How to Save $500 by the end of 2011Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Jumpstart your savings and have a happier New Year
ATLANTA GA — With just eight weeks left in 2011, many consumers are already dreading the impact that holiday shopping will have on their already strained budgets. While few of us might be thinking about how we can save money during this most expensive time of year, CredAbility offers tips that can help consumers save up to $500 or more and get a jumpstart on a financially healthier 2012.
“Many consumers think they are destined to add to their debt load during the holidays,” said Mechel Glass, director of education for CredAbility. “While holiday spending can have an impact, making a few changes can add to your bottom line.”
CredAbility offers the following tips to consumers:
Check your temperature
You will save about 10 percent on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours. Do this while you are away during the day, and you won’t sacrifice any comfort. Potential savings: On an average electric bill of $150, you will save $15 per month or $30 by the end of the year.
Skip the morning latte
A brewed at home cup of coffee will cost you about 20 cents. Getting a cup of coffee out will cost you about $2, much more if you are a specialty coffee drinker. Consider making the switch through the end of the year and you will save at least $60.
Pack a lunch
If you go out to lunch with coworkers every day, you are likely spending between $8 and $15. Consider eating at a restaurant once a week and packing your lunch the other four days. Bring lunch to a park or the beach and still enjoy time away from the office. Make this switch through the end of the year and save at least $150.
Analyze your cell phone bill
Do you really use all those minutes or need unlimited texting? With friends and family plans and mobile-to-mobile programs, many cell phone users are paying for way more than they actually use. Do a 6-month analysis of your bill and see if you would benefit from changing plans. Potential savings: At least $20 per month and $40 by year end. Check to see if your carrier offers company discounts for employees of your company for potential added savings.
Take a hard look at your cable bill
The average digital cable or satellite bill is about $75. Add digital programming, movie channels, and special sports packages and you could easily be spending $150-$200 or more each month. If you have a movie channel for just one show—consider dropping it and wait for the season to come out via a DVD service such as Netflix or electronically on iTunes. You can easily reduce your cable bills by $20-$30 per month and rack up $40 before the year is over.
Eat and entertain at home
Even a weekly date night or an occasional dinner out with the kids can add up quickly. Swap dinner and a movie out on the town for a romantic dinner and classic at home, and you can easily save $30 or more. Do this once a week and you’ll have an extra $200 at the end of the year.
Save at the grocery store
You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to see savings add up at the grocery store check out. Simple things like planning the week’s menu and making a list can help reduce impulse buying. Plan for leftovers, which will stretch your budget and reduce the time you spend in the kitchen. Check the pantry and the freezer before you shop and try to use things you already have on hand. Comparison shop between stores and try store brands—many provide the same great taste at a discount. For a family of four, cutting your grocery bill by just 10 percent will save $60 or more per month—a savings of at least $120 by year’s end.
Reduce your holiday spending
The average consumer will spend just over $700 on holiday shopping and seasonal merchandise. Look at your list for opportunities to reduce spending. Consider personal, homemade gifts instead of commercially purchased. Consider drawing names at work or in your family to reduce the overall number of gifts you need to purchase. Reducing your holiday spending by just 10 percent will increase your savings by $70.
“Small changes can add up to big savings over time,” said Glass. Consider making some of these changes and look for other ways to cut spending. Start a savings account just for these savings and you will be surprised at how quickly you will build an emergency fund or save toward a particular goal.