With the holidays right around the corner, most of us are looking for ways to save as much money as possible. A lot of us — like me — are also planning to include “save money” as one of their 2019 New Year’s resolutions. To make our holiday purchases more financially obtainable and set good habits for 2019 and beyond, there are several simple ways to reduce spending throughout the year. Here are some of the easiest ways to save a chunk of cash.
1. Cut ties with cable
It may be hard to remember, but there was once a time where cable and satellite were the only ways to watch your favorite TV shows. And better yet, you’d have to catch the show at the exact time it aired because TiVo and other rewind, fast-forward, and start-over features had yet to be invented. In those days, it was justified to spend the extra money on cable because there were no other options. However, now we can watch those same shows, on demand, wherever and whenever we choose, for a much lower price. The average user pays $85 per month for standard cable and while cancelling service altogether is the best way to save, streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, are a great alternative for those who wish to keep their home entertainment. By switching you could pay less than a third of the costs, when compared to cable. If it’s the news you’re worried about missing, many local stations stream live newscasts for free via their websites or mobile apps and most even feature previously recorded video segments for viewers to watch at their convenience.
2. Ordering less takeout (or less expensive takeout)
What’s better than that extra large, meat lover’s pie from your favorite local pizza joint? How about keeping the extra $25 you just spent and using it to buy your meals for the work week? Pizza is one of the cheaper takeout options, so it’s one of the “better” financial choices if you are going to eat takeout, but it’s still more costly than making food at home. If you’re looking to cut your spending, one of the best ways to do so is by preparing food at home instead of ordering your meals for takeout or delivery. With a bit of planning and home prep, I was able to eat 3 meals a day for 5 days only spending $25 (tax not included). I opted for oatmeal for breakfast which set me back $2.50 for an 8 count, soup and salad for lunch for $10, and chicken with veggies and rice for dinner totaling $12.50. For lower prices, I shopped store brand products and paid close attention to sales. Food costs may be higher where you live, so you may not get as much as I did out of $25, but you can easily get a whole day’s worth of food for the price of what you’d spend on most takeout meals. And with a little money well-spent and some saved, I felt better when I did order that extra large pizza.
3. Cut back on expensive habits
Many of us like to unwind from a stressful week with a glass of wine or two, but habits like drinking, smoking, and frequenting coffee shops may cost us more than the stress they aim to alleviate. Health benefits aside, quitting, or at least cutting back, on these habits could save us a good chunk of change in the long run. Much like ordering takeout, where you drink that glass of wine will further increase what you pay. Going to a bar will, in most cases, cost you double what you’d pay if you instead opted for picking up a bottle at your local grocery store and drinking with friends at home. You can try to save money at the bar, but you don’t want to limit it so much that it isn’t enjoyable anymore. Even if you choose to go the route of retail, many states tack on a sin tax to tobacco and alcohol product which further increases their price. The same theory applies to coffee drinkers who spend upwards of $1,000 each year at Starbucks. Brewing coffee at home or taking advantage of free coffee provided by your workplace are better options when considering your wallet.
4. Change how you commute
One of the top ways to save money is to ditch the car payment altogether, and for many people living in large cities, this is a great way to keep hundreds of dollars in your pocket every month (on average it’s almost $500 per month!). Instead they opt for walking and biking to their destinations, as weather allows, and choosing public transit for longer distances and when there are time constraints. Not all of us have the privilege of living within walking distance of our workplace, but for those of us who require a car for transportation, there are other ways to save money on our morning commutes. Carpooling is great option for those who live close to a coworker as it saves money on gas and vehicle maintenance costs while cutting down on emissions. And if you’re considering a new vehicle, choosing an electric or hybrid vehicle will also equal savings at the pump or eliminate the need for gas completely.
These are just a handful of the ways that you can cut down on some of your everyday spending that you might not even realize. To think of more strategies, take a minute to reflect on your habits, and see if any are unnecessarily costly. Do you need that cup of coffee every day, or could you brew your own? Do you have a pesky shopping habit? Any other small purchases “here and there” you could cut out? Everyone has room to improve their financial standing, and set themself up for a fantastic New Year.