Americans like convenience and that convenience costs us money in a hundred little ways, adding them all up drains our pocket book. This article outline a few ways to cut back.
Every time you use one of these ideas, put the money in a jar or something similar and let the cash build.
Eat out less. That four or five dollars you spend at McDonalds or Wendy’s or Taco Bell or Chick Fil-A every day for lunch adds up. If you were to make your lunch every day, you could probably do it for less than $1.00. If you are like most people and work 200 days a year, this will put $600 in your pocket over a year. Except for special occasions, skip the wine in a restaurant. You can usually buy a bottle of the same wine for what they charge you for a glass. Go home, pop open the bottle and sit outside talking while you sip it.
Skip the bottled water at something like $1 a bottle or more. Get one of those filters for your tap and fill them yourself. If you are like a lot of Americans, you can save in excess of $200 per year doing this.
Skip Starbucks, except for special occasions. Coffee you make is almost free in comparison. So even if you cut out only one Starbucks indulgence a week, you could put up to $200 in your pocket.
Go to thrift stores, like Goodwill and Salvation Army. I do this especially for luggage, which the airlines will just destroy in a few trips anyway. Instead of spending $100 on that bag, pick one up for $5. Jackets, dresses, books, and a lot of things can be bought there, usually in good condition at a whole lot less.
Buy books in used bookstores. A new novel might cost $30 in the Barnes and Noble (or al low as $20), but you can usually pick them up for $5 to $10 in a used bookshop. If you but a couple of books a month, that will save you $250 or more. Or go to the library, check them out and read for free ($500 per year or more).
Ride a bike for short trips. Get one with a basket on the front (look at Goodwill, maybe $20 for the bike) to carry groceries or other stuff you buy. With the current price for gas at $3.00 or so and the typical car getting 20 miles per gallon, it costs 15 cents in gas per mile; a trip to the store two miles away will cost sixty cents. If you do this three times a week, you save almost $2 per week, or $100 a year, plus you get some exercise.
Now for an extra item: a lot of us have those changes jars sitting around. Use them religiously, dumping all the change into them every night and it can add up quickly. For an even faster build-up, toss in any one-dollar bills you have at the end of the day ( or half of them). I have heard of people amassing in excess of $500 a year doing this simple thing.
Use an airline credit card for food and every day expenses, even for the things mentioned above. But only if you pay it off every month. I use a card tied with Southwest Airlines. For every $1,200 you get one credit and with 16 credits you get one free ticket to anywhere they fly in the Continental US. SO, $19,200 a year, or $1,600 a month will get you one free ticket.
To summarize: if you do all the above,
Make your own lunch $400 to $500
Skip Starbucks $150 to $250
Buy fewer books $250 to $500
Ride a bike $100 to ???
Shop in Goodwill $100 to ???
Change/Dollar bill jar $500 to ???
Total $1,500 to $2,000 per year or more.
If you add one free airline ticket, you can have a pretty decent vacation each year and never miss the money. Or save for a couple years or more for that really special trip.