50 Ways to Save $1,000 a Year

Looking for ways to save money this year? Want to boost your savings in a tough economy with little effort or pain? Good. I’ve got 50 (fifty) ways to painlessly stash some extra cash without losing a limb or getting a second job.

Some of these tips will score you instant dough, while other money saving suggestions require year round strategies to amass the moolah. Not every tip will be applicable to your situation, so pick and choose which money saving tips and strategies are optimal to boost your savings by $1,000 bucks.

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Here are 50 ways to save an extra $1,000 a year:

  1. Pay off Your Credit Card. Stop paying the bare minimum on your credit cards. Paying just the minimum (usually 2-3 percent) only prolongs the agony and increases the amount of interest paid to the bank. Save yourself over 20 percent in interest charges by fully paying off your credit card debt. Depending on your debt, you may add thousands to your wallet. Check out this handy Credit Card Calculator to calculate your interest payments based on your minimum monthly payment. Results will SHOCK you.
  2. Get a Better Credit Card. Not all credit cards are created equal. Choose a credit card with no annual fee, understand your credit card’s benefits and risks, know how your issuer calculates interest charges, and learn how to benefit from introductory rates. Reading the small print will help you to make the most of your credit card and keep fees and charges to a minimum, saving bundles of bucks every year. Try these Four Steps to Choosing a Credit Card and read 5 Ways To Screw Your Credit Card Company to payoff your debt faster.
  3. Watch Investment Fees. There are costs to investing your hard earned dollars. Learning how to minimize these costs can save you thousands in management expense ratio fees (MERs), trailer fees, and broker fees. Always read your investment fund prospectus to better understand how these hideous fees can eat up your fund portfolio returns year after year. If you’re investing in high fee mutual funds, consider a portfolio in index funds or exchange traded funds (ETFs) to better increase your returns and minimize your costs. Warning: These 5 Investing fees that devour your savings could cost you a huge fortune.
  4. Dine in. Eating out costs big bucks. Fatten your wallet by eating home cooked meals and you may just slim your waistline while you’re at it. Try these Cheap, Easy, and Healthy, Family Dinners for $5 to kick start your savings.
  5. Brown Bag It. Stop spending mega moolah muddling your midday meal munching on take out lunches. Bringing a brown bag lunch to school or work every day will save your thousands this year. Try these Five Frugal Lunches for some ideas.
  6. Latte Factor. Like a daily latte or coffee? These seemingly small drips of dollars can really add up! Forget the daily coffee break and make your own hot beverages to save lots of loot. Or drink homemade tea — 5 Gourmet Herbal Tea Infusions for Your French Press .
  7. Raise Deductibles. Get out your policy and raise the deductibles on your car and home insurance. You’re not likely to claim the small stuff so choose a $5000 over a $500 deductible to cut your insurance costs by about 40 percent.
  8. Buy a Cheaper Car. Pimping in a flashy vehicle? A smaller or less expensive model can save you big bucks and still get you from point A to point B in style. See How To Buy a Used Car (without sipping lemonade) to get your motor running for less.
  9. Lose the Extra Car. Get creative and optimize the usage of a single family car to save huge money on insurance, gas, and car payments. You may be surprised how much money can be saved by reducing the number of cars parked in your driveway. See How to Sell Your Used Car Online to raise some cash.
  10. Ditch the Car. Buy a Bike. Ride the Bus. Carpool. I did this years ago and lived to tell the tale. I guesstimate I’ve saved at least 5K a year by riding my bike to school and work. I tend to carpool or ride the bus on rainy days. Since I’ve been car-free for 12 years, that’s 60K saved! Ka-ching!
  11. Expunge Extended Warranties. Don’t buy extended warranties on inexpensive products like cameras and kitchen appliances. The only time a warranty makes sense is if a repair will devastate your budget.
  12. Avoid Unnecessary Insurance. Skip mortgage and accidental death insurance as it only covers you in specific cases. Get life insurance to cover you no matter the cause of death.
  13. Avoid Whole Life Insurance. Whole life policies are expensive for the policy owner and lucrative for the policy seller. Term policies, which cover you for a set period, are FAR less expensive. Here’s How to Buy Life Insurance Without Getting Screwed.
  14. Don’t Insure Your Kids. I love kids, but insurance for children makes no financial sense. Buy life insurance to replace the income of the family breadwinner(s), those you are dependent on. Not your dependents. Here’s why your kids don’t need life insurance.
  15. Get a High Interest Savings Account. Switch your savings account to a high interest account, like those offered through ING Direct. You can make 3-4 percent MORE on your savings a year, rather than the pittance most checking accounts offer.
  16. Look at Laundry Costs. Washing clothes is a repetitive task which can cost big bucks over the span of a year. When I stop to calculate the cost of laundry detergent, the power usage of clothing dryers, and the water consumption of washing machines I shudder at the total cost of cleaning filth. Learn How to Save Money on Laundry to minimize the expensive impact of filth.
  17. Banish Bank Account Fees. Minimum balances, withdrawal fees, checking fees, paying bills fees, fees, and more fees. Why are you paying so much for banking? I dare you to add up all those tiny little dings you don’t want to look at and see how much you pay for banking. Compare your banking fees to other bank accounts and switch banks. I’ve been using a no fee checking account with President’s Choice Financial for years, and love it. Find a no fee checking account in your state, province, or country and live bank fee free already.
  18. Axe ATM Fees. Getting dinged $1 here and there for withdrawing your cash can add up! Planning your cash withdrawals ahead of time can save you lots of dollar dings over the span of a year. Axe your ATM fees by sticking to your bank’s machine, only withdrawing cash a few times a month, and check your bank plan to see if there is a better fee structure for your banking needs.
  19. Eat Less Meat. Where’s the beef? To save thousands in groceries try eating less meat in your family meals. You don’t have to go vegetarian, just try some meatless dishes a few times a week. Switching from animal protein to bean protein is a wonderfully frugal way to add some dollars to you bank account. Try soaking dried beans to become the ultimate money saving bean counter.
  20. Pay Down Student Debt. New graduate? Finished your degree decades ago? Paying off your student loan is a sure fire way to reduce interest payments, saving you thousands. Try these 5 Tips for Paying Off Student Loans.
  21. Manage Extra Mortgage Payments. For most of us, the mortgage represents our biggest debt. If you can manage, try making an extra payment to help end the loan sooner. Use the Loan Amortization Calculator to see the impact of how much loan interest can be reduced by paying down your mortgage sooner. Need convincing? 6 Surefire Ways To Avoid a Mortgage Meltdown could save you some cash.
  22. Cut the Cable. Television is expensive. Especially if you have special packages, customer loyalty bundles, and fee hungry features. Cancel the unneeded extras to save, or just cut the cable completely to maximize savings. Television may seem like a nominal monthly bill, but try adding up this expense over 12 months. See Breaking up with a cable company is hard to do for my cable cutting story.
  23. Cancel the Cell Phone. Roaming fees, text messages, minute overages. Cell phones can cost you big bucks over a year. Reevaluate your cell phone plan to save, or cancel your cell package to maximize savings.
  24. Rent Less Apartment. Downsizing your rented apartment could save you money over time. Try renting a unit on a lower floor without a view, move to a building with fewer perks, or rent a basement suite. Renting a smaller place can also save you on energy costs.
  25. Get a Roommate. Got a multiple room apartment or house? Rent out a room to a student or a young professional to jump start some savings. Sharing space saves on energy costs too.
  26. Reconsider the Landline. If you have a cell phone, do you still need your landline? Many cell phone users work on the road or away from the home. Perhaps it’s time to ditch the landline to save on utility costs.
  27. Maintain Your Car. Routine maintenance can save you a bundle by preventing major automobile repair costs. Follow your car’s user manual to keep up-to-date with oil changes, new air filters, and regular tune ups.
  28. Save Money on Gas. Gassed by the high prices at the pump? Try these 10 Ways to Save Money on Gas to cut your fuel consumption.
  29. Buy a More Fuel Efficient Car. Perhaps it’s time to trade in the gas guzzling clunker for a more fuel efficient automobile. Try the Should You Buy a More Gas Efficient Car Calculator to determine the break even point of a new car based on gas consumption.
  30. Pass on Pets. I love my dog. But our fine furry friends can cost us a small fortune in food and veterinarian bills. If you need the extra stash of cash, it may be best to pass on pets. So learn about your pet’s annual costs before bringing fluffy home.
  31. Use Condoms. When it’s time for sexy time, consider condoms. Health costs and babies are expensive. Preventing sexually transmitted infections is key to keeping yourself healthy, wealthy, and wise.
  32. Negotiate Your Mortgage. Never settle for the bank or mortgage lender’s first offer. Always ask mortgage brokers for the best fees, terms and mortgage rate. Save thousands in interest costs. Try the Loan Amortization Calculator to see your savings.
  33. Negotiate Your Salary. Getting a job offer is fun and thrilling. But settling for your first offer may be a mistake. Companies exist by keeping their costs down, hence paying employees as little as possible. When you get an offer, try negotiating for a little bit more. Try these 10 Tips for Salary Negotiation.
  34. Plan a Staycation. Stay at home for your next family vacation and save on lodging, dining out, and traveling costs. Staycations involve visiting local attractions like museums, parks, festivals, and play grounds. Get to know your area and neighbors better by vacationing near home. Or Build Your Own Modified Staycation Vacation Package to get the best of both worlds.
  35. Switch to Exchange Traded Funds. When investing in your retirement, consider switching your mutual funds to Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). ETFs have lower management fees than mutual funds. The less money you spend in management fees the more you keep in your portfolio. Try the Portfolio MER Calculator to calculate your total investment costs. You many just be surprised how much these fees eat into your returns!
  36. Grow a Garden. Cut some cash from your grocery bill by growing your own food. Planting some common veggies can help save a bundle. Want some hard numbers? Follow J.D. Roth in his series: How Much Does a Garden Really Save? Don’t have space for soil? Learn How to Grow Vegetables in a Pot.
  37. Switch to Cloth Diapers. The number of diapers a baby and toddler uses until potty trained is staggering. Calculate the cash spent on your baby’s poopy disposable diapers and you may just s$it yourself. Consider switching to cloth diapers to save some bucks. The biggest money savings can be found if you plan to have multiple children or can buy used cloth diapers. Trent at The Simple Dollar discusses his cloth diapering thoughts.
  38. Buy Used. Need some furniture, books, or car? Why not buy used to save! Buying used goods not only saves on taxes, but saves you from spending top dollar on retail. Most of my furniture and nearly all of my books were bought used. It’s astounding the quality available if you’re willing to wait and buy used.
  39. Quit the Gym. Go for a Walk. What’s up with fitness club initiation fees, contracts, locker fees, and monthly rates? Joining a gym can be an expensive relationship, especially if your membership or contract is hard to break or goes on for years. Know your rights before joining a gym and be aware of the pitfalls. Before paying a gym, consider these 10 Free Ways to Get into Fitness to save a bundle, or just go for a walk.
  40. Love the Library. I love reading books. I love not paying for books even more. Save yourself on Amazon bills by going to your local library and signing out your books for free. Besides, the library offers more than just free books! Get access to videos, CDs, and audio books. Be sure to watch out for due dates and fines.
  41. Get a New Job. Changing careers or finding a new job can pay dividends in the size of your paycheck. Boost your earnings to save more bucks. Need resume advice? Download these free resume templates to help you find a better paying job sooner.
  42. Make a Shopping List. Curb impulse grocery spending by downloading the Printable Grocery Shopping List. A shopping list can help you stay on the frugal track and avoid expensively packaged foods, save time at the store, and helps you remember what healthy foods to buy. Easy.
  43. Switch Home Heating. Is heating your home burning a hole in your wallet? If you heat with oil, perhaps it’s time to switch to electric? Your state or province may offer rebates and incentives for switching to more energy efficient forms of heating. Try these 3 Attic Insulation Methods to Seal in Savings and Child Proof Your Electrical Outlets to Cut Energy Costs for additional savings.
  44. Sell Your Stuff. Are endless racks of CDs, videos, books, sports equipment, and stuff cluttering up your space? Consider selling some of your stuff to raise some funds and clear some space. Try selling through garage sales, local swap meets, and online through craigslist, Kijiji, and eBay.
  45. Stop Buying Crap. Do you really need the latest gizmo or gadget? Resist the marketing muckity muck when advertisers launch crap, unveil crap, and convince you to upgrade crap. Crap is expensive. Learn to Just Say “No” to Crap before your wallet gets whacked by needless crap.
  46. Leave the Liquor. Spirits can be fun. But lots of liquor can leave your pocketbook dry. Try drinking less alcohol to help boost your savings.
  47. Shop Out of Season. Save some serious dollars by buying goods out of season. Buy winter boots in the spring, get wrapping paper after Christmas, and buy a bike in the fall. Buying goods out of season means finding end of season sales, reductions, and clear outs.
  48. Shop In Season. Buying broccoli in January is crazy expensive. Buying fruits and vegetables in season keeps grocery costs down. Try shopping at local farmer’s markets and freezing perishables for the winter. Besides, food just takes better when it’s in season.
  49. Use Your Benefits. Does your employer’s compensation package include medical, dental, chiropractor, massage, and other physical therapies? Since you’re probably paying a fee for this health care you’d be silly to squander the benefit. Be sure to visit the dentist and fix all your ailments by using your benefits. A healthy smile is priceless.
  50. Claim Your Tax Credits. When doing your yearly taxes, don’t forget to claim your health expenses, child credits, and education amounts. Missing an exemption could cost you thousands. Collect all your receipts during the year so you’re not scrambling to prove your costs come tax season. I store my receipts in simple envelopes to help tame the clutter and confusion throughout the year.

Saving an extra $1000 a year is not impossible. It just takes some strategies, creativity, and patience to amass the moolah over time.

Your Turn! What are your ways to save big bucks every year? Share your thoughts!

Your two cents:

  1. Aunt Cloud September 12th, 2011

    Drive within the speed limits and don’t break any traffic laws: tickets feel like a slap in the face, not to mention your budget.

    Establish a babysitting co-op with a friend whose kids you don’t mind watching once a month – saves on babysitting, never mind actually finding a sitter.

    Many of you will disagree on this one, but limit the number of activities your children are enrolled into, and limit the ones you decide are important into activities that are not too difficult to get to/from. In spring I see many frazzled, tired mothers hauling two, three or four kids from soccer to t-ball to swimming to dance recitals, and it’s obvious no one is having any fun. If your child is a prodigy who shows amazing promise in playing the harp or aerial acrobatics, by all means, do what you can to help them realize their potential; otherwise, if your goal is some physical activity, don’t spend your afternoons in the car (you’ll save on food bought on the run as well).

  2. JoeAverage September 13th, 2011

    Want to save massive cash? Don’t have kids! (bear with me a little here) We had two children in daycare consecutively for ten years. It was about $4500 per year. $45K!?!?!?! WOW.

    No really, we’ve had ALOT of fun with our kids. Wouldn’t trade them for all our money of course. They are our greatest wealth.

    Saving money: learn to do basic maintenance on your car like oil changes. Drive it gently so it will last. Our CR-V has 222K miles on it. The repairs have been minimal (radiator $200 and water pump $75 and I did the work).

    You folks on the coasts and up north – wash the bottom and rinse out the fenders of your cars often to keep the salt from consuming your car. Learn to do brakes. Swapping brake pads and shoes are cheap but the shops are SO expensive. Just get someone to show you or take a basic maintenance course at your local community college.

    Mow your own grass. Ditch the gas mower when it wears out and buy a reel mower if you have a small yard. We love our’s. Quiet, no dangerous debris being thrown, no dust, very little maintenance, etc. Doesn’t work so well with an acre of grass. 😉 We have a small yard. Mow often. Not nearly as hard to push as the one my grandfather had. Depends greatly on how the cutting bar is adjusted against the reel. Doesn’t need to rub the bar hard to cut well.

    Ditch the cable and satellite in favor of a Roku-like device. Subscribe to Hulu and Netflix/Amazon On Demand. Buy an antenna for network TV. Helps if you aren’t married to a TV enthusiast who has specific “needs”. We have thousands of shows and movies to pick from but if you’re a person trying to watch a specific series with your friends on specific nights and discussing it over the watercooler the next day, TV on demand might not work for you.

    Roku = $100 or less and no subscription fees ever, Hulu/Netflix/Amazon = about $8 each per month. Lots of free content that you may or may not like as well on the Roku. We love the free music and there are UK channels there too sometimes.

    We were paying $40 something per month for Dish Network. Our local cable TV option was insanely priced so they weren’t even an option we’d consider. Our kids are watching individual shows and then turning off the TV rather than just leaving the Tv on all afternoon in the background. YAY! Some of their shows are 10+ years old but the show is new to them so who cares? our oldest is a big “American Pickers” fan now.

    I find that I watch a single TV show per evening now at most. Watch something, am satisfied, go do something else different. No commercials except on Hulu. Our youngest asks for fewer snacks while watching TV b/c kids’ TV commercials are all about junkfood these days! Older child is less of a consumerist with no commercials. YAY! We also only have one TV so we watch together most of the time.

    Subscription TV really ought to be ala-carte. We were paying for the 150 channel package from Dish and watching 6-8 channels. Wasn’t worth it.

  3. JoeAverage September 13th, 2011

    Computers – switch from Windows to free Mint Linux KDE or Mint Linux Gnome.

    Don’t know what I am talking about? Cruise over to Wikipedia for a read.

    Linux is virus proof so you don’t need MacAfee or Norton or ??? antivirus subscriptions.

    Linux generally has lower hardware requirements so that same computer that is slow and frustrating? It might run Linux quite happily and fast.

    There are hundreds/thousands of applications in Linux and they are all FREEEEEE! So is the operating system (that replaces Windows). The software is compatible with Windows so you can run Linux, use OpenOffice or LibreOffice or Abiword to make MS Office files if you must. Rather than send out MS Office formats I use native Libre/Open/Abiword file formats and then send out a PDF to friends and family. Everybody can open a PDF. Last I heard there is a program here in Linux-land that allows me to install MS Office inside of Linux but I have not tried it. It is called “PlayOnLinux”.

    How do you get started? Do some reading. You’ll find that there is this whole parallel universe of computer users that use Linux and accomplish more than most Windows users can afford to accomplish because the Windows user has to buy expensive software.

    Let me aim you at Mint Linux. Go to their website and start reading the tutorials and the forum. Ask questions there. Don’t jump into Linux blindly. It’s not hard but I am trying to minimize your frustration. I was an advanced Windows user but a Linux newbie. Suddenly not knowing all the answers in Linux-land was both frustrating and exhilarating back in ~2000. I was suddenly free from the computer money machine and “virus proof”. All I had to do was get used to it. It’s like moving from Windows to a Mac. Things look slightly different but are not really any harder.

    Download open-source software and put it on your Windows computer. Get used to it so when you do the big switch to Linux you have some familiar touchstones. Use Opera or Firefox or Google Chrome for your browser. Use Opera mail or Thunderbird e-mail. Use LibreOffice or Abiword or IBM Symphony or OpenOffice for your office software. Use GIMP of F-Spot for your photoeditor. Watch tutorials on YouTube. Read tutorials on the project websites. I thought switching to open-source software was REALLY easy but some folks are intimidated when their icons change to a different theme of their computers’ colors change. I helped a very intelligent man use Firefox last week for the first time. He was a devout Internet Explorer user and his computer once again got a virus. We opened Firefox and his first question was – how do I get to XYZ website? The bovious answer to me was type the address into the address bar at the top of the screen JUST LIKE Internet Explorer. To him though he was looking at a completely different creature – like the difference between a sportcars and a camel. 5 mins later he was just as content with Firefox as he had been using IE. He just needed somebody to hold his hand for for his first steps.

    If people can survive upgrades from WinXP to WinVista to Win7 then they certainly can survive a switch to Linux! 😉

    Anyhow once you’ve used the freebies for a month or so in Windows then landing in Linux-land isn’t nearly as scary. You can download Linux Mint KDE and burn it to a DVD and then start your computer so that it reads from the DVD. About 5 mins later you can use Linux without ever changing your Windows computer. You can test your computer’s Wi-Fi, the video, the sound, etc. You can surf the web. With a little knowledge you could go into your Windows files and fix broken things there. When you’re done – reboot, take the CD or DVD out, and then you’re back into Windows. Think of it as Linux-temporary. The big word for it is “Linux LiveCD” or “linux LiveDVD”. Again – Wikipedia is your friend here. Look it up for a more complete explanation.

    Anyhow – the savings: No more purchasing upgrades to Windows or Office. Your computer should last longer (not go obsolete b/c it is slow). All the other software you use is free too.

    Side benefits: you’ll start questioning why our gov’t and schools don’t use Linux to save money. You’ll find that gov’ts and schools in other countries DO use Linux. You start complaining that you can’t buy TV ala-carte and about fact that the entertainment and movie studios networks are hostile to Linux though they use it. (Netflix currently will play on Linux powered devices but not on Linux computers… This is supposedly going to change soon. It is not because Linux is bad but because Netflix uses Microsoft software in the online player…)

    I’m going to estimate that the average family might save between $150 and $200 per year using Linux b/c ANY trip to a computer repair store for Windows virus delousing is going to cost $50 minimum. The annual anti-virus software subscription is going to cost about $30. Any software you buy is going to be $35 per title. Then there is the falling value of your computer as it slows a little each year b/c Windows just gets slower with age for whatever reason. I happily run an EIGHT year old desktop computer at home for e-mail, internet, pictures, etc. It uses Mint Linux KDE 8.0. I have a 700 MHz laptop that runs Mint Linux 10 LXDE that can also do the same functions. YouTube is pretty hard on it though b/c the Linux version of Flash is power hungry so I don’t watch YouTube on it. It does however happily play thousands of songs via RadioParadise and my local music collection.

    I have friends who replace their Windows every few years b/c these machines think they are out of date. No, it’s their store bought software that gets clunky.

    http://www.kde.org/screenshots/

    That shows desktops going all the way back to Version 1.

    You can also find screenshots of Mint Linux but the recent versions have adopted a default grey and black theme that is really dreary. You can change it and I do immediately after setting up a computer. The computers I set up are bright and cheerful.

    To Kerry – I’d be happy to help you elaborate on this topic in an article sometime. There are plenty of links out there to good tutorials – video and fixed text/pictures.

  4. Vic @ Business Tips Blog October 14th, 2011

    I love eating at home. It will save us money, and it will also keep our body healthy and fit, avoiding any future medical expenses.

  5. CardiacRN October 25th, 2011

    A few tips to add:

    This year I saved money by switching my car insurance company. The yearly cost to insure my car is now $2500 cheaper. I have insurancehotline.com to thank for that!

    Take advantage of discount sites like Wagjag, Livingdeals, etc.

    If your employer offers employee discounts, use them! My work offers discount deals on electronics, entertainment, vacations, shopping and it has saved me money over the years.

  6. frugalfran November 20th, 2011

    A few suggestions to reduce grocery bill:
    1. buy several rags and use them in place of paper towels
    2. make your own laundry soap
    3. make and freeze your meals

    A single suggestion to increase income:
    1. donate/sell your plasma

  7. Violet Lub November 22nd, 2011

    also, if you live in BC, Coast Capital Savings Credit Union also have free chequing accounts. i switched from the big brightly-coloured provincial credit union (who shall remain nameless) and have saved $14/month ($168/year).

  8. Jessica December 26th, 2011

    My husband and I gave up cable back in 2009 and have not regretted it one bit. Fringe benefits include feeling better about yourself because the boob-tube isn’t there to tell you how to look, dress, or eat. I quit shaving my legs around the same time we gave up cable (another green saver), and the lack of razor commercials has helped me stick to my guns.

  9. JMK January 11th, 2012

    For many years we’ve been doing most of the items on the list (used cars, pack lunches, no cable, basic cell plan, meal planning etc). Our only splurge is a big family trip every other year. After cutting out all the obvious wasteful spending, we hit a plateau. Unless we were prepared to sell our home and really downsize, we seemed unable to find other places to save. I was certain there was more we could cut out, so we tried looking at our spending from a different perspective. Instead of how much more can we cut out, we tried working from the absolute bare minimum and seeing how little we could add on.

    Now if it’s not essential we don’t include it in the spending plan. As a result we’ve carved our basic expenses down to ~55% of our take home pay. The rest goes to retirement savings, extra mortgage payments, bianual trips and very occasionally, a totally nonessential purchase. The need for a monster emergency fund disappears when you can lose one salary and really not feel it. If one of us were laid off, we’d simply temporarily stop our retirement savings and extra mortgage payments. We definitely don’t live large like our friends and coworkers. We spend on our priorities, and ruthelessly cut out everything else. When it’s not your priority, you really don’t miss it.

    We plan out our essential, basic spending a year in advance. It’s easy to predict and allows you to see very clearly how much “excess” you would have IF you stuck to just the essentials. It’s a lot like the article on this site about getting married for $239 (licence and officiant) and anything more is unecessary and spent purely at your discretion. For the next year you can easily predict your mortgage/rent payments, monthly fixed items (cell, landline, internet, life insurance, property tax, etc). Based on several years of data, we know within a couple of dollars what we spend weekly on groceries and gas, so I put in a plug amount on the spreadsheet. As the year unfolds we replace the planned numbers with the actuals and the running balance updates. The big money saver is that whenever we do anything beyond the essentials, we have to add a row to the list in that week. Boy does that draw attention to any unplanned and therefore nonessential item. Rather than having $x in the plan for restaurants each week, we add the row IF we go to a restaurant. Mentally having given myself a preapproved amount to spend on entertainment, clothes, coffee etc, would just tempt me to do it since it was already planned. This way I know I should have $x of excess left on Friday after the pay arrives and all the week’s charges have been paid (all on the CC). Every Friday I then transfer out everything over ~$1000 and send it to our retirement savings or make an extra mortgage payment. If there is less than expected for the Friday transfer it forces us to face the fact that we consciously chose to go to spend that extra money and retire ____ days later. Since retiring early (without our mortgage of course) are our two big priorities, it sure shines a light on every non-essential purchase.

  10. JoeAverage January 11th, 2012

    JMK – That’s EXACTLY the kinds of details I wanted to hear. Great recipe for financial success.

  11. JoeAverage January 11th, 2012

    I get sort of frustrated with articles about losing weight for example. My. Doe lost 65 pounds and kept it off by exercising more, eating better, and staying more active!

    I come away from the article not knowing what he eats three times a day (if three), what he does for exercise or for how long or how often, and what his daily schedule is to see if the guy sleeps 2 hours a night or if he gets a full night’s sleep but has a spare 7.5 hours a day b/c he is retired…

    Thanks again JMK, SquawkFox and all the commenters.

  12. debbie February 8th, 2012

    WOW…I’ve owned a house for 27 yrs and around here you have to have mortgage insurance to secure a mortgage (Ontario, Canada)..there’s no other way….disability attatched to the mortgage no, but basic term insurance to mortgage holder is required.
    Paying for life insurance on children is a decent investment unless you’re made of money to pay for a funeral and can afford to take months of if need be for grieving time. I still have that payout available now they’re adults to pay for funerals if it ever happened…that’s just bunk.

  13. Ruth Cooke April 21st, 2012

    1) Insurance of any kind IS NOT an investment. Any payout you get will be far below what you would get if you simply put that money into a decent savings account. And life insurance is to replace lost income, not to bury someone. Use savings for that, and there are many ways to keep expenses down and still have a respectful burial. Do your homework!

    2) You DO NOT have to have mortgage insurance in Canada IF your down payment is 25% of the purchase price or more. If you can save that amount of money for a down payment, I’d suggest opting for term life (NOT whole life) instead. That money pays out to whoever you designate as recipient, and they can choose to use it to pay off the mortgage if they want, or sell the house and use the money for something else.

    3) Re pets: I have, over the years, gotten far too many pets secondhand from students who either couldn’t afford to keep them, or who were moving at the end of the school year and couldn’t take them with them. Pets are a long term proposition, they’re expensive, and they’re living creatures deserving of respect. Do your homework before you get a pet, get one from a local shelter, make certain it’s vaccinated and spayed or neutered before you bring it home. Make certain it’s been with it’s mother long enough to develop properly. Very young kittens and puppies are cute, true, but if they’ve been removed too quickly from their mothers, they may very well develop life-long, EXPENSIVE digestive problems. NEVER adopt or buy an animal on a whim.

    4) Regarding saving costs on the gym and walking for exercise: I can go you one better! I got three (soon to be four) paper routs in my area. I get about 3/4 of mandatory walking six days a week, and I GET PAID TO DO IT! Considering I now take in about $120 a month, and I used to shell out $35 a month for a gym membership I didn’t use, that’s a savings of $155 or more each month. And I’ve lost about 15 pounds in the last six months, making no other changes.

  14. Margaret Hart April 24th, 2012

    When our son wore cloth diapers, the doctor recommended 1 cup of white vinegar in the final rinse – it got rid of the soap residue and he never had diaper rash again. Never thought to use it for the rest of the wash – thanks for the tip. Have put vinegar and bulk baking soda on my shopping list.

    If you want to avoid using dryer sheets, but hate using liquid softener, try this – wet an old face cloth, ring it out as much as you can, then pour some liquid softener on it, scrunch it up a bit to distribute it all over the facecloth and voila reusable dryer sheets. You use way less than if you were pouring it into your washer, and ultimate, into the sewer system.

  15. Rusty May 10th, 2012

    I’m starting to realize (thanks to my son) that if I change our cell phone carrier (Verizon) I could cut my bill in half.

  16. Alice August 19th, 2012

    Oh gosh on #10

    There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
    Ditchin’ bus on rainy days too, it saves a lot of money.

  17. silver September 23rd, 2012

    The best way to save money is to sit down and calculate all of your earnings, spending, and savings. Make a budget on what you would like to spend for each category (EX: bowling, eating out, groceries, gas). When you get your check, withdraw the total amount and once completed, you will have $0. (Some can go into savings)

  18. Sue January 5th, 2013

    Solar lights, bought at harbor Freight with a 20% off coupon used for on-sale solar lights.

    I buy as much solar as I can. I love it. My electric as about $25 a month.

  19. Nick @ BayCrazy April 14th, 2013

    Great tips and well written.

    I particularly concur with the meat factor… good meat can add-up fast, but man… those porterhouse steaks are so good.

    My ruthless drug and gambling addictions probably don’t help when it comes to having enough to pay my child support either. Just joking! I don’t have kids. They died of starvation; from no food… as I gambled all their child support money. Okay no seriously now, that was funny.

    I don’t have a gambling problem, and I’d be willing to bet my house on that.

    No, hold the applause; I’m here all week.

  20. Stu (budget sheet) April 21st, 2013

    Hi Kerry, great suggestions. Under the heading of “woulda,coulda shoulda” I would suggest using the work benefits before retiring (ya I know this is a limited demographic). My regret is not using my dental benenfit to the max before my retirement. Also if you’re not on the road having a landline can be cheaper than the cellphone. I’m not so important I need to be available immediately so I rely on my home answering machine/landline for $20/mo versus $38-40/mo I was paying for my cell which I rarely used. On the shopping list, I agree but sometimes it pays to walk thru the stores looking at the unadvertised specials as I often find and stock up on items I need/use regularly. I shop the flyers weekly and after tracking the savings minus gas cost found I saved $100/mo (13 month avg) by hittng all our local stores on 1 trip.

  21. Alex Cruz August 29th, 2013

    #1 is a huge money saving tip. Paying the high interests rates can really eat up your income. I would combine this with your tip about searching for a credit card that can work for you. I personally have a Visa card through Bank of America that gives me back 3% cash back on gas and groceries. It gives me 1% cash back on everything else. I use this card to pay for all of my monthly costs and then pay it off in full at the end of the month. I personally wait until I have accumulated $500 cash back and then have it direct deposited into my bank account. I have a few friends who cash out every $25.. Either way… it’s a huge help.

  22. Saga September 25th, 2013

    That’s a great list, I agree quit smoking should be on it.

  23. Dawn M October 31st, 2013

    I love the list but disagree on one thing. The life insurance for your kids. You SHOULD carry just enough life ins if something were to happen to them. Do you really want to spend the next 10 years paying for your child’s funeral? My life insurance automatically insures both of mine for $10, 000 each. I know I could not bear the fact of losing a child so why make it harder on yourself just to save a few dollars a month?

  24. sarah February 15th, 2014

    I use tinfoil in the dryer to dry clothes.One big ball and it works great

  25. Liz January 28th, 2015

    I realize this is an oldie-but-goodie post – found it via your top posts lists. Love your site and have been poking around.

    Re #26 – the truly frugal choice is to reconsider the cell phone. Landlines are cheap – cell phones are expensive. Why do you think there’s a cell phone store on every corner in the city? They’re one of the few businesses that can afford the high rents because we’re enabling them. I have to have a cell phone for business but as soon as I can I’m ditching it and getting some cheap prepaid thing for emergencies. Cell phones are an indulgence in most cases – not a necessity by a long shot.

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