So you want to save some extra money each month. Who wouldn’t? Well fortunately for you, there are plenty of easy ways to save money, and help to build up your nest egg. Saving is only half of the equation, but we’ll cover budgeting in our section on budgeting. For now, we’ll focus on finding practical ways to put a little extra away each month, and then building upon it.
These are all ways that I’ve personally saved money, mainly on things that I didn’t know I was wasting money on.
1. Sign up for direct deposit from your job.
Probably the easiest way to save some money is by signing up for automatic direct deposit of your paycheck each month. You should try to allocate a portion of each check to automatically be deposited (or transferred) to a savings account, preferably at a different bank than your main checking account. That way, you’ll learn to live without it, and before you know it, it will build into a sizable savings. Out of sight, out of mind!
2. Save money by eating out less.
One of my biggest vices is spending money on restaurants and fast food. I can’t help it, I love to eat out. However, I checked my budget and realized that I sometimes spent upwards of $400 a month on restaurants and fast food. One month it even went as high as $700! And that’s not including what I spend on groceries.
If you’re like me, it’ll be next to impossible to stop eating out right away. So give yourself a goal. Maybe this month you’ll eat out one less time. Then maybe you can limit yourself to nice restaurants only during the weekends. Or brown bag it to work. There are so many places you can cut back on expensive meals and eat cheap (and healthy) at home.
One place I like to frequent is the EatCheapAndHealthy subreddit on Reddit. It’s chock full of cheap and easy recipes for delicious meals you can make at home, while saving yourself a ton of money in the process.
Currently, I’ve given myself a budget of $200/month for restaurants and fast food (to go with a $200 grocery budget). When I get a little more discipline, I plan to get that number down to almost nothing. But for now, baby steps.
3. Cancel that gym membership.
Let’s be honest. Most of us never use that expensive gym membership that can cost upwards of $100/month. Or maybe we only use it a couple of times for the year, never justifying the cost. If you fall in this category, cancel that pricy membership and see if you can find something cheaper in your area.
If you live in an apartment complex or somewhere that offers a free on-site gym, take advantage of that. And there’s always outdoor activity. Pull your bike out of the garage and go blaze some trails. Go run along the beach. Take a walk through a park or go hike in the woods. Swimming is also a great form of exercise, and can get your blood pumping.
There are so many options that won’t have you paying through the nose to stay in shape.
4. Cut the cable.
I bet you never really realized how expensive cable can be. The average cable bill is over $100/month! All for a huge channel package, most of which you probably don’t ever watch. There are so many cheap options out there that you can use instead. Netflix and Hulu provide TV and movies for around $10/month.
I had a pretty expensive cable/internet package that I was able to cut in half by getting rid of cable altogether. I’m not really a big TV watcher, so this worked for me. Besides, I would only ever really watch ESPN or CNBC. Doesn’t really justify an extra $50/month coming out of my pocket.
5. Avoid credit card fees.
If you have credit cards, make sure you never miss a payment. This will often come with a hefty late fee. Also, make sure to pay your balances in full each month to avoid interest charges. If your credit card has an annual fee, cancel it.
If it has a high interest rate, consider transferring that balance to a 0% introductory card to take care of the interest-free promotional period. This can save you tons in interest. You can find more information in our credit cards section.
As a dumb 18-year old, I signed up for a credit card at the first bank that would have me. It was my first year in college, and I looked at it as free money. Boy was I wrong. A $500 credit line eventually and inevitably ballooned up to $1500, including fees.
It was eventually charged off and stayed on my credit report for the next 7 years, destroying my credit. A pretty costly mistake!
6. Sell some of your old stuff.
Ok, so technically this falls under making some extra money on the side. But it can help you to quickly build up some savings. Scour your home for old stuff that you don’t need anymore, and put them up on Ebay or Craigslist. You’d be surprised how much old junk you can turn into quick, easy cash.
I’ve been selling old stuff on Craigslist for years, and have pretty much mastered it. Craigslist is a great way to quickly make some extra cash. Just a reminder though: Be very careful meeting up with strangers off of Craigslist. Always meet somewhere public, such as inside a store or business. Also, try to only meet during the day if you can, and around other people.
So clean out your closet and attic, and get out there and sell some stuff! Then take this money and toss it in your savings account and forget about it.
7. Get a cheaper phone plan.
You might be paying too much for phone service. This includes home phones. Who really needs or uses a home phone in this day and age? Cancel that home phone line (assuming you don’t really need it) and see if you can get a better deal on your cell phone service.
Do you really need unlimited data? Chances are you don’t, considering the average user uses about 2 GB of data per month. You can probably save yourself a pretty penny every month.
You can check with your employer to see if you can get a discount on your monthly service. My previous employer gave us a pretty good discount on our phone service every month, saving me 50% on my bill. Also, there are cheaper alternatives to the big carriers, depending on your area.
8. Turn off the lights and A/C when you’re away.
If you live somewhere warmer like I do, cut down on cooling costs by turning off the air conditioner when you leave the house. A good portion of your electric bill will come from your a/c. And if you can live without it (assuming it isn’t too hot), turn it off altogether and crack open a window. By doing this, I was able to get my electric bill down to as low as $20/month. Disclaimer: This may not be as easy in a colder location during the winter. Don’t freeze.