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Saving Money: How to Save $500 on Monthly Living Costs

Updated on June 9, 2015
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I would like more savings, but I already have a frugal budget and cut the luxury purchases clean.

How can I save more?

In this article, let us explore what you can do, and how you can save another $500 using three effective methods.

First, let's cut those monthly bills.

Reduce those Large Monthly Expenses

Are large monthly bills eating into your savings? Let's take a look and reduce them.

Are you paying $40 per month for your home phone? Cancel it then, because Magic Jack's VoIP phone service (www.magicjack.com) only cost $35 per year, including free voicemail! However, Magic Jack does require high speed internet to sign up.

Instead of paying for cable TV, try Youtube as one of your entertainment sources, or signup for Amazon Prime ($99 per year) to stream the movies for entertainment hours.

Finally, to address that $85 per month per person cell phone bill...

  • Explore T-mobile's family plan: they offer 6 lines at $120 per month ($20 per line, no contract!) featuring unlimited talk, text and 2.5G data. Team up with some friends, and take enjoy a $20 per month phone bill without making compromises! To research T-mobile's family plan, see http://www.t-mobile.com/cell-phone-plans/family.html
  • Alternatively, AT&T's go phone plan is very wallet friendly as well! AT&T offers a 10 cents per minute pay as you go voice plan, and a 200 messages package for $5 per month! In addition, unused messages automatically rolls over to the next month and is added to the next month's totals, making your phone plan $5 to $10 per month. However, if you want data included in your plan, T-mobile's family plan would be much cost friendlier.

To explore AT&T's go phone prepaid plans, see here: http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/gophone.html.

Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate for any companies I listed in this section.

Save Fuel (and Money) by Driving an Economical Car

As oil prices approaches $4.00 per barrel, gasoline expenses are topping $45 to $50 per week again for the average driver. As the fuel price rises, hybrid vehicles suddenly seem more attractive again, especially when it produces a $20.64 fuel receipt after one week of driving:

Twenty Dollars... Some Cheap Fuel for a Week

Meet the Toyota Prius C

The Prius C starts at only $16,900 for a new vehicle (if you negotiate for it), but it boasts an impressive fuel efficiency of 50 miles per gallon (mpg)! On January 2014, I purchased a Prius C and it managed to average 56.1 mpg over 23.5 thousand miles on 75% highway and 25% local driving. In fact, each weekly trip to the fuel station only costs $20.64, even though I drive 31.5 miles to work each day!

31.5 Miles Trip to Work at 71 Miles per Galleon and $1.53!

How Much Fuel do You Really Save?

On average, with a fuel efficient vehicle such as the Prius C, you can save up to $1 every 10 miles!

Since the Prius C averages 56.1 miles per galleon, this means the vehicle will use 0.178 galleons or $0.713 every 10 miles!

In comparison, an average vehicle has an efficiency of 24 miles per galleon, meaning the vehicle will use up 0.42 galleons or $1.7 every 10 miles.

The difference between in efficiency is $1.0 per 10.0 miles. So how much you typically save per week?

Typical Savings for a Regular Work Week

Total miles per commute to work
Total miles driven per week
Dollars saved per month
10 miles
180 miles
$79.2
20 miles
280 miles
$123.2
30 miles
380 miles
$167.2
Formula used to calculate savings
10 trips * total miles per trip + 80 miles driven on evenings/weekend
Total miles driven per week *4.4 weeks/month *$0.1 saved per gallon

With a 56 mpg vehicle, will you save:

See results

In addition to its great fuel efficiency, a new Toyota Prius C (average $17,000) purchase usually include five free services and a 60 months 0% finance program (~$280/month for 60 months with no down payment). Who could imagine that owning an economical vehicle can save so much money!

In addition to the Toyota Prius C ($17,000, 50-55mpg), the Honda Fit ($15,000, 36 mpg) also offers a decent fuel efficiency at a even lower cost.

How did an inexperienced, honest and shy negotiator obtain a killer deal ($16,950, $19,900 out the door price) for a Prius C Two (MSRP $21,165)? To find out, see my negotiation strategy here:

How to Negotiate a Killer Deal as a Terrible Negotiator


Using P2P Lending to Consolidate Debt (and Pay Less Interest)

If you have a significant amount of credit card balance, using person-to-person (P2P) lending websites Lending Club (www.lendingclub.com) or Prosper Marketplace (www.prosper.com) may help you significantly reduce your interest payments! Generally, credit card interest average 20%, but P2P lending sites can lend you money at 6% to 15%, depending on your credit score, of course. To start consolidating your debt, simply go to one of the two lending websites, and fill in your information to check your rate (nearly everyone gets approved):

Lending Club's Home Page - Fill in Information to Pay Less Interests!

Prosper Marketplace's Home Page - Pay Less Interest Now!

Note: Many thanks to Richfatcat in the comments below, who reminded me of person-to-person lending as a money saving strategy!

Use Credit Card Rewards to Boost Your Savings

If you do not have much credit card debt, then it is time to take advantage of the credit card cash backs! Every penny of credit card rewards are nontaxable and categorized as discounts or savings. So how can we take advantage of credit cards?

Maximize Cash Back

Many credit cards offer lucrative cashback deals, usually up to 5% in depending the merchandise purchased:

Chase Freedom - get 5% back on movie theaters, starbucks, restaurants, gas stations, amazon.com on a rotational basis

Citi Dividend - get 5% back on home depot, plane tickets, bestbuy, department stores on a rotational basis

Discover It - get 5% back on gas stations, restaurants, amazon.com, and more on a rotational basis

Citi Double Cash Reward - 2% cashback for all items purchased, with no limits

Citi Forward - 5% cashback on restaurants, bookstores and others everyday

American Everyday CashBack - 3% cashback for grocery markets, and offers amazing everyday deals, such as

  • Spend $20, get $20 statement credit for amazon and other websites
  • Spend $50, get $25 statement credit for certain grocery store
  • Spend $10, get $5 statement credit on UPS, FedEX and other common stores

Signup for these cards, and keep a list of the promotional items in your wallet so you can use it for the right items! Even though this may take some work, being able to save 5% on everything you buy will make a big difference in the long run!

Use Those Signup Bonuses

Many credit cards give you $100 to $500 as a signup bonus given that you meed a spending requirement. Before you rush to signup for these bonuses, remember one major consideration:

  • Usually, banks and credit card companies increase their promotional bonus a few months before the Christmas holidays. The increase is usually $100 to $200 in reward more than the regular promotion.

Using this fact, signing up for two good card offers before your holiday purchases (you will purchase a lot) will immediately give you $600-$1000 of nontaxable savings on your holiday purchases. Using the same logic, always have promotional before large purchases, such as:

  • Paying Car Insurance (once per year)
  • Buying Furniture, computers or electronics
  • Buying airline tickets,
  • Home improvement, including contract re-roofing, re-structuring and other contract work, and

If you make purchases for your company, be sure to utilize your credit card to help fill the promotional requirement if you can! For example, if you are a manufacturing engineer who needs some toolboxes and lifts totaling $1100, you can easily take advantage by using your new Citi Dividend Card to buy the items at Home Depot. This instantly earns you $155 in savings ($100 in signup bonus and $55 in cashback) - a nice little extra for your savings.


© 2015 Randy Yao

Comments

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    • RandyYao profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Yao 

      3 years ago from San Jose, California

      Excellent point! P2P loan sites lendingclub.com and prosper.com are excellent for loan consolidations, regardless of your credit scores. But always remember to borrow from wealthy family or friends first - you might get a helping hand at 0%!

    • RichFatCat profile image

      Alan Lehmann 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Pay off credit card debt with P2P loans. Reduces a lot of interest.

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