How to Save $1200+ per year by Making Little Money Changes

How to save Big money by making small changes in spending.

Do you have more money than you know what to do with?  

Maybe not, if this post title caught your eye!  

I love calculators, spreadsheets, number crunching and most of all saving money.  I never thought budgeting could be fun, now I think quite differently.  Watching my spreadsheets with my savings accounts going up and my debt going down, can be exciting in its own financially responsible/nerdy way.  

Try these small ideas that can add up to Big Savings of $1200 or more a year.

If you turn saving money into a game, it’s lots of fun to win!  The better you play the game, the more money you save.

You can instantly begin to save some money merely by paying attention to your spending and analyzing your own money habits.

How will you save $1200 a year?  Simply add up the numbers: if you can find 5 different ways (like those below) to save $5 each week, that $25/week can total $1200 each year or even more.  If you put your mind to it, you will likely be able to save more than $25 each week, making your total saved even higher.

Just to be clear, we are talking about saving $5 as in, reducing spending by $5 on something that you are currently paying for on a regular basis.  Next, once you start spending less money each week, you can decide what to do with this Extra Saved Money!  But first, let’s talk about some simple ways to save that money.

By taking the time to analyze your spending habits, you will see which costs you can reduce or eliminate.  In so many budgeting articles, your daily coffee habit is given as an example.  Why?  Because it is a perfect example!  There is more than one way to get your daily cup (or cups) of coffee. Keep in mind this is anything your drink: Do you buy a Grande Frappuccino on the way to work, buy a cup of tea at work and then stop for an energy drink on the way home?
Look below to see how much you could be spending without even realizing it!

Coffee MethodPer Day CostWork Week TotalYearly Total
For 1 cup
Yearly Total
for 3 cups/day
Brewing Coffee
at home
.25-50¢ cup$1.25 - $2.50$65 - $130$195 - $390
K-cup or other Machine.50-75¢/ cup$2.50 - $3.75$130 - $195$390 - $585
Convenience store
Upscale Barista Cafe$3.50+$17.50$910$2730

Ways to make those $5/week savings stack up

Breakfast at Home instead of on the way to work or at work. Breakfast “on the go” can cost $2-$10 depending on where you go and what you get. If you eat breakfast at home or bring it from home even once or twice a week, you can save big! My husband will spend $3 – $8 on breakfast each day. Depending on how many days he eats breakfast at home he could save some money. Eating breakfast at home just twice a week could save from $312 – $832 each year! You will need to factor in the cost of your homemade breakfast, mine is always less than $1, usually .50¢/ day or $130/year.

Lunch at work Making lunch instead of buying it, even just a few times a week makes a gigantic difference. Taking the time to make lunch is a pain but it doesn’t have to be. Often at night when I’m cleaning up from dinner, I can pack up some lunch for the next day so no time or even cost is wasted. Using my husband’s habits again, for lunch he spends $5 – $9 each day. Bringing lunch from home twice a week can save $520 – $936 per year. Bringing lunch from home can be just a fraction of the cost.

Afternoon Treat  If you are like me and need snack time in the afternoon, you can be very frugal about it.  Rather than stopping to buy something, you can keep your own snack and drink supply at work and/or in the car. I keep flavored club soda along with some snacks at work so I can grab one for the ride home. At $4 – $6 per day, this saves me $1040 – $1560 per year.

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Other Smart Ways to Cut Costs

Grocery Store I could have several posts devoted to countless ways to save at the grocery store. In short, shop smarter. Pay attention to sales, buy in bulk when it makes sense, avoid impulse items and don’t buy junk food. When you buy less snacks and packaged foods, its healthier and cheaper. Soda and juices are expensive. Drink tap water or make your own flavored water. Bottled water can also get expensive, bring a water bottle instead. Bring a shopping list and stick to it.

Paper Products  Being a little greener by using less paper products is another way to slash costs. By not using paper plates, paper cups, paper towels, napkins and coffee cups you can save hundreds of dollars each year.

Gas Station  Save money on gas by not automatically stopping at the closest corner gas station. Check the prices to find the cheapest gas in your area. I use my Gas Buddy app to find the best priced gas stations. Where we live, you are not allowed to pump your gas, the attendants do it for you. As a result, we pay up to .15¢ more per gallon compared to gas stations closer to work. Saving 15¢ per gallon can mean about $234 per year for me.

Take-Out Food or Eating Dinner Out  Dinner out one less time per week or month can add up to big savings. Getting take-out food is sometimes necessary due to tight schedules. But the expense can sky rocket if take out or dining out becomes your daily routine. Making the choice to cook and eat at home more often can save hundreds of dollars each month.

There are many more ways ways to find your $5 savings. Take a look at your spending habits and see where you can save your $1200.

Now that you are saving money, what should you do with it?  You can just spend less money and be happy knowing that you did, but I like to SEE the money that I’m saving. If we stick with the example of $25 per week or $100 per month, you can transfer this money to your savings account on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. This way you get to watch your savings account increase. You could also choose to keep a stash of cash so you can see and count up your money as well! Once you have your Extra Money, what will you do with it?

What to do with your extra saved money?

– Use your extra money to pay debt faster on your way to becoming debt free.
– Keep some cash hidden away for when you run out. No need to hit up the cash machine.
– Save for a special trip or weekend getaway.
– Save up for a large, necessary purchase such as a household item.
– Add extra money to your retirement fund.
– Make a rainy day fund and decide what to do with it later

My method is to look at my checking balance the night before payday to see what I haven’t spent in the last two weeks. I use half of the money to make an extra debt payment. The other half I transfer to my savings account. This way I am accomplishing both of goals, debt going down and savings increasing.

If you commit to a savings plan and put your mind to it, look how much you could save each year!  When I create a money chart, I love projecting ahead several years to see how much I can save.  It’s good to have a goal for something special, like a huge retirement trip – paid with cash!

Per MonthPer Year3 Years5 Years10 Years

This cost reduction plan is not about making drastic changes overnight!  

This is about looking more closely at your spending habits so you can tweak them a bit.  If you are reading this post, you probably wouldn’t mind having some extra spending money.  Anyone would jump at the chance to save $1200 on a necessity so why not save that on your daily spending habits?  By making only small changes like bringing lunch twice a week instead of buying it, you can start saving now.
You can start to save money simply by looking at your spending habits so go ahead, take a look!

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    1. Thanks! I love finding new ways to save. Yes, makeup can cost way too much money! Even a good facial moisturizer is ridiculously expensive, I just got a new one and even that was $15!

  1. Now if this post doesn’t encourage people to save nothing will! You’ve inspired me to revisit my budget. Thank you. #blogsharelearn

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you find somewhere to save a little money. Writing about it, reminds me to pay attention and save some more money! Now I need to get my kids to learn to save more!

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