Maybe you wish you could save more money for a rainy day or to spend on a nice vacation, but the thought of giving up free time to work a second job doesn’t sound attractive to you.
If so, it might be time to make some minor course corrections with your budget. You may be wasting money every month, so by making just a few small changes, you could save big—maybe even more than $7,000—in just 12 months. Consider the following adjustments that may help put some extra money back into your pocket and your savings.
1. Nix your morning coffee shop stop
We likely won’t gain any love from the big coffee shops with this suggestions, but consider the following: If you buy a $3 cup of coffee just once a day, you could be spending as much as $63 per month, or more than $750 per year. By making that same amount of coffee at home, you could actually save more than $700 per year.
2. Evaluate your monthly subscriptions
Consider evaluating your monthly subscriptions to determine what you truly need and where you may be overspending – or duplicating services. With all the available streaming services, including music, movies, television, and even premium video channels, you may be paying more than $40 per month, or up to $480 per year, not to mention the often additional costs of high-bandwidth Internet access these services may require.
One option to potentially lower these bills is to, once a month, call the customer service department of one of your cable, cellular, or Internet service providers to ask about special offers they may be running. And for your added entertainment pleasure, remember that your local library has movies and music rentals, usually for free.
However, if you just can’t survive without streaming services, keeping only one could still save you $396 per year, while dropping $20 from your monthly cable bill and another $20 from your monthly Internet bill could save you an additional $480 each year.
3. Be smart with home energy
Serious home upgrades such as solar panels bring benefits over time, but even small changes such as lowering the thermostat in the winter and raising it in the summer can save you plenty. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household spends $2,500 a year on energy. By using high-efficiency light bulbs and being thrifty with the thermostat, you can save up to 25 percent each month, or potentially up to $625 a year for the average household.
4. Pack your lunch
If you eat out every day during the workweek, you might be spending $6, or more, per meal. By making your lunch at home, you may be able to cut your per-lunch cost in half, saving up to $780 a year, and eating a healthier lunch too.
5. Eat out less and in more
Staying home for dinner can also save you money. If, on average, you eat four meals out each week at about $15 per dinner, you’re spending around $2,120 each year at restaurants. By learning how to prepare inexpensive dinners at home at about $4 per serving, and reducing your meals out from four to two per week, you could save about $1,144 a year.
6. Free events in your town
One movie ticket can cost about $12, but removing this expense doesn’t mean cutting out entertainment. Where you live may have options for free things to do, such as days with free entrance to museums, movies or concerts in the park, and even firework displays. All it takes is seeking them out. Replacing even one $12 ticket per week with entertainment that’s free could save you more than $620 each year.
7. Grocery shop with a list and a budget
If you spend $100 a week on groceries, find ways to trim that amount to see savings. You can plan your grocery trips around sale items, use coupons, avoid impulse purchases (especially when you’re hungry), and buy ingredients with lunches in mind (think: leftover dinners). If you cut your bill by $10 a trip, you can save up to $520 a year.
8. Be wise with credit cards
Credit cards can be a great source for cutting unnecessary expenses. For example, you can avoid interest by paying your balance in full each month; or, if you carry a balance, you can make a large payment toward it. You may accrue less interest on the smaller balance. Also, try to avoid out-of-network ATM charges to earn extra savings.
According to a 2015 NerdWallet Study, the average credit card debt per indebted household is $15,863. With a national average credit card APR of about 15 percent, paying your balance off each month may help avoid an average of $2,379 in annual interest.
If you can cut out two $5 ATM charges per month and avoid paying $2,379 in interest on your credit cards, you may be looking at a savings of approximately $2,500 a year.
9. Maximize insurance savings
Car insurance may offer some of your best opportunities for savings. Shopping around for a new plan or transferring to a new insurer may save you money each month, as could discounts for a safe driving record. For example, the average car insurance payment is $907 per year. By switching, finding discounts, or bundling insurance plans, you may be able to save 3 to 22 percent. Saving 20 percent, on average, would come out to $181 in annual savings.
That’s a nice vacation or rainy day fund
By minimizing costly habits and reviewing your monthly expenses, you might be surprised by how much money you can free up. If you followed each of these steps, your savings could potentially amount to $7,453 in a year, all without earning a penny more in salary.
Now, the real key is putting this money to use. Rather than let an extra $7,000 sit in your bank account, consider putting some or all of it towards your financial goals. Whether it’s saving for retirement, paying off a loan, or even just making an extra mortgage payment each month, seeing this extra money benefit you and your future might make cutting these costs even easier. So try some of these steps now and make sure your money isn’t going to waste when it could be put to work.