January 30th, 2020 | Miller Advisors

7 simple tricks for saving more money

You may be surprised at how easy some of these powerful money-saving moves are. You may be able to save thousands of dollars a year!

We all wish we had more money, but it’s hard to get new income streams. A job on the side would work, but that can take more time or energy than you have right now. So instead, think about simply saving more money. You’ll find seven ways to do so below.

Once you’ve got more money coming in, put your extra cash to work. Paying down any high-interest-rate debt should be a priority, and after that, investing long-term dollars in the stock market is a fine idea.
First, though, here are the money-saving strategies; see how many on which you can act.

1: Have a budget

Let’s start with a budget. Do you have one? It’s smart to be a budgeter, as it can put you more in control of your money. Per a 2018 survey by the CFP Board, 62% of respondents who use budgets feel more in control, 55% feel more confident, and 52% feel more secure than those without budgets.

Having a budget means tracking your spending in detail for several months and then drafting a spending plan — and sticking to it. The tracking can help you spot some things you’re spending much more on than you realize or would prefer to, paving the way for a reorganization of your spending. (For example, if you’re buying a fancy coffee three times a week, that could be costing you more than $600 annually.) Once you spell out how much you want to devote to retirement spending, and perhaps saving for college, you can make those priorities and ensure they don’t get neglected.

2: Automate your savings

An easy way to jump-start your saving activity with little effort on your part is to set up automated savings. Check with the human resources department at your company — they can probably help you direct a certain sum or certain portion of each paycheck into a savings account or brokerage account each pay period. You should also be participating in a 401(k) plan if it’s available — those are automatically funded, too.

3: Brown bag your meals

There are lots of ways to save money — many of which you can come up with after brainstorming or studying your spending habits for a while. For example, you may realize that you generally buy a lunch every workday, with a typical cost of $10. If so, you’re looking at an annual cost of $2,500 or so. If you opt to brown bag it with sandwiches and fruit from home, you might spend $3 or less per meal, reducing that annual cost to $750 or so, saving $1,750.

If you and your spouse or family eat dinner out twice a week or so, spending an average of $50 each time, that’s $5,200. Cut back to once a week, and you could save $2,600!

4: Spend less eating out

Even when you’re dining at a restaurant or grabbing a fast-food meal, there are ways to keep your costs in check. For example, skip the drinks. Even just a soda or iced tea can cost around $2 at many eateries, and alcoholic drinks can cost $5 or $10. You might save $10 to $20 per week by opting for water, and that can net you around $500 to $1,000 per year. Similarly, consider skipping appetizers and/or desserts, if you regularly order those. Your waistline might thank you, along with your wallet.

5: Make some phone calls

This is one of the easiest ways to save a lot of money: Spend an hour or two on the phone. Call your credit card companies and ask that your interest rate be reduced. Many people who have done so have been successful, and a seemingly small interest rate reduction can translate to a lot of dollars saved. Similarly, if your card charges an annual fee, ask that it be waived — again, this request is, surprisingly, very often granted.

Next, get out your car insurance and home insurance policies (along with any other insurance policies) and call a bunch of well-regarded insurance companies, asking for quotes for the same coverage. Call your own insurer, too, and then go with the lowest rate. A company that offers the best rate one year may not be your best bet the next year, so shopping around regularly can save you hundreds of dollars.

While you’re at it, give some thought to increasing your deductible. A policy with a high deductible can cost you hundreds of dollars less each year. Just be sure you can cover any necessary cost if you need to. A $2,000 deductible is only smart if you can afford to shell out $2,000 when necessary.

6: Cut the cable cord

Think about your television habits and costs. If you’re spending around $150 to $200 per month on your cable bill, you may be able to save a lot by cutting that cable cord and signing up for a few streaming services — the ones that offer the most content of interest to you, whether you are a major sports enthusiast or you love watching foreign movies. Here are some recent costs for various services:

Streaming Service Monthly Cost
Netflix $9 to $16
Hulu $6 to $12
Amazon.com Prime Video $10 to $13 (or free*)
YouTube Premium $7 to $18
CBS All Access $6 to $10
Apple TV+ $5
Disney+ $7

The above options are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more streaming services, offering both live TV and vast libraries of content, with broad or narrow scopes. There are a bunch of bundled services to consider, too, such as Hulu, ESPN+, and Disney+ for $13 per month. If you opt for Netflix and Hulu, and you get Prime Video free via your Prime membership, that’s going to cost you $15 to $28 or so per month.

7: Use credit cards strategically

Finally, be smart about credit cards. If you’re deep in debt on them, focus on paying that off as soon as possible. If you find that credit cards enable you to spend too freely, perhaps consider avoiding credit cards and favoring cash instead. But if you can handle credit cards, be sure you’re using the ones that will serve you best.

Many credit cards offer cash back or rewards, some doing so only when you spend at a certain store or in a certain category, such as travel. Think about your spending habits, and use the cards that will reward you the most. An Amazon.com credit card will give you 5% back, so if you tend to spend $300 at Amazon each month, you’d get around $180 back. If you travel a lot, look into the best travel cards. If you have a big family and spend a lot at the supermarket, you may be able to get 5% to 6% back on all that spending.

Spend a little time studying your spending habits and thinking creatively, and you may find that you can save thousands of dollars a year more than you thought you could — relatively painlessly, too!

*Prime Video is included free if you’re an Amazon.com Prime member.

Chart Source: Author research. 

Article Sources:  Motley Fool; Selena Maranjian, Nov 23, 2019

Photo Source:  iStock