1. Make a weekly “money date.” Commit to sitting down with your money once a week for a money date. During this time, update your budget, review your accounts and track your progress against your financial goals. Like any relationship, if you want your financial life to improve, you must spend time with your money.
2. Plan out your meals for the week. Taking a few hours every weekend to grocery shop and meal plan for the week will definitely save you money, as dining out is the No. 1 expense for most households. By eating at home, you save money that would otherwise be spent on tax and tip—and you usually save calories, too.
3. Cut out cable. Gasp! Cut out TV?! Never! But with services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, you can now watch your favorite TV shows and movies for a fraction of the cost of cable TV.
A study by market research firm NPD Group shows that cable bills will soon grow to an average of $123 per month, or $1,476 per year. By switching over to an online service or cutting out TV altogether, you can save that money for another financial goal—such as paying off debt, traveling or saving for a down payment on a home.
4. Switch to an exercise pass program. If you love working out, an exercise pass program such as Class Pass is the way to go. By paying a membership fee of $99 per month, you are welcome at many of the best studios in your area. And classes—like cycling, yoga, Pilates, barre, strength training, boot camp, dance and more—are unlimited. This beats having to pay for each studio’s monthly membership or individual class fee, which can add up to hundreds of dollars a month.
5. Host a potluck. The more friends you have, the more money you spend on lunch dates, birthday parties and gifts. Switch it up and, instead of meeting over a fancy dinner, host a potluck and have everyone bring his or her favorite dish. That way, you can save money you’d spend on restaurant extras, such as tax, tip and parking—and you’ll usually have a more intimate meal together, too.
6. Leverage lodging rental websites. Finding a place to stay while traveling is so convenient when you use a lodging rental website such as Airbnb, Travelmob or Housetrip. You can often find a place that has a kitchen (so you can cook meals at home to save money) at a rate that’s comparable to hotels. You can even rent out your own place on sites such as Airbnb while you travel to make some extra cash to pay for your own travel expenses. It’s a win-win scenario.
7. Make coffee at home. This one’s not my favorite, as I absolutely love going to coffee shops and drinking delicious organic coffee. However, spending $4 to $5 on coffee every day definitely adds up. So try my approach and allow yourself a few days a week to buy coffee at cafés, and make it at home the rest of the time.