To save $100 a month, you need to spend $3.25 a day less than you do now. Does
that sound so terrible?
With a little bit of ingenuity, you can pull it off without having to live like a recluse
hermit. And, once you are in the groove, you can use that $100 a month — $1200 a
year — to fund your exotic vacation habit, pay off those student loans, start a
business or sock away for your early retirement. Here are a few more tips to get you
on track for your savings goals.
1. Go vegetarian. If you can cut meat out of just three meals a week, you can shave
between $15 and $25 off your grocery bill. If you do that for an entire month,
you’ve already saved yourself $60 to $100.
2. Never buy new. eBay, Half.com, and the Amazon marketplace are your friends. If
you just have to have it and can’t resist, take the time to look around for the best
deal, or have the willpower to wait for the sale. Check out your local freecycling Web
community or Craigslist and see if you can get what you need for free.
3. Don’t hit the pop machine or the vending machine at work. Those 50 cent sodas
and 65 cent candy bars add inches round the middle and break the bank. Drink
water with lunch or stock your desk drawer with healthier, cheaper snacks you
picked up during your regular grocery stop.
4. Pay your bills online, and save the 37 cent stamp. If your bank charges you for
online services, get on the phone and haggle. Sometimes, they’ll lower the fees if
you threaten to move your accounts to a competing bank.
5. If you have credit card, student loan or mortgage debt, pay weekly or biweekly
instead of once a month. It’ll save you serious dough on interest charges, which
accrue before your due date, and will help you pay off your balance faster.
6. Use energy at off peak hours. If you call your electric company, they can let you
know if your area offers lower rates during off hours, usually in the evening or late
at night. Running the dishwasher or your washer/dryer during off hours can cost
you 40 % less.
7. Don’t overbuy at the grocery store. Are you the proud owner of a drawer full of
wilted lettuce and broccoli? Time to stay on top of exactly what is in your
refrigerator and make sure you eat it before it goes bad.
8. Give yourself a cash allowance — and stick to it! Give yourself half of what you
usually spend every week on eating out, entertainment, movies, video rentals, etc.
and vow to spend not one penny more. Use cash only, not credit or debit cards, so
that you actually have to peel those 5, 10 and 20 dollar bills off the wad when you
hit the check out. It’s a bigger eye opener than just signing the slip when you hand
over your card. It’s bound to make you realize how much you are spending on
When you run out of allowance, don’t spend another dime. Over time, you’ll relearn
what you knew when you were 8 years old — saving up for something makes it
much sweeter when you finally get it.
9. Refuse to pay for parking. In most towns, you can save yourself the cost of a lot
or a meter by taking 10 extra minutes to drive around looking for a free spot. You’ll
probably have to walk a few extra blocks, but the savings really adds up.
10. Evaluate your cell phone. Are you getting stuck with extra fees? Are you
constantly using more minutes than you planned? Either send an email instead of
calling to reduce your minutes or get on the phone and haggle for a more affordable
11. Ditch the cable television. A lot of people think of cable television as a
necessity,rather than a luxury. But with monthly plans hitting you for $30 to $100 it
may be time to either switch to a basic, cheaper plan or dump it all together and
brave the networks like your parents did in the 1970s. If you think you can’t live
without TV, start slow –turn it off for a week. You’re bound to find you have a lot
more time to do all those little projects — like learning to knit and writing the great
American novel — you have been putting off for months.
12. Revaluate fee services. Look at all of the things you have signed up to pay for
every month — satellite radio, Tivo, Netflix, Internet fax — and decide whether or
not you really use them enough to get your money’s worth. If there is an alternative
that costs more upfront but is cheaper in the long run, go for it and cancel your
13. Get that stylish new haircut — at the local beauty school. Forget $50 or more for
a cut, color or style. Head to the local beauty school where you can get it for half
price or less.