Do you have trouble saving? Try these ideas to add a little extra to your bottom line.
No matter how you spin it, the road to accumulating a healthy nest egg starts with your ability to put money away. Consider this – the latte effect:
A fancy latte from a fancy coffee shop costs around four dollars. We all have to treat ourselves every once in a while, but if you were to make your own coffee and save that same four dollars every day and were able to earn 7% compound interest for 30 years, your savings would have grown to over $137,000. That’s real money. Mountains are built with grains of sand, and every extra savings can truly add up over a lifetime. Below is a list of ideas to help you save a little bit extra.
- Turn off your cable.
- With so many online resources, you might want to reconsider how much time you spend watching shows that aren’t available online.
- Think about purchases before you pounce.
- Rather than splurging on “impulse buys,” force yourself to wait a period of time (a week, a month, etc.) before you make a major purchase. By waiting, you might decide it’s really not a necessity.
- Have a house party.
- When evaluating your budget, you may find that eating out is one of your larger monthly expenses. Instead, host a potluck. You may find that it’s more fun anyway.
- Drink water.
- If you can’t resist eating out, water may help dilute your monthly expenses. If you eat out five times a week, water could save you up to $50 each month.
- Cook larger portions.
- “I don’t feel like cooking tonight.” If eating out is a major expense, when you do cook, consider cooking extra helpings and freezing them. This will at least eliminate one excuse for ordering off a menu.
- Stick to a shopping list.
- Another twist on #2, by writing a shopping list and sticking to it, you may be able to control the extra wastes.
- Take your lunch to work.
- Work lunches can be the biggest culprit in racking up your monthly restaurant expense.
- Eat out one time less each week.
- Make an effort to pre-plan one meal each week. You might be surprised how much you can save.
- Grow a garden.
- During warm weather months, growing a garden can not only be healthy and fun, but also extremely cost efficient. Plan it right, and you could really pad your budget.
- Get healthy.
- Not only is living a healthy lifestyle better for you, it can also save you money. Smoking and alcohol costs can add up. In addition, for anyone trying to buy insurance, prepare to pay a premium if you live an unhealthy lifestyle.
- Learn to use a crockpot.
- If you hate cooking when you get home from work, why not walk in to an already cooked meal? Another excuse for not eating out.
- Convert your house a “green” house.
- Many local utilities companies will perform a free energy audit on your home. By installing a programmable thermostat, energy-efficient lightbulbs, and plugging any energy leaks (like around old windows), you could see a nice drop in your utility bills without much upfront cost. Go to energy.gov for more ideas.
- Turn down your hot water heater.
- How often do you really shower with the water turned up as hot as possible? If your hottest water temperature is hotter than you can stand, turn it down. Your water heater is one of your biggest energy suckers.
- Buy quality.
- When making major purchases, determine if a higher upfront cost will result in better longevity. For instance, if a slightly more expensive dryer will last five years longer, you might want to spend the extra money now.
- Live within your means.
- This should be a no brainer. If you spend more than you make, credit card interest could pile up in a hurry.
- Shop one holiday in advance.
- Do you love buying Christmas decorations? Instead of loading up during the expensive Christmas season, why don’t you buy them the day after Christmas when they’re on sale? Halloween? Easter? Fourth of July? Still applies.
- Buy generic.
- Whether it’s drugs, groceries, or beauty products, challenge yourself to try the generic version. If you’re honest with yourself, bet you won’t notice much difference.
- Shop around for prescription drugs.
- Drug prices can vary drastically from one pharmacy to the next. Find the best price for you.
- Cancel unnecessary memberships.
- Social clubs, magazines, newspapers, online subscriber-only sites. Figure out if you’re really getting your money’s worth.
- Put some air in your tires.
- Believe it or not, underinflated tires can really but the brakes on your gas mileage. Refer to your auto manual to find the optimal level.
- Buy cheaper gas.
- If you drive a lot, gas savings can really add up. Check out gasbuddy.com to find cheap gas near you.
- Consider increasing your deductible.
- A small increase in your auto deductible can lead to some serious monthly savings. If you have an adequate emergency fund, you might want to consider giving your insurance agent a call.
- Buy in bulk.
- Chances are that you will use the same toilet paper in ten years that you are using now. Consider taking advantage of bulk discounts and storing products until needed.
- Clip coupons.
- It might require a little extra work, but couponing can lead to big savings.
- Consider consolidating your loans.
- Your banker may be able to save you some serious money on debt expenses. Between student loans, car loans, credit cards, mortgages, and personal lines, Americans often pay heavily to borrow. See if you can tie them together to save some money.
- Pay down your credit cards.
- Credit cards generally are one of the most expensive ways to borrow money. Think about paying off some of your debt.
- Autopay your loans.
- Prevent yourself from missing a payment. Rather than manually paying fixed loans, set them up to autopay on the same day you receive your paycheck.
- Buy used.
- Yes, it’s hard to beat the feeling of driving a new car off the lot, but if you buy a gently used vehicle or wait until the end of the year to buy last year’s model, you could see some major savings.
- Entertain yourself on the cheap.
- Do some homework to find out what activities in your area require little funding. Hiking, reading, and running are just a few options that can be done for very little.
- Reducing housing costs can potentially free some pretty substantial sums of money. In many cases with real estate, if you can sacrifice a little, you can save a lot.
- Refinance your mortgage.
- With rates near all-time lows, a refi could put extra money back in your pocket.
- Travel smart.
- Consider travelling in the offseason or to less popular locations to save on travel costs. In addition, you may find a greater sense of adventure by venturing off the beaten path.
- Reduce hotel costs.
- Peer-to-peer lodging like Airbnb or VRBO can really save you an arm and a leg.
- Be smart with your credit card.
- Learn to beat the system. A good rewards program can make all the difference. Find a cashback option, and use it for everything. BEWARE: Make sure you don’t spend more than is in your monthly budget.
- Make your own coffee.
- Make your own coffee, and look at the local coffee shop a special treat rather than a daily necessity.
Above are just some ideas. Let’s look at the real effect of four of these ideas.
Make your own coffee.
- Go out for coffee one time a week instead of every work day.
- Assuming $3 per visit, your weekly savings would be $12 or $624 annually.
Pay down your credit cards.
- If you pay a 20% interest rate on your credit card, reducing your credit cards by $1,000 would save you $200 per year.
Consider increasing your auto deductible.
- By increasing your deductible from $250 to $1,000, you could save up to 15% on your monthly rates. Potential savings on a $150 monthly insurance rate – $270
Eat out one less time per week
- Assuming a $15 meal, you could save $780 annually.
Total annual savings
- Coffee – $624
- Credit cards – $200
- Insurance – $270
- Eating out – $780
- Total – $1,874
Save the Savings
Let’s take it one step further and imagine you put your smart savings toward your retirement. If you took your extra $1,874 each year and invested it for 30 years at a 7% growth rate, it would amount to an extra $177,000 towards your retirement.
You see….the small things really can make a big difference.
Don’t try to tackle this list all at once. Instead, pick two or three that you can apply to your life. Then make sure you do something smart with the extra savings. If you continuously find extra little ways to put money in the bank, you could be well on the way to accumulating a nice sum of money.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This is a hypothetical example and is not representative of any specific situation. Your results will vary.