Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes it seems impossible to save up for that “big item” purchase on your wish list, whether it’s a new phone, a new wardrobe, or even just a well-deserved vacation. But there are some simple choices you make every day that are unnecessary money wasters. Here are 10 easy tips to save you $1,000 in a year.
1. Eat at home
Eating out, whether at a restaurant or fast food, is very expensive. It can cost $10-$40 per person, depending on where you are eating. Just eating at home one more time per week can save $480-$1920 per year. While it can be easier to eat out for lunch during the work day, you can save a considerable amount if you bring your lunch with you. Another place you can save by bringing your own food is during travel, especially road trips. Bringing a cooler with food and drinks in the car with you on the road will provide convenient access to your food when you need it as well as saving you money.
2. Stick to your grocery list
Heading to the grocery store with a plan can be a life saver for your budget. Store flyers come in the mail every week, spelling out the best deals in your area. Using store flyers in conjunction with meal planning allow you to create a grocery list that takes advantage of comparison shopping. Another great way to save money at the grocery store is by buying the store brand. Store brand items are of great quality and usually significantly less expensive. When you go to the grocery store, make sure to stick to your list. It is easy to spend over $100 per month on impulse purchases, especially if you are shopping while hungry.
3. Make your own cleaning products
There is a lot of money to be saved when you make your own cleaning products. A pack of brand name mopping pads goes for about $10 for a pack of 24, and you’ll likely use several just to clean all the floors in your house one time. That’s a couple of bucks just to have clean floors! The most bang for the do-it-yourself buck can be found in making your own cleaning supplies. Things like laundry detergent, fabric softener, and household cleaners are very easy to make with minimal cost. Recipes for homemade cleaning supplies are only an internet search away.
4. Buy quality clothing you’ll replace less often
Purchasing new clothing throughout the year can be very expensive. There are are a couple of ways to keep your clothing budget to a minimum. The first way is to purchase quality pieces. When you purchase quality pieces, you have to spend less in clothing replacement costs, as well as being able to use a tailor to repair any damaged items. The next way is by going through your closet and paring your clothes down to a capsule wardrobe. This lessens the chances of spending money on unnecessary clothing pieces as well as allows you to purchase higher quality as you need to replace less clothing.
5. Buy used vehicles and appliances
Higher cost purchases, such as cars and appliances, should be purchased used if possible. For cars, there are used car dealerships everywhere. When you purchase a new car, it loses value once you drive it off the lot. Finding a used car with a warranty is a smart money move. When you are looking for new appliances, try shopping consignment or construction seconds shops.
6. Maintain your possessions
Keeping up on maintenance for your home and vehicles can save you lots of money in the long run. It is much more economical to go in for regular oil changes than it is to have to replace the engine in your car. Keep up on all of your scheduled car maintenance to not only keep your car running well but also to be kind to your wallet. For household items, make sure to keep everything oiled, cleaned out, and filters changed. It is easy to forget about these maintenance items, but they make a huge difference in the life of your household appliances and systems.
7. Use the 10-second rule when shopping
When you need to go shopping, try keeping to either the 10-second or 30-day rule for your purchases. For in store purchases, the 10-second rule is very helpful. Anything that goes into your shopping cart, take 10 seconds to think about it: why are you purchasing it, could you find it for a better deal elsewhere, and do you really need it?
When it comes to online purchases, the 30-day rule can help you only purchase the things that you truly want or need. For the 30-day rule, you have to wait 30 days from the day you decided on the product until you actually purchase it. This lets any of the initial hype die down, and allows you to approach the item from a place of actual want or need.
8. Take advantage of free entertainment
The cost for concerts, night clubs, and movies can add up. Sometimes, instead of choosing one of these options, pick something that doesn’t cost any money at all. Meet friends at the park for a picnic or have a movie watch party at your house. Even buying the digital copy of a movie online and making some popcorn will be much less expensive than going to a movie theater.
9. Go to the library
Your local library has books, movies, and music available to check out. Use this resource to your advantage rather than hitting the bookstore or adding content to your digital libraries. Most books are only read once. Do you really need to buy that brand new hardcover book for $25? If you do find a book that you love and want to re-read, then buy a used copy after you’ve read it from the library. You will save yourself storage space as well as money this way.
10. Become part of your community
Join your community Facebook group or go on your city’s website to find a calendar of free community events. Street fairs, concerts in the park, and other activities may be listed there. Doing these things instead of entertainment activities that cost money is a great way to save.
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