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There are lots of articles about how you can save money by changing your lifestyle, sometimes even turning it completely upside down. I have even preached about such things as downsizing your home and even giving up your car and of course when you do those things you will save a ton of money. Those are real ways to do it if you are ready to really make big changes in your life like when you are entering into retirement or after the kids are gone and off on their own.
Yet there are other little ways to save a lot by cutting out just a few of the small guilty pleasures in your life. People also write about some of those obvious money wasters and non-essentials such as Starbucks lattes and the high cost of cable premium channels that can really add up your expenses every month. But, life is too short to give up all of the little perks in life you love, isn’t it?
So what can you really do to save big money right now?
Well, there is some good news. Not all money wasters bring you joy like a Starbucks splurge might give you! There are some “painless” ways you can stop throwing away hundreds, even thousands of dollars this year if you make some of these changes! They actually do work and you probably won’t miss a beat in your life when you try doing them. Here are my eight painless ways to save in 2020!
8 Things to Stop Buying and Save
1. Stop buying greeting cards and it can net you $100
You can easily save $100 a year if you simply do not spend money on greeting cards (even skip the ones at the dollar store) and you can skip spending money on postage when you do.
You have many options when it comes to cards, such as free e-cards to send online or even doing a 21st century heartfelt text message on your phone will work to show you care (dress it up with a few emojis).
Or you can also always go for that old tried and true winner: DIY with your creative skills. It will always have your thoughts and love when you do it that way. But wait…
Although those manufactured professional cards are getting costlier every year, you can still beat the system when you buy a box of blank greeting cards and then personalize them for each person and occasion. It’s easy to find beautiful cards marked down periodically and sold in quantities of 24 or more at prices that work out to less than 25 cents per card. Send them out instead of birthday and holiday cards that are often priced at $3, $4 or $5 per card, or ridiculously even more! Sending out just one boxful a year can save you $100 a year!
2. Stop Your Amazon Prime and save $120
You could save $120 a year when you give up Amazon Prime. How? If you signed up for Prime just for the fast free shipping (and not for the streaming video and music), you will be better off dropping out and saving the $119 annual fee.
All Amazon customers can get free shipping by simply spending $25 or more on qualifying items per order. That’s a pretty easy bar to jump over in this day and age. Most people clear it almost 100% of the time they place any orders.
If you think you really need Prime, you can get a 30-day free trial. If you are shrewd and get in in November, you can use it for all your holiday shopping and insure free shipping costs. Then, within their rules, you can cancel before you actually start paying for a subscription.
3. Stop paying full-price for health, beauty, toiletries, and cosmetics and save over 20 bucks a week or $1,000 a year
You know that you can save on average over 40% or more when you shop for clothes at discounters like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. But now, since they have added beauty departments, these discount stores have become a go-to source for brand-name moisturizer, face wash, cosmetics, hair spray, and shampoo as well as many other items, too.
I also shop one of my favorites, Bed Bath & Beyond, since they have taken on Harmon Face Values inside many of their locations. They will accept the BB&B coupons (as well as any manufacturers’ coupons) at Harmon Face Values and that’s in addition to their big discounted full assortments (also at their own free-standing stores too). Savings easily exceed 40% when you shop there.
If you do find yourself buying these items at your regular grocer or drugstore (like CVS and Walgreens), make sure you are using their loyalty cards to get all of the discounts offered in addition to shopping their sales and using coupons. When you do that, you will increase your savings to as much as 60-70% off regular prices. That will mean real savings.
4. Cut back on dining out and you can save over $1,600 a year
It’s estimated that the typical American household spends over $3,000 per year on restaurants and takeout. That’s over $60 bucks a week!
While there’s certainly a convenience factor associated with having someone else prepare your food, there’s also a big cost involved. In fact, the typical food establishment charges a 300% markup on meals.
In 2018, the average American household’s expenditure for food was $7,923, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of this total, a whopping 44%–$3,459–was spent on dining out. So this gives you a real reality check on the need to tweak your budget. If you’re spending over $3,000 a year on food outside the home, it means you’re paying a lot more than you need to in food costs!
But you don’t have to give up dining out entirely, that would be torture! By just cutting your dining out budget in half you can save big money.
If you dine out just once a week now (about 50 times) and it costs your family on average $64 each time you do (with tax and tip), cutting that to just one time every two weeks will save you over $1,650 a year!
5. Do your own home maintenance and save $400 this year
The typical homeowner spends 1% to 4% of their home’s value on annual maintenance, and while you shouldn’t skimp on upkeep, you can lower your costs by doing some of that work yourself. Imagine you’re currently paying a lawn service $900 per season to cut your grass and trim your shrubbery. If you invest in a $500 mower and take over that task yourself, you’ll save $400 this year and $900 annually for as long as that equipment keeps functioning.
The same holds true for other common maintenance items, so it pays to take a look at what you’re spending and see which jobs you’re capable of doing yourself. It’s one thing to hire a gutter cleaner because of the hazards involved, but if the work doesn’t pose a safety risk like pressure-washing your patio, you’ll save money if you avoid spending on it and many other household tasks!
Perhaps you’re concerned about needing special equipment? Then you should know you can rent many tools and machines from your local Home Depot. On the other hand, you may be concerned about not having the knowledge or experience. I’ve found YouTube has a wealth of videos teaching you how to do just about anything. That doesn’t mean you should take on tasks you’re not comfortable with, but if it’s not dangerous, give it a shot.
6. Ditch the landline phone and save $500 a year
If you have a mobile phone, do you really need a landline, too? Most mobile plans cover long-distance calling and offer unlimited minutes. And eliminating a dedicated fax line is a no-brainer. These days, it’s easy to scan documents and email them, or send them to a fax machine over the internet using a free service such as FaxZero.com.
The average monthly cost for telephone landline service runs about $40 and then there is the cost of the phone to consider. Most people today have their mobile phone in their hands most of their waking hours, so do you really need a landline?
7. Terminate your storage facility and save $600 a year
While a storage space can make sense when you’re in the process of moving, renting a space monthly suggests you need to declutter. Even a 5×5 unit can be $50 or more a month. Consider how quickly what you’re paying will equal the value of what you’re storing and you may be motivated to take a weekend to throw a yard sale or head for the big flea market and grab a table for 10 bucks.
The best part: you can make some extra cash from your old unwanted just-taking-up-space-and-time junk that becomes somebody else’s newfound treasure! Take some old items to Goodwill, or post a listing on eBay or other online sales sites like 5Mile, OfferUp, or Craigslist in order to empty your storage space and save.
8. The “big one” – give up smoking and save at least $2,000 a year
If a longer, healthier life isn’t motivation enough to quit smoking, saving thousands every year may be. Besides the high cost of the cigarettes themselves, health and life insurance premiums are much higher for smokers. If your spouse is a smoker, encourage them to quit, too.
Stopping smoking is extremely difficult and requires patience, encouragement, and determination from both the smoker and family and friends around them, but it can be done. Just giving up one pack a day can save you about $2,000 a year, and that total could be doubled if you and your significant other both quit and double again if you both smoke two packs a day. That’s about $8,000 a year just by itself! Check out Smokefree.gov to learn more about giving it up now.
Saving money often boils down to choices you make and being mindful of what you’re spending your money on and what you stop buying. Making a modest effort to change your ways can actually save you your money. None of the above suggestions are unattainable and some are really just minor tweaks or lifestyle adjustments. Small modifications can pay off in very big ways. If you’re serious about saving more money and set it as your goal, it will pay off in a big way.
What are your opportunities to save in your routine expenses? Have you made a list of how and where to save right now? If not, what’s preventing you from doing it? No matter what your income is, saving money is always a big goal and helps you achieve and preserve your wealth!