If one of your main goals for 2018 is to get your personal finances in order, then we have put together a great game plan to help you! Below are the first five steps/tips that we recommend you take:
- Set a goal – we recommend saving six months’ worth of your income
- Related: Money Saving Challenges
- Develop a plan – the ideas below may help you reach your goal, but it’s important to do a financial review to determine where and how much you’re realistically able to save
- Make it difficult to overspend – carve out a day each week (for example, No-Spend Mondays) to avoid spending frivolously on things you don’t necessarily need to collect or consume (excluding crucial recurring expenditures like gas, bills, groceries, etc.). Have this same day serve as a time to complete your financial review to help you avoid impulsive purchasing.
- Related: No Spend Money Saving Challenge
- Make a list of helpful financial guidelines (ours are coming soon!)
- Track your spending using a site like Mint. There are several websites and apps out there, but we’ve used Mint for many years and highly recommend it due to its simple approach to budgeting.
Now, if you are looking for ways to save even more money you are in the right place! Below is a list of 18 ideas for 2018 to help you save $15,000!
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18 Ways to Save $15,000 in 2018
1. Max out your employer’s match on your 401(k) to earn free money and save on your current year tax bill
A single person making $40,000 annually and setting 6% of their pay into a 401(k) will save approximately $500 in taxes by utilizing the tax deferral and will receive $1,200 in “free money” assuming the employer matches 50% of the 6% contributed. This means that your out-of-pocket contribution of about $1,900 per year is actually worth $3,600.
$1,700 total saved annually ($1,200 earned + $500 saved)
2. Declutter your home and sell things you no longer need (or cash in on those impulse buys you made)
List items like furniture or other items of significant value on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. If it’s something small and you’re not worried about shipping, list it on eBay and start racking up on cash to help you reach your savings goal. Take clothes you wear less than once a month to your neighborhood consignment shop (we've had great luck with Plato's Closet) if they’re not worth anything on eBay.
Our story coming soon on how we earned over $8,000 by decluttering and simplifying our home.
Easily earn up to $1,000 annually
3. Skip the weekly bar/pub visits
It’s okay if you want to engage in social activities a couple times a month for big celebrations (friends or family birthdays, closing a big deal at work or delivering a high-quality project/presentation to your boss), but it’s not necessary to hit up the bar or pub multiple times a month just to unwind after a long workweek. Instead, go for a hike on the weekends and unwind with nature – several new studies are showing time in nature is beneficial for your mental and emotional well-being. Read about our hikes here.
About $1,300 saved annually
4. Reevaluate your gym membership options
Boutique gyms like your local CrossFit or Orangetheory are very taxing on your wallet. Instead, try out one of our workout plans and shoot to spend no more than $40/month on a standard gym membership (Orangetheory unlimited and CrossFit are about $150/month on average).
We just transferred to Workout Anytime after waiting to secure the best deal and paid $420 for two years total for the Friends & Family plan – that’s only $17.50/month for both of us!!!
About $1,300 saved annually
5. Ditch the dish or cut the cable!
If you need more to watch than Netflix or Amazon Video, go with SlingTV or PlayStation Vue (if you have PlayStation). According to our research, the average cable and satellite TV plans cost more than $120/month. Compare that to SlingTV’s plans of $20-$40/month or PlayStation Vue’s plans of $40-$75/month and you can save big!
Related: How We Ditched Cable TV
SlingTV savings of $960 - $1,200 annually
PlayStation Vue savings of $540 - $960 annually
6. Turn your free-time into cash
Why waste time watching Netflix when you can turn your free-time into easy cash by taking online surveys? Check out https://www.frugalforless.com/best-survey-sites/ for the best survey offers.
Earn at least $1,000 annually by spending only two hours a week (you can use those two hours saved by not going out and buying drinks and come out at least $2,000 ahead!)
7. Seriously, it’s time to kick Starbucks to the curb…and this is more than financial!
I buy some really great 2-pound bags of organic coffee beans at Costco (or 5-pound bags on Amazon) for only $9 when they’re on sale, which works out to only 24 cents for a strong 12-ounce cup of coffee. 24 cents!!! Compare this to the average $3.25 spent daily on coffee from Starbucks and you spend about $1,200 annually versus $160 (incl. coffee grind and brew machine) for good, freshly ground organic coffee from home. And, no, don’t use a Keurig either! Here are some reasons why.
About $1,000 saved annually
8. Start bringing lunch from home
Quit dining out for lunch and eat at your desk – you’ll be more productive and save money. You may even be able to leave earlier on Fridays thanks to the increased productivity. Plus, you can eat much healthier by making your own lunch!
We have a ton of recipes that you can make and take for lunch!
Average of $1,200 saved annually – assumes average cost $12 per lunch when dining out versus $4 from home – three times per week
2x per week savings = $832/year
3x per week savings = $1,248/year
4x per week savings = $1,664/year
9. Limit (or avoid) impulse purchases at retail stores
Grocery and warehouse stores are laid out in a way to make you spend impulsively. If you have a Costco membership then you know this concept all too well! Whitney will carry something in her hands around the store to determine whether or not she really needs the item (psychologically, it makes perfect sense). You can try this approach or simply challenge yourself to pull three things you don’t need from your grocery cart at checkout each week.
About $500 saved annually
10. Limit (or avoid) impulse purchases online
Speaking of impulse buying, shopping online is even more dangerous given how simple it now is to place an order with a couple clicks and have it at your door within 2 days. If you’re considering making an online purchase that is more than $50, wait 48 hours before making the impulse buy.
If you have a serious problem with online shopping, remove your stored credit card information from your browser and delete your account. Chances are you will avoid making the impulse buy if you make it more difficult to make a purchase by adding barriers.
About $500 saved annually
11. When dining out, have water instead of soda, tea or alcohol
A couple dining out twice a week should save about $500 annually
12. Skip appetizers and desserts
Appetizers and desserts add up significantly over the course of dining out throughout the year and they’re completely unnecessary. If you must have a dessert, always share – it’ll fatten up your wallet and slim your waistline!
A couple getting app’s and dessert once a week can save approximately $500 annually
13. Take advantage of Amazon’s Subscribe & Save
Find $200+ worth of items you purchase on a monthly basis, such as personal care products, cleaning supplies, coffee, pet food, supplements, groceries, etc. and put them on Amazon’s subscribe and save to earn 15% off and save at least $30/month. Our list of what we buy on Subscribe & Save is coming soon!
At least $360 saved annually
14. Simple vehicle maintenance translates to easy savings!
Inflate tires to proper PSI (or even 1-2 PSI higher than recommended), reduce your speed by 10mph, turn off the A/C whenever possible, roll your windows up and turn on the vent on the interstate and you’re on your way to saving big on your fuel bill.
At least $300 saved annually
15. Evaluate your transportation options
At least $500 saved annually
16. Compare auto insurance rates.
Shop around for the best car insurance rates and save big! Learn more here. Also, ask if there is a discount if you pay in full. We get a significant discount on our auto insurance by paying for a full year.
At least $750 saved annually
17. Replace frequently used light bulbs in your home with LED bulbs
You can experience up to $100 annual savings if you change out 10 of your most commonly used light bulbs
18. Ditch (or at least reduce!) bad habits (such as drinking and smoking)
If you are a drinker, keep track of how much you spend on buying drinks while dining out and also how much you spend when you pick up a bottle of wine or a six-pack at the grocery store. See these numbers can be really eye opening!
The average pack-a-day smoker spends over $1,800 per year, so kicking the habit can save you about $1,800 annually
What should you do with your savings?
1. Build up an emergency fund
2. Pay off credit card debt
3. Open a Roth IRA and pour $100 a month into S&P Index Mutual Fund (Vanguard)
4. Take a vacation – shoot to save at least $2,500 and take advantage of rewards credit cards if you are paying off all credit card balances each month