Photo: Edson Hong / Flickr
Every year, I make New Year’s resolutions. And every year, I stick to them – for a few months. By July, I’ve often given up.I’m not alone. “A full 35 per cent of New Year’s resolutions are broken before the end of January of the successive year,” one survey revealed.
If your resolution was to give up drinking or stop smoking, Money Talks News really can’t help you. But if it was to save more money, we’ve got you covered.
Have you looked at your cell phone history lately? If you're using less than your allotted minutes, text, or data, switch to a lower plan. Six months ago, I dropped my $89.99 unlimited plan for a $59.99 plan with 1,000 minutes -- a savings of $30 a month and $180 so far. And I don't miss the minutes. (I wasn't using them anyway.) Comb through your history and bills, then ditch anything you're not using.
Speaking of ditching things, it may be time to cut the landline. If you primarily use your cell phone, why keep two services that do the same thing? As Stacy said in the video, cutting your landline service can save $25 to $30 a month -- around $300 a year.
Two of my friends just took their summer vacations. One spent a week in Hawaii and spent close to $2,000 on airfare, hotels, and dining out. She thought she got a good deal -- until my other friend bragged that he had taken a week-long staycation and only spent $500. He saw all the tourist stuff we never go to as locals and ate at local five-star restaurants every night for a week.
Staycations are all the rage lately for one reason: They're a lot cheaper than regular vacations. If you're trying to stash away an extra grand this year, consider staying home and living like a tourist in your own city for a few days.
Raising your insurance deductibles will lower your monthly payment. For example, raise your car and homeowners insurance deductibles from $200 to $1,000 and you could save hundreds in premiums. Just make sure you don't raise the deductible higher than you can afford if you need to file a claim.
I vowed to do more cardio this year -- but I'm not spending the $34.99 a month my neighbourhood gym charges. Instead, I'm running at the local park and using some Tae Bo videos at home. Sure, I feel silly sometimes doing high kicks in my living room, but I've saved $209.94 so far this year by skipping the gym. And you can do the same. You really don't need the fancy equipment, just a good pair of running shoes.
In our article You Don't Have to Pay For Cable TV, we lay out exactly how you can ditch the cable altogether and still watch your favourite shows. But if you want to keep your cable, at least ditch the premium channels. HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime each cost about $13 a month or $39 for all three. If you cut them off today, in just six months you'll be $234 richer.
A survey by staffing firm Accounting Principals found that more than 66 per cent of workers spend around $2,000 a year on lunch. If you start brown-bagging it every day, you could easily cut that by 50 per cent -- and save $1,000 a year.
My old bank didn't have nearby ATMs, and they charged a convenience fee when I used one outside of their network -- so I spent about $5 for every ATM withdrawal. Going to the ATM once a week was costing me $20 a month. So I switched to a bank with more free ATMs in my area, saving $240 a year. If you're paying for access to your own money, you should do the same.
Buying out of season (swimsuits in January or Halloween decorations in November) can save you a ton of money. This year, Target put their heart-shaped Russell Stover's boxes on clearance for 75 per cent off a week after Valentine's Day. I got four boxes (regularly priced $8.99) for $2.25 -- a savings of $6.74 per box.
Want a painless way to beef up your savings? Go through your house and toss everything into a box that you haven't used or worn this year. Then sell that stuff and put the money you make into savings. Check out our article 5 Best Websites for Turning Junk Into Cash, or go the old-fashioned route with a yard sale or a visit to a consignment shop.
Many products are the same, no matter the brand name. For example, in 7 Things You Should Always Buy Generic, we suggest skipping the name brands on pain relievers, water, milk, margarine, bleach, cleaning products, and spices. They all worked as well as their name brand counterparts, and we found savings up to 60 per cent.
Vow to always use coupons, and not just on your groceries. With sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, you can snag deep discounts at local retailers. And if you're shopping online, always do a quick search for a coupon code before you check out. Sites like RetailMeNot and SlickDeals post coupon codes and special offers daily. You can also check out our deals page.
In my area, a pack of cigarettes costs about $4.75 (and that's cheap). Smoke a pack a day and you'll spend $144 a month. In a year, you'll spend $1,733 on cigarettes. Quitting isn't just good for your health, it's good for your wallet. But if you're not going to quit, at least save some money on the smokes you buy. Check out 6 Ways to Save on Cigarettes for ideas -- like buying in cartons and shopping for your smokes on an Indian reservation.
According to The White Fence Index, U.S. consumers spend an average of $96.55 a month and $1,158.60 a year on electricity. If you reduced your bill by 30 per cent, you'd save $28.96 in a month and $347.58 a year.
That isn't hard to do -- just install a few CFL light bulbs, turn up (or, when it's cold, down) your thermostat, and flip the switch when you leave the room.
The other day, I got a warning from Mint telling me I spend a lot on shipping costs. I looked at my history, and they're right: Last month, I spent more than $50 just in shipping, mostly because I had a hard drive overnighted to me for an extra $19.99.
I wasted almost $20 because I was impatient. Don't do the same. Look for sites with free or discounted shipping and just wait the few extra days. If you ordered $19.99 overnight shipping once a month, you'd spend $239.88 a year on delivery fees.
Hiring a pro is expensive, especially when you have the Internet to teach you how to do it yourself. In the past year, I've fixed a leaking faucet, replaced a shower head, repaired a door, and re-tiled my bathroom -- all things I didn't know how to do before I started. I watched home-improvement videos, taught myself, and saved the money. And you can too. Check out:
- This Old House
- The Family Handyman
No matter what you like to do, there's probably a free or cheaper version. For example, I love live music, but even a cheap concert ticket can cost $45. If I go twice a month, that's $1,080 a year. But my city hosts weekly free concerts downtown. The bands are usually local, but they're good and free. Now I only buy tickets to the big-name bands once or twice a year, saving about $1,000.
Buying the latest and greatest electronics isn't always worth it. Electronics like smartphones are updated and released so frequently that the changes made from one year to the next can be barely noticeable to the average user. And soon as the new device comes out, the old device gets cheaper. So wait and buy year-old devices to save.
I never used to haggle, not even at a garage sale, but then my sister scored a $100 discount on a new couch just by asking -- and I was hooked. Ask for a discount before you buy anything, even at a major retailer. You could get a reduction in price just by asking.
I've been eying the new Charlaine Harris book, but Amazon wants $21.95 for a hardcover copy. I know there are plenty of ways to get a book free or dirt cheap, so I'm waiting. And you should too. Buying new books is costly, especially when you can get them for free at the public library or by using a book swapping service. Check out the 4 Best Sites for Trading in Old Books.
I recently did a story called 20 Things You Shouldn't Buy Used. And for those 20 things -- like helmets, cribs, and mattresses -- I stand by my statement: Don't buy them used. But for everything else, you can save 50 per cent or more by combing Craigslist, garage sales, and resale shops. Want some ideas on what you should buy used? Check out 14 Things You Should Always Buy Used.
I rarely watch live TV, and I don't subscribe to beauty magazines, so I don't feel the pressure of advertising. But when I'm in the salon browsing through a magazine, I inevitably find half a dozen products I think I need right now. I wouldn't have known those products even existed if I hadn't opened that magazine. Start avoiding commercials and ads, and you'll save a ton of money.
The number of commercial products on the market is seemingly endless -- especially cleaning and beauty products. You can spend a good chunk of your income buying special products designed to only do one job -- or you can save that money and use something you already have around the house. Check out 19 Uses for Baking Soda, Dryer Sheets, and Beer for ideas -- like using baking soda as a facial scrub, or cleaning your windows with vinegar.
One pound of 93 per cent lean hamburger meat costs $6.95 in my local grocery store -- and we go through about a pound in one meal at my house. To save my money and my health, I've stopped eating so much meat -- especially red meat. I used to buy three of those packages per week, spending $20.85. Now I eat three meatless meals a week and save that money, which adds up to just more than $1,000 a year.