You're freaked out about money. Food prices are up, your home's value has depreciated and your job is on the line. While there's not much we can do to reduce the cost of fixed expenses like a mortgage and taxes, there's a great deal of miscellaneous savings staring us right in the face.
Here are some quick cash fixes that can save you at least $100 a week.
Limit Visits to the ATM
ATM transactions, on average, charge about $3 in fees. Take out cash from ATM machines that belong to your bank to limit fees, or ask for cash back (no fee) when you use your debit card at stores like Whole Foods (STOCK QUOTE: WFMI), Staples (STOCK QUOTE: SPLS) and Best Buy (STOCK QUOTE: BBY). Visit the ATM once a week – perhaps every Sunday afternoon before the work week kicks in - take out as much money you'll need for the next seven days and use that cash for your everyday expenses from gas to coffee, lunch and that must-have sweater that's on sale at J.Crew (STOCK QUOTE: GAP). Sticking to that cash with help you better budget and avoid the ATM during the week.
Weekly Savings: At least $3 to $10
Get Rid Of Your Landline
Use your cell phone plan exclusively and save at least $25 a month. If you need to make international calls, encourage your overseas friends and family to join you in signing up for Skype.com, which offers free VOIP (voice-over-internet-protocol) services.
Weekly Savings: At least $8-$15
Buy Generic Grocery Brands
Buying generic pharmaceuticals and filling your grocery cart with store-brand products instead of upscale labels can help save up to 50% on everyday goods. While the quality may not be identical, it's pretty hard to tell the difference between most products. Considering the average two-person household spends $200 a month on groceries, a single person could save a quick $50 just opting for basic brands. Want to cut another $30 to $50 a month? Reduce your eating out habits in half, since families spend more than 40% of their food budget on dining out, according to Consumer Reports.
Weekly Savings: At least $30
Beauty specialists suggest pampering your hand and toe nails about twice a month. That's at least $30 a visit, more if at a fancy spa. Instead by some white nail polish to give your French manicure tips your own touch-up, or go two weeks without a professional manicure – no one will think less of you. There's a much cheaper home remedy solution involving a nail file ($1) and nail polish ($6).
Weekly Savings: At least $15
Get a Library Card
It's free! From books to DVDs and WiFi, the library is a cheapskate's mecca, and makes Blockbuster (STOCK QUOTE: BBI) and Netflix (STOCK QUOTE: NFLX) look like highway robbers.
Weekly Savings: $5
The markup on alcohol at a restaurant or bar is easily 100% more than the retail price at a liquor store. Next Saturday night when you plan on going out, first have a little cocktail party at your house to help limit how much you spend at the bars. And of course, drink responsibly.
Weekly Savings: At least $25
Nix the Gym
A UC Berkeley/Stanford University study found that average gym members visited their fitness clubs just four times a month – or once a week. That's hardly enough times to satisfy a $60 to $100 monthly membership. If you're not using your gym, lose it. Go for a run in the park, instead.
Weekly Savings: At least $15
Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8 p.m.