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7 Ways to save $100 a week

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By Andrew Housser

The holidays are behind us – and 2017 is underway. As holiday bills roll in, many people are resolving to improve their financial habits.

Finding extra cash to pay bills and keep resolutions can be challenging. Here, we provide seven steps you can take now to save more than $400 per month – with a little bit of elbow grease and while still having fun.

Eliminate unused hobby supplies. Remember your old hobby of cycling, brewing your own beer, scrapbooking, or rebuilding that 1974 Impala? People with a hobby typically spend $50 to $100 per month on it. If you can afford it and you actively participate in the activity, that expense makes sense. It doesn’t, though, if the equipment is sitting unused. If you have not touched your projects in more than a year, consider selling the supplies and equipment to someone else who will enjoy it. Put the proceeds directly into savings or repaying debt.

Turn your hobby into a profit-maker or money-saver.Another option for hobbies is to take them more seriously. If you are a photographer, can you sell pet portraits or nature scenes? If you like to knit, can you make something to sell online? If you have resolved to exercise, can you complete your cardio by running or biking outside, and forego the cost of a full gym membership? You might find yourself more fulfilled – and $100 a month (or more) richer.

Empty your storage unit.The average 10-by-10-foot storage unit costs upwards of $100 a month. By leaving your unit, you can save $1,200 per year. That would allow you to repay one-fifth of a $6,000 credit card bill. With few exceptions (such as storing some possessions while your home is being remodeled or you are traveling around the world), paying for a storage unit is a poor use of money. If you are storing family items, ask relatives to collect their possessions. If you store holiday decorations, streamline your collection and store it at home.

Save what you “save.”With the proliferation of savings apps and the coupon-shopping craze, there has never been a better time to find bargains and rebates on groceries, clothing, household supplies and more. Invest an hour each week to sit with a cup of coffee and match up deals – only for items you plan to buy – and coupons. Check into rebates from apps such as Ibotta, Mobisave, BevRage, Checkout51, Swagbucks, Target’s Cartwheel and Walmart’s Savings Catcher. Then, after shopping, check the bottom of your receipt. Transfer your savings into your emergency savings fund or make a credit card payment. Even $5 a week adds up to more than $250 per year.

Reduce what isn’t good for you. Plenty of people indulge in things that are not necessarily good for them – not to mention expensive. The average U.S. adult drinks four alcoholic beverages a week at an average weekly cost of $10, although one restaurant cocktail can run $10 or more. About 15 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes, which now cost about $7.25 a pack. A latte can run $5 at a café. Skip one week of alcohol, cut back on cigarettes by one pack per month, or order an Americano instead of a blended coffee drink once per week, and you could save $10, $15, $50 or more a month while reducing your vice.

Cut the TV cord.If you still have cable TV, consider getting rid of it. Most people spend more than $100 per month on a cable TV subscription. Instead, use an inexpensive antenna to watch broadcast television in HD, or check out DVDs from your local library. You also can subscribe to a service such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV or Hulu to broaden your options for about $10 per month.

Plan a “free-kend” once a month.One weekend per month, plan to spend nothing outside of daily costs of meals at home and standard utilities. Challenge yourself and your family or friends to resist shopping, movies and other entertainment in favor of things you can do for no cost. Think of hiking, having a board or video game competition, hosting a potluck, getting together for a musical jam session, taking the dog to the dog park, or enjoying a day of sledding followed by homemade cocoa. You could save $50 per month this way.

The savings from these tips could total more than $400 per month. That equates to nearly $5,000 a year for changing a few simple habits. What could you do with $5,000?

Andrew Housser is a co-founder and CEO of Bills.com, a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about personal finance issues and compare financial products and services. He also is co-CEO of Freedom Financial Network, LLC providing comprehensive consumer credit advocacy and debt relief services. Housser holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University and Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College.
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