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No two people share the same financial situation, but one thing is for sure. We could all use several thousand dollars more in our pocket each year. Some opportunities to save money may seem trivial, but if they’re regular expenses you’d be amazed at how they add up over the course of the year. Don’t let someone else trivialize your saving habits when you’re the one trying to make ends meet. These seven simple adjustments enabled me to keep $4000 more this year. Try them yourself and give yourself a raise!
1. Use GasBuddy to Save Money on Gas
I drive about 15,000 miles per year, and my car gets about 20 miles per gallon of gas. So, for
an average year, that’s 750 gallons of gas. Using GasBuddy, I’m able to see the per gallon price of every station in the area. Almost always, I save about 25 cents per gallon in our area which amounts to $187.50 per year. 60 million people have installed GasBuddy’s free app.
Yearly savings: $187.50 (Total so far $187.50)
2. We signed up for an employee discount on our cell phone plan
As a Verizon subscriber, we found there was a 20% discount for being an employee of an eligible company. The discount is applied only to the employee’s portion of the bill, so if you have several phones on your plan you’ll get a discount on the phones used by the employee.
In my case, it amounts to $16.00 a month. If you’re a Verizon subscriber, click here to see if you’re eligible.
Yearly savings: $192 (Total so far: 379.50)
3. Switched to streaming boxes and eliminated Cable TV
When I first signed up for cable, my bill was about $15 per month! Last year I was paying over $250 per month. That’s more than a 1500% increase!
In the same time-period, a loaf of bread has increased about 80%. Why have cable companies increased prices so dramatically in comparison to other products?
Because they can.
In many towns, there’s very little competition, so every year the prices for services and hardware rentals creep up. Sometimes it seems like each month.
But in the past few years so many other cheaper options have been introduced, that you no longer need to be a slave to cable. If your family is trying to save money, switching to a cheaper service can make a big difference
You can now bring content to your TV for a fraction of the cost of cable. Our family saved $2160 per year by eliminating cable and replacing it with Roku streaming boxes and watching a combination of free Roku channels, Hulu ($7.99/month subscription) and Netflix.
Here’s a recent development that makes it even more desirable to dump cable: as of May 2017, Hulu now has an elevated plan where you can stream all your local channels too. Streaming services were never able to provide that capability. Now they can. That plan is about $40 per month. And you’d cut out the monthly rental charges for every cable box in your home.
To see the details on exactly how you too can start saving thousands of dollars by watching TV without cable, see my post: Are You the Only Person on Your Street Still Paying for Cable TV?.
Yearly Savings $2160 (Total so far: $2539.50)
4. We installed the Nest Thermostat
We have natural gas heat in our house and we pay on the ‘budget option’. This allows us to pay a set price each month based on the last 12 month’s usage. At the beginning of 2016, our budget option was $95 per month or $1140 per year.
I looked over our bills for the past few years and they’ve gone up gradually, but there’s been no significant change until we installed the Nest in February 2016. Comparing our bills for the next few months to those of a year earlier I could see a definite decrease in the amount of energy used for each month.
The Nest learns your patterns and will adjust accordingly – lowering the temperature at night and when you’re out, and raising it while you’re home. Our new budget option is $79 – an annual savings of $192! So, the Nest has paid for itself and now enables us to save money every month.
RELATED POST – 6 Brilliant Ways to Reduce Your Energy Costs by Over 25%
Yearly savings $192 (Total so far: $2731.50)
5. Eliminate One Take-out Trip Per Month
Take a quick look at your bank statement. If you’re like our family, it’s probably loaded with fast food trips for pizza, Chinese food or sit-down meals.
We’re all busy, but how often do we justify ordering in because it’s “less stressful” than making dinner. But probably not as stressful as seeing your bank statement listing hundreds of dollars in charges with nothing to show for it.
Save money by just eliminating one take-out trip per month. It’ll keep several hundred dollars per year in your pocket. Our average order of pizza and wings (which we order way too much!) is about $22.
Just making the effort to plan food shopping a bit more and cut out one trip per month is healthier and cheaper.
Yearly savings: $264 (Total so far: $2995.50)
6. Started Buying Store Brands
Our family likes Jiff or Skippy peanut butter but the store brand is over a dollar cheaper. That doesn’t seem like a lot – but when you multiply that by 10-12 items on each trip, it does add up throughout the year.
For an average weekly shopping trip of $100, you should be able to save about 15% by getting store brands where you can. Fifteen dollars each week turns into $780 for the year!
I tried an experiment a few weeks ago. I bought the store brand peanut butter, then I neatly cut the label off the empty Jiff jar before throwing it out. I taped the Jiff label over the store brand label. Nobody even noticed.
I did let my daughter in on it a few days later and we both had a laugh, but it just goes to show that we throw a lot of money away at name brands.
Yearly Savings: $780 (Total so far: $3775.50)
7. Decluttered Unused CD’s, DVD’s, Books and a Game Console
Anyone who has children growing through various stages probably has a garage or closets full of outgrown toys, sports equipment, textbooks, CD’s, video games, game consoles. Or what about those skis or that treadmill you haven’t used in five years?
I took one Saturday and gathered eight textbooks. I entered their ISBN numbers into Bookscouter and found they were worth $137. I printed a free shipping label right from Bookscouter and dropped them at the Post Office. Done!
Amount Saved $137 (Total So Far $3912.50)
Then I cleared out a cabinet that held a combination of music CD’s, kids and popular DVD movies, an old Wii console and various games. Since I started using Spotify I haven’t touched any of the music CDs. With Netflix, there’s no need for the DVD movies, and nobody has touched the Wii in a few years.
Decluttr made it real easy to unload all of this in one swoop. Here’s the total from clearing one cabinet:
$51.81 – 33 music CD’s and 41 DVD’s – kids and popular movies that we no longer use.
$14.00 – Wii console
$23.15 – 17 video games.
Amount Saved $138.57
Grand Total $4051.07
This is a great example of Ben Frankin’s quote, “Small Leaks Can Sink Great Ships“.
When you see that the Wii console is only worth $14.00 or you’re only saving $1.00 on a certain brand of peanut butter you may disregard it. But what matters is the accumulation of small changes over time. They really DO matter.
If you’re trying to make ends meet and looking for every advantage, then these are real opportunities to keep several thousand dollars more in your pocket each year. It’s all about looking for every advantage and then making it habit.
What could you do with an extra $4000 each year? Create an emergency fund, contribute to an IRA, take the family on vacation?