As anyone who’s ever made a New Year’s resolution can attest, modifying your behavior can be HARD. It’s no surprise that, as Forbes reports, only 8 percent of people are successful at maintaining their goals.
If you started 2015 with the hopes of building your investments, don’t despair. While it may seem like every dollar you earn is already spoken for, you’ll be surprised at how many ways you can find extra money with relative ease (And no, we’re not talking about gathering up the coins underneath your couch cushions.)
Try out these easy strategies for the next 28 days. By the end, you’ll have an impressive stack of cash.
- Use a programmable thermostat. Save energy — and money — without sacrificing comfort by automatically lowering your home’s temperature in the winter (and raising it in the summer) when you’re at work or asleep.
- Downgrade your data plan. Chances are, you pay your cell phone provider for more gigs of data than you actually use. Look at your last few bills or use the calculator on your provider’s website and adjust your plan accordingly.
- Cancel unused memberships. Haven’t watched Netflix in months? Get rid of it. Same goes for that gym you never step foot in or the warehouse club that you never shop at.
- Opt for a three-month prescription. If you regularly take medication for a chronic condition (think: allergies, diabetes, arthritis), purchasing several months’ worth at a time can save you significant dough.
- Stash every Lincoln. Every time you pay in cash and receive a $5 in change, put it in an envelope. When you have a predetermined amount saved, invest it with TradeKing Advisorsto give it the potential to grow even further. (Our account minimums start at just $5,000, and after that you can invest as little or as much as you’d like.)
- Let up on the gas pedal. Aggressive driving isn’t only dangerous, but it also causes you to burn up to 33 percent more fuel on the highway and up to 5 percent more around town, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Live on your full-time salary. Whether you’re freelancing on the side or moonlighting to earn some extra dough, place all the earnings from your side gig in a separate savings account so you don’t dip into them when you want to purchase a new couch or take a vacation.
- Automate your savings. The smart service Digit.co analyzes your income history and spending habits to find savings opportunities, automatically withdrawing small amounts when appropriate and placing it in an FDIC-insured savings account. You can also automate savings in an investment account with a recurring funds transfer.
- Don’t pay late fees. Miss your credit card’s due date by one day and you could owe an arm and a leg. So set up a monthly reminder on your smartphone the day before your bill is due.
- Sell old electronics. Have a drawer full of unused iPhones and e-readers? Fill out a brief survey to determine their value, ship them for free (for items worth more than $1) to Gazelle and receive cash in exchange. For other unwanted household goods, offload them on Craigslist or eBay.
- Dry clean in moderation. Laundering clothing is expensive. Plus, doing it too frequently can actually damage your garments, shortening their lifespan. So only drop off your clothes if they’re stained or you’ve worn them several times.
- Pack a reusable tote. Many supermarkets offer cash back rebates simply if you BYOB (bring your own bag). Keep a few stashed in your car, and you’ll have them on hand for those spur-of-the-moment stops at the grocery.
- Display your financial goals. Whether you’re saving money to buy a new car or a new computer, posting a photo on your refrigerator or your computer’s desktop screen of what you’re working towards can motivate you to spend less and save more.
- Take shorter showers. Stand underneath a low-flow showerhead for just a minute less each day and watch your water bill shrink.
- Make a grocery list — and stick to it. Impulsive buys at the supermarket can eat up a depressing amount of cash. So walk right past those free samples and keep your eyes straight ahead while waiting in the checkout aisle.
- Pay for dinner with a gift certificate. Purchase an eGift card from Restaurant.com for $20 and redeem it for $50 worth of food.
- Don’t buy things at eye-level. In supermarkets and many other retail stores, the most expensive products are placed in the middle of the shelves. To locate more affordable items, shop the top and bottom racks.
- Save when you spend. Download the SavedPlus app and every time you make a purchase with your debit card, a percentage of the amount (from 5 to 20 percent) will be securely transferred to a savings account.
- Check out the unit price. When shopping at the drug store, supermarket or big-box store, don’t just look at an item’s price. Sometimes, spending more upfront can help you save in the long run.
- Brew at home. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: That daily trip to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts for a jolt of java really adds up. Since the same goes for eating lunch out, take five minutes each morning and pack a brown bag.
- Keep gas in your tank. If you run your vehicle down to E, you could be forced to pull into the nearest fuel station — regardless of its price per gallon.
- Use your curtains. Leaving them open during daylight hours in the winter enables natural sunlight to heat your home at no cost.
- Allot money for splurges. Gifting yourself a predetermined amount of cash that can be used for whatever you wish makes it more likely that you’ll stay on budget in other areas of your life.
- Avoid ATM fees. Using an out-of-network machine can cost you, on average, $4.13 per visit. But it’s easy to dodge these charges: Visit your bank’s own machines, or sign up with a bank that allows you to use any ATM nationwide for free.
- Question your purchases. Before laying out the cash, ask yourself: “Is this a need or a want?” If your answer is the latter, then ask, “Would you rather have the money or the item? Chances are, you’ll often want the cash.
- Power down. Turn off all the lights and unplug any electronics (cell phone chargers, computer) and small appliances (toaster, coffee maker) when they’re not in use to avoid phantom power usage.
- Ask for a lower interest rate. If you carry a revolving balance on your credit card, call your issuer and inquire about getting a rate reduction. Provided that you’re in good standing (i.e. you make on-time payments), it’s likely that your issuer will comply.
- DIY. You can find fixes to all sorts of household problems just by hopping online. Watching a video on YouTube about how to repair a broken window screen or a leaking washing machine, for example, can save you some serious cash compared to hiring a repairman.
TradeKing Advisors, Inc is an SEC registered Investment Adviser. Brokerage services provided to clients of TradeKing Advisors, Inc. by TradeKing Securities, LLC, a member FINRA/ SIPC.
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