by Maurie Backman | May 3, 2020
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These tips can help you save money slowly but surely.
Saving money can be a daunting prospect, especially if you're starting with virtually nothing in your bank account. That's why it pays to take a slow-and-steady approach to saving -- namely, by freeing up $10 a week. That $10 may not seem like much at first, but in the course of a year, you're talking about banking over $500. Here are 10 easy ways to free up $10 a week for your savings.
A cup of store-bought coffee can easily cost $2 to $4, whereas brewing it at home generally costs $0.50 or less. Now you may be loath to give up your store-bought coffee every day, but if you make it yourself four days a week, that's $10 for your savings account.
You probably spend a good $12 to $15 a week for the convenience of prepared food, whether it's a loaded deli sandwich and side salad for lunch or the pizza you pick up for dinner on the way home from work. If you forgo one such meal every week and make a low-cost alternative yourself -- like a simple turkey sandwich for lunch or some pasta for dinner -- you can bank at least $10.
Rideshares make transportation easier, but they can be a huge strain on your budget. You might be in the habit of taking them in bad weather or to reach destinations that are hard to get to by train or bus. Why not pledge to cut back on one rideshare every week? Even if it means having to bust out an umbrella or prepare to transfer buses.
Maybe your weekend plans generally entail seeing a local band with a $10 cover charge (or more), or spending a little money to visit a museum. Rather than fork over that cash, find something free to do. See if there's a local poetry reading that doesn't charge to get in, or visit a new park and explore its trails.
You may be surprised at how much you can shave down your grocery bills by being judicious about coupon-clipping. Look at your local store circulars, and also dig around online. Chances are, you'll manage to eke out $10 in grocery savings if you put in the time.
If you're currently paying $40 a month or more for a gym membership, canceling it will free up $10 a week just like that. Now that doesn't mean you should stop exercising. Rather, find ways to do it without paying. That could mean walking or running outdoors instead of using that gym treadmill, or accessing free workout videos online and following along in your living room rather than paying to attend classes.
It's fun to see movies in a theater, but at $10 a pop (or more, in some cities), it can get expensive. Rather than do that (and overspend on popcorn at the same time), host a movie night at home. Better yet, have each guest bring a snack and enjoy the variety.
Everybody likes to blow off steam after work with colleagues over a few drinks. But even with happy hour pricing, you can end up spending well over $10 for a couple of beers. A better bet? Skip one happy hour per week and host one at your place instead. The amount you spend on a six-pack could wind up matching what you pay for a single drink outside your home.
How often do you leave lights on when you're not in the room, or keep appliances like your laptop running when you're not using them? If you make an effort to use less electricity, you might save $10 a week in utility costs alone.
Dropping your dirty clothes off at the cleaners and picking them up washed and folded is a nice time-saver. But if you're willing to spend a few hours at a laundromat after work, you can save yourself $10 a week easily.
Clearly, there are plenty of things you can do to save $10 a week, so if you're starting with no money in your bank account, it pays to give these tips a go. Remember, too, that you don't have to make the same sacrifice each week. You can skip happy hour one week, skip a takeout meal the next week, and so forth. That way, you're not making drastic changes to your routine that make you miserable; you're simply being more mindful about cutting back.
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