30 ways to save money in 30 days
All November, KATU Problem Solver Shellie Bailey-Shah is showing you 30 small changes that can add up to big savings. Each day of the month, she will reveal a new tip. If it works for you, do it and save. If not, look for more tips on the way. By the end of the month, you should be able to save hundreds of dollars, just in time for the holiday shopping season.
Watch KATU News at 6 p.m. each day in November to see Shellie's latest tip. We'll also post them online the next day in case you miss one.
Then take our 30 Ways for 30 Days Challenge! Keep track of your savings and then share your success with us on Facebook at the end of the month.
#1 - Pack a Lunch
If you work outside the home, pack yourself a lunch. Even if you only brown bag it every other day, you'll still save a bunch. Figure you cut out ten restaurant lunches at $10 each. That's $100 for the month. And be sure to pack yourself a few snacks, too, so you won't be tempted to hit the overpriced vending machine.
#2 - Borrow
Something borrowed. It's not just advice for your wedding day. If you have a special occasion coming up, don't buy. Instead go browsing in a friend's closet. Women, especially, don't mind loaning a friend something to wear. Borrowing a party dress instead of buying one could save you $150 or more!
#3 - Clean Out Your Closet
Here's Shellie's personal rule: if she hasn't worn a garment in a year, it's gone. You can donate, or you can get cold hard cash by simply bringing your gently used clothes to a store like Buffalo Exchange or Plato's Closet. A pair of designer jeans will net you $20 to $25. If you wash and hang your clothes nicely, it will increase your chances of making a sale.
#4 - Stretch Your Color
Coloring your hair can cost a small fortune. If you dare, do your own at-home, in-the-box touch up. Or simply stretch out your appointments, maybe every 8 weeks instead of every 4. It could save you up to $100.
#5 - Set Up an Automatic Transfer
Here's an easy way to save without cutting a single expense. Set up an automatic transfer of $25 per week from your checking account to your savings account. Chances are you won't miss it. And you'll have an extra $100 for the holidays.
#6 - Sell Your Books & DVDs
Time to get rid of books you're not going to read again. Locally, Powell's buys used books. You'll get about 20 percent of the book's value. Or you can sell online at a website like www.sellbackyourbooks.com. The more books you have, the more you'll make. And some sites take DVDs too.
#7 - Barter
Need stuff, but don't want to spend your hard-earned cash? Barter instead. The barter section of Craigslist has experienced 100% growth in just the past year. Post what you don't need and then trade it for what you really want. The amount you could save is limitless! For more tips on bartering, click here.
#8 - Sell Unwanted Gift Cards
Got a few store gift cards that you're not going to use? You can unload unwanted gift cards and turn them into cash on websites like www.plasticjungle.com and www.cardpool.com. For example, a $50 Gap card will get you anywhere from $32.50 to $40. Wal-Mart cards get you the most money back. You also can buy discounted gift cards at these websites and then use them on your holiday shopping.
#9 - Cash in Video Games
Whether you're an avid gamer or have kids with controllers attached to their hands, you know that today's must-have game is soon forgotten. So cash it in! Stores like Game Stop will buy used games. A game that originally sold for $60 can get you $18 to $25 back. Or you can list those games at half.com.
#10 - Rent Redbox Movies
If you buy 2 tickets, popcorn, and drinks, date night at the movies can easily cost $40. Instead, make it a Redbox night. Rent a movie for just a little more than a buck at any Redbox kiosk. Then pop some microwave popcorn, sit back, and enjoy your savings.
#11 Buy Store Brands
Consider buying store brands for everything from food to cosmetics. In a recent Consumer Reports test of 19 products, store brands either tied or beat name brands in most cases. And those store brands can save you 20% or more every time you make the switch.
#12 Order Eyewear Online
There's no law that says you have to buy your eyeglass frames from your optometrist's office or an optical chain. After an eye exam, take your prescription and shop online. You could save up to 70%! Now that's savings you can see.
#13 Cancel Your Gym Membership
How often are you really getting to the gym? If the answer is just one or two times a week, you're probably wasting money. A brisk walk or run with your dog or free weights at home - those forms of exercise are all free. If you cancel, you'll save $50 or more per month. But be sure to read the fine print in your contract for hidden cancellation fees.
#14 Buy Your Plane Tickets Earlier
If you know you're going to be traveling over Spring Break, book your flights now. Waiting until the last minute could easily cost you another $100 or more per ticket. Plus, with a little advanced planning, you'll likely get better seats and better connections.
#15 Go on a Fiscal Fast
You can do it! For just one week, go on a fiscal fast. No lattes, no meals out... no spending. Remember the families who took our Frugal Living Challenge in April? They spent nothing for an entire month and saved more than $800 each.
#16 Make a Grocery List
Many of us are guilty of this - heading to the grocery store hungry and without a list. According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, people who avoid impulse spending can save up to 23% on their groceries. That's $23 per week on a grocery bill of $100.
#17 Put Stuff Up for Sale
One in four people can't park in the garage because of too much stuff.. Shellie's personal rule: if she hasn't used it in a year, it's gone. So take a weekend and post your unwanted items on Craigslist or use the new OfferUp app. Just remember, when buying or selling, always meet in a public place and only deal in cash.
#18 Go Meatless
Have you compared the price of a pound of ground beef to a can of beans? It's roughly a $2 difference. You don't have to live on tofu, but by swapping two meat-based meals a week for vegetarian options, you can save more than $25 per month.
#19 Buy Secondhand Designer Jeans
Some folks are denim snobs. You know who you are! You spend $200 or $300 on a pair of Joe's or True Religion jeans. Instead check out your local consignment shops where like-new designer brands sell for less than $100. Only you will know they're secondhand.
#20 Ditch Your Landline
If you have a cell phone and a landline, you're paying for duplicate services. Most wireless plans offer free long-distance and unlimited night and weekend minutes. So ditch your landline and save $25 to $50.
Haggling. It's not something we regularly do in this country, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. According to a Consumer Reports survey, 83% of people who asked for a price break, got it! You can haggle your way to a better deal on everything from cell plans to hotel rooms. Try it. You've got nothing to lose.
#22 Skip the Manicure and Pedicure
Skip your bi-weekly manicure and pedicure, especially during the colder months when you're not wearing sandals anyway. You'll likely save more than $50 per month. You can always do your nails at home. They may not look as nice at first, but with practice, you'll become a pro.
#23 Borrow e-Books
The average e-book will run you about $10. But before you download it, check your local library. Along with paper copies, you can borrow e-books for your electronic reader for free. That's feeding your mind and your wallet.
#24 Send e-Cards
Send e-cards instead of paper greeting cards. The cost of cards is horrifying. Even cheap ones run $3.50 each. The cards on these websites are free: www.123greetings.com, www.bluemountain.com, and www.e-greetings.com. And isn't it the thought that counts? The one exception is Christmas. It's still better form to send a Christmas card or letter. In the past, we've found the best prices on personal holiday cards at Costco.
#25 Make Your Own Cleaners
Just pick up a bottle of white vinegar for about $1.50 for a half gallon and mix with water. You can use it on kitchen and bathroom surfaces, plus windows. And for wood, just dry dust. You really don't need polish. Cut all the cleaners, and you'll save around $10 per month.
#26 Stop Buying Bottled Water
Buying bottled water is a huge waste of money. Tests show the water really isn't any better for you. So fill up your own water bottle with filtered or tap water. If you usually buy five bottles of water per week, you'll save about $20 per month.
#27 Brew Your Own Coffee
If you want to save money, brew your own coffee. A grande-sized latte at Starbucks costs $3.50. If you grab a cup on your way to work every day, that's $17.50 per week or $70 per month! By doing it yourself, you'll save 50%, even if you go heavy on the flavored creamer.
#28 Buy Cheaper Beer
Beer can be expensive. If you buy a decent domestic 6-pack once a week, you could spend nearly $40 per month. Instead go to www.saveonbrew.com. You put in your zip code, and it shows you all the advertised specials on particular brands in your area. Use the website, and you can save about 25% on your beer budget.
#29 Dine Out for Less
Dine out smart. Pick up $25 gift certificates for $10 at www.restaurant.com. Snag deals on websites like www.groupon.com or www.livingsocial.com. Or become Facebook friends with area restaurants to see special deals. With a little pre-planning, you can save up to 50% on your next night out.
#30 Turn Down the Thermostat
For every degree you turn down your thermostat in the colder months, you save 3% on your monthly gas bill. In the summer, the savings is even more when you turn up your thermostat to give your air conditioner a break. It's best to get a programmable thermostat that can automatically turn down the heat when you leave for work or go to bed. The extra savings will make you sleep easier.