Five Simple Ways to Save Big

By Mike Peterson
In April 10, 2012

Here’s some good news for folks who want to trim their budgets this spring:  You don’t need a complete financial overhaul to start saving some serious cash.  In fact, by making a few (very) small changes in your lifestyle, you can save hundreds of dollars a year.  Small things like skipping your daily cup of fancy coffee or changing a light bulb can make a big difference.

 

If you’re looking for a few ways to kick-start your savings, try a couple of these.  You might be surprised to learn how much you can save:

 

  1. Cut out the coffee shop.  If you have a habit of driving through the local Starbucks on the way to work every morning, you might balk at the thought of giving up your morning caffeine rush – until you do the math, that is.  If you buy a fancy coffee drink (with flavored syrup, a shot of espresso, steamed milk, etc.), you might be spending around five bucks a day.  That’s $1,825 a year!  Of course, that’s an extreme example, but still:  Even if you only go, say, two or three times a week, you could save a few hundred dollars a year if you cut it down to only once a month or less.  If you absolutely have to have that morning jolt of Joe, make it at home for a fraction of the price.

 

  1. Get rid of cable.  Expanded basic cable TV costs around $30-$50 a month – which means that if you cut it off, you stand to save $360-$600 a year – that’s a pretty big chunk of cash.  There are other benefits, too – without temptation of an all-day “Jersey Shore” marathon, you might find that you and your family have more time left for other interests, like reading or exercising.  If you just can’t live without your favorite shows or the occasional movie, there are several streaming services or DVD rental options — like Redbox or Netflix – that are much more economical than paying for cable.

 

  1. Say goodbye to your landline telephone.  Do you have a cell phone and a landline?  If so, it might be time to make a choice.  At around $50 a month (or $600 a year!), a landline isn’t exactly cheap – especially if you’re paying for cell phone service on top of that.  Unless you have a really compelling reason to keep your home phone, consider pulling the plug on this service.

 

  1. Brown-bag it to work.  The average fast-food lunch costs around $7 a day.  So, if you buy your lunch 5 days a week . . . that adds up to a supersized total of $1,820 every year!  I’ll spare you the lecture about why fast food is bad for your health – but I will say that spending nearly $2,000 on lunch every year is hardly my idea of a financially balanced meal.  For around the same price of one fast food lunch, you can buy a loaf of decent-quality wheat bread, lunch meat or peanut butter, and a big bag of pretzels or chips.  That’s a week’s worth of healthy (or, at least, healthier) lunches for the price of one combo meal.

 

  1. Get “green” lights.  At around $3-$5 a pop, energy-efficient light bulbs cost a little more up-front than their traditional incandescent counterparts – but if you make the switch, you’ll quickly find that the savings make up for the initial expense.  According to the Energy Star program, energy-efficient bulbs (like CFL or halogen bulbs) can save you nearly $200 a year in electricity!

 

So, there you have it:  Five little things you can do to save really big this year.

Mike Peterson

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.