13 Realistic Changes You Can Make To Save $300 This Month
1. Cut one coffee per week. You save $3 every week for four weeks straight. Total savings: $12. (Alternately, if you are a hardcore latte lover, switch from espresso to drip coffee for the month, which can save you $2 every time you walk into a coffee shop. If you buy coffee three times a week, that means you’d save about $24 in the month.)
2. Eliminate transportation snacks from your budget. Maybe I’m the only one with a weakness for a pack of Reese’s pieces and a seltzer for the train or car ride home, but for me, it’s the best treat after a long day. That’s about $4 twice a week. For four weeks, your total savings is $32.
3. Don’t buy spontaneous decor for your apartment and office. AKA, the temptation to buy a notebook here, candles there, and a few postcards that you don’t actually know what to do with, but that are cute enough to convince you to throw down a few dollars. If you have one small impulse buy a week, that comes to $3-$8. Total savings from cutting it out: $20-$25 (approximately).
4. Switch to generic brands for four or five of your main grocery items. Five grocery store items I could easily buy generic would be: tortilla chips, milk, cream cheese, seltzer, and bread. This is probably a total savings of $4-$5 every week for me. So total savings for the month would be $20.
5. Cut out spending for a weekend. On our personal finance articles roundup yesterday, I mentioned that I read about a no-spend weekend challenge, and I am hooked on the idea. If on a given weekend, I buy two drinks out at a bar, that’s $20. If I go to brunch, that’s another $25, which is $30 with tip. If I work at a coffee shop on a Saturday, that’s another $5. And then if I take an Uber somewhere, that’s around $15 there and back (because I only take Ubers under $10). In total, that’s $70 saved if I do a no-spend weekend challenge.
6. Stop using your heat and AC for the month. April is a ~transitional month~ in terms of weather, and in a lot of place, that means it isn’t cold enough for heat, but it isn’t warm enough for AC. Typically using the AC or heat adds about $30 to my bill, so I’d say the total savings is somewhere in that realm.
7. Cut out one happy hour per week. If you’re going to happy hour two or three times a week, make it a goal to slow down a little for the month of April. You don’t need to cut it out of your life completely, but it would really help to nix one of them each week for the entire month. If you get two $5 drinks at happy hour and no food, you pay about $13 with tip. Saving $13 for four weeks means saving $52.
8. Or, if it’s easier than cutting a happy hour, cut one drink every time you go out. For example, if you’re typically a three-drink person when you go out, try a month of just doing two drinks when you go to a bar. If you go out twice a week, and cut one $10 cocktail each time you go out, that’s $20 saved a week. Total savings for the month: $80.
9. Swap one of your pricey indoor go-to activities for a free outdoor one as the weather gets nicer. Basically, it’s the difference between $20 admission to a museum and $0 admission to the park. Instead of paying $10-$15 for a movie ticket, go for a long walk around dusk, or find a hiking trail close to you. If you cut two of these activities in April, that’s about $40 saved. (My calculation assumes that you’re getting popcorn and candy at the movies, which is my go-to because I will never see a movie without snacks.)
10. Get rid of one of your premium memberships or subscriptions for the month. I was recently reading about how one of the latest millennial spending traps is subscription services; the hope is that you’ll sign up once to try a service and end up completely forgetting about it, and just pay $20 a month for a box of samples you don’t even want. Total potential savings: depends what you subscribe to, but probably around $20 for the month.
11. Give up nail treatments for a month. I know this might sound ridiculous to people who don’t do their nails, but I do my nails a couple of times a month, and I’ve noticed that they are much less strong than they once were. So, I stopped painting my nails (almost) entirely last month, and not to #humblebrag all over the place, but my nails look great now. This is a perfect way to save on small drug store buys, like nail polish remover, new filers, extra cotton swabs, or a couple new ‘treat yo’self’ nail polishes. (I support ‘treat yo’self’ nail polishes, but they’ll be waiting for you at the drug store next month.) Potential savings: $20.
12. Think before you Venmo. I love Venmo; it’s honestly one of my favorite apps. But just like having money on an ID card in college, saying the words, “Oh, I’ll venmo you for it!” makes me sometimes forget that I am using real money, because I can just magically send people money in less time than it takes me to send a tweet. Of course, if someone charges you on Venmo, you should send them the money in a timely manner. But before you ask your friend to pick you up a coffee and scone on the way into work, ask yourself if you really need it, or if you just like the idea because of how convenient it is for you to complete that charge.
13. Related: take the app that drives your impulse spending the most off your phone for a month, whether that’s a food delivery app, an online shopping app, or a ride-share app. See if you can live without it, and calculate how much you can save. Potential savings: endless.
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