If you’ve been reading TFD for any amount of time, you now how easy it is to find space in your budget for the things you actually enjoy. It’s all about prioritizing — simply deciding what is and what isn’t worth it. But, of course, you also know how easy it is to give in to lifestyle inflation, especially if you start earning more money. While spending on nice things and experiences can be good for us, we all could stand to rein it in from time to time. So today, thanks to this post from Grow, we’re getting back to basics.
Who couldn’t use an extra $550 each month? Good news: Making these small (and pretty painless) adjustments to your spending habits can help you get there — and without having to eliminate anything you love.
1. Eat in one more night per week
On average, we dine out 4.5 times every week, spending around $250 per month — meaning each meal costs about $14. Cut just one restaurant meal per week, opting instead for leftovers or something else already in your pantry.
Money saved: $56
2. Reduce your food waste.
Speaking of raiding your pantry, the average American household wastes about $1,600 on uneaten food every year. Eat leftovers, properly store foods for longer shelf lives and look for recipes using scraps and certain ingredients past their prime, like banana bread, vegetable stock, and soup.
Money saved: $133
3. Use free apps and coupons.
Obvious, yes, but rounding up a few coupons before hitting the store or online site easily saves $30 per week, according to one survey. And use free apps and browser extensions, like Honey, Coupon Sherpa and Grocery iQ, for totally effortless savings.
Money saved: $120
4. Drop your gym membership.
According to Statistic Brain, 67 percent of gym members never show up. If that’s you, stop paying and bank the cash instead. To get your fitness fix, Google free workouts or look for free outdoor classes in your area. (If you are a regular gym user, consider cutting other recurring memberships you may not be using.)
Money saved: $58
5. Negotiate your Internet bill.
Research competitor prices, then negotiate with your service provider for a potential monthly savings of about $50. Many states also offer subsidies for low-income residents, which could cut costs even more.
Money saved: $50
6. Cut the cord and tune into a streaming service.
Paying at least $100 per month for dozens of channels you rarely watch is becoming harder to justify. Drop your cable package in favor of an $8 basic Netflix subscription, or simply use the video streaming that comes with your Amazon Prime membership, and save big.
Money saved: $92
7. Optimize your energy consumption.
Small changes can go a long way toward a lower utility bill. Putting bricks or pebble-filled water bottles in toilet tanks saves about $3. Simply unplugging “energy vampires,” like your computer, can spare another $6.25. Each degree you tap down your thermostat in colder months can shave 3 percent off a $183 average electric bill — meaning bumping yours down 3 degrees could net an extra $16 per month.
Money saved: $25
8. Sign up for a cash-back credit card.
According to CreditCards.com, average credit card use among people who pay the bill in full each month is $1,154. Swiping a card (with no annual fee) that offers an average 1.5 percent back on all purchase won’t net you major savings — but what’s the downside? Plus, some cards offer up to 5 percent back on special bonus categories, like groceries, gas, and restaurants.
Money saved: $17
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