There are things in life that we all do or buy on a daily basis that while may seem like small expenses in the short term, really add up to larger expenses over time. Here are 14 ways to save money… up to $33,000 in the next year! You will have to make some sacrifices and lifestyle changes, but with big sacrifice comes big rewards.
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1. Make a Grocery List and Meal Plan
This is a major one where you will have the most control over. I went from walking through the grocery store and pulling “what looked good” off the shelves and spending upwards of $1000 a month to planning my meals, creating a list, and spending about $300 a month on groceries. It is so freeing!
Potential Savings: $8400 per year
Investment Cost: Time
2. Pack Your Lunch
This is a huge money saver. If you go out to eat every weekday and spend around $10 a day for lunch that is $2600 a year on lunch!
Even if you only go out to lunch two or three times a week, that is still about $1300 a year on lunch.
Pack up those leftovers from dinner the night before (hopefully you are not eating out for dinner every night too) or stock up on some deli meat and make a sandwich!
There are so many healthier and cheaper options for lunch. You could also invest in a cool lunch box.
Potential Savings: $1000-2300 per year
Investment Cost: $20-30 for a lunch box
3. Order Water at Restaurants
If you love to eat out but are trying to stretch your restaurant budget, try ordering only water to drink.
It is free and if you are like me, the food is the real reason you love going out to eat anyway!
Alcohol is extremely overpriced at restaurants and non-alcoholic drinks will usually come with more ice than anyone could ever need.
If a family of four goes out to dinner and everyone orders a soft drink at about $2.50 per drink, that is $10 per restaurant experience. If the adults order an alcoholic drink at about $6-7 per drink, that adds an additional $6-14 per meal.
If the average family eats out 2-3 times per week then that would be anywhere from $40-60 per week, $160-240 per month, and about $2000-2800 per year – just on LIQUID.
So order water and enjoy the food!
Potential Savings: $2000-$2800 per year
Investment Cost: $0
4. Make Your Coffee at Home
I know. I know. So lame. I personally do not drink coffee so I don’t get “it”. But I have been told that getting the coffee from Starbucks or wherever you get your morning coffee is part of the thrill in itself. However, it is such a huge waste of money!
The average spent on coffee per week is $20.
That is about $1000 a YEAR (per person!) spent on a drink!
Buy a Keurig machine, buy some K-cups, and make your own coffee. Or better yet, buy some coffee grounds and brew your own coffee. The cost savings are amazing.
We buy a huge box of K-cups every 3 months or so for about $25. That means we spend about $100 a year on coffee. Make that $200 when we have to eventually buy a new machine…still WAY cheaper.
Potential Savings: $800-900 per year (per person)
Investment Cost: $100 for a coffee maker
5. Stick to the Basics When it Comes to Drinks
At home on a daily basis, we drink water and milk. Occasionally we will buy orange juice, but we never buy soda, tea, or lemonade, and alcohol is bought on special occasion but has to be considered as part of the budget. Milk is definitely a staple in our house so that is a permanent fixture in our budget and water is free.
All the other drink options can contain so much extra sugar that is not needed for your health OR your budget.
If a family of four buys a half gallon of juice and a case of soda every week at $2.50 for the juice and $4.50 for the case of soda (current prices at Wegmans) then each week they would be spending $7 on sugary drinks, each month approximately $28, and each year $336.
This may not seem like too much money in the long run but this is the minimum, as in my experience most families have a variety of juices, teas, lemonades, sodas available to them at all times. So if you double this amount for the average family then that is $672 per year. Which for my family is about two months worth of groceries.
Potential Savings: $336-672 per year
Investment Cost: $0
6. Drink Tap Water
While bottled water itself can be inexpensive if you buy in bulk, over time it can really add up as an expense.
Try drinking water from the tap and filling up a refillable water bottle (I’ve used this brand for years) at home before you leave the house.
If you are worried about your water’s taste or safety, invest in a water filter.
A case of water costs $2.69 and gets you 35 bottles at Wegmans. If a family of 4 consumes 6 bottles a day then they would need to buy about 4 cases a month. That would be about $10.69 a month and $129.12 per year.
Potential Savings: $130 per year
Investment Cost: $25-30
7. Cloth Diaper
Cloth diapering can definitely save you money over the course of your child’s diapering life. If you use the cloth diapers for one child, the savings can be a couple hundred dollars. If you re-use the diapers for multiple children, the savings increase tremendously. In fact, if you have two or three children, you could end up spending the same amount on diapering as someone who diapers ONE child in disposables. If you are interested in trying out cloth diapering, check out my
In fact, if you have two or three children, you could end up spending the same amount on diapering as someone who diapers ONE child in disposables.
If you are interested in trying out cloth diapering, check out my tips to get started.
To get a more in-depth look at cloth diapering, check out my 3-part series I wrote for a local blog.
Potential Savings: $500 for one child and $1800-3000 for 2-3 children
Investment Cost: Initial investment of cloth diapers is about $500-600
While I realize that not everyone is able to breastfeed, I do believe that everyone should try.
Not only is it extremely healthy for your child, it is FREE (for the most part). In any case, it is much cheaper than formula.
The cost of formula for one year can range from $800 to $3100 depending on the brand you use and how much your child eats.
You will need to invest in some items for nursing such as nursing bras, a pump (if your insurance does not cover it), breast milk bags, and a couple bottles. The bottles and pump are not even necessary if you are not planning on working outside the home or leaving your child with anyone while breastfeeding.
Potential Savings: $600-2900 per year
Investment Cost: $100-$200 for breastfeeding supplies
9. Buy Toys and Kids Clothes at Consignment Shops
I had a hard time deciding to try out consignment shopping for my daughter. It turns out that consignment shopping is really at its best for kids – especially little ones!
The clothes have only been worn a handful of times and are usually in great condition. The toys are usually plastic and can easily be cleaned if need be.
Kids go through clothes and toys so fast that many people are trying to get rid of like new items to make room for more toys and clothes, so it really is a steal when you find a great item.
On my most recent trip to a consignment sale, I spent about $180 on baby items including clothes, toys, and gear. The sale prices their items at about 40% off retail which means I saved approximately $120. I go to this sale twice a year and occasionally visit other consignment shops.
That means on average I save about $250-300 per year on baby items. I am not going to pretend like I do not also buy things new but any savings is money in my pocket!
Potential Savings: $250-300 per year (for one kid)
Investment Cost: $0
10. Become a One Car Family
If you are able to do this then I say GO FOR IT! I wish we lived in a city where there was more public transportation so that we could survive on one car.
The cost savings in gas, insurance, maintenance costs, etc. would be so worth it.
Another option would be to have one person in the household carpool to work with a friend, but it would need to be someone reliable and with generally the same schedule.
We have three cars, but one is only used rarely (old truck) and in the last year we spent $4500 on gas, maintenance, and insurance. I am going to go ahead and guess that we could save at least half of that if we got rid of one car.
According to AAA, in 2015, it cost the average American about $8700 to own a car. Wow. For one car. Maybe think about selling a car?
Potential Savings: $2250 – 8700 (figure out where you fall)
Investment Cost: $0 (if you use public transportation or carpooling)
11. Use the Library
Have you ever really checked out the services a library offers? Not only do they have many new books and movies, they have e-books, audiobooks, and more.
In this digital age, not many people are buying books anymore. They are using Kindles or other e-readers instead.
However, I still don’t feel the same joy I always had as a kid when I am reading unless I am holding a physical book.
The library now offers either option PLUS audiobooks for FREE. So there should be no excuses based on your reading style.
Let’s assume that the average person spends about $50 a month on books, e-books, and audiobooks. (I actually read something not too long ago that people were spending $75 a WEEK on this, but I can’t imagine that is even close to the average so I am being conservative.) That is $600 a year saved just by going to the library.
Potential Savings: $600 per year
Investment Cost: $0
12. Get Rid of Cable
Update: We got rid of cable once our contract with Verizon ran up and we are saving $65 a month. We are working on getting an antenna set up, but other than my husband missing sports, we are not missing it at all.
Use Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc to stream your favorite shows and better yet, share with a family member or friend and then you don’t each have to pay for every subscription.
Potential Savings: $600-1200 per year
Investment Cost: $0
13. Don’t Color Your Hair
This will be a hard one if you have already started coloring your hair, but I hear time and again how people wish they had never started because it is such an expensive upkeep.
Embrace your natural hair color and change it up with different styles which are much less permanent and expensive.
At the salon that I currently get my hair cut, the prices range from $100 -165 for coloring, depending on the type. This does include a cut as well.
However, a cut itself is just $55. I think most people have to get their hair colored every 6-8 weeks so that means that in a year you are spending $650-1430 on your hair. Not including tips.
Potential Savings: $650-1430 per year
Investment Cost: $0
14. Cut Your Husband’s (Or Your Own) Hair
A few years ago, my husband spent about $20 on an electric haircut kit similar to this Conair kit. He cuts his own hair for the most part and I help him out with the back.
The point is, he has not paid for a haircut in YEARS.
Since I believe many men pay around $20 per haircut and get their hair cut about every 6-8 weeks this has saved us approximately $150-200 per year.
I know a few women who cut their own hair and usually they can do this because they keep their hair one length and/or really long but if you can do that then more power to you. I personally spend about $60 just for a cut and blow dry and I go every 8-10 weeks which is about $300 a year. Maybe I should get working on my hair cutting skills.
Potential Savings: $200-500 per year
Investment Cost: $20-30
Overall you have the potential to save about $33,000 in the next year depending on where you fall in the expense range for each category above.
That is crazy! Did you already know of any of these ways to save money? Which one are you most likely to try?
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