9 Easy Ways to Save $50 Every Month

by Damian Davila on 19 June 2014 2 comments

What would you do with an extra $50 this month?

That extra Grant could go towards bumping up a credit card payment or contributing to next month's electricity bill. Or maybe a nice night out with your partner. The list of possibilities is endless. (See also: 25 Ways to Save $5 This Week)

Stop daydreaming and make that extra $50 a reality this month with these 9 tips.

1. Harry's or Dollar Shave Club

Shaving is a necessity for most men. As blades evolve and newer, better shaving technologies appear, the prices of shaving blade refills have skyrocketed. Unless you plan ahead you are very likely to end up paying around $20 for a 4-pack of blades at most retailers. That's a crazy $5 per blade!

Fortunately, two new players have emerged in the shaving industry: Harry's and Dollar Shave Club. Taking a cue from Amazon.com and Columbia House (remember that CD mail club?), New York-based Harry's offers shaving plans that deliver blades straight to your doorstep at $1.88 per blade. The Columbia House component comes in that you can select what type of blades get delivered. You save both money and time, which means no more paying crazy amounts for a pack of blades.

If you want to pay even less than $1.88 per blade and are fine with less than 5-blade razors, then Dollar Shave Club is also a good choice. Both companies also offer additional shaving toiletries that can be delivered over mail.

2. Ceiling Fan

Before you crank up that AC this summer, consider this:

  • A central air conditioner unit uses about 3,500 watts per hour.
  • The typical window AC unit uses between 600 to 900 watts per hour.

This is why during the summer months, energy bills can skyrocket up to 50% more. The best tool to put a big dent on your electricity bill is to install ceiling fans, which even on the highest setting need only 75 watts per hour.

Several retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe's, carry ceiling fans that are Energy Star rated. Look for the Energy Star label and follow these installation and usage tips to maximize your energy savings. (Remember: Counterclockwise in summer and clockwise in winter!)

3. Programmable Thermostat

If you cannot live without your central AC unit, then don't fall for the myth that running your central AC all day uses less energy. If you are away from home for long periods of time or have a bad memory, you need a programmable thermostat.

Through the proper use of its preprogrammed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you close to $200 every year in energy costs. Programmable thermostats start at $60 at home improvement stores and are a quick job to install.

Don't forget about your window AC unit. If your unit doesn't come already with programmable features, you can buy a plug-in timer for about $5 and program its on and off times.

4. Coffee Maker

Your coffee habit is killing your wallet.

Depending on where you buy your cuppa, you can expect to pay $1.40 to $1.80 for a medium sized jolt (12 ounces, or a Starbucks "Tall"). And that's just for regular old brewed. That's $7 to $9 a week, $28-$36 a month, not counting weekends.

Starbucks says a pound of coffee yields 320 ounces, or about 25, 12 ounce cups. Starbucks' "Kenya" coffee beans go for $13.95 a pound, which works out to 56 cents a cup, or $11.20 for four week's worth, and a savings of $14.80 to $24.80 a month — more if you purchase cheaper beans.

The answer is clear. Buy a cheap coffee maker, a reusable travel mug, and a pound of coffee. After the initial outlay, you'll be in the black in no time.

5. Cash Back and Rewards Programs

Nowadays, many credit card companies offer cash back programs that give you up to 2% back on qualifying purchases. (See also: 5 Best Cash Back Credit Cards)

Additionally, many cards offer additional "points" or rewards for spending in particular categories. Maximize the amount you get back by choosing the best cards for your lifestyle.

Your favorite stores might have similar rewards programs, too. For example, by joining the Safeway Reward Points program, you can gain points to save up to $1 per gallon of gas at participating gas stations. This program is a major perk for places that have high gas prices, such as California, New York, and Hawaii.

6. Reusable Water Bottle

Those plastic bottle waters are not only harmful to the planet, but also to your wallet. If you buy a $6 case of bottled water a week, then you are spending $312 a year. This amount doesn't include applicable redemption fees and taxes. If you have a large family your water bottle expense ends up being much more.

Instead invest a good reusable water bottle and fill up on water at home and at the office's water cooler. You'll keep extra money in the bank and socialize more often at work.

7. Energy Star-Rated Refrigerator

When my wife and I first bought our apartment, we didn't have enough to upgrade the old refrigerator from the previous owner. This was a refrigerator from the early 1980s. We didn't think it would be a big deal and started saving for our kitchen renovation for several months.

With the renovation, we opted for an Energy Star-rated refrigerator. The change in our electricity bill was dramatic: between $40 to $50 per month! If you own a very old refrigerator, the investment in an Energy Star-rated one pays for itself in a few months. For us it was even faster than expected because of the $125 rebate for trading our old refrigerator for a new Energy Star one in the State of Hawaii.

Remember to search online for rebates for switching to Energy Star appliances in your state and learn what are the requirements.

8. Discounted Gym Plan Memberships and Fitness Reimbursement Programs

For a one time fee of $100, Kaiser Permanente's Active & Fit fitness facility program provides members unlimited access to several participating fitness facilities as long as they maintain their health care coverage with Kaiser Permanente.

For example, a 24 Hour Fitness monthly membership for a single location costs about $39.99 before taxes, more if you want to access additional locations. With Active & Fit, you can access all24 Hour Fitness locations for $100 per year.

Other health insurance carriers, such as Capital Health, Optum, United Healthcare or Harvard Pilgrim, offer fitness reimbursement programs. The reimbursements are usually up to $150 per year and require you to hold your gym membership for a minimum of a few consecutive months.

9. Warehouse Memberships

If you are hesitant to pay for a warehouse membership, think again. You can make back that fee in no time and continue to save throughout the whole year. (See also: 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know You Could Buy at Costco)

At Costco you can buy almost anything from tires to funeral supplies. Additionally, you can also save on a common budget buster: dining and entertainment. Get dining gift cards like $100 worth of Buca di Beppo gift cards for $74.99 or discounted movie tickets.

Think of your warehouse membership as the key to access a world of high end and everyday items at much lower prices.

What are your favorite ways to save? Please share in comments!

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Mayra Garcia

Keeping a written monthly budget has helped me. I downloaded the one I found best for my household, and I am sticking to it since January. Everything is written down, categorized and analized at the end of the month. Eating out and grocery shopping have come down a good bit. A work in progess.

Damian Davila's picture

Hi Mayra, yes a written monthly budget is a great idea to save. Here is a list that I put together about 24 commonly overlooked items when making a budget at http://www.bills.com/bills-blog/1058/dont-overlook-24-items-making-budget/