Saving up for early retirement requires a good amount of effort earning extra money, while also reducing expenses. Some figure that latter part is a real drag. In truth, there’s no real sacrifice at all in terms of impact to health and happiness.
So when I say “just in time for the holidays,” I’m not implying that you should take the savings laid-out below and go buy a boatload of gifts for others (or yourself.) That’s money best spent to pay down debts! Still, remember to treat yourself, maybe with a latte or a new pair of kicks (from a reseller of course.)
Without further adieu, let’s get hacking!
Five Top Budget Hacks to Boost Your Bottom-line
1.) Stop shopping for clothes at J.Crew. Instead, start shopping on eBay and at consignment shops. I got a couple of really nice, (apparently never worn) Banana Republic sweaters on eBay last month for $15 each. That price point sure as heck beats the $80+ off the shelf at the outlet mall. You should also check out the Poshmark app.
I’ve purchased a number of brand new or near-new items there without issue. They have high end and common brands alike. LuluLemon and Patagonia are no match for me on Poshmark. 😉 Also, returns to sellers are easy if something doesn’t arrive in the mail the way you expected. $125 – $200/month saved for 2 adults, 2 kids.
2.) Quit paying for silly big-name cell plans. Data needs for most people amount to maybe 1GB per month thanks to the ubiquity of WiFi. Further, make sure you’re taking advantage of your employer’s carrier discount (if available.) Funny story: I only today figured out that my company has a 23% discount for Verizon. Sigh.
We now pay $42 a month total for my and my wife’s cell plans using Ting. Great customer service and an easy intuitive app make Ting a homerun – especially considering that price point! Savings: $75 -$125/month.
3.) Switch up your insurance plans (auto and home.) Geico is a good place to start, but an even better option is to find an insurance broker who can find really cheap premiums with package deals. Also make sure your deductibles are at most, $1,000 for auto and $2,500 for home.
You don’t really want to make a claim unless it’s a total or near total loss. That’s why it’s called “insurance.” Savings: $150 – $300/month (assumes two cars, one home)
4.) Cut that mop of hair at home, boys! I reckon my receding hairline makes the job easier on my wife, but she does great work with that shaver. I cut my son’s hair and he still shows up handsome as heck in our iCloud albums.
My daughter grows her hair long, so I leave her haircuts to my wife’s capable hands. Mrs. Cubert does a fabulous job clipping an inch or so of frayed ends once every couple of months and that’s all it takes. Savings: $50 – $80/month.
5.) Kick Comcast and Direct TV to the curb. No one ever regrets not watching enough TV when on their deathbed, and if they thought they would, they’d watch Netflix anyhow.
Buy an HD antenna and be impressed with 30 free channels. Better yet, start a reading habit. Savings: $50 – $140/month, depending on your package.
6.) (Bonus!) Become a vegetarian household. Even if you go meatless during the week or a few days a week, every little bit helps. Meat isn’t cheap. Beans and tofu are very cheap and less hassle to prepare. Further, a vegetarian diet is healthier for you and the planet. Savings: $200 – $400/month, depending how carnivorous your family eats.
Adding It All Up
At the low-end you’re saving about $650 a month, or $7,800 a year. That’s a nice trip to Cancun for two, if you’re inclined to work until 65.
At the high-end, you’ll save up to $1,250 a month ($15,000 a year!), so let’s call that a luxury trip to Grand Cayman. But again, you might be wiser to pay off those student loans, credit card balances, or mortgage first, and keep the option to escape to the rat race early.
There are certainly more than five budget hacks we can pursue in our budgets. But you’ve got to start somewhere! Challenge yourself, and see what you can reduce before you stuff yourself silly this Thursday.
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