Archives for March 9, 2012

5 Ways to Save Money Today

Are you looking for a quick way to save money today? Consider the following five options for cutting back your spending to see immediate results!

1. Cancel your cable

I think this is seriously the best piece of advice out there. I’ve had at least 3 friends cancel their cable in the past year to save over $1,000. I haven’t watched cable since June and (with the exception of the past year because my roommate wants it) haven’t paid for cable since I was in college.

If you don’t want to (or won’t) cancel your cable then at least call your provider and ask for a lower rate or reduce your number of channels. If you go from $120 to $80/month, you can save almost $500 in the next 12 months.

2. Leave your credit cards at home

I know financial advisors say to cut up the credit cards, but not everyone likes that idea. Mine sit in a cup on my desk for when I have a major or online purchase that I don’t want to use my debit card for (plane tickets, WDS ticket, etc). But when I leave the house, those cards stay in the cup. Why? If I don’t have them, I won’t use them, and if I don’t use them, I think twice about spending money.

If you don’t want to (or won’t) leave your cards at home then get these free credit card stickers from Ready for Zero. I have used them in the past and they are amazing. Imagine being in line for groceries, realizing you are over your food budget and decide to pay by credit card. You pull the card out and *BAM* have to strip off the stickers to make it work. It’s a tad bit embarrassing.

3. Drink brewed coffee

Financial experts love to beat up on coffee. Sure, if you stop spending $5 every week day you’re going to save money, but for some people, not drinking coffee is unrealistic. I know it is for me. So I simply drink brewed coffee. In fact, the most popular drink at Starbucks is a plain cup of joe.

According to the National Coffee Association, gourmet coffee is 37% of total coffee consumed, “indicating that consumers want to maintain coffee quality despite the uncertain economy.”

If you don’t want to (or won’t) drink brewed coffee then consider getting a smaller size or join a frequent buyer program. At Starbucks, becoming a gold card member will net you free basic syrups. Order a brewed coffee with vanilla, add cream and you have a great substitute for a vanilla latte (side bonus of less calories if you don’t use too much cream).

4. Give up the gym membership

Yes, you really can survive without the gym, especially if you’re the person who shells out a couple hundred dollars a month for going once a week. Pick up some fitness videos from the library, thrift store or iTunes (even better are video podcasts) and do them in your living room or backyard. You might feel silly, but who cares? You’re getting your workout in and being smart about it. I did this for about a year and was able to stay in great shape off of running and body weight exercises.

If you don’t want to (or won’t) give up the gym membership then consider switching gyms, changing subscription programs if not locked into a contract, or consider paying the drop in rate if you don’t go very frequently. I know when I stopped going to my yoga studio two years ago, it was because the $120/month wasn’t worth it for the one or two classes I was attending. Drop in would have been MUCH cheaper at $15 a pop.

5. Don’t go out for lunch

If you’re anything like me, you love to get out of the office at lunch, but at what cost? With most basic lunches costing minimum $5, that can add up to at least $100 every month. Since I try to eat something somewhat healthy, my lunches turn out closer to $10/day, so I’d be spending more like $200/month just on lunch! Instead, grab some leftovers from the night before or purchase extra frozen dinners to keep in the fridge at work and spend your lunch hour running errands, at the library or at a nearby park.

If you don’t want to (or won’t) stay in for lunch then consider cutting back to several times a week, skipping the add-ons or eating at cheaper establishments. A six inch sandwich at Subway runs me $3.50 vs eating at Panera which will run me $7-9 minimum.

Anything I missed that might be easy to do today to help you save money? Anything on this list you can’t live without?

(image via Birmingham Mom; purchased at z gallerie)