How to save $1,000 without really trying
NEW YORK — We can all use a little more cash in the bank. And if finding a higher-paying job or winning the lottery isn’t in the cards for you right now, you’ll need to do more with what you’ve got.
Say you want to save $1,000. That’s about $84 a month, an amount experts said is doable for most of us.
It just takes a little planning and some small habit changes.
“There are opportunities in most people’s budgets and lifestyles to find that type of savings,” said Dave Abate, a certified financial planner with Strategic Wealth Partners in Ohio.
Start with reviewing what you’re spending every month, and find places to shed some costs that you might not even need. Most people have a least some bloat in their budgets.
“A lot of times people don’t realize how much they spend on things they don’t want or need … it’s just a reflex,” said Jean Wilczynski, an investment adviser at Exencial Wealth Advisors in Connecticut.
Here are five moves money experts said can bring significant savings:
1. Trim your monthly bills
Too many people pay monthly bills without knowing exactly what they’re being charged for, according to Kelsa Dickey, founder of financial coaching firm Fiscal Fitness.
She said people often pay for more services like phone, Internet, cable or even utilities than they need, or pay extra for a device they don’t use or a protection service that isn’t worth the money.
Re-evaluate what you need and aim to only pay for services you actively use. For example, how often do you use your landline phone? How much data are you using on your smartphone?
2. Eat in more than out
This might seem like an obvious move, but experts identified dining out as a top budget eater that people underestimate.
J.J. Montanaro, a certified financial planner with USAA, suggested paring down your dining out habits. “Cut back. That will tend to avoid a binge,” he said.
If going out sets you back $60 while making a meal at home costs $30, shifting just three meals a month will get you the savings you want.
3. Become a ninja shopper
Taking small steps in your shopping habits like using coupons, buying generic and limiting impulse buys can add up to $84 a month, if not more.
One way to avoid making impulse purchases is to write down everything you need and stay laser-focused on your list while in stores.
With bigger purchases, do an analysis first. Measure the cost against what you earn. You may find it’s not worth it.
“If you are buying $50 shoes and make $10 an hour, ask yourself if they are worth the five hours of work,” Wilczynski said.
4. Take full advantage of employee benefits
Many full-time workers at large companies have access to benefits and discounts from an employer, but too many people ignore them, leaving money on the table.
“Some companies actually pay you to be fit,” said Wilcynski. “If you are paying for a health club membership, maybe you can get that subsidized.”
Cell phone bills can also be subsidized by employers.
Corporate programs and discounts can change, so be sure to review the offers periodically to get the most savings.
5. Avoid being over-insured
As your life circumstances change, so do your insurance needs. Car insurance is as good place to start.
For example, older cars might not need as much insurance. As a vehicle ages, it could make sense to increase the deductible to lower premiums, Abate said.
If you do bump up a deductible, make sure to have enough cash on hand to cover the higher deductible if an accident occurs.
“If I get a ding on a 7-year-old car, I might not get that fixed right away. Increasing the deductible could yield savings on a monthly basis.”
The amount of life insurance coverage you need tends to decrease with age as well, as less people are reliant on the income, Abate added.