Lower your Data PlanThis is actually a new trick that I'm trying out (so I'll let you know how it goes at the end of billing cycle!). I decided to lower my data plan from 4 GB a month to 2GB, which saves $12 a month! I luckily work in a building with wifi and have wifi at home, so I figured out that I was using up a lot of data and spending a ton of money for no reason! In order to use less data, I came up with a few tips:
- Use "airplane mode" when you're in an area without wifi. So many applications use data constantly (all of those annoying alerts, email refreshes, apps running in the background...). While waiting for my bus or for the elevator, I would mindlessly scroll through Instagram, Facebook, and random other sites, which would just add up to a huge amount of data.
- Download music and podcasts. When you're using wifi, feel free to download freely, so that you don't have to stream music and use up data! Now, I listen to podcasts and really pay attention to the story rather than going through social media when I'm waiting around!
Money saved : $12/ month
Get Subscriptions (if it makes sense)To go along with my previous point, I decided to get a Spotify Premium subscription earlier this year. While it may not make sense to spend money to save money, in this case it did. Pretty much every month, I was going over my data limit just by streaming music on Spotify, which cost at least $15/month. If I wanted to download music, I would buy songs through iTunes, which can get really pricey! I used to make a new playlist for each race I did, which could cost up to $50! With Spotify, I saved the money on buying music and going over my data rate, because I could just have all of my songs available offline. There are other subscriptions that may be worth it:
- Amazon Prime offers free music downloads, free kindle downloads and rentals, free shipping, free TV shows and movies, and special discounts throughout the year.
- Target has a credit card that offers 5% off every purchase as well as free shipping and 30 extra days to return. I opened one when I got my first apartment and have saved tons of money throughout the year, and always make sure to pay off my balance each month!
Money saved : $40/ month
Resist Email Temptation"1 hour only- save 40%!"..."500 Bonus Points with any purchase today!"..."FREE Gift with Purchase!"
How many of these emails do you get in a day? I used to get dozens, and a lot of the time I would be sucked in and end up spending hundreds of dollars a month just because a store was having (yet another) sale. Did I need all those clothes? Do I even wear them now? The answer to both is, of course, no. Unsubscribing to emails made a huge difference, because now I actually buy clothes when I need them rather than being tempted by a sale. I used Unroll to unsubscribe in one fell sweep, and now my inbox is clean and my bank account is happy! I do have a few tips for getting good deals though:
- Sign up for a money back program. Some credit cards have automatic cash back, and some have deals if you shop online. There are also sites that are specifically designed to give you cash back- for free! My favorites are Ebates, which also gives you coupon codes when you search for your store, and Ibotta, which gives you rebates after you shop (and can be used in conjunction with coupons and Ebates!) even at grocery stores. When I'm about to shop, I'll just check which site has the best cash back offer, and do my shopping. Just make sure you follow all the directions or you could miss out on cash back! (P.S. if you're not a member of those sites, the link goes to my referral page which gives both of us money, and I would appreciate if you used my link to sign up!)
|That's right..you can get money for buying alcohol!|
- Make a spreadsheet! This is similar to "window shopping" for me- if I'm browsing the web and find something that I like, I save it to my shopping spreadsheet along with the current price and the URL. I periodically check this price and update my spreadsheet. Then, when I'm ready to make a purchase, I can figure out if I still actually want the product, and see if it's really a good deal! There are websites that can do this for you, but I love Excel and prefer to do it myself!
Money saved : $50/ month
Run Commute or Bike to WorkThis tip may not apply to many of you, but I wanted to throw this in! I live about 5 miles from work and take the bus every day to work, but there's an amazing trail that runs from my apartment to downtown that tons of people use to bike or run commute. I haven't biked to work yet (maybe next summer), but I have run home quite a few times. Since I take the bus to work, I can bus in and run home to save the $2.50 fare and get in my workout for the day! I typically will do this about once a week in the warm weather, which would save $10/ month. Here are some tips on run commuting:
- Get a lightweight backpack, and pack a change of clothes. Of course, you don't want to wear your running clothes to work, and I wouldn't want to run home in a dress! I try to plan an outfit that's easy to pack away and bring clothes that are light weight and don't take a lot of room in my backpack. The one I use works really well and doubles as a hiking bag when we walk with Selma! (similar, similar).
- Make sure you eat enough and hydrate all day. I could never figure out why I felt so bad every time that I ran after work, then I realized that I wasn't hydrating properly and was running fasted. I make sure to bring a snack to eat about 2 hours before I run, and drink tons of water throughout the day. I also bring along a handheld water bottle which really helps!
Money saved : $10/ month
Pack a Lunch- and a Coffee
Even though this is a tip that everyone shares, I need to mention it! I never realized how much packing actually saved until I worked on this post, and tallied up how much I was spending. I have to admit that I've been pretty lazy about packing since I started working full-time, but now I'm going to make it a priority to meal-plan on Sundays and have a lunch packed every day. When I added up how much I was spending to bring a lunch vs. buying a lunch each day, it really stunned me. To give you an example of one month of lunches, I made a table adding up a typical lunch (sandwich, side salad, fruit or cottage cheese). All of those components cost a total of $42.35 for the month:
If I go out to eat, I spend an average of $10 on fast food, or $15 for a sit-down meal. I would spend about $200 each month. I still occasionally have lunch with a friend or with my team (maybe twice a month), so I'm saving over $130 each month, and eating a lot healthier! I wrote a post on lunch ideas if you'd like some suggestions.
Another huge saving that I've seen is bringing my own coffee to work. Luckily, my team has a Keurig that we all use, but I've also seen tons of people bring a thermos of coffee to work. I typically have one coffee a day, which costs $2 at my favorite coffee shop. I also got Starbucks once a week, so my total coffee budget was over $50! My team shares K-Cups, so I typically buy a box every other month, and buy coffee creamer once a month. This equals about $7 per month. Huge savings, plus you don't have to wait in huge lines every day!
Money saved : $180.65/ month
For my sixth tip, I want to share a few "mini tips". These are tiny things that I've been doing for a few years that really make a difference in the long run!
- Don't spend it if you don't have it. This is a rule that my parents always taught me and I've followed my entire life. This is also the number one reason why I have never had any credit card debt- if I don't have the money right now to pay for something, I don't buy it! I make sure that I can always pay off my credit card bills, because fees can be very high and keep adding up over time. The average credit card debt is $5700, and credit cards charge around 10% APR, so you could be spending an extra $47.50 each month just for spending what you don't have!
- Auto transfer to savings each paycheck. This goes along with the previous tip- if you don't have the money, you can't spend it! I auto transfer a set amount of money each paycheck to go in my savings, where I can't touch it right away, and it also makes interest!
- Eat at home as much as possible, and don't order alcohol when you do go out. As much as I love going out to restaurants and ordering a drink, it gets really expensive! Dan and I used to go out at least once a week, and we would spend at least $50 on dinner. We rarely eat out now, so it makes those dinners a special treat. We also save money by only drinking at home, and ordering water at restaurants. Money saved : $150/ month
- Get rid of cable. I got rid of cable over a year ago, and have saved a ton of money, as well as realized how much time I wasted watching TV! I did get a subscription to Netflix and Hulu, so I watch shows that I care about on demand, while having more free time to be productive rather than sitting in from of the TV. Money saved : $30/ month