7 Ways To Save $500 A Month (And Improve Your Health)

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I bet you wouldn’t argue with having a little extra room in your monthly budget, especially if it was $500. This would allow you to save more or even pay off debt more quickly.

While it may seem impossible to cut enough out of your budget to save $500 or more, it is really not that difficult. There are a number of little things that you can do to make this happen. Remember, a whole lot of little savings added together can result in one big lump sum at the end of every month. Here are some ways to save more:

Stop eating out and save

For the first time in American history, the average person spent more money at bars and restaurants ($54,857 billion) than they did on groceries ($52,503 billion) between 2015 and 2016. What does this tell us?

First of all, it tells us that Americans like to dine out. Secondly, they don’t value cooking like they once did. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spent $3,008 on restaurant meals in 2014. The Boston Consulting Group reports that the largest generation in American history eats out three to four times a week, compared with 2.8 times a week for non-millennials. Reports tell us that as income increases, more money is spent on eating out — not on groceries.

Growing up in the 70s, my family only ate out on very special occasions, say a birthday or graduation. In fact, it was a very big deal to even order in a pizza. Clearly, this has changed. Eating out is no longer a special treat — it’s not the norm. Is it the norm for you?

Rather than compare yourself to other people, it is important to analyze just how much you do spend on eating out. Clearly, brown bagging it and skipping a few nights out each week and eating at home can result in tremendous savings. Sure, you may have to work a little to prepare your meals. However, getting back to cooking is a nutritious choice that will pay off for your health and your pocketbook.

Estimated monthly savings: The average person can save $100 or more a month by simply cooking a few more meals at home.

Quit the gym and save

Quitting the gym and heading outdoors can help you save each month.
Quitting the gym and heading outdoors can help you save each month.

Yes, I am a huge advocate for a healthy lifestyle, but at what cost? If you are paying through the nose for a fancy gym membership, it may be an unnecessary expense. Before gyms were trendy, there seemed to be lots of options to keep fit and trim. These options actually still exist and include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • At home workout videos

You can even access a plethora of online exercise classes for free. My favorite is Fitness Blender. A perfect companion for a healthy lifestyle and, the best part is, it is 100 percent free. All you need is a computer and Internet service.

Estimated monthly savings: The average monthly gym membership costs $58. If you ditch your membership, these savings will add up.

Drive less and save

Let’s face it, we live in a driving-focused society. Cars are everywhere! According to Experian, the average American family owns 2.28 cars. How often do you think about walking, riding a bike or taking public transport to get to your destination? Owning a car is expensive, gas is pricey and repairs can throw you into a financial crisis without warning.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reports that the average person in 16 of the 20 largest U.S. cities could save over $10,000 a year by just using public transit. This is huge!

Of course, you can also save by walking more, commuting to work by bicycle and sharing a ride with friends. All of these are environmentally friendly options as well.

Estimated monthly savings: Because not everyone lives in a big city, the monthly savings for driving less is hard to compute. For argument sake, I am going to say that driving less could result in a $200 monthly decrease in expenditures. Of course, for many people it could be quite more.

Stop buying beauty, hygiene and cleaning products

You can save money by making your own cleaning products.
You can save money by making your own cleaning products.

Making your own personal care and cleaning products can save you money. Plus, it is a great way to reduce toxins in your body and home. Take a look in your laundry room, under your kitchen sink and in your bathroom. If your cupboards are flooded with commercial products, it is time to consider making your own. Here are just a few things you can make:

  • Deodorant: this recipe is a natural way to save money and protect your health.
  • Toothpaste: this can actually be as simple as a little coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint essential oil.
  • Shampoo: the simplest shampoo ever is made using water and baking soda. It doesn’t get much easier than this.
  • Laundry detergent: making your own laundry detergent can save you a ton of money, especially if you have a house full of kids.
  • All-natural cleaner: don’t be fooled by fancy bottles and alluring advertisements. You can make your own all-purpose cleaners at home for a fraction of the cost of commercial products.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as products that you can make on your own. A quick search on the Internet will reveal many more ways you can safeguard your health and save money at the same time.

Estimated monthly savings: At bare minimum, you will save $25 a month by making some of your own products.

Stop paying for entertainment

Going to the movies, theater, concerts, out to clubs and other forms of entertainment can really add up. The good news is, there are many fun things that can be done that won’t break your pocketbook.

  • Have a movie night at home
  • Create a book club
  • Organize a clothes swap
  • Go for a hike
  • Play lawn games
  • Create a garden club
  • Host a game night
  • Start a dinner club

Estimated monthly savings: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends $2,827 a year on entertainment. This adds up to a whopping $235 a month. Get creative on entertainment and enjoy those savings!

More ways to save

A yard sale can help you save money.
A yard sale can help you save money.

Here are even more ways to save monthly. Remember, they add up quickly and you will never miss them.

  • Have a spa day at home
  • Color your own hair or have a hair date with a friend
  • Make homemade gifts instead of buying them
  • Cancel your satellite or cable television
  • Wash your own car
  • Shop at thrift stores
  • Have a yard sale
  • Sell things you don’t need on eBay
  • Comparative shop
  • Negotiate new rates on credit cards
  • Buy in bulk
  • Turn off your lights
  • Make sure your home is well insulated
  • Downsize
  • Cut your yard service and do it yourself

Making a few small changes to your life can result in tremendous savings. What are you waiting for? Get started today! After all, Benjamin Franklin said it best: “If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.” 

— Susan Patterson

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