If you’re like a lot of people, the very word ‘savings’ sounds like a scheduled notion. It’s very mature and responsible and all planned out. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Savings doesn't have to just be about bi-weekly direct deposits or how much is in your 401(k). It can be everyday shifts in behavior.
Take this weekend, for example. You could do three very simple things that could add up very fast.
Here are three great ways to amplify your overall savings, starting this Saturday!
1. Break up with your cable company.
As Americans, we love our TVs. And not much in life beats a cozy night cuddled up with your favorite show and a delivered pizza. But do you really want to keep throwing hundreds of dollars away every month when you could keep more of it for yourself?
The average American household is paying over $100 a month for cable. And that’s just the average household. Many more are paying $200 and up.
Leichtman Research Group releases the results of its survey of TV households, including what people actually pay every year. And every year is a new record. Bills rose 39% from 2011 to 2015, almost eight times the rate of inflation.
Wow. Unless your salary is going up that fast (if it is, please let us know how that works!), you might want to consider pressing pause on your overpriced cable bill.
It’s actually pretty easy.
First, call them and try to break up. What typically happens in this scenario is that they will be terrified to lose your business, keep you on the line and attempt to bribe you with a lower rate, often a much lower rate. You’ll wonder: why didn’t I call them before?
Then you can decide if the lowered rate - which is usually for a finite period of time - is low enough for you to keep them. If it is, hey, you just saved more money than you would have this weekend anyway. You - 1 point. Cable - 0. Score! You’re ahead.
If not, here are your other options. And they’re really good, too.
In addition to the usual suspects, Netflix and Amazon Prime (which a lot of us already have), here’s how to access a lot of the regular and popular channels usually found on cable:
As of May 2017, Hulu now offers live TV at $39.99 a month. You get live streaming broadcasts from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, plus 50 additional popular cable channels like ESPN, Food Network, Fox News, Disney Channel, History, Lifetime, National Geographic and more. The $39.99 price includes two simultaneous streams per account along with 50 hours of cloud DVR.
For $35 a month, YouTube TV undercuts the Hulu service by $5 with a very comparable package. You’ll get live streaming broadcasts from 40 broadcast and cable channels including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN, among others. YouTube TV also offers cloud DVR capability — just like Hulu TV. And the $35 a month price point covers six accounts, but only three streams can be watched at once.
Dish’s streaming product is called Sling.com and it doesn’t require a satellite dish either. Just an Internet connection! For just $20 a month, you’ll get a limited number of channels including ESPN - which is very rare! Many people keep their cable JUST for that channel!
2. Go through your fall clothes.#
This savings trick works double duty because you not only get to organize your clothing and decide what you want to keep and what needs to go, you’ll also get a solid sense of what you’ll actually need when summer ends.
In other words: once you assess your fall clothing needs, you have NO EXCUSE to shop for stuff you don’t really need.
Go through it. Are last year’s boots still in style? If so, don’t buy new ones. Do you really need new designer jeans or do you just want them?
Whatever amount of money you would usually be spending for new fall clothes, write it down. Then put some money aside every week for the rest of the summer. By the end of August, you’ll have a nice little chunk of money that you started saving THIS weekend.
3. Make your Christmas list now.#
It might seem like a million years away but Christmas has a way of sneaking up on us.
Here's how to make this really easy.
Write down what your partner, kids, mom, dad, aunt Ginny, your postal worker, stylist, etc. would LOVE to get for Christmas from you but also what works within your budget - what you can and should spend on them.
Then, put your list either in your smartphone or your wallet. As you’re living your life over the next several months, you’ll be able to purchase gifts for them at the exact time you see something and think: wow, uncle Fred would love that. And then, if it’s affordable, you buy it and put it away.
Making your list during the summer and buying gifts gradually over time allows you to be more careful about what you spend and also to avoid not only the huge expense of buying gifts at the last minute all at once - but also to avoid the stress of ‘what should I get them?!’
You can thank us later. :)
Have a fantastic weekend of easy savings!
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