The concepts of living your best life and saving money don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The trick to doing both is to make socking away those dollars as painless as possible. Spending less is a good start, but make sure the money you don’t spend finds its way into the piggy bank.
And now is the right time to start. Here are 18 ways to save an extra $1,000 this year.
1. Trim your entertainment subscriptions ruthlessly.
Almost 20 percent of us subscribed to three or more streaming services at the end of 2016, according to Statista, and the trendline suggests even more of us have tripled up today. Maybe it’s time to cut more than cords.
Get a streaming buddy with whom you can alternate services. You pay for Netflix because who doesn’t want to see Claire Underwood as president on “House of Cards”? Then head over to your buddy’s to watch the next season of “Big Little Lies” on HBO Go. Or keep it under the same roof: Isn’t this precisely what roommates are for?
You’ll save at least $100 to $150 a year for each streaming service you drop. Netflix customers now pay $11 to $14 a month after the company’s third rate hike in as many years. Sirius Radio goes for $21 a month. SlingTV Orange or Blue for $40 a month. HBO Go for $14.99. Major League Baseball At-Bat for $20. Plenty of room for some thinning out.
2. Drink the office coffee.
Yes, this tired old saw remains as reliable a savings tip as it ever was. Each time you hit Starbucks and spend $4 on a latte, a banker keels over clutching his chest.
Here’s the math: $4 a day for coffee x 365 days a year = $1,460 a year. (Don’t count weekends and you’re still talking over $1,000.) And that’s not figuring in tips or the time you waste standing in line to have your name misspelled. The piggy bank is watching longingly.
One easy way to make sure your effort counts is to use the Tip Yourself app to put a few dollars away every time you opt for the free java.
3. Cancel stuff after the free trial period ends.
A free trial is great, but not when it automatically signs you up for something you don’t really want. Most of these deals require that you be proactive and cancel the subscription or service by a certain date, or the billing will begin. Forget to do it, and you’ve just spent a lot of money unnecessarily.
Free trial offers are omnipresent online. Spotify Premium will give you a month free ― and then automatically start billing you $9.99 a month. Ancestry.com provides 14 days free ― and then, depending on which plan you’re taking for a spin, hits your credit card for up to $44.95 a month or $199 a year. Amazon Prime gives you a free month ― before charging $99 to your credit card annually.
So mark the date the free trial ends and set a calendar reminder for yourself to cancel in time.
4. Cut subscriptions that are charged to your credit card.
Sometimes we arrange to have recurring expenses charged automatically to our credit cards. But then these subscriptions or services get renewed each year without our noticing ― rate hikes included.
To help you keep track of all the automatic wallet drainers, check out the app Trim. Once you sign up and connect your bank account and phone number, it analyzes your transaction history for recurring payments. Every time your account is hit for such a payment, the app sends you a text to remind you where your money is going. It will also cancel any subscriptions you don’t want to keep.
5. Don’t overbuy online services.
Some online subscriptions work like big-box stores: It’s cheaper if you buy in quantity. But ― again, like shopping in a big-box store ― why spend money on something that you won’t really use?
For example, consider all those sites designed to help you check out the new prospects you meet on online dating sites. Most sell their services “in bulk.” BeenVerified.com charges $26.89 a month to let you check public records, but the price drops to $17.48 a month if you sign up for a three-month membership. (Under either plan, BeenVerified automatically renews your membership and charges it to your credit card.) Spokeo.com is $13.95 for one month, or $7.95 a month if you commit to three months.
If you are constantly vetting people, maybe the longer plans make sense. But if you’re using these services to check out dating prospects, will you still be looking into the backgrounds of a lot of strangers in three months? If so, you might want to expand beyond the online matchmaking services, which, by the way, offer similar pricing structures.
6. Use digital coupons and price-trackers.
There are a zillion sites that help you to find “great” deals. Not all of us have sufficient willpower to consult them only when we actually need to buy something. As a result, we purchase things that we don’t need simply because the savings are so amazing.
The good news is that are various kinds of apps that exist just to save you money on the items you want to buy, not try to sell you more.
Honey, for example, is a free web browser add-on that goes through your cart when you check out online to make sure any possible coupons or discount codes have been applied. In 2017, Honey saved members over $325 million, a company spokesman told HuffPost. More than $125 million of that savings, the spokesman said, came in November and December alone.
Another service worth checking out is CamelCamelCamel, which keeps tabs specifically on the prices of Amazon products so you know if you’re paying high and might want to wait for the price to drop.
7. Work from home at least one day a week.
A 2016 study from CareerBuilder found that, on average, employees spend more than $3,300 a year on everything that goes into getting ready for, going to and being at work every day. You could save about 20 percent on those costs if you just stayed home one day a week.
Think about it: When you don’t commute, you use less gas and don’t have to pay for parking, or you don’t shell out for trains, buses, Uber or Lyft. When you’re at home, you’re not eating lunch out or running to Starbucks (probably). Maybe you can cut back on day care for kids or pets. Plus, you might bank a tidy $660 annually just by working in your sweats once a week.
“The cost of work is often what the rest of your budget is centered around,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement about the study.
Here are five tips for negotiating a work-from-home schedule with your boss.
8. Drive less.
Those who decreased their total annual miles from 10,000 to 5,000 saved an average of 7 percent on their premiums, according to a 2015 study by Quadrant Information Services. Drivers who went from 15,000 to 5,000 miles a year saw an average discount of 8.4 percent, while those whose yearly mileage exceeded 20,000 got car insurance savings of 9.1 percent when they kept their driving to 5,000 miles.
If you switch to carpooling, ride-sharing, biking or even car-sharing, you’re going to spend less money on auto insurance. Plus, “Gee, the price of gas is so cheap now” is said by nobody ever.
9. Drive more.
There is one big exception to the drive-less-to-save-money rule: when you’re taking the family to a destination less than 500 miles away. Then it’s actually cheaper to drive than to fly. With the average cost of a roundtrip U.S. flight hovering at $367, Time magazine calculated that a family of four can save more than $1,200 by driving when they’re heading somewhere less than 500 miles away ― even when an overnight stop is included.
10. Stop paying others to drive things to you.
Only use meal delivery services when you really, really need to ― perhaps you’re miserably sick and chicken soup has to be brought to your front door. Otherwise, delete your credit card information on UberEats, GrubHub and other food delivery apps, and stock your own refrigerator.
Why? Because UberEats, for example, charges $5 per delivery. If you order lunch delivered twice a week, that’s $10 a week or more than $500 a year, not including tips ― money you can put in the bank instead.
11. If you drive a clunker, insure a clunker.
If you’re driving an older model car, consider dropping comprehensive and collision coverage, the Insurance Information Institute suggests. That particular insurance element pays for damage to your vehicle, but only up to the car’s actual value. So if your clunker is worth a mere $2,500, that’s all you’ll get.
Eliminating the comprehensive and collision coverage could save you between $375 and $1,500 a year ― which could help you begin building that decent-car fund you really need.
12. Direct deposit your pay somewhere it’s hard to touch.
During the Great Depression and for decades afterward, banks offered their customers a very popular savings vehicle known as the Christmas Club. It wasn’t a club at all, but a short-term savings account that encouraged people to build a small nest egg for the holidays. Customers were required to deposit a fixed amount of money each week (generally small amounts) and couldn’t withdraw the funds until a few weeks before Christmas.
Therein lay the success of Christmas Clubs: You couldn’t touch your money once the bank had it. It was a savings account with no early withdrawal.
The point is that sometimes we need a stern authority and strict rules to back up our wavering self-discipline. Admit that having your entire pay deposited into a checking account doesn’t help you save a nickel. If your employer offers multiple direct deposit options, have a certain amount from each paycheck sent directly into your savings account. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, participate! You won’t miss what you never see.
13. Liberally apply the 30-day rule to your purchasing.
Impulse spending is a bad, bad thing. Yet personal finance comparison site Finder.com surveyed over 2,200 Americans last year and found that 88.6 percent made impulse buys online, spending an average of $81.75 per session.
The trick when you see something you want is to wait 30 days to determine if you still want it. And ― this will come as no surprise ― there’s an app for that. Finder’s free Icebox Chrome extension encourages you to rein in your buying impulse up to 30 days by replacing the “buy” button on websites with a “put it on ice” button. It keeps a list of items and lets you know when the “cooling period” is up, at which point maybe the urge to purchase has passed.
14. Don’t drink and shop.
Shopping while drinking is a specific type of impulse shopping, which the app DrnkPay deals with head-on. Users link their credit cards to the app and set the number of drinks they plan to have. A Breathalyzer test is also connected via Bluetooth. If the user exceeds that preset limit per the Breathalyzer, all cards are blocked for 12 hours. Users can set the types of merchants to block, such as bars and online retailers, but still leave themselves able to order and pay for a ride home.
15. Renegotiate your rent.
Yes, of course you can do that! Stop seeing yourself as a tenant. You’re a consumer of what your landlord is selling ― in this case, the opportunity to rent an apartment. You can renegotiate even after you lived there for a few years. In fact, it’s easier after you’ve been there a while. Does your landlord really want to boot out your non-complaining, pet-less, quiet, perfect-tenant self and face having an empty unit over a few bucks less a month?
16. Sell before you give away.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Consider selling what you don’t want instead of just tossing it out. Garage sales, eBay, Craigslist and your local NextDoor or community bulletin board can all feather your savings nest a bit. According to the research group Statistics Brain, garage sales generate $4.2 million in weekly revenue, Saturday is the best day of the week to hold them, and as long as you sell items for less than you paid for them, you don’t need to report what you make to the Internal Revenue Service.
17. Give away before you toss.
If something doesn’t sell outright, contribute it to charity. Even if itemizing your charitable donations no longer makes financial sense under the new tax law, you’ve done a good thing. Toss the item as a last resort.
18. Stop wasting money on the lottery.
Americans spend more than $70 billion a year on lottery tickets. Some households drop more than $1,000 a piece, according to data site Metrocosm.
Reality check: Your chances of winning Powerball are about 1 in 292 million. Pass up a ticket and tip yourself the cost.