Do you ever wonder where all your money has gone at the end of the month? You’re told that you need to save money, but how do you do that when you spend every cent you have on the “essentials?”
The truth is, most people can cut their budget at least a little if they apply the right tactics. Here are a few simple ways you could save $200 or more this month.
1. Find Coupons
Most people don’t take the time to locate and use all the coupons that apply to their purchases. If you put a little time and effort into locating coupons, you could save big on anything from groceries to shopping.
A savvy way to apply coupons is to use discounted gift cards from stores that you visit often. Visit websites like the Gift Card Granny to help you find discount gift cards for your favorite retailers. There are even gift cards for superstores like Walmart.
When you get into the habit of finding and using coupons of all kinds, savings will become the norm for you.
2. Adjust the Thermostat
You’ll save about 1 percent on your energy bill for every degree you adjust the thermostat. To put that in context, let’s say your heating and cooling bill is $100 per month. You usually set your thermostat to 75 degrees in the winter, but you turn it down to 70 degrees. That’s a saving of $5 per month.
“During colder weather, try keeping your thermostat at 68 degrees while people are home and awake but turning it down by up to 10 degrees while everyone is sleeping or away,” recommends Josh Crank of DirectEnergy.com. “In warm seasons, shoot for 78 degrees and push it up to 85 degrees when no one is home.”
3. Pay Down Debt
Credit cards and loans aren’t free money. In fact, it’s much more expensive to take out a loan than it is to pay for something outright, thanks to the interest.
Let’s say you owe $1,000 on your credit card that has an interest rate of 15 percent. If it takes you two years to pay off this card, you’ll owe an additional $300 before your debt is paid. Pay it down now to avoid overpaying in the long run.
4. Cut Entertainment Subscriptions
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, other streaming services, and cable are great for lazy weekends, but do you really need subscriptions to all of them? According to CNBC, more than a third of Americans have multiple streaming services and cable or satellite.
Evaluate how often you watch your TV subscription. Most people gravitate towards either cable or Netflix when choosing something to watch, according to consumer research. This means you probably don’t need both to stay entertained. Maybe it’s time to drop your cable subscription and save a hundred dollars this month.
5. Reduce Your Cell Phone Plan
Cell phone bills can be astronomical, particularly if you go for all the bells and whistles. Unlimited data, talk, and text provide peace of mind that you won’t go over, but not everyone needs that much service.
You can also save by going on a family plan and keeping your phone longer rather than instantly upgrading. It’s also best if you skip the insurance plan, according to Kendal Perez, a savings expert from CouponSerpa.com.
“At $11 per month from Verizon, you’d still need to cough up an additional $50 to $200 for the deductible, depending on your device,” she told Credit.com. “It’s more cost-effective to invest in a sturdy, protective case and screen cover and treat your device with care.”
6. Shop for New Insurance Policies
Insurance companies often raise your rates slowly every six months. They’ll also raise your premium when you file a claim, and sometimes the increase is exorbitant. You can often save by shopping around for better rates.
“Re-shop your insurance policies – auto, homeowners, liability and life,” Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate told TheStreet. “The other beauty of boosting savings is that it allows you to raise your insurance deductibles to further reduce your premiums.”
It doesn’t cost you anything to switch. When open enrollment begins, take a look at better-priced options.
7. Cook at Home
The average American household spends about $3,008 on restaurants and takeout. What’s more, restaurant and takeout eating are becoming the norm, according to Maurie Backman of the Motley Fool.
“We all need to eat, which means food must account for a portion of our monthly spending,” says Backman. “But there’s a big difference between buying groceries and paying for restaurant meals and takeout. Most food establishments charge a 300% markup on the items they serve.”
Imagine what you could do with that extra 300 percent of savings you’ll get by not eating out. This is by far one of the best ways to save $200 or more every month.
Photo is pixabay creative commons
Guest Author Bio
Jamie is a freelance writer who covers trends in business, technology, and health. She loves to go skiing, camping, and rock climbing with her family.