The New Year is a good time to rethink and replan your monthly and annual budget. Not only will it soon be time to file taxes, but COVID-19 has devastated many industries and affected numerous jobs. Many people are scrambling to tighten their belts and eke extra money out of limited income.
Although it can be hard to make major cuts in your budget, little savings add up quickly to bigger ones. At the end of the year, you’ll see just how much of a difference those savings will make. While it might seem like asking for a miracle to save money, here are 10 ways you can save money almost immediately.
No one can blame you for investing in a tasty coffee drink prepared by someone else each day, but the fact is that buying your latte out adds up really quickly. A grande Starbucks latte runs $4.15 in most states. Multiply that by five days a week, four weeks a month, and you’re looking at $83 a month and almost $1,000 per year on coffee! Not to mention all the waste of paper and plastic. Start making your coffee at home and reap the savings.
Extra Streaming Services
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to move to at-home entertainment so as not to risk exposure to the virus. Many people take advantage of the numerous streaming services, from Hulu ($5.99 per month) to Netflix ($8.99 per month) to Disney+ ($6.99 per month). These monthly costs quickly add up. If you’re looking to save money, get honest with yourself about how much you really watch what these services have to offer. If you’ve got kids at home, sticking with Disney+, for example, makes a lot of sense. But do you really need Hulu and Netflix? Cutting out one streaming service can save you upwards of $60 per year, and two of them, more like $120 or more.
Looking Back: Where the Streaming Wars Ended in 2020
As increasingly more Americans use smartphones, it’s easier than ever to sign up for app-based subscriptions you might rarely use. Music services. Dating apps. Meditation apps. Audiobook apps. According to an analysis done by Mint for The New York Times in 2019, Americans spend an average of $640 per year on such subscriptions ($53 per month), many of which you may not even be using on a regular basis. The new year is a good time to comb through your subscriptions and delete the ones that are draining your funds.
Learn More: 50 Ways To Live the Big Life on a Small Budget
Takeout/Restaurant Food Delivery
In the COVID-19 era, more people are paying for takeout because dining at restaurants has become too risky in many states. Suddenly services like Door Dash and UberEats are household names and getting more use than ever before. A survey by Vitagene analyzed the cost of takeout in major cities around the U.S., showing that people in Detroit averaged around $142 per month in takeout, and people in Seattle hit $210 per month. This adds up to thousands of dollars per year and doesn’t even include the fees for the delivery services, which can add anywhere from 11% to 40% more cost to the price of your food, according to Tech Crunch. Even just cutting back a little could save you big bucks.
Looking Back: What We Spent Money on in 2020
Most people can barely remember when Amazon.com was just a virtual bookseller. Today they sell almost anything you can imagine, from household goods to clothing to toys and electronics. Since people began limiting their in-store shopping in the pandemic, Amazon’s sales have skyrocketed. It’s easy to set out to order just a couple of things and then suddenly find yourself filling a cart with other suggested items. Make sure what you’re ordering from Amazon are only those same things you would pick up in store, and keep that retail therapy to a minimum.
Find Out: 23 Secret Ways To Save Money on Amazon
If you’re among the many workers who have had to work from home since the pandemic began, your coworkers are probably not seeing much more of you than your head and shoulders. Now is not the time to buy new clothes, and this can be a savings boon. According to CreditDonkey, the average adult in the 25-34 age bracket spends $161 per month on clothing. For adults ages 35-44, however, it’s $209 per month. Even saving just $100 per month on clothing adds up to $1,200 in savings per year. Surely you can get another year out of your old clothes until people begin to return to work.
Learn More: 19 Effective Ways To Tackle Your Budget
In the early months of the pandemic, at-home purchases of alcohol surged to more than 27% of 2019 sales for the same time period, according to Nielsen. Whether people were hoarding or self-medicating more, Americans have been drinking more in the pandemic. Alcohol costs can add up quickly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 Consumer Expenditure Report, the average American household spends about $581 on alcohol per year. Cutting back on your drinking not only saves you money but might just improve your health.
Budgeting 101: How To Create a Budget You Can Live With
Don’t Hoard Food or Toilet Paper
The pandemic inspired anxiety and fear in many people that supply chains would be cut off and basic staples would be hard to find. Thus, they created a self-fulfilling prophecy when such things as toilet paper, boxed mac n’ cheese, flour and other staples could not be kept in stock by grocery stores. Spending extra money on these items might stretch your budget unnecessarily and waste food. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 Consumer Expenditure Report, the average American household spent $8,169 on food, some at home, some eating out. That’s already a steep cost for groceries — unnecessary extras can break your budget altogether.
Get Advice: How I Feed My Family of 5 Well on $125 a Week
Get Cheaper Car Insurance
With many people working from home and staying home in general during the pandemic, people are driving their cars significantly less than before. Some car insurance companies have offered discounts for people who are not driving as much. If your current carrier won’t drop their rate, it’s worth shopping around. You might be able to reduce your payment by 15% to 25%.
Seek a Cheaper Cellphone Plan
One way to save money immediately may be to switch cellphone plans. Many companies will offer a discount if you threaten to quit or negotiate a lower price plan. Money guru Dave Ramsey also offers that if you can’t switch plans, you can do such things as use your Wi-Fi, so you don’t reap expensive data charges or consider buying a “no-contact” or gently refurbished older phone instead of the shiniest and latest smartphone.
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