Don't Skip Starbucks, Just Size Down
I'm not going to tell you to skip Starbucks because you're probably heard that line 1,000 times. If you want to, great. I'm also not going to tell you not to go there because I go there and that would be hypocritical. So what I will suggest, is that you size down from what you are getting already. At most Starbucks locations, the difference between a Grande and Venti espresso drink is $0.40-$0.50. Tall sizes are about $1 less than Venti. So, if you go to Starbucks a couple of times per week and size down just one size, take a look at the savings you'll see each month:You're thinking $4 isn't that much aren't you? Well, do this same thing when you order a soda at the drive through, or when you're out shopping. Don't cut everything out, just order a smaller size, or buy 3 new shirts instead of 4. Making small cuts here and there makes a BIG difference!
Simply investing in a couple of power strips can save you a few bucks per month. In today's world, just about every electronic device has an idle mode that it goes into when you turn it "off". That mode uses power. Whether it is keeping a clock running, or a little red light, it's using power. If you have several devices plugged into a surge protector (power strip), it's easy to turn the completely off with one flip of a switch. Get as many of your electronic devices as you can hooked up to power strips and stop using idle power! According to this government site, 5-10% of power used in residences in the U.S. is idle power. So you could potentially reduce your electric bill 10% every month!
Check your usage. Do you even come close to using what you pay for? Most people don't. If you're with a monthly contract plan, they may not be excited about dropping you to a cheaper plan, but it doesn't hurt to try. You can really save money by switching to a non-contract plan though. My wife and I have been with Virgin Mobile for years and have saves literally thousands of dollars compared to our old plans. We don't talk on the phone much, so their plan for unlimited text and data with 300 talking minutes is perfect. It's only $35 a month! If your current plan is $95/month, take a look at the savings over the lifetime of a 2-year contract:That's insane! Double that (like we did) if you're a two-phone household! The one thing about Virgin Mobile is that because they are non-contract, you have to buy your cell phone up front. That'll cost you $200-$300 up front to get a smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy or iPhone 4. That turns a lot of people away because they just can't get past the up-front cost to see the huge savings in the future. But when you're saving $40-$60 per month, that phone will be paid for with savings in no time! It's definitely worth the look. See Virgin Mobile's phones, plans and more info here. T-Mobile also offers similar plans, however they start at $50 per person.
Two quick checks/fixes here can help you. Check your hot water heater's temperature. Do you really need the water to come out of your faucet scalding hot? Reducing the temperature will cause your hot water heater to work less hard, because it won't have to hold the water at such a hot temperature. Here's an article from Family Handyman for help changing the temp. The 2nd quick fix is to reduce your water usage. Many counties across the country now charge based on water usage. Look into low-flow faucets, showers and even toilets to save you a nice chunk of change every month. The average water bill in the U.S. is $50 per month, so if you saved just 10%, here's what it would look like:Add a couple of bucks of savings onto your gas/electric bill for your hot water heater savings and you've got another way to save a nice chunk of change every month.
If you've been a reader of this site for a while, you knew I was going here! I basically see coupons as cash. Instead of paying $5 for a grocery item, you can pay $3 and use a $2 coupon! To me, that is a no-brainer! If you're shy or lazy about clipping and using paper or internet coupons, look and see if your store offers clipless coupons! Most stores now alow you to load coupon offers right to your store card! Also check out SavingStar for another source of online clipless coupons. Let's figure that you are using coupons very, very casually, at (5) coupons for $1 off per week. Here's how the savings stack up:Those savings numbers just grow and grow as you use more coupons too!
So let's look at the totals. I'll break the savings down to a monthly level, since the savings pictured above vary from by month to by year. If all you do to save are the easy things above, here's what your monthly savings would look like:$100 per month! And that's with hardly any effort at all!
What would you do with an extra $100 per month? Or an extra $1200 per year?