Sometimes your spendy self needs to go on a crash finance diet to fatten up your anemic bank account. Approach this endeavor the same way the witch plumped Hansel and Gretel — with true tenacity and dedication — and your checking balance will rise.
Below, we’ve done the math on some easy cutbacks so you see just how much extra you could have in your wallet at the end of a two-week diet.
Cut out impulse buys and save $150
We’re talking about coffee, snacks, bottled water, and impulse buys. “You want to live, but limit these to every few days or less … and ask yourself, 'Can I skip this today?’” says Christopher McGill, president, founder and CEO of East River Bank. Cut back nearly 100% during your finance diet, but aim for 60% total reduction for long term.
THE MATH: Let’s say you typically grab coffee five times a week, and splurge on impulse/convenience buys once a day. Even at $15 of convenience buys per day, that’s $210 after 14 days. Subtract $30 for the cost of two bags of coffee and $30 for water and necessary snacks, that’s still a savings of $150.
Delete Uber and save $120
It’s too hot. It’s too far. It’s too cold. You’re in heels. These are excuses. As long as your safety isn’t at stake and your legs aren’t broken, walking that mile versus taking a taxi will save you tons of cash. Alternative: public transit or bike it.
THE MATH: If you normally taxi three times a week at $20 per ride, cut back altogether and save $120 in two weeks.
Stop eating out and save $100
It sounds like we’re ruining all your fun, but that’s not true. McGill suggests limiting restaurant meals to once or twice a week.
THE MATH: Let’s say you spend $50 a week eating out, which is about one nice meal or a couple quick meals. That’s $100 savings in two weeks.
Do your own nails and save $50
Those mani/pedis add up, as do makeup, skin care, and hair care purchases. You’ve probably got products you haven’t used, anyway, so unwrap them and indulge without buying anything new.
THE MATH: If you get one mani/pedi in a two-week period, but skip for your finance diet, that’s a savings of about $50.
De-clutter and sell your old stuff to save $100 (at least)
This is one of the easiest ways to cash in quickly. Start de-cluttering and flag anything you aren’t using: electronics, clothing, jewelry, shoes, anything that’s collecting dust. Then list them on eBay, sell to consignment shops, post on online forums (Reddit has a ton), via apps, or host an old school garage sale.
THE MATH: This is a difficult one to approximate, so we’ll be conservative. Let’s say that after cleaning out your closet and throwing some unused goods up on eBay or on Craigslist, you make $100 in two weeks.
Frock swap with your friends and save $50
If you’re really itching to own a new outfit, host a frock swap with friends. This is an event where everyone brings clothes, shoes, and accessories they never wear and swap with others. Purge and get new clothes without spending a dime.
THE MATH: This is free for all, and lots of fun. Let’s say your frock swap curbs a $50 splurge on a new pair of shoes.
Haggle for lower rates and save $20
Contact every single one of your service providers and ask for a lower rate, suggests Hulbert. While you’re at it, call your credit card company and ask for a better APR. Play up your loyalty, hint at switching providers, and be as sweet as possible.
THE MATH:You can easily negotiate a $10 per month savings on your phone bill and your cable or wi-fi bill. So that’s another $20 within a two-week span.
Cancel subscriptions and save $40
How many more makeup samples do you really need? We’re not saying you have to get rid of everything, but comb through your subscriptions (makeup, food, entertainment) and nix anything that you can do without. You can always re-instate if you miss it.
THE MATH: If you ditch two monthly subscriptions at $20 each, that’s a savings of $40.
Use one coupon per purchase and save $10
Even if it’s just $1 off that soda, or 10% off a food purchase, those small savings will add up over time.
THE MATH: If you use a $1 coupon on even 10 purchases in a two-week period, that’s $10 of savings.
Buy in bulk and save $10
Buying regularly used products, such as paper goods, in bulk will save you grocery and gas money (fewer trips to the drugstore!). And if walking around with a box of 30 rolls of toilet paper doesn’t sound like fun, buy online.
THE MATH: This one doesn’t add up too much in a two-week period, but over time it can equal big savings. For our purposes, let’s say the decision to buy in bulk saves you $10 in two weeks.
Purchase refills and save $5
Instead of buying a brand new container of laundry detergent or dish soap, buy the refill package. These will also save you money in the long run, and if you use a coupon or buy on sale, even better.
THE MATH: Save as much as $5 in two weeks, more if you have a big family to do laundry for!
Following all of these tips can save you approximately $680 in two weeks!
Before we leave, a few words of wisdom to help you adhere to your savings plan.
Funnel your two-weeks savings into a separate account
“Take the balance of the impulse purchase savings and build an emergency or rainy day fund,” suggests McGill. Same goes for any amount you’d have spent on eating out or splurging. Funneling this into one account, where you can see how much you’ve actually saved, is motivating and eye opening.
Think about how much things cost in hours worked, not dollars spent
Determine your hourly rate based on your current salary, then divide the item cost by your time. Maybe those $60 sunglasses don’t look as appealing when you realize they’re worth three hours of work.