Have I told you my New Year resolution for 2017? I want to try to save $5,000 extra this year.
The catch? I’m making way less than I was making last year. Around $20,000 less. Yikes. Having left my job in August to pursue some creative projects for the year, I’m now living in the “month-to-month sort of freelance, but also just kind of freefalling” world.
However, there are a few different aspects of my daily life that I know I can trim to help myself continue to save in spite of my smaller paycheck. Here are the five ways that I (and you!) can save $5,000 by the end of 2017.
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1. Run Outside
Okay, this one might be a brutal adjustment in January, since I live in Boston, but still … My current gym membership is around $150 a month (I used ClassPass all last year), and I know that it’s a luxury that I shouldn’t be paying for. My plan is to run outside and do abs on my living room floor while watching re-runs of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
If that doesn’t work out, I’m going to look around at various studios and see if I can get a desk job for one or two shifts a week at a studio that I can work out in.
That way I can get a free workout pass and also bring in a little extra money on the weekends.
Savings: $150 per month, $1,800 per year
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2. Give Up the Caffeine Fix
Anyone who reads my articles knows that this is my biggest hang-up. I’ve already dropped the fancy caffeine fixes, but this year I’m going cold turkey. No coffee purchases outside of my apartment whatsoever – unless it’s some sort of emergency, like I just ran into Ben Affleck and he forgot his wallet and wants to get coffee or something.
Savings: $50 per month, $600 per year
3. Drop the Cable Bill
This is something I actually should have done a long time ago. Neither my roommate nor I ever use our television, except for the occasional Patriots game that I watch for 20 minutes and then shut off.
After discussing it, we’ve decided to drop the cable bill and just share a Netflix account. I’ll miss HBO Go, but hey – that’s what Game of Thrones watch parties are for, right? Since we split the cable bill, the savings won’t be as large as they would be if I were paying on my own, but they still amount to a pretty sizeable chunk going straight into my savings.
Savings: $30 per month, $360 per year
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4. Limit Out-of-House Meals
I refuse to ever stop eating out entirely – I love food way too much, and there are way too many delicious restaurants where I live.
However, I know that I eat out too often, so I’m limiting myself to three meals a week. These can be spent in whatever way I want, whether it’s three dinners or two breakfasts and one lunch. Now that I’m freelancing full-time, I want to allow myself the opportunity to meet friends outside of my apartment, since I’m no longer getting my social fix just by going to work.
For those that work in offices full time, I feel the pain of wanting to go out and get lunch with coworkers just to get a break from your office. So letting yourself get lunch three times a week is a totally painless way to monitor your excess spending and still not feel like you’re deprived.
Savings: $100 per month, $1,200 per year
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5. Rethink Your Night Out
Even if you only like to go out (and by out I mean go drink somewhere) with your friends once a month, those nights can be brutal on your credit card. I know that most no-frill drinks in Boston cost around $8, and if you’re out for four or five hours, you can easily spend over $60 dollars a night – and that doesn’t even factor in those “I’m a little drunk and want to feel generous” moments when you offer to buy a round for all your friends.
It can be tricky to monitor alcohol expenses, which is why I’m only going to bring cash with me when I go out this year. You could also put your night out money on a prepaid card.
I think I’ll take two twenties out with me – I’m fine with spending forty dollars for a night out, and that’s enough for me to have a few drinks without going over-the-top.
What’s more, this will encourage a more thoughtful pregame – and everyone knows that the pregame is the most fun part in the first place.
Savings: $150 per month, $1,800 per year
Adding It All Up
Now my savings projection stands at $5,760, which is good because I do not plan to do this perfectly. I’m sure that I will break the rules several times, so I want to give myself a little bit of cushion for the fall!