1. Stop getting take out coffee at Starbucks or Dunks and Bring your Lunch to Work
Let me start by saying, I love my daily Venti Iced Cold Brew from Starbucks. I know many of you do too. Have you ever added up how much you spend a year going out for coffee and lunch? I was someone who didn’t when I started my career. However, I got serious about becoming financially independent and found this was an easy way to put more money in my pocket.
My Venti Iced Cold Brew at Starbucks costs about $4. I get it about 4-5 times a week so I’m spending – $4×5(52 weeks) = $1040 / year
When I’m there I sometimes get a breakfast sandwich that usually runs $5. I probably do that on average 2 a week. So that’s $5×2(52) = $520 / year
Another place I love to go for lunch when I’m out at work is Chipotle. If I’m honest, I probably do this 4 times a week. My chicken bowl with guac usually runs $9.50.
$9.50×4(52 weeks) = $1976 / year
I’m no math whiz but that’s simple addition tells me that’s $3536 per year.
My guess is that many of you do the same, based on how much revenue these chains are generating.
Listen, I’m not going to tell you to stop all of it because I know that’s not realistic and it wouldn’t be genuine for me to say because I’m guilty too. What if you could halve those expenses in your life? That’s an extra $1768 in your pocket to invest or use towards a loan.
The simple way to cut these expenses is to make your coffee and pack your lunch as much as possible. Or don’t.
- Shop for the best rates when you’re looking for loans and insurance
The biggest mistake a first time car or home buyer can make is to not shop around for the best interest rates on their loans. Borrowing money is still very cheap in the US but it won’t be forever. Make sure you interview at least three loan officers or insurance agent and see who you vibe best with. If you’re purchasing a house or buying insurance, these will hopefully be long term relationships. So pick carefully.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. That’s another mistake people can make. It can be intimidating to go into a bank and negotiate on someone else’s home court. The truth of the matter is that they’re trying to sell as many policies and loans as possible. They want your business as much as you want a loan. If you think they can do better, ask. This could mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars (no joke) over your lifetime.
Think of it this way, a 1% difference for a 30 year $100k mortgage could cost or save you ~$30k.
- Research and find great credit card rewards programs
How many of you have and use credit cards? Me too. Since you’re using them, why not get the most for your money. Define what type of reward best suits your life – travel miles, hotel points, cash back, money towards retirement account, etc.
There are endless online resources you can use that compare all of these credit cards. A good one to start with is creditkarma.com After you sign up and get your credit score, they make credit card recommendations based on your credit score and income history (that’s how they monetize). Again, remember that they are trying to sell their products to you so make sure you’re asking plenty of questions and get what you want.
My favorite rewards are travel miles and cash back. I accumulate travel miles and earn cash back by charging my bills and business expenses instead of using my debit card. The key is to stay disciplined with your credit cards (i know it’s hard) and make it work for you.
- Buy or Lease a Car with low cost of ownership and negotiate a great deal
Most people know that an automobile purchase is a big money pit. We live in a country that requires us to drive to get anywhere. So how can we be smart and try to reduce the financial hit we take over our adult lives?
When purchasing a car, research the total cost of ownership and compare it to other cars in its class. Total cost of ownership is determined by looking at: predicted reliability and potential cost of repairs, purchase price, gas mileage.
Unfortunately, most of the cars with low cost of ownership are boring and probably won’t get your heart pumping but could be a big money saver for you.
If you’re like me and don’t want to buy a Toyota Corolla, get the car you want, certified pre-owned, with 20-30k miles. Generally speaking, most of the depreciation on cars happens between 0-30k miles. You’ll save money you’d be paying on depreciation and get a better warranty. Many manufacturers offer 50k mile warranties on certified pre owned models.
The other option is to lease a car, especially if you’re driving less than 15k miles per year. This is a great option if you get the itch to get a new car every 2-3 years. Some of you will say, “but you’ll always have a car payment.” Yes, that is true, but you’re not paying interest on a car loan and spending less money on most major services and repairs like brakes, tires, etc.
Also, before you walk into any dealership, do your research! No excuse not to with all the information we have at our fingertips. Kelly Blue Book is the go-to resource for most.
- Cut the chord
Here’s an easy one that a lot of millennials are already doing. Get rid of your cable bill, pay for a great internet connection and use streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix. You’ll save half the money you would normally spend on a monthly bill from Comcast or Time Warner.
The Comcast triple play with premium channels will run you about $200 per month while you can get a fast internet connection for $50-60 per month and use streaming services that cost $13 per month. If you’re already a Amazon prime member, you’ll get their video services included with great content and have the option to pay for new movies.
Let’s say you use 2 different streaming services and internet – ($13×2) + $60(12 months) = $1032 / year
Versus Comcast Triple Play $200 x 12 months = $2400 / year
Overall savings of $1368 / year.
That’s a decent amount of dough to cut the chord and stop going out for your lunch/coffee. You can use that money towards your next investment or emergency savings fund.
This information is not ground breaking but it helps to put these numbers on paper to see the true impact. That’s the thing about math, it’s true whether you like the result or not…