Do these cold, short days have you dreaming about summer vacation?
While you read travel site reviews, compare car rentals and shop for airline tickets, start a dedicated savings account now so you can prepay part or all of your vacation costs.
Following are 15 easy ways to save $1,000 in the next four months.
1. Cancel your gym membership
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The average gym membership cost was $41 a month in 2014, according to the Christian Science Monitor. And that’s not counting the initiation fee. Cut that cost and — for the price of a pair of sneakers — go outdoors and walk or run. In fourth months, you’ll have saved more than $150.
For more easy-on-the-budget fitness ideas, check out “Simple Ways to Burn Calories Without the Gym,” which include such common-sense things as parking far from the entrance at the mall and walking while you’re conducting business calls. Also, note that there are more and more free fitness apps to help you stay motivated and on track.
2. Sell your old smartphone
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Alternatively, sell your phone (and other technology) on Craigslist or eBay. So, just to give you an idea, a scan of Craigslist in my area turned up a wide range of prices depending on model and condition — from just $25 for an unlocked iPhone 4, to $425 for an iPhone 6 Plus. Even nonworking phones and phones with cracked screens are listed.
Be sure that before you sell, you erase all personal data from your device. Lifehacker tells how to securely wipe various types of phones.
3. Get a cheaper cell plan
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We get it. Changing cellphone plans is tricky and something many of us avoid because providers make pricing so complicated. As Consumer Reports says:
They continually shift prices up or down on their cell-phone plans according to the number of phone lines you need and the amount of data you’re purchasing. They further complicate matters with “special” short-term offers to lure customers from rivals.
But you haven’t done so in a while, you can almost certainly save money. First, check service maps on companies’ websites to be sure you’ll get the reception you want. Then check out the CR report, which has “service-cost breakdowns for one to five family members for light, medium, and heavy data service.”
Also, consider switching to one of the lesser-known discount services, which you can discover in: “Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know About.”
4. Trim your cellphone data use
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Downscale your data service for more savings. You may find that dropping just one tier from your current plan will save $15 a month, or $60 total in four months.
5. Be a mystery shopper
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At the Penny Hoarder, Kyle Taylor tells how to be a mystery shopper. He describes his experience:
I’m usually paid $8 to $25 per mystery shop, plus reimbursement for my purchases. There have been months where I earned more than $5,000, but most months I earn an extra $400 to $500 a month for mystery shopping.
Making $400 a month would net you a nice $1,600 in four months. If mystery shopping is not your thing, consider these odd and unusual ways to make extra money.
6. Raise your insurance deductibles
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If you agree to pay more out of pocket when making an insurance claim, you can save a lot on your premiums.
For example, raising your car insurance deductible to $1,000 can save you 40 percent or more on comprehensive and collision premiums, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
You can apply the same concept to your homeowners policy, increasing your savings.
7. Save your pocket change
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You probably watched your parents do it. Now you should do it: Empty your pockets or purse every day. If you hold on to just $12 a month, you’ll have nearly $50 after four months.
8. Get a smaller cable TV package
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If you are paying for TV programming through cable or satellite, you know that monthly bill can really hurt. That’s why as Broadcasting & Cable reports, the pay-TV population is shrinking, while video on demand services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are gaining traction. So, if you wanted to cancel your cable without losing access to lots of programming, that has become a real option. Here’s a detailed look at how a MoneyTalksNews writer did it, and how much it saved him.
If you’re not ready to take that step, you can likely scale back: Cable companies are offering smaller packages that can save you money and will likely help find you some savings to keep you as a customer. Over the span of four months, paying for a smaller bundle of programs could add up to hundreds in savings.
9. Open a bank account
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Banks want your business, and many offer cash incentives for opening an account. Money Crashers sorts through recent signup bonuses being offered by an array of banks, including some of more than $400.
Read the fine print to make sure what hoops you need to jump through to claim your reward.
10. Quit buying bottled water
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How costly is bottled water compared to tap? According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:
In California, average tap water costs about $1.60 per thousand gallons (about one-tenth of a cent per gallon), while it has been reported that average bottled water costs about $0.90 per gallon — a 560-fold difference.
11. Drink tap water at restaurants
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For the four months of your savings program, order tap water in restaurants instead of other drinks. If you typically spend $20 a month in restaurant beverages, you’ll save $80 in four months. If you’re inclined to drink alcohol in restaurants, the savings will be substantially greater.
12. Automate your savings
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One of the marvels of online banking is your ability to set up and change automatic savings deposits on the fly. Establish a small transfer from your checking to savings — $50 a month, for example. Break it down by smaller weekly amounts if it’s easier.
Here’s a promise: You won’t notice the money is gone.
13. Get a part-time job
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Take a part-time gig to scrape up some savings. If you net $10 an hour for 20 hours a month, you’ll have $800 saved — before taxes, of course — when your four months are up.
If you want something more flexible, check out “20 Clever Ways to Make Extra Money” for more ideas.
14. Sell clothes on consignment
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Give your closets an early spring cleaning, and take any clothes in good shape to a consignment store. You probably won’t make a fortune, but $15 to $20 a month isn’t out of the question.
15. Hold a yard sale
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Make more room for yourself and some extra cash decluttering. No need to make it a big project. Just ask yourself as you move around your home, “Can I get rid of this?” Put several boxes in an easily accessible spot, and toss in whatever you find for a sale.
Here’s our post about how to hold a super sale. Let’s say you net $250. That puts you a fourth of the way to your $1,000 goal!
What are your favorite ways to save money for a special goal? Tell us by posting a comment below or on Money Talks News’ Facebook page.
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