What You Don’t Have To Give Up To Save Money

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Now’s a good time to start figuring out your finances for the new year—especially with those credit card bills looming over the post-holiday horizon. Here are four things you can switch up for better alternatives, and possibly save up to $2,000 to boot.
 
 

Photo: Scooby Workshop/WikiCommons


A good workout

 
Average chain gym membership: $540 a year

100 lb. weight set with adjustable bench: $100 
40 lb. dumbbell set: $50 
Fitness or yoga mat: $25 

You can still break a sweat without breaking your bank account. Gym memberships are costly, not even counting sign-up fees, transportation costs, locker rental, or towel service. To drive the cost down, bring your workout home—and fight the temptation to purchase bogus workout machines involving pulleys and cables. You should instead invest in some basic dumbbells and weight racks to build a home training facility that tucks neatly under your bed and saves you dough in the long run. A fitness mat will give you a place to work on your flexibility and mobility as well.

 
 

Cable television programs

 

Average cable television package: $660 a year
Average high-speed internet package: $480 a year
Netflix membership: $96 a year

Chances are you’re paying for cable television in addition to an internet connection you already have—now’s the time to cut it out, because what you’re really doing is paying double. After doing that, spend a few more dollars on an even better internet package and you can download most television shows the night after without having to deal with annoying commercials or wasting time watching shows you don’t like. Combine it with a Netflix account that puts a huge library of (legal) films at your disposal, and you can watch whatever you’d like on practically any device you own.

 

Photo: Studio Tdes/Creative Commons

Your morning espresso
 

Three grande lattes a week in New York: $670.80 a year
Three-cup Bialetti stovetop espresso maker: $30 
Milk frothing wand: $23 
Espresso from that hipstery coffee bar: $12 a pound (45 espresso shots), or $144 a year

As with packing your own lunch, making your own liquid breakfast is a great way to pinch pennies. What more, it’s probably even tastier than that charred swill they serve at Starbucks. By purchasing your own stove-top espresso maker and milk frother, you can practice your barista wizardry to make snob-worthy lattes of your own for a fraction of the price. If you’re stumped as to how to pull that off, check out this book to get a head start.
 
 

Photo: Meddy Garnet/Creative Commons


Great food on the table

 
Groceries for an average American family of four, with processed foods: $7,852 a year

The same groceries, whole foods only: $7,242.04 a year
The same groceries, organic foods only: $8637.20 a year

Saving money on food not only comes down to cutting out luxury food purchases, but also cutting out those cheap, unhealthy prepared foods that don’t do you any favours. Organic-only groceries can cost between 10 to 30 per cent more than groceries that include a mix of processed and whole foods. However, by substituting processed foods for ingredients for homemade food, the average American family of four can stand to save up to $600 a year. Sure, you might have to roll up your sleeves to prepare certain things yourself to make up for the convenience you lose by ditching processed foods, but you’ll also get to eat more healthily (and that’s what we call an investment). 

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