HOW TO SAVE $1,000 IN 3 MONTHS
Let’s face it: You’ve been a little less than thrifty with the cash lately — eating out more than usual, ordering lattes every day (sometimes more than once!), and splurging on other, shall we say, less than vital items.
Now, you want to save a quick $1,000 to buttress a vacation budget, turbo-charge holiday gift-giving, or just pad your savings. Here are some easy, more-than-doable tips to meet that goal.
DUMP USELESS MEMBERSHIPS
Do you really need that pricey gym club? After all, there are so many forms of exercise you can do for free — yoga, running, biking, cycling and hiking are on the short list. If swimming is your thing, look for a no- or low-cost neighborhood pool. Your community probably boasts a rec center with basketball or track facilities too. Chances are, when the three months are up, you won’t remember what made you sign up for that costly club. According to StatisticBrain.com, the average monthly fee of a fitness club is $58, but if you live in a large city, you might be paying $100 or more. Cancel and you stand to save $174 to $300 or more.
PRESS DELETE WHEN IT COMES TO STEALH SUBSCRIPTIONS
These are monthly deductions so unobtrusive, you forget they’re there. Netflix, Spotify, and Pandora are a few examples. And do away with duplicates. Do you really need both Amazon Prime AND Hulu, for example? It might seem like drudgery, but go over your bank statement to find repeating charges you might have long forgotten about…like a membership to a shopping or gift-giving club(!), for example. If you can forget it and it’s still costing you, hey, cut the cord already. Even if the monthly charges add up to a relatively low $25 combined, trimming this kind of financial fat will save you $75 over 3 months.
SACK YOUR LUNCH
If you work at a company that offers free lunches and snacks, this doesn’t apply. Everyone else, listen up. Eating out, or even at the office cafeteria, may carry cache, but day-in, day-out, the costs can wreak havoc on your monthly budget. Think about it. A sandwich with chips and a drink, or a main dish with dessert can run you $8 to $10 or more per day, conservatively speaking. In a week, that’s $40 to $50 and in a month $160 to $200, which means you’ll save a whopping $420 to $600 over three months. If brown-bagging it makes you feel too deprived, cut lunching out down to once a week. Taking your noontime meal to work can pay off in another way too: Using leftovers from the night before ensures they won’t end up in the back of the fridge gathering mold. Get the whole family on board with this frugal habit, and the time you spend in food preparation will reap a double reward.
NIX THE LATTES
… and the pricey snacks and desserts that come with them. The drinks alone are $5 to $7, while the tasty sweets and savories ring in at $4 to $10, depending on where you live. If you don’t like the coffee at your office, find a quality thermos, and brew and bring your own. Choose to skip the caffeine altogether and, who knows? You might even sleep better at night. At a cost of $5 per coffee drink, you’ll save at least $25 per week, which adds up to $300 over three months.
GIVE COUPONS ANOTHER LOOK
Clipping coupons and printing them from the web are still viable options. But with so many online and app-accessible price breaks to be had, scrounging around for a paper coupon can be a thing of the past. Store clubs allow you to add discounts directly to the store’s club card for your next shopping trip. Some apps go further, requiring no planning or forethought. Browse price breaks as you shop through the store, scan your phone at checkout and you’re good to go. No paper, no scissors…just savings.
DITCH THE SINFUL (well, you know they are!) HABITS.
At $5 to $10 a pack or more, smoking’s not good for your wallet, your lungs, or any body around you. Even if you limit yourself to two packs per week, you’re still giving up $40 to $80 per month, or $120 to $240 over 90 days. Drop it, already, for everyone’s sake.
When it comes to drinking, well, sure, you want to be sociable and go out with friends. But it can really cost you, especially if cocktails are a weekly thing. On any given night in any US city, just two cocktails can run you at least $20. Cut back on bar nights, or cut them out altogether, if only for the next three months, and save yourself $240. If going out is a must, go rogue and order mineral or seltzer water. Friends may give a you a sidewise glance, but you’ll be in the privileged position of becoming a designated driver — which comes with compensation, in some circles…and that means more money for your cache.
CUT BACK ON CABLE
That’s right! It’s only for three months, remember. If you’ve got a package with 500 channels, say, try to make do with just 100. And you can let premium channels — HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME — lapse altogether for the 90-day term. Your cable company might get skittish and offer you a discount to re-up, which will mean continued savings even after your budgetary diet is over.
A thousand dollars sounds like a lot, but it’s an achievable 90-day savings goal if you apply simple spend-less strategies to your daily habits. Who knows? The thrill of reaching your goal — on deadline — might inspire you to keep some of your newly thrifty habits going. And that will amount to permanent upside for your financial fitness.
This article was written by Daphne O’Neal, contributor for The Daily Clutch.