People love to save money, as long as it’s a quick deal. We often don’t pay much attention to long term savings, however. There are many ways to save money on every day things over the course of a year, and none of them require serious lifestyle changes. In fact, the goal is that you still get to enjoy everything you did in the past, just without spending as much money. So, ask yourself – what will you do with that (at least) extra $800 next year?

1. Make Your Own Coffee – Save $384.60

When you pay for big brand coffee, you’re not paying for much more than convenience. You want the coffee now, and you’re willing to pay more money to get it (this is the same principle behind why we pay so much for bottled water). Still, those trips to Starbucks add up quickly.

To be fair to those “Starbucksaholics” among us, we’ll even use Starbucks brands of coffee as an example. The average 12 oz. bag of Starbucks coffee costs about $24.00, which yields about 30 cups of coffee. The average tall coffee at Starbucks is around $1.73. You should be able to get about 32 tall coffees out of that 12 oz. bag. Assuming you drink a couple of cups a business day, your yearly coffee budget is:

  • Per Cup at Starbucks: $899.60
  • Per Cup Buying Bulk Coffee: $390.00

Even going as far as to buy disposable coffee cups in bulk (about $0.13 each, complete with a lid) and a brand new coffee maker (let’s say $60.00), for another $125.00, you’re still saving about $384.60 each year. As a bonus tip, remember that darker beans weigh less, so you actually get slightly more coffee volume with a darker bean than a lighter one.

2. Shift Your Internet and Cable Plan – Save $428.90

Really evaluate why you need that Internet and cable package from an overpriced provider. How many shows do you really follow with cable television. Let’s use two as an example. Now, why do you have Internet? Is it to play high definition videos and games, or do you simply have it to do the occasional surfing and check your email? Most tasks you perform online can be done with a clear 4G Internet plan, and don’t require a super fast connection. That $39.99 a month you spend on 18 MBps Internet service can be cut down by half with 4G Internet. So, we have:

  • Internet Provider: $479.88 per year
  • 4G Provider: $239.94 per year

Now, as far as television shows are concerned, you can purchase single episodes a little after they air from multiple online services for around $1.99 each. Assuming you pay another $40.00 or so per month for cable, and only watch a few shows, you can save a lot of money by dumping the cable/Internet package altogether and running an HDMI or S-Video cable from your laptop to your television.

  • Cable: $480.00 per year
  • Selective Shows at $1.99 each: $191.04 per year

With that money you save, throw in a streaming Netflix account for movie nights, and you’re still saving more than $100.00 every year, and you don’t even have to watch a single commercial.

3. Save Trips to the Theater for Weekend Afternoons – Save $208.00

Finding cheap activities that you can enjoy with your family is becoming a much more difficult task as the U.S. economy struggles to get back on it’s feet. You don’t need to cut the movie theater out of your entertainment budget, but you can time your trips to save some cash. In a reasonably sized city, you can expect to pay about $12.00 per adult for a movie ticket (and about $8.00 for a child over the age of 12). But matinees can often be as much as half price. Assuming you take the family out every two weeks for a show, your expenses are:

  • Normal Showtimes: $832.00 a year
  • Matinees: $624.00 a year

And, as far as snacks go, theaters tend to crack down on people that bring snacks into the theater, but are more lenient on those that bring extra containers for popcorn (some anyway). So, bring a couple of Tupperware containers to split up a large popcorn. Most theaters offer cheap refills on popcorn ($0.75 or so) so everyone can still get as much as they like.

4. Drink Water When You Eat Out – Save $208.00

We have a funny habit as consumers of ignoring small expenses, even though they quickly add up. When’s the last time you actually checked the drink prices on a menu? There’s nothing wrong with going out to dinner with the family once a week, but you can skip the soda and just drink water. As an individual, you can instantly save around $104.00 every year (soda is usually at least $2.00). But let’s assume you have a family, and your child has to have that Coca-Cola. You’re still saving money by convincing your spouse to go along with your water drinking plan, $208.00 a year, in fact.

  • Soda Drinking Family Eating Out Once a Week: $312.00 a year
  • Only the Child Drinking Soda: $104.00 a year

This isn’t to say you have to avoid soda at home (but you can to save another $300.00 or so a year if you want to).

Far too often, money saving tips revolve around theory instead of practice. Sure, turning in your car for a bike and switching to solar power will save you thousands of dollars, but who really wants to do that? There are plenty of realistic ways that you can save money, without adjusting your lifestyle. When you buy a product, remember that countless middlemen had to handle that product before you, and the price has continued to go up along the way. In general, the closer you can get your spending to the actual supplier, the more money you’ll save. But please, put that $1,229.50 you’ll save next year into a savings account, or we’re going to have to do this again in a year.

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