How to Save $3500 in 2012

Whether you want to save money for a vacation, pay off debt or just stop living paycheck to paycheck, you’re going to need to readjust your spending habits. It doesn’t have to mean reducing your daily menu to rice and beans or giving up all the things you love. You can make a few small changes that will make a big impact on your budget, without cutting anything from your life.

Here are 10 simple ways to save up to $3,500 this year:

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  • Cut the cable: $720 1 of 10
    Cut the cable: $720
    I've said it before, and I'll say it over & over. Cutting the cable was one of our best financial decisions. The $60 per month bill is out of our lives, but we still watch sports through our HD antennae, and our favorite television shows can be viewed on Hulu or the station's own website for free. With an Internet connection, that means all the television you want, none of the cable bills! Even if you pay for a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon, the money saved is unbelievable.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Switch to CFL: $90 2 of 10
    Switch to CFL: $90
    CFL bulbs are a simple way to reduce electric bills. Each light bulb you replace will save $6 per year. Change every light bulb in the house for maximum savings! With an average count of 15-30 lightbulbs in a house, the savings will really add up.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Brew your own coffee: $780 3 of 10
    Brew your own coffee: $780
    At nearly $4 per day, a daily Starbucks habit can get pretty expensive. Make your coffee at home — with the flavored coffees and creamers available now, its easy to make great-tasting drinks without the high cost. My best friend swears vanilla caramel creamer in her home brew tastes just like a Carmel Macchiato.
    If coffee isn't your vice, think about other daily habits that are costing you money. Cutting out my soda habit saved us more than $400 last year.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Research insurance rates: $300 4 of 10
    Research insurance rates: $300
    After watching my friend Casey struggle without health insurance and her low-cost solution, we reevaluated our own situation and discovered that insuring ourselves would save $300 per month over the insurance we've had with the hubby's company.
    Shopping around for car insurance several years ago netted us a $300 per year savings. We still research those rates each year before renewal, just in case. Compare health insurance rates, car insurance, and home insurance. Then watch the savings add up!
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Download free phone apps: $50 5 of 10
    Download free phone apps: $50
    If you're in the habit of downloading apps regularly, be on the lookout for free options instead. We found ourselves downloading an app a week. Even at $.99, that little expense can really add up. If you're an app hoarder, finding a free alternative once a week to that $.99 or $1.99 expense could save you $50 or more in a year. Check out Free App a Day for great free options. The site also provides updates on promotional offers for premium apps. Watch closely, and you may find the paid app you covet for free.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Stop buying books: $150 6 of 10
    Stop buying books: $150
    I love books. I love reading books. I love owning books. I love the way they look in our home. Now, instead of hitting the bookstore on a regular basis, I wish for my favorites for Christmas and birthdays, while continuing to read daily. The library is a great resource for more than just books. I know it's hard to resist purchasing sometimes, especially when it comes to a new release. Check with Half Price Books, thrift stores, eBay and friends for less costly options. Our library even has a new release hold program — you can put your name on a list for your favorite authors to be on the waiting list for new releases automatically. If I can keep myself from buying just one less book per month, that's over $150 I can save this year.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Dine out less: $600 7 of 10
    Dine out less: $600
    We don't dine out very often, but that was a conscious decision we had to make years ago to make room in our budget for more important things. Simple meal planning keeps us from choosing a restaurant or drive-thru as a last minute option. Searching Pinterest & Foodily for copycat recipes keeps me from overspending for cravings. Even if you just cut out one meal per month, you can save up to $600 this year.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Pack a lunch: $260 8 of 10
    Pack a lunch: $260
    When the hubby first started working full time, his weekly lunch bill was a huge shock. He started packing a lunch each day, saving restaurant meals for special occasions. Packing a lunch just once per week will save nearly $300 this year. Commit to packing every day for even greater savings or consider starting a lunch co-op to get coworkers involved and cut costs.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Recharge your batteries: $240 9 of 10
    Recharge your batteries: $240
    Between remotes, cameras, video games, and kids' toys, we go through dozens of batteries each month. We'll go through 2 or more packs of batteries each month. With battery prices upwards of $5, the initial cost of rechargeable batteries was a great investment. It pays for itself in the first few months.
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  • Lower your grocery budget: $313 10 of 10
    Lower your grocery budget: $313
    Most grocery stores will give you a $.05 credit for each reusable bag you bring. That could save $10-15 per year, but add coupon savings into the mix and you can actually cut your grocery bill in half. Eventually. For now, focus on trimming $25 or $30 per month. Start small, with these 10 tips for beginner couponing, then progress to more extreme couponing to increase your savings.
    Photo Credit: Flickr

What would you do with an extra $3500 this year?

 

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