If you’re anything like me, you are weary of people telling you how to save money. I think that is because we are all accustom to the phrase, “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.” That is why I am offering some very simple, practical ways to save money that overtime will save you a ton. Usually the areas where people overspend is in their discretionary expenses, meaning items that are not essential to your survival. Here are a few discretionary items that if you change the way you purchase them, you can trim your budget without trimming your lifestyle.
There are 2 routes which I prefer to go when buying coffee:
A – Make it at home – .25 Cents/cup
B – Take my own seal-able coffee mug to the Gas station and fill it up – .96 Cents/cup
(Compare this to $1.75 for a small cup of coffee at Starbucks or other coffee shop)
Rental Movies – Instead of renting from Blockbuster for a New Release get it from Redbox. Redbox charges $1 per day as opposed to Blockbusters $4+ for 2-3 days. I don’t know about you but I rent a movie the same day I am going to watch it, so therefore Redbox always is the lower cost option for me.
Theater Movies – If you go to an AMC theatre before Noon to watch a movie, it will cost you $5.00. That is nearly 50% off the regular cost of $9.70.
Go to GasBuddy.com to find the nearest gas station to you with the lowest price per gallon.
(I understand this is not really discretionary per se, but it is a good way to save some money)
Now let’s do a quick analysis. Say in 2010 you made changes to your spending habits:
You purchase 20 cups of coffee from Starbucks per month – $35/month = $420/year
You refilled your mug at the gas station instead – $19.20/month = $230.40/year (this is a $189.60/year savings vs Starbucks option)
You made coffee at home – $5/month = $60/year (this is a $360/year savings vs Starbucks option)
You watch 2 movies a month in theaters as a couple – $38.80/month = $465.60/year
You go to AMC before Noon – $20/month = $240/year (This is a $225.60/year savings from initial option)
You rent 3 movies a month from Blockbuster – $14.16/year = $169.92/year
You rent the same movies from Redbox – $3.00/month = $36/year (This is a $133.92/year savings)
Say you fuel up 3 times a month at a gas station close to you for 10 cents more a gallon – $4.5 more per month = $54/year
Now lets look at what that money would do for you if you invested it in an index fund that follows the S & P 500 over 30 years at a conservative 8% annual return. $133.92 +225.60 +360.00 +$54 = $773.52/year
After 30 years you would have $102,420.64! That is the beauty of compound interest and changing your daily routine.
Personal Capital will allow you to connect to all of your accounts like your bank, investment accounts, etc. This will not only help you see all of your accounts in one place, but it also has a budgeting component where it automatically categorizes your transactions. This is great because you see exactly where all of your money is going each month!