7 Ways to Save $50 a Month

By on June 26, 2013

Do you need an extra $600 a year but don’t know where to get it?  How about $4,200 a year?

Well, here are 7 ways most of us can save $50 a month.  If you can do all 7 of them, that’s $350 a month which is $4,200 a year.  Of course, your mileage may vary.

That said, let’s dig in and “Let the savings begin!” 

1. Ditch cable TV or satellite, and get a Roku

Have you really looked at your television bill lately?  Cable and satellite TV service are incredibly expensive.

Before we cancelled our satellite TV service a few years ago, we were paying over $88 a month with no premium channels and only one TV.  They charge for local channels, for DVR service, for additional televisions, increase prices regularly, change plans, and the list just keeps going.

But, if you already have DSL or cable Internet service, a lot of television and movies you’re already watching are available through services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and many more hundreds of “channels”, all of which can be displayed on your TV through a little “streaming” device called a Roku. (http://www.roku.com)

It’s a little different than “live” TV because the programs are viewable “on-demand” but there are quite a few programs available live or delayed by a day.  And more channels are being added every month.  For local news and weather just use an antenna connected to your TV’s tuner.  

Using the Internet to watch TV is incredibly inexpensive.  Actually, it’s free unless you opt for a pay service like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu Plus.

For example, if you’re already paying for Internet service and just subscribe to Netflix for $8 a month, your only other cost is the Roku streaming device itself for about $100 or less.  Some modern TV’s have Roku or other streaming technology already built in so check what you have first.  Even some BluRay players have a limited amount of Internet streaming ability these days.  Of note, the Roku does not offer YouTube streaming, but they have a way to stream it from your home computer to the Roku using a special channel and computer software.  It’s not ideal, but it works.

Regarding Internet service, satellite based Internet such as HughesNet or Wildblue, or cellular based Internet are not suitable options for Internet TV.  Services that limit the amount of Internet downloads per day or month will easily reach their limit with Internet television. 

For the sports enthusiasts: Sports programming such as ESPN is probably best received over cable or satellite TV service.  While some sports programming is available online, the vast majority of it isn’t or requires a cable or satellite account to view it.  Perhaps this will change in the future.

If you can live with those requirements, you might can pocket $960 a year like we did.

2. Drive a little less (literally) and save a lot

I was blown away when the math revealed that if gas is $3.30 a gallon and your vehicle gets 20 mpg, you can save $50 a month in gas just by driving, on average, 10 miles less per day! 

Most of the working population drives to work and back every day but might also run errands on the lunch hour or after work.  The weekends can be filled with even more travel. Not to mention kids sporting events and practice. So, if you can consolidate some trips to the store, or not take as many pleasure trips, etc. and save 10 miles a day, it will pay you $50 a month.  For households with two vehicles, just 5 miles less per day each will have the same effect – if both average 20 mpg.

If you want to see the math: $50 / $3.30 per gallon = 15.15 gallons.  Multiply times 20 mpg and get 303 miles per month which is 10.1 miles per day.

3. Buy MORE food at the grocery store to keep from dining out so much 

How many times have you gone out to eat simply because there was nothing in the house that wasn’t frozen, stale, or didn’t have all the necessary ingredients?  Or perhaps nothing was easy or quick to fix. 

I don’t know about your family, but ours can easily spend $50 on a single night out to a restaurant. And that doesn’t count the gas money to drive there and back.  There are a couple of ways to “fix” this. 

One is to buy too much food at the grocery store and keep the excess in a spare pantry or separate refrigerator.  That way it’s not in plain sight, but it’s available. 

The other way is to buy MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) from an MRE vendor online and keep them on hand for those tempting times when there’s “nothing good to eat in the house.”  It sounds a bit unorthodox because MREs aren’t exactly cheap.  They are designed and packaged to last for many years, but if you catch them on closeout or buy several dozen at a time to lower the price, they can easily pay for themselves many times over when compared to the cost of dining out – especially at night. 

Additionally, MREs make great additions to disaster preparedness kits in the event of bad weather or earthquakes, as well as great camping or hiking food resources.  Shop around to get the best variety and make sure to get a variety of entrees.  Different people have different “tastes” it seems when it comes to MREs.

There are a lot of MRE sellers online. Some to check out are CheaperThanDirt.com, thereadystore.com, or even amazon.com.

4. Switch to generic meds from pharmacies with $4 prescription plans

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many people do not take advantage of it because they don’t know about it. 

Here’s the scoop.  Many major chains like Walmart and Target have $4 generic drug plans.  Always check with your doctor first if you are thinking about switching to generic from a brand name drug, or if you’re considering switching from one generic to another.  If your doctor says you can switch to a generic that is on the low cost list, the savings may astound you – even with insurance co-pays taken into account. 

Another good resource to check out for help with the cost of prescriptions is needymeds.org.  

5. Stop home phone service if you have cell phones already

A lot of people in America have already switched to a cell phone only lifestyle.  Sure, they have Internet service at home, but no traditional phone.  If you’re not one of them, perhaps you should look at your phone bill and see just how much you’re paying.  It could easily be another one of the easy ways to save $50 per month or more. 

If you have good cell coverage at home and your cell phone minutes are not being fully used every month, why keep the home phone?

6. Stop using debit/credit cards where possible and pay with cash 

According to several authorities including psychology today (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201001/spending-and-credit-cards) consumers (that’s you and me) spend more money when using a credit or debit card than if paying with cash.  Further, we often don’t recall what we spent when paying with plastic.  Cash, however, seems to stick with us.  If you use plastic a lot to pay with, start getting cash at the ATM and paying with that instead.  It is very likely that you’ll spend a LOT less.  It’s a better way to live, too.  Not remembering what you spent is like a disease silently eating your wealth.

7. Trade kids toys and/or clothes with a friend rather than buying new ones. 

If you have a typical child, then you know how easy it is to spend money on toys, clothes, shoes, and other “necessities.”  Probably a lot more than $50 a month!

Instead of buying retail, why not trade with friend or family member for items their children are not using any more?

Ask around on Facebook and see if someone has what your kid wants or needs and offer to trade something for it.  Look around your child’s room on a regular basis and notice what toys she’s not playing with any more.  Move that toy to a secret area the child cannot find and see if she misses it or asks for it.  If not, that’s a candidate for the trade bin!

You’ll be amazed at how quickly your “toy budget” will get some relief! 

BONUS:

A new twist on shopping at home.  This one takes some planning, but it’s worth it! 

If you tend to buy gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and the like, then you could easily be spending about $50 per month or more.  That doesn’t include the gas needed to drive to the store – and you know what happens then.  You come home with more than just a gift, right? 

If you’ve ever shopped a Walmart the day after Christmas, then you know ALL the seasonal gifts instantly get marked down fifty percent or more.  That’s the time to stock up on great gifts that aren’t available any other time of the year.  In our household we buy at least a dozen gift sets every December 26th for usually 75 percent off and keep them at home on a designated “shop at home” closet shelf.  Next time we need a gift, we just open the closet door and “shop” for free. 

Christmas is not the only time to find great bargains.  Keep an eye out for “going out of business” sales throughout the year. Yard sales are great too. People practically give away good quality, “giftable” products all the time, sometimes even new in the box!  Just because they’re tired of looking at them.  

There you have it.  Seven plus one ways to pocket some serious money just by tweaking a few things in your life.

Have you got some great ideas for saving money?  Leave a comment below and tell us about it.

About Mr. Happy Little Shopper

Mr. Happy Little Shopper (aka Mark Conger) is a Mississippi home grown and self taught computer nut and internet marketer. He's addicted to Starbucks, has a gold Starbucks card to prove it and is married to the greatest woman in the world, Mrs. Happy Little Shopper. For more information check out his LinkedIn profile.

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