Curious about some good ways to save money fast? Want to save an extra $1,000 or more this year? Whether you are living paycheck to paycheck, or just want to bump up your savings rate, here are great ideas to help out!
First, The Weekly Savings Chart
Before talking about some easy ways to save a thousand dollars or more each year, let’s look at what it takes. A thousand dollars is a lot of money. When you break it down though, it doesn’t take much each week to reach $1000 in a year.
As you can see from this weekly savings chart, it only takes a savings of $20 per week to save a thousand dollars per year. If you use several of the tips included below, you could likely save $5,000 this year – or more.
Saving $1,000 in a year – just $20 a week – doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Here are nine great tips that could each save you at least that much.
Pay Off Credit Cards
The average credit card interest rate in 2017 has reached an all-time of 15.59%. That means if you have a balance of $6,500 across one or more credit cards, you’re paying over $1,000 per year in interest fees. That’s money money you’ll never see a gain.
A better plan than wasting money on interest is to pay off those credit cards and never carry a balance again. Dave Ramsey and others recommend not even using credit cards – just debit and cash. Others believe it is okay to use a card as long as you have the money to pay if off each month. Regardless of your personal preference, everyone agrees – carrying a balance on credit cards makes financial success a lot harder.
Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget
Skip The Latte
I like lattes. Specifically I like chai tea lattes.
But they’re expensive at coffee shops. I almost never see them sold for less than $4.50 (before tax), and often even higher priced. Regular (non-tea) lattes run about the same price.
Enjoying a latte from a coffee shop just four times per week is costing you about a thousand dollars per year. That’s an expensive habit! If someone handed you a thousand dollars, would you spend it on coffee or find something better to do with it?
But, if you are like me, you REALLY enjoy the occasional latte.
What do I do? I found a K-Cup chai tea latte option that tastes really good. I had to try a few before I found this one, but it’s great. Best of all – it works out to about $.60 per cup! So I can still enjoy a latte a few days per week without breaking the bank!
Here is what I buy from Amazon:Café Escapes Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods, Chai Latte, 24 Count. I noticed Amazon also has reasonably priced mocha latte K-Cups and vanilla latte K-Cups. Those non-chai ones are a little more but still save about 80% on the cost from a coffee shop!
3 Tips for Living the Good Life (Without Going Broke)
Pay Cash For Your Car
The average American car payment is $509/month according to a recent study by Experian. The same study shows that the average term for car loans is almost 69 months. Yes, that’s five years and nine months. Almost six years of paying over $500/month for a car.
Need I say it? That’s a LOT of money!
I certainly don’t advocate car payments of any time. If you can pay cash for a car, that’s your best financial move. It might not be a new or fancy car, but there are some great deals available on used cars. Cars that are perfect for getting from point A to point B.
Paying cash for a car keeps over $6,000 each year of money in your bank account – rather than the BANK’s bank account!
Cut The Cord
Cable TV is expensive. Way more expensive than it seems like it should be here in the 21st century.
Our cable bill was $150 per month! That bundle included high-speed internet access and a fairly basic cable package.
Honestly though, we almost never watched cable TV. Netflix yes; cable channels not so much – except for a few shows that we DVR’d to watch later. The only reason we had it so long was our contract – which we had to wait to end. When our agreement was up we made a change that saved us over $1,000 per year.
First we’ve identified an option to get high-speed internet access for less than $50/month. Some areas have internet options for as low as $20/month. Definitely look to see what exists in your area.
Once you have internet covered, you can look into an over-the-air antenna option (like the Mohu Leaf, a top-selling item on Amazon). I was surprised to find in my research that many people are within range of towers and get all the major channels in high-def for free!
If the antenna option won’t work for you, there are still options to consider. Services have become available lately that let you watch live broadcast TV over your internet connection. You can watch on a PC, mobile device, or – of course – on your TV (using Firestick, Chromecast, or similar device) . Two of the more popular options are Sling TV (starting at $20/month) and PS Vue (starting at $40/month). Both of these have free trial options, so you can check them out at no risk.
Believe it or not, as frugal as I am, I was leaning toward the PS Vue option. The main reason was that it includes a “cloud DVR” function. So we would be able to record shows and watch them later whenever we want. That’s more important to us than “live” TV broadcasts.
If you can get $20 internet and pay $40 for TV, that’s just $60/month – $90 less than we were paying previously. That’s $1,080 saved every year moving forward.
Come to find out though, none of the services have local channels in our market. This isn’t an issue with the services – but our local market. The only option here is over-the-air (like the Mohu mentioned above). That’s still a great option. In fact, it’s the cheapest of the options.
If an antennae works for you, go that route. If not, confirm whether the online services have local channels for your area. For people without local channel options, perhaps consider skipping live TV. All the main providers have apps now so you can watch their shows online at your leisure. This is what we do now for the few shows we care to watch.
Quick side note: Have you noticed that Amazon will be streaming Thursday night NFL Football games? More and more non-cable options are coming available all the time. It’s definitely the way of the future.
Skip A Restaurant Meal
The average American family spends over $3,000 each year on dining out.
It isn’t uncommon for quick carry-out to cost over $20, or for a sit-down meal to run well above $50. Consider now that most families cook 4-6 times per week – meaning 1-3 meals out each week. It isn’t hard to see how we easily spend $3k dining outside the house.
Consider skipping one meal out each week. Saving that $25-$50 each week can easily add up to another thousand dollars in your bank account!
One of the best benefits of this option is that you can save money fast! You’ll see immediate results from taking action on this money saving tip.
A great way to make saving easier is to use a low-cost meal-planning service like $5 Meal Plan. For just $5 a month, they’ll send you a delicious meal plan where every meal will cost about $2 per person – and in most cases less. Start your free trial today to check it out.
Don’t like meal-planning, building grocery lists, or shopping? Maybe consider a fresh food delivery service like HelloFresh.
How to eat a half million dollars
Don’t Buy Bottled Water
Just don’t. It’s not worth it and the bottles are bad for the environment.
Your tap water doesn’t taste great? Neither does ours. But instead of bottled water my wife and I each have a water bottle that we refill from our Britta water pitcher. We keep it in the fridge so the water is nice and cold, and it tastes just as good as anything from a bottle.
By the way, we each have a CamelBak Chute water bottle and we love them. They also have a lifetime warranty. The lid strap broke on mine a while back so I reached out to them about it. They mailed a brand new lid to me right away – no questions asked. I definitely recommend it.
Cigarettes are expensive. If you smoke, I’m sure you know this already.
With the average pack of cigarettes costing $5.51 per pack (varying of course by state), and many people smoking almost a pack a day, that adds up! Quitting smoking can easily save a thousand dollars or more each year.
Non-smokers also save money on health insurance, life insurance, and related medical costs. Maintaining healthier habits can have a big impact on your budget.
Workout At Home
We recently canceled our gym membership.
Believe it or not, we actually used our gym memberships (apparently many people don’t). Still, we realized we could work out at home for a fraction of the cost.
The gym was costing us $1,016 per year. Now we get just as good of a workout at home just using a basic yoga mat, inexpensive dumbbells, and often following a workout routine from Fitness Blender (free) or one of the routines from Blogilaties (also free).
So far we have no regrets at all – not even a little – about canceling that gym membership!
Cut Investment Costs
No surprise that we’re mentioning investments, right?
There are times that certain investing costs are definitely justified – just understand what you’re paying and getting.
A situation we often see is people who’ve invested their money into high-cost actively-managed mutual funds. The type of fund they purchase generally isn’t a concern, but the costs are.
Average mutual fund fees run around 1.5% annually. Yes, seriously.
Many people don’t realize that they can instead purchase low-cost ETFs (exchange-traded funds) which function essentially the same but cost way less. How much less? Almost all of them have expenses under 1/2% and some have costs as low as .07%. That’s right. Point Zero Percent!
By switching from high-cost mutual funds and instead investing in low-cost funds or ETFs, you can easily save thousands of dollars each year. Best of all, this is one of the easiest ways to save money. After some initial changes, it doesn’t impact your day-to-day activities at all.
Don’t want to track down specific ETFs and analyze them to build your own portfolio? Let an unbiased financial life planner do the work for you! Just reach out to talk about how I can help you achieve your goals through holistic planning.
Excellent. Your costs are even a bit less. You just need to look around at the details of the various investment funds you are considering. Make sure you understand the total annual expenses associated with those investments. Be sure to consider any trading costs too. (Yes, classic brokerages charge every time you buy or sell something.)
“Little” investing costs can really add up over time. Especially when you might have 10, 20, or more years of investing toward your retirement!
Wrapping Up These Ways To Save
Using just one of these tips can easily put (or keep) another thousand dollars each year in your bank account. Financial success is largely dependent on properly ordering your priorities. Is there something you’d really like to use $1,000 toward? Do you want it more than at least one of the above? If so – problem solved.
Have you done any of these already? Do you have any additional tips to share that have helped you save at least a thousand dollars per year? Let us know in the comments below.