We love to save a lot of money at one time. We hope that you have a savings account that you stick ten percent of every paycheck into each month. However we also believe that sometimes it’s learning to save in little ways that will really make a difference in your financial life. If you can manage to save just £60 ($100) per month then at the end of 2010 you’re going to have about £750 ($1200) in the bank. That’s a nice chunk of change that you can use to treat yourself to something special.
Here’s our 12-step guide for saving this sum of money (or more) before the year is over. Doing each of these things should save you at least £60 ($100) per month and result in achieving this financial goal.
- January: Give up your cable TV. Get the year off to a really great start by getting rid of your cable (or satellite TV). Get rid of your DVD subscription, too. Yes, we know, it’s tough to do this. But you’ll save a lot of money, free up your time for more interesting forms of entertainment and really kick off your frugal year.
- February: Go on a diet. You can save a lot of money just by eating healthy. Give up all sugary foods and prepackaged, processed foods. Go vegetarian for a whole month. You’ll be surprised by how much you save.
- March: Quit the gym. Do you have a gym membership? Do you pay to go to a yoga studio? Do you buy a lot of DVDs to work out with? Do you take dance classes? Do you spend money on gas to go long distances for a hike. Give these things up this month. There are many other ways to stay fit that don’t cost any money. If this doesn’t apply to you then think of another subscription or membership that you can give up.
- April: Turn off the heat. By April the weather outside is not so bad in most places. It’s not so cold that you really need your heating system on. It’s not warm enough yet to turn on the AC. Challenge yourself to keep both of these things off the entire month. Open windows, wear layers, do whatever you need to do to keep up with this challenge and you’ll discover a major decrease in your electricity bill.
- May: Let everyone know that you’re not taking a summer vacation. Summer vacations are wonderful but they also cost money. Let all of the friends and relatives that you usually visit know that you’re staying home this year. Make sure everyone in the family knows that’s the plan. Take the time this month to come up with free and cheap daytime activities that you can enjoy this summer instead. Make sure to keep track of how much this will save you to make sure that you meet this month’s goal.
- June: Sell everything you can. This is the season for yard sales. It’s a great time to have several to sell off your old stuff. You can also sell items through online auctions or websites. Remember that selling off things is just as good as setting aside money via savings because it results in the same goal of having an extra £60 ($100) in your pocket at the end of the month. Take a look at our previous list of 20 items you can sell now.
- July: Give up your car. Gas prices are usually highest during the summer. Can you go an entire month without using your car? It may sound difficult but it’s actually do-able. Two-car homes have it easy if they only want to give up one car but challenge yourself to give them both up. Bike and walk. See if you can telecommute part of the month (or take your two-week vacation and stay home). Carpool with others when you absolutely need to go somewhere. If you have flexible auto insurance then you may actually be able to pause your insurance for a month so you save even more money!
- August: Spend nothing on entertainment. It’s the end of the summer. The kids aren’t back in school yet, they’re bored and you’re going crazy. It’s tempting to spend a lot of money on entertainment at this time of year. Challenge yourself to spend absolutely no money on entertainment this month. Find free events, go to parks, wander around your neighborhood, check out the local library, color, re-organize the house, tell stories … do whatever your creative mind can think of to stay entertained with your family without spending anything at all.
- September: Challenge yourself to having a no-spend month. A lot of frugal people take on this ultimate challenge of spending no money during the entire month. Alternatively you may set a very low budget for yourself and stick to it. Visit Small Notebook for a Simple Home, Boston Gal’s Open Wallet, Approvechar and Pussycat Magazine to learn more about no-spend months. Tip: try bartering instead of spending money!
- October: Create your own challenge. We thought of a bunch of other things that you could do in this month but we actually thought we’d leave this one up to you. That’s because we know that it’s getting towards the end of the challenge and you’re getting restless. We want you to stay motivated and having to think creatively about the challenge will help with that. All you need to do is sit down at the start of the month and come up with a list of small ways that you can save £60 ($100) in October. Ideas include giving up your vices, quitting a subscription to something, paying off debt to eliminate fees and interest charges or repeating one of the challenges from earlier in the month.
- November: Don’t do laundry in the machines. Did you know that one of the biggest costs on your electricity bill comes from running your washing machine? Most of that cost comes from heating up hot water. This costs even more during the cold winter months because it takes longer to warm up. This month challenge yourself to wash as few loads of laundry as possible, only wash in cold water and be sure to line dry (inside the home as needed since it’s cold out). You should see some big savings.
- December: Skip Christmas. Do something drastic and give up the holidays this year. Don’t buy any presents. Don’t attend any parties. Don’t spend money on holiday travel. It’s only for one year. It will be an interesting challenge and it will help you save that last bit of money that you need to save to meet this year’s goal.
Some special tips for saving even more money with this plan:
- Don’t stop doing what you started doing just because the month is over. If you continue to use the tips from early in the year on through the end of the year then you’re going to see that you’ve obtained a much bigger amount of savings when 2010 comes to an end.
- Always use discount codes and look for deals to help you save even more money each money. You want to make sure to do as many money-saving things as you can this year in addition to following this 12-step plan.
- Keep track of how you’re doing with this plan. Making sure that you track your results will make you more likely to stick to the plan.