5 Ways to Put $500 Back in Your Monthly Budget

June 4, 2012
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How to put $500 into your piggy bank!

With summer practically here, you may be looking for ways to free up some cash to enjoy summer activities with your friends and family. That’s why I’ve revisited some of my original frugal roots to come up with these 5 ways to put $500 back in your pocket this month. These tips are a good reminder if you’ve fallen off the frugal wagon or never hitched a ride.

    1. CUT COFFEE SPENDING
      The average American drinks 1,132 cups annually–or about 3.1 cups of coffee per day–and spends $1,562 a year on brewed coffee or $2,773 on espresso drinks at stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. The cost to brew the same number of cups of coffee at home is just $147 ($.13 per cup) or $294 ($.26 per cup with a K cup). That means that by making your coffee at home, you can save between $1,415 and $2,626 per year or between $118 and $219 per month. Even if you have upgraded to a Keurig machine, you could invest $18 in a reusable K-cup and slash your per-cup cost at home from $.26 per cup to $.13.
      Monthly Savings: Between $118 and $219
    2. SWITCH TO A REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE
      Did you know that bottled water is more expensive than gas? If you were buying bottled water by the gallon, you would pay about $10 per gallon. As it is Americans spend about $1,400 a year on bottled water, or about $117 a month. If you got a refillable, reusable water bottle and filled it from the tap, you would save a ton.
      Monthly Savings: $117
    3. PACK YOUR LUNCH
      Americans who eat out for lunch every weekday spend, on average, about $7 per meal. I’m sure those living in big cities like Dallas spend way more. Nonetheless, one survey showed that by eating out lunch five days a week, you spend $1,820 a year on lunch, or about $152 per month. If you started to pack your lunch, you would incur some grocery costs in buying what you need to make lunch, but by bringing your lunch, you would save nearly $2,000 a year.
      Monthly Savings: $152
    4. SWITCH HOW YOU MAKE TELEPHONE CALLS
      Our family used to spend about $750 a year on phone service from the phone company; after discovering creative ways to make our calls without spending that kind of cash, we are saving big bucks every month. One option for making calls for free–especially if you are already paying for high-speed Internet–is a VOIP system like the Ooma Telo. This VOIP device can be hooked up to your existing modem, allowing you to make unlimited long distance calls within the U.S. for free. Your only upfront cost is for the Ooma Telo device, which normally costs $199 but is on special at Target in New England this week for only $179. Consumer Reports just ranked Ooma Telo as the number one home phone device.
      Monthly Savings: $40-$50
    5. GET CASH BACK FOR RECYCLING INK CARTRIDGES
      Nearly every home in the United States has some sort of computer printer, and those printers go through a lot of ink cartridges. Rather than toss them in your recycling bin, bring them to an office supply store that will not only recycle them for you but also will give you cash back for your good, green deed. At Staples, for example, you can earn up to $20 per month–you get $2 per recycled ink cartridge, up to 10 cartridges per month–for recycling those cartridges. That adds up to $240 back in your pocket each year.
      Monthly Savings: $20

    With these 5 tips put into practice, you can put as much as $558 back in your budget or your wallet so you’ll have extra cash to enjoy summer–or to sock away for college savings or retirement!

    FYI, I discussed these tips on the FOX Morning News in Boston recently.

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2 Responses to 5 Ways to Put $500 Back in Your Monthly Budget

  1. [...] 5 Ways to Put $500 Back in Your Monthly Budget [...]

  2. Debbie on June 4, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I love the idea of the reusable k-cup, however readers should know that the Keurig model (and some of the other manufacturer models) do not work in all Keurig machines! Terribly poor planning on Keurig’s part, but the contraption wouldn’t fit in mine (nor in one I bought someone as a gift). But there’s a cheap solution. You can reuse the disposable k-cups by slicing off the foil top after you make a cup of coffee. Just rinse the used grounds out the filter, and let the cup dry (if you’re not making another cup right away). Then for your next cup of coffee, just put your own grounds in, cover the top with tin foil (fold the foil over the sides to keep it on) and it works great. You can continue to use this particular k-cup several times, even with multiple holes in the bottom. The filter is good quality.

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