Forget about the smartphone. You'll go broke keeping up with all the new cellphone releases from Apple and Samsung. Get the most basic plan out there, just call and text would suffice.
Are you looking for ways to save an extra $1,000 this year? You are not alone. Millions of Americans are trying to save more money in these difficult financial times, and if you’ve tried saving money before, you understand how difficult it can be.
Thankfully, you don’t necessarily need to find large chunks of savings to get to your thousand dollar goal. In fact, the easiest way to come up with this savings is to find a handful of things that could be costing you just 20 dollars a month. The combined savings, though, is enough to put a good dent in that emergency fund, vacation savings, or college tuition.
1. Cut On Car Costs
If you live in a city with public transportation, you can probably get to your $1,000 goal and much more by simply getting rid of your car. Of course, this is not always possible, and in most locations in America, not realistic.
Cars are such an integral part of modern society that we forget they are a relatively recent invention. Not that long ago people walked or took public transportation to wherever they needed to go. But times have changed, and more people live outside of cities than ever before. As someone who may not have the ability to ditch their car completely, there are still a few tips to help you save money.
If you’re not ready to go completely sans wheels, then here are a few ideas:
- Review your insurance policy. Make sure you actually need all the coverage you are paying for. Raising your deductibles alone could save you $200 dollars per year. If you have an older car that’s paid for and not worth a whole lot, consider dropping collision or comprehensive coverage. That can save you between $200-$400 dollars this year.
- The average automatic car wash costs around $8 dollars per wash. If you run your car through a car wash every couple of weeks, you could be spending at least $200 a year to keep your car clean. Especially in warm weather, skip the automatic wash and grab a hose. Not only does washing your car yourself get more dirt, salt and grime off, it also burns calories.
Yearly car savings: $200-$600 dollars
2. Save On Entertainment
Average costs for monthly cable and satellite runs between $50 – $100 per month. Many folks forget that cable television is a luxury, and there are better and healthier ways to spend downtime.
If you must get your television and movie fix, consider the following:
- Hulu, Crackle, YouTube and network sites allow you to watch many shows for free.
- Local libraries let you borrow movies for free.
- Netflix and Redbox are cheap alternatives when renting movies or seasons of television shows.
- Tag sales, Craigslist and eBay are all places to purchase super-cheap movies.
Yearly entertainment savings: $600-$1200 dollars
3. Save Money On Your Phone
Are you paying for too many minutes on your cell phone? If you’re like the majority of Americans, you probably are. Latest trends indicate that most people only use about half of the minutes and data allotment on their plan. If you can downgrade to a lower tier, there’s potentially hundreds of dollars a year at stake.
Another common mistake is simply buying more phone than you need. Advertisements tell people that they will be happier if they own the latest and most advanced phone. I don’t know about you, but my old iPhone 4 works just fine, and no matter how many commercials I see, upgrading to an iPhone 5 and paying hundreds of dollars to do so isn’t going to make my life any better.
Start by switching plans. If you drop from unlimited minutes to 1,000, you could save upwards of $30 dollars a month. If you’re in the market for a new phone, why not take a look at some of the pre-paid options available? This can easily save you $50 – $100 dollars each month.
Yearly phone savings: $300 – $1200 dollars
4. Save On Burning Calories
Average monthly gym membership fees range from $20 – $40 per month. Walking or jogging in your local park is free. Remember that New Year’s resolution gym membership you bought but never use? It’s costing you. Even if it’s just $20 a month and you go to the gym a couple of times a month, you’re wasting money. You can do many of the same workouts at home or outside.
You can download free yoga and weight-training videos online, or pick up some cheap workout videos on Craigslist and eBay. At the very least, join your local YMCA where membership fees can be half of what they are at many gyms.
Yearly savings: $200 – $400 dollars
5. Save On Housing Costs
Do you have an extra room to rent? You can make $400 or more per month by renting a room out. You can even offer short-term rentals which are very popular if you live in a college town. Renting out part of your home isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve got unused space, it’s worth considering.
If you’re not in the mood to be a landlord, how about downsizing your apartment? You can save well over $1000 dollars per year by taking this one step. Just moving to a different neighborhood can save you money. Think about your lifestyle and how much living space you actually need. If you rented an apartment thinking those extra bedrooms were needed for friends and family who visit, but rarely visit anyway, you’re just throwing hundreds of dollars a year away.
If changing your living quarters isn’t an option, you can always improve your energy usage in your existing home. Begin switching over to CFL bulbs, install a programmable thermostat, seal up drafty windows, and you can still save a few hundred dollars a year.
Yearly savings: $400 – $2000 dollars
These are just a few ideas on how to find a way to save an extra $1,000 this year. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so what ideas do you have?
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.
Get a programmable thermostat. You can set it and forget about it. Everyone’s in a hurry these days that although we want to save, we just couldn’t find the time. At home, I really appreciate this gadget.
It's really a waste to spend on gym membership and not use it. I think we all had that same new year's resolution. If you are really determined to lose weight, there are a lot of ways to do so without having you to spend so much money on it. Yes, jogging in the park is free. And with the internet tip, well, the internet is better than cable TV if you know where to look.