I spend my paycheck before it’s directly deposited into my bank account. Almost every dollar’s designated to a bill or expense. This January, I plan to pay off my sugar daddies who dump me at the end of the month. You know the type–my apartment manager who lets me live under his roof until the first of the month passes. My customer service representative whose credit card company covers the costs of dinners, diapers and dry cleaning services until the billing cycle ends. My cable man who entertains me with reality shows I won’t admit to watching until the payment reminder emails. And my daycare provider who teaches my daughter letters and numbers until the bill mails. And the world’s biggest heartbreaker of all–Uncle Sam. He’s taking 2 percent more from my check–and the checks of every working American–on the first payday of 2013. That doesn’t sound like a lot. But over time, it adds up.
For the past two years, taxpayers have been paying 4.2 percent in Social Security contributions. In 2013, it will go back up to the original 6.2 percent. So, if you make around $50,000, you’ll pay an extra $1,000 in taxes for Social Security over the course of a year. And like my mother always says–with any amount of money–a thousand dollars is a thousand dollars!
I can complain, curse or comment all over cyberspace, but that won’t change the balance of my bank account. Instead, I decided to look at ways we can cut costs or make money totaling $100 a month.
1. Find a Side Hustle
Mine is writing. I make extra money from doing what I love. What talent can you tap into to make more money? Are you an artist? Set up shop on Etsy. Are you a hoarder? Sell some stuff on Ebay. Become a bartender, a babysitter or even a paid designated driver.
2. Turn of the TV
Have you ever complained that nothing was on television even though you have a hundred channel lineup? If so, have you tried to live life without a television? If you can’t go to that extreme, call your cable company and request a basic package or inquire about a special. Although I would prefer to flip through premium channels, I don’t really miss HBO and Showtime. In addition to cable companies, your cell phone provider may offer discounts when you threaten to stop service.
3. Cut Coupons
I don’t know what extreme couponers do with a dozen bags of cat food when they don’t own a cat or a hundred boxes of sugar free cereal that they won’t eat, but I do know they are savvy shoppers. I’m the opposite. I don’t take time to clip coupons. When I do, I forget to take them to the store and the discounts expire. I won’t ever stockpile supplies, but this year, I will print out coupons for things I actually use. I’ll also meal plan and write a shopping list, in advance not in my mind, as I aimlessly wander up and down the grocery store aisles buying things that are already in the pantry.
4. Dine at B.Y.O.B. Restaurants
I am a regular at the Thai restaurant a few blocks from my house. I not only love the food but love the fact that they are a B.Y.O.B. establishment. My friends and I can sip champagne on a beer budget. We just pay a small corkage fee. You can also buy the Entertainment Book or purchase half priced meal deals online to dine on a dime.
5. Get a Library Card
The other day, my friend returned DVDs she rented, but she didn’t drive to the video store. She went to the library. Cardholders can check out books, CDs, DVDs and video games. Plus, most branches offer free classes, workshops and fun activities for families.
6. Workout With Mother Nature
Instead of spending money for a monthly gym member, workout at a local park. The one near my house has hiking trails, exercise stations and water fountains. I also read about a man who enrolls in a college class each semester to use his ID at the university’s gym!
7. Chill Out
When frozen, batteries last longer, candles burn slower and seeds germinate faster. Plus, pantyhose are less likely to run when stored in the freezer instead of your dresser. And did you know that the freezer works as a washer? To prevent fading or shrinking your favorite jeans, seal a pair in a Ziploc bag and freeze for a week. The cold kills bacteria and deodorizes smells.
Hey BMWK family–What cost cutting tips would you add to this list? How are you saving money in 2013?