How much can cutting coffee, dinners out and cigarettes save?
But if you're like me, forgoing that morning cup of Joe sounds more grim than getting a tooth pulled, and remembering to make a batch at home every day is a lost cause.
But what about cutting back on dinners out? Trimming your own bangs? Or shaving a few dollars off the grocery bill per week? A simple tool called My Savings Machine from Bills.com helps people estimate how much can be saved by shedding a few minor expenses over the long haul.
It's a fast calculation. Just select the categories you want to consider (up to four at a time, from varied areas such as cigarettes, snacks, beauty and car washes), the expected interest rate if you invested what you saved, and a time period (shortest span is one year). Then prepare to cringe.
I selected $15 worth of eating out (once a week), invested at 1% rate of return (the default is 4%, but let's be realistic here), over a period of a year. My savings: $780. Expand that out to two years, and the savings double to $1,560.
That's enough to give anybody pause. Now combine that with another category -- say, $20 sloughed off the grocery bill per week by watching out for sales or buying store brands. Individual savings over two years at the same 1% return: $2, 080. Combined with money banked from one less restaurant meal a week: $3,640.
Not too shabby.
-- Shan Li
Photo: You might be surprised how much those little savings here and there could add up over time. Credit: Brent Lewin / Bloomberg