Many people think that the only way of drastically changing their financial lives is by making some big life changes. Although ditching that car and moving into a small home can definitely deliver great results, there are several more small steps you can take to make a positive impact on your monthly/yearly budget. Let’s take you through 5 such small changes that can make a huge difference:
Having at least one less restaurant meal each week
A US survey had revealed that the average cost of a meal eaten in a US restaurant is $ 32.60. This is in sharp contrast to the average cost of $ 4 for a meal eaten at home. Hence, eating just one extra meal at home rather than ordering in or eating out at a restaurant can save you around $ 28.60 per week. Considering how much we love food here in the US, we’d probably not move that loved restaurant meal to home, and instead may most likely replace one of our less expensive fast food meals with the home-made food! Even if we choose to do that, we’d be saving around $ 8 on every meal.
So, provided you save at least that $ 8 per week, your savings would add up to $ 416 per annum. That’s a good amount of savings in the long run.
An obvious disadvantage here is the effort that would go into preparation of home meal. However, even that problem can be tackled by opting for a fairly easy-to-prepare meal such as a simple pasta that can be made in less than 15 minutes.
Using only cash when going out
Are you someone who believes in working hard during the week and partying hard on the weekends? Perhaps you love clubbing with your friends or hitting up that favorite high street bar on your off days.
Partying during the weekends can be very expensive, and once the liquor starts flowing you don’t mind swiping your card more frequently than normal. The actual costs don’t become evident until the next morning or before the arrival of your credit card statement. Although credit cards can be a great blessing if used responsibly, they can also make you spend blindly sometimes.
You can save plenty on your weekend outing expenses by ensuring that you leave all your credit cards home before heading out. Instead, hit up the nearest bank ATM and withdraw some cash for such outings. Many financial planners refer to this as a ‘cash diet’ which involves buying things only using a certain amount of cash. You’d be significantly limiting your spend by leaving your credit cards home. And once you exhaust your cash amount, you’d have no option but to wait till the next withdrawal.
Giving up soda
As per an Associated Press report an average American drinks 44 gallons of soda each year. Replacing that much soda with plain water would not just provide some excellent health benefits, but also save you a great deal of money in the process.
You can purchase a 12-pack of soda cans (of 12 ounce each) for $ 2.5, giving you a fill of 144 ounces in total. Every gallon consists of 128 fluid ounces, so you can purchase 1.125 gallons of soda at $ 2.5. On the whole, you’d need to purchase 39 such 12-packs to touch the average annual soda consumption. Hence, the total money spent by an average person on soda would come out to $ 97.78 per year.
By rounding off that figure it’d be fair to say that an average American spends around $ 100 per year on soda cans, and that’s without factoring in the soda bought at restaurants and from vending machines (which are comparatively more expensive). Cut the consumption to zero and you’d end up saving at least $ 100 per year (assuming that you are an average soda drinker).
Apart from saving all that money, you’ll enjoy several health benefits such as weight loss, lower diabetes risk, better digestion and more (which in turn will also save you more on medical expenses).
Doing away with incandescent bulbs
A large number of American families are rapidly moving away from incandescent bulbs, and are replacing them with other lighting mediums such as LED bulbs. These bulbs are highly cost-effective in the long term and have an extremely long lifespan. This combined with the fact that they consume very less energy makes them an obvious choice for many households. However, there is one drawback – these LED bulbs have a high upfront cost.
We’d not go into the actual calculations here but several studies have revealed that the total per year operational cost of incandescent bulbs is around five times of LED bulbs. Hence, replacing a good number of incandescent bulbs in your home with LED ones can provide you with plenty of long-term savings.
Staying home at least one extra night each week
An Eventbrite study had revealed that an average event goer in US shells out $ 81 on every night out, and goes out at least two times per week. Although that may seem slightly on the higher side to you, especially if you’re married with children, we’ll go with their figures nevertheless.
Now, reducing your night outs by just one night per week can save you $ 324 per month. On the other hand, if you replace such night outs with indoor enjoyment (costing around $ 10) in the company of your friends, you’d still be saving $ 71 per week or $ 284 per month or $ 3,692 per year!
Let’s say that your night out cost is comparatively much lesser, around $ 50 per outing, you’d still end up saving $ 40 per week and eventually $ 2,080 per annum. That’s a huge sum of money!
Please remember that you’d not be getting bored at home, and would instead be spending time and money on entertaining guests/friends. Your savings could be even more if you read a book instead!