It’s a new year, and it’s also just months away from tax season. After the fun of the holidays subsides, paying taxes and balancing your budget are the harsh realities no one wants to talk about.
Don’t worry, talking about cash doesn’t always have to be depressing. In the age of the internet, there are hundreds of ways to skin a cat, or hundreds of ways to figure out how to make small sacrifices that will yield a major gain.
I’m not talking about the money-saving stuff that everybody already knows: skipping your morning latte, canceling the gym membership that you no longer use and collecting spare change. I’m talking about legitimate life hacks that will turn up some cold, hard cash that you can set aside for a rainy day, or even better, a beach vacation.
With the help of these frugal tricks, you could find yourself $1,000 richer.
1. Buy new work shirts
How could going shopping possibly save you money? Wait for it… One Redditor explains, “Anytime I buy new work clothes now I only buy “no-iron” shirts and dress pants. Sometimes they still might need a light press but nowhere near what normal shirts require. Other than sweaters and wool dress pants, I don’t use the dry cleaners anymore. I went from about $50-$60/month to less than $15/month.”
Your savings: In a conservative estimate, saving $35 per month will yield $420 by the end of the year.
2. Check out local Facebook groups
Facebook Buy Nothing groups let you exchange goods with locals in your area. It’s a win-win. You can get rid of gently used items around the house and get a free used bicycle or baby crib in return.
Your savings: Based on eBay estimates, a free used baby crib could save you about $50, though YMMV.
3. Fly Southwest and exchange your tickets
As a frequent Southwest flyer, I now know that the airline will allow you to select cheaper flights and exchange one-way tickets within a round trip at any time leading up to your travel date. After keeping a close eye on the ever-changing low fare calendar, I was able to update my plane tickets from Dallas to Denver and earn a credit of $46 by taking an earlier flight.
Your savings: $46, depending on flight availability and season
4. Make your own laundry detergent
No matter how rich or how poor, you still have to do laundry. Large quantities of name-brand detergent could cost you up to $18 at Walmart. DIY laundry detergent could bring expenses down to a dollar per month — with a potential $17 savings per month, depending on family size.
Your savings: $204 per year
5. Renegotiate your car insurance
Here’s the quick and dirty truth about car insurance: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you don’t regularly ask for discounts, you probably won’t get them. While discounts will vary by provider, Nationwide advertises a 10-percent discount for five years of safe driving. If you currently pay $100 per month in car insurance (on the higher end, average annual premiums in New Jersey were estimated at $1,244 in 2014), a 10-percent discount could save you $10 per month.
Your savings: $120 per year
6. Stop eating out
Before you scoff at this level of self-sacrifice, hear me out. It will only take a one-month restaurant boycott to see results. Another Reddit commenter estimates, “If you’re pulling into McD’s every weekday for lunch at what, $7 a pop, that’s $35 a week. That’s $140 a month you spent eating crap food.”
Your savings: Up to $140 by dining in for just a month
7. Stream free TV shows
I’m a Netflix addict like everyone else with a pulse, but $8 a month adds up. Making the cut for just a year could save you an impressive $96. As an added bonus, most of your favorite shows are probably available for free online — check network websites and third-party sites like Hulu.
Your savings: $96