Have you been strapped for cash lately? Try cutting out bad habits and incorporating new activities into your daily routine to help increase your budget. Here are five simple ways to pump cash back into your budget.
1. Skip the Starbucks. Rewarding yourself with an iced latte or a gourmet blueberry muffin every once in a while is fine. However, if you are hitting up a barista for your daily caffeine fix, then you are putting a serious hurtin' on your wallet (not to mention your waistline). A $4 drink purchased once a day will cost you about $120 a month or around $1,460 a year! Resist the caffeine craving and put that money in your pocket. If you must have that caffeine fix, try making your Starbucks favorites at home.
2. Shop at consignment stores. Go ahead and get the thrift store stigma out of your head right now. Just because an item is sold at a second-hand shop doesn't mean that it is of lesser quality than an item sold at the mall. Consignment stores usually have brand name clothing, and some still have the original price tag attached. So, why pay $120 for a pair of Lucky jeans when you can find the same pair of jeans at a second-hand shop, such as Plato's Closet, for only $15? That's $105 in savings! (Bonus: If you don't have money to spend, you can take name brand items from your own closet into Plato's Closet for trade or even cash back.)
3. Recycle. You should recycle anyway to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment, but a little cash incentive doesn't hurt, right? You won't make a ton of cash by recycling, but it could give you a little extra spending money. Take aluminum cans and scrap metal from old tools, machines, and electronics to local recycling centers. Got gold jewelry that you never wear anymore? Do some research and find a place that offers the most money for your gold. Typically, local jewelry stores or pawn shops offer better deals than online companies. Get cash for unwanted electronics (cell phones, cameras, mp3 players, camcorders, etc.) at gazelle.com or buymytronics.com. Going green while earning green? Now that's smart!
4. Rent movies. The cost of going to a theater to watch a movie is crazy expensive. If you attend an evening movie, you will spend about $10.25 on a ticket. Add about $10 if you want a small soda and popcorn. That's about $20 for one movie night out. If you like to see a movie every weekend, you'll end up spending about $80 per month. Solution? Stay home and save money. You can get a Hulu Plus plan for as low as $7.99 per month or find a Redbox and rent a DVD for $1. Get your popcorn and soda at a dollar store and settle in for an inexpensive evening on the couch.
5. Ditch your car. Without even considering a monthly car payment, think about how much you spend on gas and maintenance per month? $75? $100? More? If you spend $100 on gas per month, pay about $30 every 3 months for an oil change, spend $40 on rotating your tires twice a year, and shell out $150 for a yearly tune-up, you are looking at about a $1,510 bill per year. That doesn't even include big expenses like new tires or brake repairs. Add another $2,400 to that bill if your monthly car payment is around $200. Car insurance isn't cheap either. Your insurance payment will vary due to several factors, but the national average for one vehicle is around $950 per year. Expensive, huh? You could easily save over $4,000 per year if you sell your car and find alternate modes of transportation: riding a bike, carpooling, taking the bus, walking, etc.
When you find yourself short on money, try tweaking your daily activities to put cash back in your pocket. It doesn't have to be hard; it just takes a little willpower.