16 Painless Ways to Save $1,000 by Summer
By Marilyn Lewis
Do these cold, short days have you dreaming about summer vacation? While you are reading travel site reviews, comparing car rentals and shopping for airline tickets, start a dedicated savings account right now so you can pre-pay part or all of your vacation costs. "The key is to start small but start soon," says Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson.
1. Hold a Yard Sale
Make room in your closet by decluttering. No need to make it a big project. Just ask yourself as you move around your home, "Can I get rid of this?" Put several boxes in an easily accessible spot and toss in what you find for your super sale. At Get Rich Slowly, J.D. Roth says he and three others made about $2,500 on a yard sale. But let's say you net $250.
2. Cancel Your Gym Membership
Savings: $196 ($49 a month).
The average gym membership costs $49 a month, according to CNBC. And that's not counting the initiation fee. Check out cheap options at your local community center or pool. Or, for the cost of a pair of sneakers, go outdoors and walk or run.
3. Sell Your Old Smartphone
Savings: $20 or more.
While you're decluttering, ditch your old phone. At Apple's (AAPL) Reuse and Recycling Program, I found an estimated value of $30 for an old 16GB iPhone 4, locked with AT&T (T), in average condition. (Apple reimburses with gift cards, not cash.) Plenty of other sites offer cash, including Gazelle, NextWorth and Glyde. Or list your products on Craigslist or eBay (EBAY). But don't expect much money. NBC News tells of a consumer who got an offer from one site for $133 for her old phone. They gave her just $20, though, after she sent them the phone. Before selling, erase all personal data from a mobile phone. Lifehacker tells how to securely wipe various types of phones.
4. Get a Cheaper Cell Plan
Savings: $300 or more.
Consumer Reports says the average customer of a "big-four" (Sprint (S), T-Mobile (TMUS), AT&T and Verizon Wireless (VZ)) carrier pays $90 a month for an individual cellphone plan, $111 for iPhones. But competition among carriers is escalating, meaning potential savings for consumers. Before comparison shopping, check service maps on companies' websites to be sure you'll get the reception you want. Andy Reppe of New Richmond, Wis., who has five people on his mobile plan, told Minnesota Public Radio he saved $75 a month by dropping his $270-a-month Verizon plan for T-Mobile. Or consider a contract-free prepaid service, or one of the discounted or free cellphone service providers.
5. Trim Your Cellphone Data Use
Downscale your data service for more savings. You may find that dropping just one tier from your current plan will save $15 a month, or $60 total in four months. See Consumer Reports' tips on how to avoid the biggest data hogs on a phone. For example: "Shooting it out with other players in high-octane online games is costly. Figure 1MB of data per minute of play."
6. Be a Mystery Shopper
At The Penny Hoarder, Kyle Taylor tells how to be a mystery shopper. He describes his experience: "I'm usually paid $8 to $25 per mystery shop, plus reimbursement for my purchases. There have been months where I earned more than $5,000, but most months I earn an extra $400 to $500 a month for mystery shopping. Making $400 a month would net you a nice $1,600 in four months."
7. Raise Insurance Deductibles
Savings: $130 or more.
If you agree to pay more out of pocket when making an insurance claim, you can save lots on your premiums. The average auto policy runs $1,439 a year, says CarInsurance.com. You'll save about 9 percent by raising a $500 deductible to $1,000 (more or less, depending on where you live), according to a study by InsuranceQuotes.com. That's $130. You can apply the same concept to your homeowners policy, increasing your savings.
8. Save Your Pocket Change
You probably watched your parents do it. Now you should do it: Empty your pockets or purse every day. You're sure to find at least $1, which adds up to $120 over four months.
9. Get a Smaller Cable TV Package
The average monthly cable TV bill is going up at a rate of 6 percent a year and is expected to reach $123 a month in 2015, says Money. Now cable companies are offering smaller packages that can save you money. Money says:
- Verizon's Select HD no-sports package costs $15 a month less than its $65-a-month standard Prime package.
- Time Warner Cable's (TWC) Starter TV, which offers 20 premium channels plus HBO for $29.99 a month, is 40 percent less than 200 channels with no HBO.
- Cox Communication's TV Starter package runs $24.99 a month for 155 channels, compared with $49.99 for the 220-channel Advanced package.
10. Cut the Cable Completely
Going cable-free is no longer radical. Home Media Guy says: "The easiest streaming option with a little money is an outdoor antenna mounted in your attic or outside, depending on your location and geography. Simply go to www.tvfool.com and find out what stations are available based on your address." Commercial-free cable alternatives include:
- Netflix (NFLX) Basic. About $8 a month for unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows.
- Amazon (AMZN) Prime Instant Video. It's $99 a year for an Amazon Prime subscription, which includes free shipping for many products and unlimited streaming of movies and TV, as well as other services.
11. Open a Bank Account
Savings: About $100.
Banks want your business, says Money Crashers, adding that some are offering cash to entice you to open an account. Money Crashers lists signup bonuses for several new accounts, including bonuses of $50, $100 and $200. Read the fine print. Typically there are lots of hoops to jump through to claim your reward.
12. Quit Buying Bottled Water
Savings: About $289.
Writes Business Insider: "At an average cost of $1.22 per gallon, consumers are spending 300 times the cost of tap water to drink bottled water." It's about $7.50 a gallon when you buy it in single-use bottles, 2,000 times the cost of a gallon of tap water, the article says. A 24-pack of Dasani purified water costs $15 at Office Depot (ODP) online. If a family of four uses one bottle a day per person, that's five cases -- $75 -- a month. The comparison: Four months of home-filtered water costs $11 for a simple filter pitcher vs. $300 for Dasani.
13. Drink Tap Water at Restaurants
For the four months of your savings program, order tap water in restaurants instead of other drinks. If you dine out once a week, spending $5 for a beverage each time, you'll save $80 in four months.
14. Automate Savings
One of the marvels of online banking is your ability to set up and change automatic savings deposits on the fly. Establish a small transfer from your checking to savings -- $10 a week, for example. You'll have $160 in four months, and here's a promise: You won't notice the money is gone.
15. Get a Part-Time Job
Not forever. Just to scrape up some savings. If you net $10 an hour for 20 hours a month, you'll have $800 saved when your four months are up.
16. Sell Clothes on Consignment
Savings: $60 to $80.
Give closets an early spring cleaning, and take clothes in good shape to a consignment store. You probably won't make a fortune, but $15 to $20 a month isn't out of the question.
What are your favorite ways to save money for a special goal? Tell us by posting a comment below or on Money Talks News' Facebook page.