Rule #1 Finance Blog

With Investor Phil Town

How to Save $500 This Month (Without Skipping Your Latte)

Frugality can be painful. There are too many articles telling people to take a short, cold shower or skip their Macchiato.

I’m not going to tell you how skipping your Starbucks can save you money, because there are bigger and better ways to save while you sip on life’s little luxuries.

If you are in true financial dire straits, we trust that we’ll find you staking a tent in someone’s yard to save money, or partitioning your dining room with a sheet to onboard a roommate—by the way, these are actual stunts I’ve done just to get myself unstuck.

This article is about finding more significant opportunities to save $500 and then learn how to invest $500.

Some of the best money-saving maneuvers lie in the monthly services you already pay for. You may be surprised at the number of ask-and-you-shall-receive opportunities you have right in front of you.

Pick and choose from my list to help you build some cash flow:

1) Bank Fees Be Gone

Look a bit closer at your bank statements. Note all of the fees you paid in a year, then walk into your bank with your list. Be bold and ask the bank manager to lower your fees. In such a direct business encounter, it’s easier for the manager to negotiate your fees than lose your business.

Awkward? Possibly. Profitable? Definitely.

Possible monthly savings: $10 – $40

2) Free Energy Audit

Did you know most utility companies can send someone out to audit your home for ways to save energy? They could show you how to alter appliance settings, open/close vents, seal window cracks and set auto-off features on lights to trim monthly costs.

Free help to save money? This one’s a no-brainer.

Possible monthly savings: $25-$50

3) FSA and HSA Pre-Tax Dollars

What do FSA and HSA mean? You’ve heard these terms thrown around in your meetings with HR, so here’s the deal. FSA is a flexible spending account and HSA is a health savings account. Both are accounts that allow you to pay for items like daycare, prescriptions, glasses, and even drugstore meds and band-aids using pre-tax dollars.

This can really add up depending on your needs.

Possible monthly savings: $40 – $75

4) Cut Your Cable

Cable providers are notoriously fierce competitors, slapping together offers every which way to keep every customer. Give them a call and claim that you’re considering changing providers. Have an offer in mind and be ready to negotiate. Or you could just ask what offers they have going on—because there’s always something going on.

Most cable companies can find a way to shave your bill to keep you around.

Possible monthly savings: $25 – $40

Are you ready to commit to saving and investing? If you are, my 14-Day Financially Fit Challenge is just what you need.

5) Pause the Movie

Most people dismiss cable TV costs when considering ways to save because they have favorite channels. As I promised, this article is not about giving up life’s luxuries, but have you considered temporarily suspending certain channels or your account entirely? That can really add up if you don’t think you’ll watch as much ESPN2 over the summer, or are in between seasons of Game of Thrones.

Ask your provider what options you have and you may have just found $100.

Possibly monthly savings: $100 – $120

6) Iffy Insurance Policies

Bundle this, bundle that. If you’re not bundling, you should be. Or at least try. Check to see if you can save money by grouping your auto and home insurance policies under one provider. You can also request discounts directly or raise your deductible to reduce monthly payments.

Retirees should consider canceling any disability and life insurance as these policies are intended to replace lost income, which may not be a factor once you stop working.

This alone could save you thousands a year.

Possible monthly savings: $100-$200

7) Bundle, Unbundle

As long as you’re bundling, try unbundling as well. You know you can save by using one provider for Internet, phone, and cable. But sometimes you can also save money by splitting your services up. There could be a more affordable Internet deal that, when unbundled, drops your whole monthly costs by $30. Or maybe you can bid farewell to your ancient land line. Or maybe there’s just a better all-inclusive deal out there.

Whatever way you bundle up, be sure it suits you.

Possible monthly savings: $30 – $75

8) Credit Card Costs

There’s a reason you get a stack of credit card offers in the mail every week. Credit card companies want your business and are willing to fight to win it. Even if you are paying your balance in full each month, you can negotiate annual fees.

Just another place to put your debate team experience back in action by explaining how easy it is to transfer your account elsewhere.

Possible monthly savings: Varies

9) Check Your Car Insurance

If you’re a safe driver—and OK, even if you’re not—this is an easy place most people are paying too much. If you raise your deductible on your collision coverage from $200 to $400 a year, for example, you can instantly lower your premiums.

So check to ensure your policy makes sense for you. Cha-ching.

Possible monthly savings: $30 – $50

10) Monetize Your Hobby

Why not make money while doing something you love? If you like baking, sell your favorite recipe at a local farmer’s market. Or if you’re a handy mechanic, fix up cars on the side. Writers can edit resumes for $100 or $200 a pop to drum up some side income. Or get some exercise pet-walking while making some money if you’re an animal lover.

If you do what you love for income, it’s not work.

Possible monthly savings: $50-$300

11) Go Generic

An average family that only buys brand names could save more than $100 by switching to generic products. And lower price doesn’t always mean lower quality. In fact, generic brands are able to charge less mostly because they have no marketing costs.

Read the label, save a lot. No coupon cutting required.

Possible monthly savings: $100-$200

12) Try Alternative Transportation

Gas costs the average working professional about $200 a month. If you can—even just a couple days—commute on bike, foot, or public transportation, it can save you gas money and wear on your car. Carpooling is another option and there are now many businesses that allow you to join a carpool no matter where you are coming from or going to.

Save the environment while saving money. Double duty.

Possible monthly savings: $100-$200

Whether you try just one or most of these tactics above, you’ll be that much closer to your savings goal. The great thing about Rule #1 investing is that you can begin investing with small amounts of money—even $500 or $1,000.

If you’re ready to get your finances on track to start investing, click the button below to take my 14-Day Financially Fit Challenge. It is just the extra boost you need to kickstart your finances.

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Phil Town is an investment advisor, hedge fund manager, 3x NY Times Best-Selling Author, ex-Grand Canyon river guide, and former Lieutenant in the US Army Special Forces. He and his wife, Melissa, share a passion for horses, polo, and eventing. Phil’s goal is to help you learn how to invest and achieve financial independence.