What would you do with an extra $100 a month? Save for a vacation? A new car?
The good news is that saving extra money every month is within reach and here you’ll find practical ways on how to save more money each month.
How to save more money each month: Groceries
Cooking at home is cheaper and healthier because you get to control the quality and quantity of ingredients.
But how much should you spend?
You can find out where your grocery budget stacks up with this online calculator. And, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes food spending guidelines at four budget levels – thrifty, low, moderate, and liberal.
Before you head to the store, a quick glance at the weather forecast can influence what’s on your list. Do you crave hearty soups and stews when it’s cold and rainy? Light, no-cook meals in a heat wave?
Weekly store sales, seasonal produce (find out what’s in season here), and savings from mobile apps shave the most money from your bill.
How to save more money each month: Restaurants
Even the most frugal people enjoy dining out, but when they do, they use smart money-saving strategies.
1// For lower prices: Try lunch or happy hour. This app, Happy Hour Finder, lists deals near you.
2// To get the best value for your money:
Choose labor-intensive, time-consuming, complex dishes, that call for hard-to-find ingredients,” suggests New York-based restaurant consultant, Clark Wolf.
“If you can whip it up yourself in 20 minutes with stuff from your kitchen cupboard—do that,” he says.
Avoid the ubiquitous, low-cost chicken breast dish.
Dishes comprising of everyday, bulk ingredients like pasta or rice are cheap to prepare and as simple for the restaurant chef to put together as it is for the home cook.
For this same reason, restaurants love brunch when they turn out highly-profitable, egg-centric meals, and bread, flour and dairy-based dishes, such as French toast, waffles, and pancakes.
How to save more money each month: Entertainment
Consider if you’ll save money forgoing cable, or “cord cutting”.
But before you do so, you’ll need high-speed internet for streaming TV shows – at least 5 Megabits per second (Mbps) – and your list of can’t miss shows.
Depending on your list of must-have paid channels, cord cutting may or may not save you money.
Your main streaming apps are Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video. You can access these apps through a smart TV, a laptop or tablet, a gaming console, or with a media hub like Amazon Fire TV stick or Apple TV.
Netflix is your best bet for movies, binge watching original TV shows, and for educational children’s shows.
Hulu is best for the latest TV shows from ABC, NBC, and Fox the day after episodes air. But if you’re looking for your favorite CBS shows, you must go through the network, and the cheapest paid package still has ads.
Amazon Prime Video is free for Prime members or $8.99 for streaming content only. You’ll get Amazon originals, movies, and other paid channels such as HBO, Showtime, and Starz.
And don’t forget! You can always borrow movies from the library.
How to save more money each month: Home
1// Get an energy audit. An energy audit checks the amount of energy used and suggests ways to cut your energy bill. You can get an audit through your local electric or gas company (this may be free), or though the Residential Energy Services Network, but this will cost you a couple hundred dollars.
2// Adjust your thermostat. Did you know you could save as much as 10% a year on heating/ cooling by lowering thermostat 7 – 10 degrees F for 8 hours a day?
During the winter, consider programming your thermostat to reduce heat at night or when you’re away from home. And, in the summer, do the reverse – turn up the temperature of your air conditioner at night or when you’re away from home
In the winter, keep your drapes open for sunlight to slash your heating bill and close them at night to prevent cold drafts. In the summer, close your drapes during the day to cool down.
3// Use power strips. Use power strips for media and tech equipment and turn the power strip off when not in use to maximize your savings; electronics on standby still draws power.
4// Lower water heater temperature. For the most water heating savings, lower your water heater to 120 degrees F. Don’t worry, this temperature is still comfortable for most people. If you’re using a small amount of water through a faucet, use the cold position instead of hot because it draws hot water even though it’s not warm.
5// Energy savings in the kitchen. Match the size of your pan to the heating element and use a toaster oven to cook smaller dishes – it uses one-third to half as much energy.
6// Saving money with laundry. Switch from using hot water to warm or cold, which slashes your energy use in half.
How to save more money each month: Online Shopping
Buying something online? Place items in your cart and go through the order process without your payment information and then leave it.
Soon, you’ll receive an email with a reminder that you have something in your cart plus an incentive – discount code or free shipping – to get you to finish your order.
For more savings deals, install the Honey browser extension, which scans the web for coupon codes. Just click the Honey button on your browser and it will apply relevant coupon codes to your order.
Are you getting the best deal on Amazon? Camelcamelcamel includes price history and price drop alerts to make sure that you’re not overpaying.
See something you like on your favorite retail site? Add it to a list on Shoptagr, and you’ll receive alerts on any sale items on your list.
Finally, you may have missing money to claim. Forgot about the utility deposit you had? Other bank accounts and insurance policies?
Legally, your lost assets must be turned over to states and provinces. You can search MissingMoney.com using your name and state (and all other states you’ve lived in) for any unclaimed assets.
Your turn! What are your best tips on how to save more money each month? Leave a comment below.
12 Secrets to Spending Less at the Grocery Store. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2017, from http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/budget_cooking/12_secrets_to_spending_less_at_the_grocery_store
Arumugam, N. (2012, March 25). Restaurant Foods That Are The Worst Deals. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2011/10/19/restaurant-foods-that-are-ripping-you-off/#4238e9e47cb4
Henry, A. (2014, April 14). Why Eating Seasonally and Locally Is Better for You (and Your Wallet). Retrieved March 23, 2017, from http://lifehacker.com/why-eating-seasonally-and-locally-is-better-for-you-an-1563025065
Griffith, E. (2016, May 16). The Ultimate Cord Cutter’s Guide. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2478213,00.asp
Insider, B. (2015, July 01). The same trick that could save you money buying a car also works for online shopping. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/save-money-shopping-online-2015-6