Centsible Mom: How you can save $2,013 this year

2013-01-13T00:00:00Z Centsible Mom: How you can save $2,013 this year Arizona Daily Star
January 13, 2013 12:00 am

Who doesn't want to have a healthy savings account? Or a savings account, period?

This year, why not make $2,013 in savings a goal in honor of the new year?

There are tons of money- saving ideas out there.

A simple way of looking at it is to just spend $5.52 less each day.

Of course, the catch is to actually save that $5.52 and put it in the savings account.

"Paying yourself first by having it directly taken out of your paycheck is a great way to do that," says senior financial analyst Greg McBride from Bankrate.com.

That way, you're forcing yourself to live on less than you make.

Ways to save $2,013 in 2013

One way is to have $38.71 automatically deposited into a savings account every week. Of course, that's not practical or affordable for everybody, myself included, without making adjustments, such as:

• Making your coffee at home at least four times a week rather than stopping on the way to work can save you about $32 a month for a total of $384 a year (and that's just plain ol' coffee - it's more if you order the fancy stuff). Treat yourself once a week.

• Dining out less frequently. "Eliminating one or two dining-out events per week can easily save you $80 per month. That's nearly $1,000 per year," suggests Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial.

• Cutting your utility bills to add to your savings:

Tucson Electric Power suggests cutting cooling costs by up to 10 percent by turning up (or down, depending on the season) the thermostat 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day. For me that's a savings of at least $100 in the summer.

Energy Star recommends a programmable thermostat for people who are away from home during set periods of time, to save about $180 a year in energy costs.

Install a water-efficient toilet and you'll save more than $90 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Tucson Water offers a rebate program for installing a high-efficiency toilet.

Consumer Reports says you can save up to $75 a year by putting your computer to sleep when not in use.

Plug home electronics into a powerstrip and turn the switch to "off" when not in use. The EPA estimates that 75 percent of electricity used to power home electronics is used when the appliances are turned off. Save more than $200 a year on your energy bill just by doing this.

Total savings from these simple steps: $2,019.

Here are a couple other tips from financial experts:

• Take advantage of rewards programs the banks offer. For example, U.S. Bank's S.T.A.R.T. program focuses on saving a little bit at a time. Consumers can opt to have an amount between a quarter and $5 transferred from checking to savings each time a purchase is made using a debit card.

If you know you use your debit card twice a day, you could have it set up to transfer $2.76 per transaction to your savings account and reach $2,014 in a year.

Kyle Bronson, district office manager of U.S. Bank, said this step "makes people more proactive in their savings. It also makes people think about their spending."

• Bankrate.com's McBride said to refinance your mortgage. This alone can get you more than $2,013. For example, "If you have a $300,000 mortgage, and you cut your interest rate from 5 to 4 percent, you'd save $2,136 in one year," he said.

• McBride said another way to get to $2,013 in one year is to increase your 401(k) contribution to equal $38.71 a week. This is also a good way to pay yourself first and to take advantage of "free" money from your company's contribution-matching policies.

More savings tips:

• Use free texting applications or Google voice to save on your phone bill.

• Re-evaluate your cable plan. You could save $20 a month just by switching from the advanced package to the essential package if you have Cox. That's $240 a year. Or ditch it all together and take up a hobby to save $80 a month. That's a total of $960 a year.

• Save $51 a year by using Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs, Consumer Reports suggests.

• Combine errands to spend less money on gas while driving around. Find the best gas prices using GasBuddy.com

• Are you really using that gym membership? If not, cancel it and save yourself about $400 a year. Or see if you can freeze your membership during months you don't plan to use it and put that money in savings.

• Shop around for more competitive insurance coverage. Total savings will vary depending on individual policies. But, between homeowners, multiple auto policies and life, it adds up pretty quickly. "Each policy is an opportunity for savings," McBride said.

• Turn your clutter into cash by selling it through consignment sales, yard sales, classified ads or Craigslist.

• Taking lunch to work at least one day a week can save you about $400 a year.

These steps can add $1,811 in savings when totalled up.

Find more savings ideas in today's Parade magazine in the Star

Arizona Daily Star reporter Angela Pittenger, our "Centsible Mom," shares tips, ideas and news about how Tucson consumers can find value and stretch their budgets. Send suggestions, ideas or questions to her at apitteng@azstarnet.com or 573-4137.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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