Most people are looking for ways to cut back on their spending. Little savings can add up, especially if you put away small amounts consistently over time. If you cut back a little in several areas at once, you may be able to save significantly each month. Changing even a few bad financial habits can make a big difference. Here are fifteen small changes that can help you start saving today.
Bring Lunch From Home
According to USA Today, the average cost of eating lunch out is about $11 a meal, and that is a low estimation. You can eat leftovers or make your lunch at home, for an average cost of just over $6 per meal. That adds up to roughly a $5.00 savings today—$25.00 a week or $100 a month. If you are eating out for multiple meals a day, you can save even more.
Skip the Latte
Sometimes that cup of coffee is the perfect pick-me-up to get you through the day. Although a basic coffee will not put you out, and the cost of a latte may be between $3 and $5, getting one every day all year can add up. Brew your coffee at home, and save the lattes for a treat.
Evaluate Your Cell Phone Plan
Whether you are getting overage charges or you are paying for more data than you need, you may be able to save money by switching your plan. Look at the plans that your provider offers and choose one that's best for your budget. When you qualify for a free phone upgrade, it usually means that your contract is up for renewal. Take the chance to review what other options are available.
Stop Paying Interest
Make it a priority to pay your credit cards off on time and in full every month. The interest charges that add up when you carry a balance can really eat away at your budget. When you are not paying interest, on the other hand, you can begin investing your money and start earning interest instead. One of the best ways to save is to avoid going into debt.
Cook at Home
Eating out once a week may not be something to worry about, but if you do it every evening, the costs can really add up—especially if you have a large family. The habits you establish in your 20s will follow you as you get older and have kids. Establishing a routine where you eat at home most of the time can save you later on. Take the time to plan a menu and shop the sales to really increase your savings.
It may seem simple, but coupons are one of the best ways to save money consistently. You can go the extreme couponing route and clip coupons, look online for coupons, and shop the coupons with the sales to really increase your savings. People who do this save a lot on their groceries, but coupons extend past that. You can use coupons for your favorite restaurants and for other services. Check the mail that you receive and sign up for newsletters and loyalty programs at your favorite stores to get the best deals.
Shop for New Insurance
You can often save money on your car and home insurance policies by shopping for a new provider every few years. Insurance companies offer their best rates to new customers. If you recently turned 25 or had tickets drop off of your history in the last year, you may be able to save even more. Ask your current company to check if you qualify for lower rates and shop around for the best deal.
Give Yourself an Allowance
Set aside a little bit of fun money to spend however you want to each month. The amount depends on your budget, but it can make a big difference in being able to reach your goals and stay focused. Budgeting for fun will help you save money because it allows for some splurges and prevents you from overspending.
Try Store Brands
One of the ways to save at the grocery store or even on household items is by trying out the store brands. Practice a little trial and error, though, and don't buy 20 boxes of a store-brand cereal before you've tried it! Some store brands are better than others, and the quality may vary from item to item. For example, you may find the canned goods are great, but that the mayonnaise is not. You can also save by choosing whichever brand is on sale or has a coupon deal that week.
Never Pay Full Price
Make it a goal never to pay full price on big-ticket items. In theory, you could apply this to most things including your groceries, but you should make it a requirement for major items like furniture, electronics, and clothing. You can save money by learning the sales cycle and waiting to purchase until you can find the price you want.
When you go shopping, take your smartphone and double-check prices against online retailers. You may be able to save a lot by shopping online. Look at stores that offer free shipping on orders to get the best deals.
Take Advantage of Free Entertainment
Cutting down on entertainment costs is one of the quickest was to save money, but that doesn't mean you have to stay inside and do nothing. Many cities and towns offer free entertainment over the summer or other opportunities to do fun things at a reduced price. Some activities you may look for include movies out on the lawn, free concerts, and festivals.
Cut Out Cable
With Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming options, there is no need to spend a lot of money on television every month. If your budget is tight, consider switching to a cheaper streaming service. You won't have as many options, but you can still enjoy some entertainment without spending as much.
Getting sick can be costly, so it's important to be proactive about staying healthy. If you have health insurance, it probably includes a free annual physical, so it is a good idea to go in and make sure you are healthy. If you are sick, visit the doctor sooner rather than later. Catching a cold before it turns into pneumonia can save you money—and days off of work. Additionally, choosing healthy food and exercising regularly can help reduce the chance of health complications from being overweight.
Set Up Automatic Transfers to Savings
Set a goal for how much you want to save each pay period and then set up an automatic transfer to your accounts to make that happen. This way, you do not miss the money that is moved automatically to your account, and you do not have to think about saving each month. It will just happen.