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3 Great Budget-Saving Hacks

Small savings add up but, at the same time, we don't want to sacrifice our quality of life on a daily basis. Keeping in mind these types of small savings could make a dramatic difference in your lifestyle when you retire, these are painless hacks to help your budget.

1.      Ditch the Gym Membership

We all want to be healthy and going to the gym can be a great way to further your fitness goals. The problem isn't the gym, it's the gym membership. Estimates are that, at any given time, there are more people with gym memberships who never go to the gym than there are active members.

Even if you do actively attend your gym, you are probably still out of pocket for so-called "initiation fees" as well as your membership fees. The large percentage of non-active gym memberships proves that committing to a long-term membership doesn't equate to incentive to make it to the gym. This means you are better off finding ways to keep fit without paying unnecessary fees. Fortunately, flexible gym memberships are now available. Pay as you go gym memberships allow the flexibility to only pay for the gym when you use it. This can not only save a significant amount of money each month, it gives you the option to try new gym locations to add variety to your workout. Even having the option of going to a gym near work on weekdays and a different gym near your home on weekends could add a significant boost to your fitness regime.

2.      Brown Bag It

For many workers, eating lunch out each day is not only a habit, it's a part of the company culture. This can make it more difficult to begin bringing your lunch to work on a regular basis. The extra effort, however, is well worth it. Even if you brought your lunch three days per week, your savings by the end of the year could be dramatic. For example, if your purchased lunch cost $8 more per day than your food from home, you could reduce your expenses by $1,200 per year. Think of how those savings could go toward your retirement or purchasing a home.

If your co-workers eat out, it can be more difficult to begin bringing your lunch. To ease the transition, try to get a few co-workers to join you. Making plans to eat your brown bag lunches together will make the experience more fun and increase the odds of you continuing the practice. If there is a place to sit and eat together, even workers with takeout food could join in. Trying spicing things up by planning group potlucks or taking turns providing dishes to share. You'll have a chance to try new foods while you continue to save money.

3.      Beverages

We all get thirsty and stopping for a beverage can be a fun way to socialize or take a brief break from the office. The problem is the hand-created coffees or drinks after work can keep your from meeting your financial goals. That daily latte could easily be costing you over $1,500 per year. If you also tend to add on a pricey muffin, the total could be much considerably higher.

Look at more economical ways to get your caffeine fix. Compare the price of a coffee machine or pod system to what you are currently paying for your daily coffee. Perhaps your workplace can provide a machine or you and your co-workers can buy one together. Think about limiting the takeout coffee purchase to one a week or special occasions. Brew your own tea and invest in tea kettle or high-quality coffee beans. You may find that you can make your perfect beverage with less cost or fuss. If seeking coffee is simply a way to take a much-needed break from work, trying taking a walk around the block instead, perhaps armed with a healthy bottle of water.

For drinks after work, try to steer your friends or co-workers to places offering happy hour prices or other pricing specials. Rather than racking up large bar bills, perhaps stick with one alcoholic drink and then switch to water. There may even be significant cost savings from switching drinks. The beer on tap might cost considerable less than the microbrewery beer you've been drinking. Saving a few dollars each time could add up to a much richer financial future for you.

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