Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Save $100 a Month

Save $100 a Month

It's not hard to find ways to save a few dollars here and there, and those few dollars can easily add up to $100 or more per month. Consider making changes to your routine to find the cash to put into your emergency fund, savings for a down payment on a home, your retirement account, a long overdue vacation, or your children's future education.

Look at your daily habits.  Cutting out relatively small expenditures like a daily gourmet coffee, a nicotine habit, or an after-work drink at the local pub can easily save a significant amount over the course of a month. And at $3 - $4 a pop, cutting out on one of these daily habits can save $100 a month. Get a quality travel mug and your favorite flavored creamers and brew coffee at home, trade tobacco for a healthier and less expensive alternative, or stop at the package store after work and enjoy your drinks at home. 

Bring lunch to work most days.  A hot lunch out can mean a $1 cheeseburger or a $20 meal at the local eatery, so savings here can vary widely depending on what you're eating every day. Plan your menu with a variety of salads, sandwiches, soups, and leftovers that reheat well so you don't get bored with brown-bagging it. You'll eat healthier and probably save money doing it.  

Cut out services you can do yourself.  Taking over the responsibilities of services like lawn care, a housekeeper, pest control, car washing and detailing, or dog-grooming can save you $100 or more per month. While these expensive services may prove invaluable if you just don't have the time, it'll probably be worth the effort if you get the equipment and manage to work it into your schedule.

Rethink services you don't need.  Gym memberships, zoo memberships, or museum memberships may allow unlimited access but they're not worth anything to you if you don't go often enough - it may be cheaper to pay-per-visit. Cable TV with hundreds of channels you don't watch probably won't be missed if you can find the shows you like on a much cheaper internet streaming service. Visits to the salon can be eliminated by purchasing your own products so facials and nails can be done at home.  

Trade going out for activities at home.  While we all need to get out sometime, it can become very costly if you do it often. Just cutting out one or two nights out a month can easily save you the $100 to use for something better. Stay home where the food and drinks are already paid for, and consider getting a new hobby, reading that book you never got around to, or inviting some friends over for fun and refreshments in the backyard.

Don't pay full retail.  Don't fall prey to retailers' tactics by buying that hot new item that sits upfront-and-center as you as you walk into the store. Be patient with major purchases and remember that nearly everything falls in price eventually. Consider last year's model for electronics and appliances, buy off-season clothes on clearance, shop the scratch-and-dent aisle, visit thrift stores for gently-used merchandise, signup for email coupons from your favorite online stores, and check out classified ads or online auction sites. 

Don't get suckered in by sales.  Buying something you don't really need just because it's on sale is even worse than paying full price for something you do need. The big yellow 50% off stickers on a store's window draw in many customers who never knew they needed something until they saw it on sale. And the "buy one, get one half price" deals are great if you really needed two of something. But don't fall for their trick. Just buy one pair of shoes if that's all you came in for - that second pair isn't worth any price if you didn't need them to begin with. 

Stop paying interest and other charges to financial institutions. Manage your money well so you aren't paying overdraft charges, interest charges, and late fees to your bank, credit union, or credit card issuer. Use your credit card strictly for purchases you plan on paying off on time each month to avoid interest charges and late fees, and consider it a last resort for emergencies you can't pay off right away. Have an emergency fund to cover those unexpected repairs and other unforeseen expenses. Good record-keeping will help to avoid overdrafts, and linking your savings and checking will reduce your overdraft costs in case of an accidental oversight.

There are many ways to cuts costs, and I hope this article motivates you to think of other ways to find savings for your future needs. Look carefully at your normal expenses, and I'm sure you'll find relatively painless ways to save $100 or more a month.



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Monday, 27 May 2024

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