This article originally appeared on the Springs "You're Home Blog."
When you're looking for ways to cut costs and save money, items like rent, utilities and car payments are fixed expenses you can plan on. But do you know how much that venti vanilla latte you enjoy each morning adds up to over a year?
We've done some research to find unexpected but simple ways to put some more cash in your pocket each month. Which ones will you start using right away?
1. Leave Your Car at Home
When it comes to cars, it's difficult to cut the cord completely. Using alternate transportation even a few times a month can save money on gas, insurance and wear and tear. Many communities today have a wide variety of options, including bus, light rail and ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft.
Be sure to check with the HR department at work. Some companies are offering stipends, prepaid vouchers and other incentives to carpool or use public transportation.
2. Plan a Cash-Free Weekend
How much of your discretionary income goes to entertainment? Plan occasional weekends where you go for two full days without spending money. Eat and drink whatever is in the house, read, play board games or take a walk in the park. You'll be pleasantly surprised to discover the range of free entertainment that's readily available.
3. Practice Food Conservation
More than 38 million tons of food are thrown away each year in America. How much goes in the trash at your home? Focus on developing responsible food habits, such as eating leftovers and keeping refrigerator and cabinets organized.
4. Eliminate "Phantom" Electricity
Computers, TVs and other electrical devices continue to draw power even when they're turned off. Use power strips and timers to stop this "phantom" electricity drain.
5. Review Memberships
- Memberships are prime sources of hidden costs. A $10 or $15 monthly fee sounds like peanuts, but it adds up over time, especially if you find you're not using the service as much as expected. Take a good look at Amazon Prime, streaming services and other memberships that might be just a money drain.
- Health clubs have made a fortune off of weight loss and physical fitness trends, but you don't need a pricey gym to stay in shape. All of our Springs luxury apartment communities include fully-equipped fitness centers that are accessible 24/7 for your convenience.
6. DIY Cleaning Products
Commercial cleaning products are a double-whammy: they're expensive and they harm the environment. The Internet is full of easy recipes for gentle but effective DIY cleaning products you can make with ingredients you probably already have on hand.
7. Brew Coffee at Home
Yes, this one was inevitable. If you spend $3 a day on coffee (and that's a conservative figure), at the end of the year it's $720 with nothing to show for it. And you don't have to sacrifice lattes: there are a number of home espresso machines that fit any budget.
Share your top cost-cutting tips in the comments!