10 Ways to Save $50 This Month
Use these tips from Alexa von Tobel—LearnVest founder and CEO and Entrepreneur in Residence—to make yourself some extra money.
When it comes to managing your money, there are two bigs ways you can start to improve: spend less and save more. But, with your wallet pulled in countless directions, it can be hard to find “extra” money in your budget. Here are some of my favorite tips for finding creative ways to save—this month and beyond.
1. Negotiate your bills
There may be wiggle room to save on your recurring expenses, from cable to your cell phone. Start by researching what competitors are charging for comparable packages. Armed with that information, give your provider a call and ask to speak to the customer retention department. Their job is to retain you as a customer, so they’ll be most willing to help. Note: you’ll likely be most successful by negotiating near the end of your contract (when they’re eager to keep you), but it never hurts to ask anytime!
2. Bring your lunch
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I think it’s worth the reminder given that the average American spends nearly $1,000 on lunch every year. Meal planning can take some time upfront, but even if you pack lunch a couple of times each week, you can easily put that $50 back into your savings.
3. Track your fares
Booked a summer flight? Chances are you know to compare prices on discount travel sites before you book, but did you know you could get money back if the price dips after you buy? Simply sign up for a free service like Yapta. They’ll monitor fluctuating prices and help you get back any refunds from the airline that you may be eligible for.
4. Cut fixed costs
Link up your accounts to a free tool like LearnVest.com. By having a bird’s eye view of your money, you can easily see which recurring monthly expenses are draining your bank account. Try to choose one or two things (like Netflix or gym fees) to put on hold. See how you do without them, and then decide if you’re willing to save money there in the long run. It’s all about trade-offs!
5. Make lists
When you’re headed to the grocery store, start by writing a list. Being prepared can keep you from buying impulsively or excessively. Considering that the average American family spends about $330 a month on groceries, there's plenty of room to cut back.
6.Try the sharing economy
Not only can Airbnb be a good resource for vacation accommodations, but consider offsetting the cost of any summer travel by renting out your own home while you’re away. How much you’ll net off of renting your place will of course depend on your location, but average Airbnb room rates in most metro areas are $81 per night!
7. Time your purchases
Different products have clear seasonality when it comes to pricing. For example, if you’re thinking about buying a new mattress, you’re probably be better off waiting till October, but things like furniture, computers, or cookware all tend to go on deep discount in June. Check out LearnVest’s guide to see where you can save.
8. Build your credit score
While this isn’t a quick savings fix, improving your credit score can yield huge savings in the long run. Remember, an excellent score is considered north of 750. The higher your score, the more willing lenders are to give you better rates on loans for big-ticket items (like a car or house). How can these savings add up? Take an auto loan of $26,500 for example. Someone with a fair credit score will pay 6.14% in interest, while someone with a good credit score pays an average interest rate of 2.64%. With a fair score, those monthly payments jump from $438 to $480 a month. It may seem like a small difference but that $42 each month can add up!
9. Get a money buddy
When it comes to saving, why go it alone? Consciously or not, we have a tendency to pick up the habits of people around us. Find a friend to build good financial habits with and check in with each other as you both move towards your savings goals.
10. Just put it away
Set up an automatic deposit of $50 from your paycheck to your savings account each month, so you make sure to put saving ahead of any spending. To make that money work for you, consider an online higher-yielding savings account. Check sites like Bankrate.com to find the highest savings rates.
For more advice from Alexa, read her recent columns on personal finance, or visit her online at LearnVest.com. LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc., that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies. LearnVest, Inc., is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.
Image courtesy of Ivanka Trump