wish I did it years sooner. Far fewer fees with USAA, in the 4 or so years I’ve been with them I have paid 1/10th of what I paid PER YEAR with Bank of America.
Shop around for better insurance
With so many changes in the insurance industry over the years, you might want to take a look at what you’re getting and paying. There are plenty of comparison tools and it only takes a few minutes to do. You could see savings of $25, $50, $100 or more per month on your insurance premiums. Many companies offer multiple policy discounts, discounts for taking defensive driving, and other things. So be sure to look into the available discounts.
Quit smoking and drinking
Here is another one that has both financial and health benefits. We all know how bad smoking is for you but it is also very expensive. With the average price for a pack being $5.51 and some states seeing prices near $13, you can see how quickly it could add up. It is easy to spend a couple hundred dollars a month on smoking.
Drinking can be costly too. If you are going out for drinks, its probably at $5 per drink or more, and if you are having 3 or 4, with a tip you are looking at probably $20-25. If you do that 2 or 3 nights a week, you might see yourself spending $200-300 a month on drinking. Let’s be honest too, we all know when we go out we tend to spend on other things like food. So the total cost of drinking could be even higher.
Easy Ways to Save Money Final Thoughts
This post ended up being much longer than I expected but there are so many easy ways to save money. Some of the methods mentioned may only save you a few bucks a month but some could save you hundreds or thousands every year. I feel like I keep saying it over and over again but its true, the savings add up. So if there are 5-10 things that save you $20 or $50 a month, those things could add up to hundreds every year, pair with the bigger savings and you’ll really see the difference.
A lot of these are pretty easy ways to save money too, maybe try implementing them slowly so it’s not a huge shock for your lifestyle but once you see savings, you’ll push yourself to try more. Because there was so much, I will probably make an Easy Ways to Save Money Part 2 so keep a lookout for that.
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