So if you want to get seriously radical, here's how you can literally save $1000 this month (big change of attitude and ability to ignore those who think you are crazy is required):
- Save $100 and cut out cable TV completely. About 97% of the stuff on cable is junk anyway. Even though the SIL has cable at her house, we still only watch what would be available on regular TV with a set-top digital converter box (free after initial purchase of the box). We have also started watching many more of the TV shows and movies we like online.
- Get your grocery money for the month, take $100 of the money and put it in the bank, then spend the rest on food. Depending on your grocery budget, you may literally be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a month or you may only have to cut out restaurant meals. Will it be difficult? Yes. Will you be able to get super creative and make it work anyway? Yes. For tips on saving money on food, check here.
- Sell, sell, sell. The average American can sell some of the stuff they own, take in $200, and still not miss what they got rid of. Consider a garage sale, selling unwanted gold and jewelry, selling stuff on CraigsList, and/or selling stuff on eBay.
- Look at all of your insurance coverages (life, health, auto, home) and see where you can make cuts in order to save $100. We were able to save more than $100 every six months by dropping the full coverage insurance on our car. The value of our 2001 van had dropped below $3000 and we have more than $3000 in our emergency fund so if we did have to buy another car because of a wreck, we would be able to "self insure" so to speak (and save money each month we don't have to pay for full coverage insurance which would have given us no more than the current value of the car anyway in the event of a wreck). Obviously you never want to drop auto liability insurance, which would be illegal, or drop medical coverage that you need.
- Save $100 on your utilities this month by becoming a radical power/water/sewer/gas/garbage saver. Every once in a while we would experiment to see just how much we could save on our utilities and we would go all out to do this. We were able to cut our garbage pick up to every other week for the last few years we were in our house to save money (lots less shopping will give you lots less garbage BTW), we would set the heat lower/air conditioning higher (depending on the time of year), and become super careful about saving every penny possible on electricity, gas, and water. All of these little efforts can really save you a lot of money when added together!
- Save $100 on the gas for your car this month. This may take a lot of creativity and compromise, especially seeing as how every time I look at gas prices they have jumped up even higher, but it can be done. Can you take public transportation for a couple of weeks? If it costs you $100 to fill up your tank each week, and only $20 for public transportation, you can save $100 in less than two weeks! You may also consider riding your bike to work, car pooling with friends, asking to work from home, etc.
- Don't shop at ALL this month and save $200. For us, each time we go to the store, we spend a minimum of $50. If we don't shop AT ALL for the month, we can save around $200. Yes, this is super boring and feels like total deprivation but it is possible to do this if it is only for a month. You have clothes and shoes so you can squeak by for a month without buying any more of these things. You still have your food budget so you can shop for necessary food, but all other shopping (clothes, toys, books, shampoo, makeup, etc) is out for a month.
- Save $100 on services that you usually pay for: mow your yard all month instead of paying for it to be done, clean your own house instead of paying for it to be done, save $100 on daycare by having a friend/grandma babysit for free (it takes courage to ask when otherwise you would never do such a thing but you can always trade services--you babysit for a friend, they babysit for you--if you don't want to flat out ask for a freebie).
It takes quite a bit of effort and "chutzpah" to save so much money in such a short amount of time, but just tell yourself that it is only for one month and you will survive it. You may end up, like me, finding that many of the "radical" changes you make to save money for just this one month actually stick and become a part of things you do on a regular basis!