Well, we’re determined to make 2011 way better. The oil spill has stopped and “Losties” are now mostly relegated to discussion boards, but joblessness is still a problem — which means money is too. If recent U.S. budgetary policy has proven anything, it’s that financial sacrifices aren’t really America’s style. So we put together a quick list of ways you can save $300 a month — yes, results may vary and some numbers are estimates — without really trying all that hard.
Fire your cable guy: You don’t watch all 900 cable channels (C-SPAN 3? OWN? The CW?), so you may want to think twice about paying for them now that you have viable options. Hulu Plus and Netflix will both stream to your computer or TV for $8 a month each. That gives you every single episode of more than 90 TV shows (Hulu Plus) and a sizable TV and movie catalog (Netflix) for less than $200 per year. SAVINGS: $60
Download (legal) music on the cheap: Sites like legalsounds.com or iomoio.com are cheaper than iTunes and the files are iPod compatible. Buying two albums a month on iTunes generally adds up $20. On legalsounds, it’s cost you all of $4. And yes, it’s legal. SAVINGS: $16
Rethink your auto insurance: GEICO claims it can save you 15 percent or more. That’s technically true, but it likely won’t happen. However, an immediate way to save up to 20 percent is to drop the collision portion of your insurance. Not a great idea if you, say, drive a Bentley, but that Pontiac Sunfire can do without it. If you have low deductibles, raise them. And ask your insurance provider about perks for paying your premium in full every year. SAVINGS: $35
Know when to buy generic: A study found that buying generic could save you as much as 57 percent on OTC pain relievers, 38 percent on household cleaners, and 60 percent on milk — in other words, on simple staples. There are, however, reasons to go name brand with stuff like garbage bags, paint, deodorant, and cheese. Yes, it’s a weird list, but the point is don’t skimp on relatively complex things you need to work really well. SAVINGS: $10
Brew your own coffee: Let’s say hitting Starbucks every weekday morning costs you about $4. Well, that’s about $90 a month. Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks brand coffee is sold in grocery stores for about $8 per one-pound bag, which should make you about 35 cups … unless you make coffee like rocket fuel. SAVINGS: $85