When life gets busy, it’s easy to sacrifice savings for convenience and lose track of the here-and-there expenditures. However, those small purchases can create big budget deficits, resulting in a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle for some consumers. According to a recent survey conducted by NerdWallet, 43 percent of people reported that their expenses either met or exceeded their income, while 33 percent admitted to having two weeks of expenses or less saved in an emergency fund.
Small actions can have a big impact – for good or bad. If you can save $10 per week for one year, you’ll have more than $500 in the bank, which can help build momentum toward even more savings. While it’s ideal to cut unnecessary expenses altogether when you’re on a tight budget, identifying ways to reduce your discretionary spending can help you create better habits over time. Here are 10 ways you can save $10 this week.
Use discounts for dining. Consumers spent an average of more than $250 per month on dining out in 2015, according to the latest consumer expenditures data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using vouchers from sites such as Groupon or Restaurant.com can instantly save you and your dining party $10 or more. For example, Groupon offers deals on restaurants throughout the country, many of which discount the meal by $10 or more. Savings from Restaurant.com range from $3 to $15, with most certificates offering deals like $4 for a $10 voucher, $6 for a $15 voucher and $10 for a $25 voucher.
Pack your lunch. Americans dine out at least twice per week for lunch, with each outing costing approximately $11, according to the 2015 Visa Lunch Survey. Those who bring their lunch from home spend just $6.30 per day, making it easy to save $10 or more by brown-bagging it daily. Leftovers from dinner are an easy choice for a workday lunch, while picking up a frozen entree from the grocer costs far less than a meal from a fast-food restaurant or sit-down establishment.
Carry a reusable water bottle. Last summer, sales of bottled water outpaced soda for the first time according to data from Euromonitor International, a market research firm. While this is great news for waistlines, it’s not the best news for budgets. In 2015, sales of bottled water in the U.S. topped $14 billion, according to the International Bottled Water Association. Instead of buying bottled water while you’re on the go, bring a reusable water bottle and fill up at your office, your child’s school or the water fountain at your local grocer. If water quality is a concern, invest in a water bottle that contains a filter.
Swap dinner for happy hour. Paying a premium for entrees and drinks is unnecessary when you can spend up to 50 percent less during happy hour. Many restaurants offer half-price drinks and eats earlier in the evening (or late at night) when patrons are less likely to be dining. Scheduling social meetups during a restaurant’s happy hour can easily cut your expenditure by $10. However, happy hour can be a slippery slope into an unhappy bank account. You may end up spending more than you intended because the prices are better, or because you arrive toward the end of the promotional period and pay full price for additional orders. Put a cap on your happy hour spending by bringing cash to cover the tab.
Sign up for retail and restaurant e-clubs. New subscribers and birthday celebrants receive discounts and freebies from their favorite merchants by signing up for an e-newsletter or loyalty program. Old Navy, for example, offers a 30 percent discount to new subscribers while Starbucks offers a free beverage or food item on your birthday. Use or create a separate email account for these promotional messages and consider unsubscribing once you receive the desired deal. Otherwise, you risk being tempted by incessant emails suggesting that you buy the newest arrival or drop by for a bite.
Switch to brewed coffee. Downgrade your $4 latte to a $2.50 cup of brewed coffee, which you can spruce up for free with cream, sugar or seasonings such as nutmeg, cinnamon or chocolate. Do this twice per week and save more than $10 in one month. Better yet, swap your Starbucks habit for at-home brewed coffee and save $10 in just a few days.
Opt for matinees or discount days at the movies. Heading out to see the latest blockbuster? Determine when your local movie theater’s discount day occurs (usually Monday or Tuesday) and spend $5 or $6 on tickets compared with the estimated average price of $8.84, according to Box Office Mojo. In urban areas, movie ticket prices often exceed $10, so planning date night midweek instead of on Fridays or during the weekends will save you big bucks.
Buy your greeting cards from the dollar store. Instead of spending $3 to $8 for greeting cards from the grocery store, head to your local dollar store for birthday and seasonal greetings priced at just 50 cents each. Buy four 50-cent cards at the dollar store instead of four $3 cards at the grocery store, and you’ll save $10.
Practice yoga at home. The cost to attend a yoga class ranges from $10 to $25, according to the 2016 Yoga in America Study. Swap your studio time for an at-home practice streamed for free via YouTube. “Yoga With Adriene” is a popular series on YouTube, while “DoYogaWithMe” offers free online videos for yogis of all levels.
Drink at home. For the price of two glasses of wine at a restaurant, you can buy a decent bottle and have four to six glasses at home, depending on how heavy you pour. Same goes with your favorite brew – a six-pack of craft brew costs anywhere from $8 to $14, compared with $4 to $6 per pint from a bar or restaurant. Skip the drinks during your next date night and save $10 or more instantly.