Would you consider yourself one of those individuals who feels like you have more “month “ than “money” and would laugh if someone asked you if you had an emergency savings account? In my 19 years of financial counseling experience, laughing at that question has been a common response! A common mistake made by individuals is that they focus on the amount of money rather than the behavior. They feel if they can’t contribute a substantial amount each month, then it isn’t worth saving. Nothing could be further from the truth. How do you eat an elephant?……..One bite at a time. Now let me preface this by saying that I’m not targeting any specific group of products or habits. I’m all about “equal opportunity”. Let me give you 10 ways that you could start saving $10 a month, or more!!
- If you are a smoker, the average retail price of a pack of cigarettes is $5.51. If you eliminate 2 packs a month you will save $11.02. That breaks down to reducing the number of cigarettes a month by 40. Break that down by day, and that means you smoke 1 ¼ less cigarettes a day. (Imagine what you could save if you eliminated the habit? $5.51x 30days=$165.30/month!)
- If you are a Polar Pop enthusiast, the average price for a 32oz pop is .84. Rather than buying a pop every day, you could buy a pop every other day and save $10.08/mo. (Imagine what you could save if you eliminated the polar pop habit? .84x30days=$25.20/month!)
- If you are a Starbucks junkie, the average price for a tall Pike’s Place is $1.91/cup. If you eliminate 2 cups per week…Drink it M-F and not on weekends, you could save $15.28/mo. (Image if you eliminated the habit all together? NO….neither could I) *But a more economical way to have it daily is to buy it by the pound and brew it at home. An average pound is $12 and it makes 320 oz. That means you could have 40 – 8oz cups. That’s a savings of $45.30/mo.
- If you are still on the water bottle, the average price for a 24 pack is $4. Assuming you meet the daily recommendations for H20 consumption, you will drink on average of 4 bottles per day. That means you will purchase an average of 5-24 packs/mo, spending $20. If you reduced your bottle consumption to 2/day, you would save $10/mo (Imagine how much money you could save if you bought your own bottle and filled it at home… $20/month!)
- If you are a commuter (600,000 US workers commute 50 miles on average one way to work daily) driving an automobile that gets 25 mi/gal with a 12 gallon tank and the national average for gas is $2.86, you are spending $228/mo. If you download an App that shows you the best local gas prices (or a rewards card that gives you a discount on fuel )and you could find it .20 cheaper /gallon, you could save $15/mo. (Imagine how much money you could save if you rode your bike to work… NO, NEITHER COULD I !!)
- If you dine out at lunch, you’re not alone. 66% of U.S. workers dine out at lunch, spending an average of $37/week. Assuming that’s a daily average of $7.40/day by eliminating 1 meal out a week, you could save $29.60/mo. (Imagine how much you could save if you took leftovers for lunch rather than tossing them away. $37/wk x 4 weeks = $148/mo! ($185 if there’s 5 weeks in the month.)
- If you still pay your monthly bills by check or money order and mail them in you are spending an average of $11.84/mo assuming you are buying 8 money orders (electric, gas, cable, cell, internet, water, sewer, rent/house payment) @ $1/each and 8 .48 stamps. That doesn’t factor in the time it takes you to purchase the money orders & stamps, write out the envelopes and mail them. If you utilized a bill payer services through your bank or credit union (generally it’s free as a member), you could save time and money!
- Whether you are a “weekly” grocery shopper or a “weakly” grocery shopper, there’s always an opportunity to save at least $2.50/wk. Make it a rule that before you checkout, you scan your grocery cart and select at least one item that you could put back. If the item is at least $2.50 or more, you will spend $10/month less. (Imagine how much money you might save if you planned your meals ahead of time and shopped from a grocery list!)
- If out of convenience you are using an ATM that is not sponsored by your bank, you may be paying an average of $2.77 “convenience fee” to get your own money. Rather than pay the fee, how about you plan ahead and consider using your own bank sponsored ATM? This could save you $11.08/mo assuming this was a weekly habit.
- Save loose change! Look under the couch, between the cushions, in pant pockets, jacket pockets, the bottom of your purse or just save the change you get back from a purchase and you will be amazed at how quickly you can save up $10/mo. Did you know that it only takes saving .31/day for 31 days to save up $10.23?
It’s the little things that add up to large amounts. By simply focusing on changing habits and behavior, you can begin to establish an emergency savings account. Start little and keep adding to it. It doesn’t matter how much you add to it, just ADD!
Don’t think my ideas are right for you? Come up with your own ideas. Share your own $10/mo. savings ideas in the comments.