One of the first steps to getting financially fit is to find ways to save money. I work with my clients every day to identify ways to save money and I practice what I preach. Here are my top ten money saving moves.
10) Coupons – I rarely took the time to find coupons in the past, or I would cut them out and forget about them. Now, when I make a plan to buy something, one of the first things I do is look for a coupon for the item. I think it’s important to note that I only look for coupons on items that I PLAN to buy. If you use the coupon as your driver to buy something, then it is not 20% cheaper, it is 80% expensive.
- Average monthly coupon savings before = $0
- Average monthly coupon savings now = $15
- Annual Savings = $180
9) Book Reading – I love to read. I take the train into work, and the time to and from the city is my meditation time where I read light and fluffy books, and I typically read a book a week. A few years ago, though, I got a Kindle as a gift and this dramatically cut my entertainment costs.
- Cost of average paperback book = $8.99
- Cost of average Kindle book = $3.99
- Annual Savings = $260
8) Shopping Habits – I used to have a bad habit of shopping at name brand stores and paying full price for everything that I bought (do I sound like a commercial or what?). A few years ago, when I needed a whole new wardrobe because of my weight loss, I discovered the joys of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Nordstrom Rack. Now, I can’t remember the last time I went to a name brand store.
- Average cost per work outfit for name brand = $125
- Average cost per work outfit for discount store = $30
- Assuming 6 new outfits a year, Annual Savings = $570
7) Personal Care – As many of you know, I’m not a natural blonde, and in case you didn’t know, I also like to have my eyebrows waxed (they are actually VERY light and incredibly difficult to pluck). To save money in these areas, I have stretched the length of time I take before getting them taken care of.
- Average monthly personal care costs before = $148
- Average monthly personal care costs after = $98.50
- Annual Savings = $594
6) Cut Cable – I cut the cord more than three years ago and thanks to Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon, I don’t miss a thing.
- Monthly cost for Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime = $17
- Monthly cost for cable = $75
- Annual Savings = $696
5) The Coffee Choice – I was a HUGE Starbucks addict and indulged in a venti latte just about everyday of the week and sometimes on the weekends. A few years ago, though, I replaced a number of those with coffee from home. It’s important to note that I didn’t cut out Starbucks fully because I do like to “indulge” every now and then, but I have made those trips part of my larger plan.
- Cost of coffee from home (with creamer) = .25 per cup
- Cost of Starbucks venti latte = $5.39
- Annual Savings = $1,069
4) Lunch from Home – As a working mom, I used to rationalize that I didn’t have the time to make lunch because I have too many things going on. As someone who understands that lunch is a choice, I have taken up bringing lunch from home on a regular basis.
- Average cost of lunch from home = $2.50
- Average cost of lunch out = $9.00
- Annual Savings = $1,690
3) Energy Mindfulness – Everyone who comes to my house during the winter always complains about the fact that it’s freezing. I want to respond to them that if they would like to pay my utility bills, then I will turn the heat up. Seriously, though, in the winter definitely think about throwing on a sweater or blanket rather than the heat. And in the summer, definitely, think about throwing on a tank top or take a cold shower rather than turning up the air conditioning.
- Average monthly utility bills before changes = $450
- Average monthly utility bills after changes = $300
- Annual Savings = $1,800
2) Transit – I work in New York City and like most New Yorkers, I fell into a bad habit of taking cabs more than I should have. I can’t remember the last time I took a cab, now. I will either take the subway, or if the weather is nice, I will walk and sometimes that walk has been more than 40 blocks long.
- Cost of subway fare = $2.50
- Average cost of a cab fare = $8.00
- Annual Savings = $2,000
1) Dinner at Home – I used to be a big proponent of take out or eating out, and again, I blame it on my “working mom mentality.” I have now really come to love dinners in and frequently say that my home is not only the best restaurant in town, but it’s the cheapest.
- Average cost for dinner for 3 at home = $10
- Average cost for dinner for 3 out = $35
- Annual Savings = $5,200
It all adds up!!
All of these financial decisions were choices that I made to improve my financial health. When I first started on my road, I assumed that there was no way that I could save money. Based on just these ten items, though, I am saving on average $14,059 per year!!!