Blow your budget this month? Don’t stress out. Here are a few simple tricks to curb wasteful spending habits and grow your bank account.
1. BROWN-BAG YOUR LUNCH.
A Chipotle burrito will run you $6.25. It costs about the same to buy a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter for a week’s worth of sandwiches.
2. CANCEL YOUR CABLE.
Be honest: Do you really watch the 200 channels you're paying for with your monthly cable package? Instead, use a small antenna to pick up basic networks for free, or invest in subscriptions to streaming video services like Netflix or Hulu. To find out how much you’ll save by cutting the cord, check out this handy calculator by Slate.
3. USE CASH.
Credit cards are fast and easy to use. However, their convenience comes with a literal price: We tend to spend more when we're charging our purchases than when paying with cold hard cash. One study found that people spend 12 to 18 percent more when using plastic instead of paper.
4. LOWER YOUR THERMOSTAT.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save 1 percent on your annual heating bill by setting your thermostat a mere one degree cooler than usual while you're at work or asleep.
5. RELINQUISH YOUR VICES.
Want to give up smoking or drinking? Health reasons aside, a powerful motivator for kicking bad habits to the curb is the amount of money you can save. On average, a pack of cigarettes costs $5.51. If you smoke a pack a day, that adds up to nearly $40 a week. The total cost per year? More than $2,000. The same goes for wine or beer: By spending $10 each week on a six-pack or bottle, you’re shelling out approximately $500 annually.
6. REDUCE YOUR ENERGY CONSUMPTION.
Did you know that on average, electricity costs approximately 12 cents per kilowatt-hour? It doesn’t sound like much, but cents quickly add up to dollars. When you leave a room, switch off the lights and turn off the TV.
7. WAIT BEFORE SPLURGING.
Need to have that new pair of shoes? Your desire might wane if you wait a month (or, if we're being realistic, a couple days). A “cooling off” period can help you reduce impulse purchases, ensuring that you’re only buying things you really need—or love.
8. REVIEW YOUR CREDIT CARD STATEMENTS.
Do your bills seem higher than they ought to be? Give them a second look. You might be receiving false charges, or you could be unwittingly paying for a service you swore you’d canceled a year ago.
9. USE BUDGETING APPS.
If you have a smartphone, you have your own personal money manager right in your pocket. Apps like Mint tell you how much you’ve been spending, and also keep track of your deposits, debts, and investments.
10. KEEP YOUR CAR IN TIP-TOP SHAPE.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, fixing a maintenance problem like a faulty oxygen sensor can improve your gas mileage by as much as 40 percent. Also, make sure your tires are properly inflated. With every 1 psi drop in pressure in all four tires, your gas mileage is lowered by 0.3 percent.
11. BIKE TO WORK
By ditching your car all together, you can save money and the planet. Kiplinger created a calculator that helps you figure out how much cash you’ll conserve by biking to work.