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So, you’ve been wanting to save money but you can’t just make room in your budget to save because: your family is living on a single income, or you are a single mom with a small income, or you have monstrous bills or debts to pay. Or, maybe you and your husband are compulsive spenders and have no idea how to find extra money to save each month. Does this sound like you? Well, what if I told you that it’s possible for you to save money, at least $3000, in 5 months?
I scoured the Internet for the best and most effective, legitimate ways to save $3000 in 5 months and below I’ve outlined the exact steps that will help you achieve this financial goal.
STEP 1: Lower Your Utility Bills
- You can lower your bill by simply calling your service provider. Depending on your service provider, you may qualify for a discount, promo, special deal if you are a military member, a veteran, or when you are simply unsatisfied with the service. Negotiation is the key here.
- If you are not a smooth talker or don’t have negotiation skills, you can get someone do this for you. Shrinkabill can negotiate for you to lower your TV, Internet, cell phone or home security bill. There is no upfront or out-of-pocket payment required but once your bills are lowered, you pay the company a percentage of the savings you make. The company guarantees 100% success in their negotiations, otherwise they’ll send you a free $25 gift card.
- If you’ve not switched to another company in years, maybe it’s time to gather quotes and find out which provider offers better deals.
Potential Savings: At least $20 per month / $100 in 5 months
STEP 2: Make a Budget.
No matter how much you make, having a budget is important. A budget is basically your spending plan and it ensures that you will have money for the things you need or are important to you.
STEP 3: Eliminate Financial Leaks
These are small expenses that we usually don’t notice but when accumulated over time they actually eat up a huge chunk of our budget. Here are some financial leaks you should reduce or eliminate.
• Bank or ATM Charges
These are ludicrous, unnecessary charges. A transaction with another financial institution usually costs at least $2 so if you make 2 weekly withdrawals, you waste at least $80 in 5 months. Switch to another financial institution if your bank doesn’t have conveniently located ATMs.
• Starbucks or Other Store-bought Coffee
If you are a coffee lover and you buy coffee everyday, it’s time to eliminate this habit. You can save $120 per month / $600 in 5 months if you just drink or bring your own brew.
• Convenient Drinks
Vending machines charge at least $1 for a can of soft drink or bottled water. Instead of buying drinks from a vending machine or gas station, bring a container of drinks with you. This Brita refillable water bottle, which has a filter directly in the bottle, is a great investment you can conveniently carry around and use wherever you go. If you buy at least one drink a day, you waste $30 a month or $150 in 5 months.
• Credit Card Payments
Missing credit card payments come with late payment fees and can also increase your interest rate. Some banks charge anywhere from $30 to $50 each month and compounding interest which causes you to lose even more money.
Save energy by using energy-efficient bulbs. We’ve been using these awesome LED lights that are programmable and that we can switch on and off through our smartphones even if we are away from home. LED lights can help you save money on energy and more so when you use programmable lights that switch off by themselves.
Other ways to save money on energy is to sun-dry your clothes instead of using the dryer and avoid using your hair blower or hair iron. Also, practice unplugging appliances after use to further lower your energy bill.
• Gym Membership
According to Statistics Brain, 67% of people (US) with gym memberships never use them and that, on average, gym membership owners go the gym only twice per week. Are you one of these people? Unless you really use your membership (or you’re not looking to save money), I suggest you replace it with equally beneficial but free fitness activities. Monthly spending for gym memberships range from $30 – $100+ per month, depending on your location. This saves you at least $150 in 5 months.
Taxes and Interests
Most people don’t realize how much taxes can cost them if they don’t pay them on time. Although the IRS offers an installment plan to pay your taxes (which is a relief if you don’t have the money to pay it in full), this payment method can cost you more as you are still incurring penalties and interest for each month that the debt is not paid in full.
The best way to deal with your taxes is to always set money aside for them as soon as you get your pay.
Potential Savings from Financial Leaks: $300-$1000 or more in 5 months, depending on your subscriptions/habits.
STEP 4: Adjust Entertainment Expenses
Can you live without cable tv? As for me, I’d rather not have cable at home because I really don’t watch TV that much and I’d rather do something else than sit in front of the TV and munch junk food. You can save at least $300 in 5 months if you cut cable and also save yourself from pigging out if you are like me who likes to eat while watching a show.
We watch our favorite TV shows on Netflix/ Hulu. While there are many other selections on cable TV, we prefer Netflix or Hulu because we can pause, rewind or watch later a show or movie. What’s more, it is only $7.99 a month! Ditching your cable and switching to Netflix or Hulu will save you at least $30 a month or $150 in 5 months! Sign up for a 30-day free trial through this link.
If seeing a movie in a theatre is a habit you can’t just get rid of, there’s something you can do to save money and I assure you it’s definitely not bringing your own popcorn because that’s not allowed, right? Try Moviepass. I recommend it if you see movies frequently (more than once a month), you live in an expensive city (Moviepass subscription is only $9.95 a month while movie tickets in expensive cities like San Francisco is approximately $15), and if you are okay with regular 2D movies (Moviepass does not support 3D movies).
Potential Savings from Reduced Entertainment Expenses: $300 in 5 months
STEP 5: Learn Ways to Save Money
Here are several ways to save money when eating out.
- Don’t order drinks. A glass of iced tea or soft drink costs around $3-5 so when eating out, you can save at least $12 for a family of 4. It might seem not much but it can easily add up if you dine out weekly. I do this not just for the savings we make but also for healthy reasons. I prefer to just drink water or bring my own water. Potential monthly savings: at least $30 per month/ $150 in 5 months
- Use discount coupons. You can Get up to 10% Cash Back when you Dine & Shop Local with CouponSurfer Rewards. You can also get discounts/ deals at Restaurant.com.
- Eat out for brunch or lunch. Dinner is generally more expensive than brunch or lunch.
- Buy discount gift cards. For example, if you frequent Applebees, you can easily find a $25 restaurant gift card at 20% less if you purchase it online through cashback sites.
Potential Savings from eating out : In between savings on drinks and using coupons or discount restaurant cards, you can easily save $200 in 5 months or more, depending how often you go out, skip drinks or use coupons/discount cards.
To save money on groceries, here are our ways to save money every month:
• Planning is particularly more important for perishable items to avoid throwing away food.
• $5 Meal Plan – I recently signed up for this service to save money on groceries. This meal planning service sends you cheap menus ($2 per person) + grocery shopping list every week. So, food waste is avoided. What I particularly like about this service also are that it saves me a lot of time on meal planning, the recipes are easy to follow and it’s only $5 a month! You can sign up for a free 14-day trial here.
• Use Ibotta. I really love this cashback app and it’s easy to use. Ibotta allows me to save money on my grocery purchases at Walmart, Costco, Walgreens or Sam’s Club. All you have to do to receive your cashback is click on the products you’re going to buy on your Ibotta app and scan your receipts. Then your account will be credited with cashback you earn from that particular purchase.
• Follow the produce season. According to studies, you save at least 30% on groceries if you only buy what’s in season.
• Grow food. Having a small herb garden with 3-5 herbs you frequently use can help save you $10 per week.
• Do bulk buying for items you always use.
Potential Savings on Groceries: $100 per month or $500 in 5 months.
STEP 6: Do-it-yourself!
I am a fan of outsourcing certain tasks so I can focus on more important things. I do that for my writing business sometimes but for certain personal needs such as hair and nail care, I’d rather do them myself. A haircut (with blow dry) can cost at least $40 and more for other services such as hair treatments. I’ve learned how to cut my own hair by just watching tutorials on YouTube and believe me it’s not really that difficult.
I am not saying you have to give up all your little luxuries in life but if you have a tight budget and want to save some money, you can just DIY certain things and keep the money instead.
Apart from hair and nail care, here are some other things you can DIY to save more money:
- Home maintenance
- Home cleaners such as detergent
- Home organizers or decorations
- Clothes (altering old clothes)
- Kitchen items
Savings goal from DIY projects: $50 per month/ $250 for 5 months.
STEP 7: Find FREE Money.
You read me right. Find free money. I never thought there is such a thing as free money, but there still is. This free money comes in the form of gift cards, welcome bonus, cash back, or cold cash. Here are some of the free money sources I’ve started using.
- Ebates– Receive $10 welcome bonus (+ a cash back for a purchase) if you sign up here.
- Swagbucks – Receive $10 bonus if you sign up here.
- Ibotta- Ibotta is affiliated with three of the stores (Walmart, Kmart and Walgreens) we go to every week (because we live close by!).
If you sign up here, you get $10 free when you make your first purchase. With Ibotta, you also make $5 per every friend you invite to use it + cash back on making a purchase. Simple!
Potential savings using cashback sites: $100 for 5 months
STEP 8: Practice Preventive Care
Statistics show that in 2006 alone, health care expenditure was over $7000 per person. Moreover, according to Consumer Healthcare Product Association, on average, U.S. households spend about $338 per year on OTC products. We can avoid such expenses from sucking out our money by practicing preventive care.
STEP 9: Make More Money
The ultimate solution to saving money is to increase your income and the good news is, you don’t have to get a job to make money. There are so many ways to make money from home and here are some of them.
- Start a blog about your passion. Read my step-by-step guide on how to start a blog for $3.95 per month.
- Start a small home-based business . More ideas for home-based business you can start with $0-$1000 capital here.
- Work as a freelance writer like me.
You can also make money by sharing your opinions through surveys. Here are paid surveys you can try to make at least $100 per month during yur spare time or while you are sipping your morning coffee!
- Pinecone Research
- Harris Poll Online
- American Consumer Opinion
- Survey Junkie
- Product Report Card
- VIP Voice
- Prize Rebel
- Survey Club
You don’t have to follow this plan. You can customize yours based on your situation and goals. What’s more important is that you start NOW and that any saving, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.
Do you have other tips on how to save money when you are broke? Share them below!
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