You know what’s better than a glowing tan at the end of the summer? A glowing savings account. Enter my summer savings strategies. Below you’ll find a variety of ways to save up to (and over) $1,000 by October. Let’s get started:
Control your cruising. Have your money go the extra mile this summer by driving sensibly. What does this mean? Staying calm, cool and collected on the road, because aggressive driving (think: speeding, rapid acceleration and excessive braking) can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent around town, according to fueleconomy.gov. On average, you’ll buy around 145 gallons this summer. And if you drive sensibly, you can save around $0.71 a gallon. Summer savings: $103.00
Bike, carpool or take public transit. Save even more money on transportation by biking, carpooling or taking public transportation to work. You can save roughly $7 a day by doing any one of the above if you have a 15-mile round-trip commute. According to the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau, over 8 percent of you have commutes of 60 minutes or longer, and nearly 600,000 of you (who work full-time) have "mega commutes" of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles. This How Much Can I Save Biking to Work? Tool analyzes your potential savings. Summer savings: Up to $168 or more (by biking, carpooling or using public transportation twice a week)
Bag extra savings. Check your local grocery stores for gas rewards programs, like the one I love at Stop & Shop. For example, when you sign up for this particular loyalty card (which accepts Peapod purchases too), you’ll earn one point for every dollar you spend — and for every 100 points you earn, you’ll save $0.10/gallon at the pump. According to the USDA, the average four-member family (on a moderate-cost budget) spends $239 a week meaning your card could save you $0.20/gallon at the pump. Summer savings: Up to $29 or more
Call off cable (if you can). I know “Real Housewives” addicts are cringing everywhere, but there’s no need to spend up to $65/month (the FCC’s most recent average) on basic cable anymore when there’s multiple streaming services — like Hulu and Netflix — on the market. Consider bringing back the antenna. Yes, believe it or not, you can get good — even HD — quality programming with an antenna, which you can get for $20. Of course, it’s network only, but if that’s what you watch (fellow Bachelor fans I’m looking at you), this is an easy fix. Before you buy, use a site like antennaweb.org to estimate what channels and level of reception you’re likely to receive.
Use this summer as a test to see if you can live without cable. If you’re staring longingly at your cable box come fall, sign back up. And for news junkies (like me) for whom cutting cable completely won't fly — try scaling back from additions like HD, DVR, and On-Demand, instead. Take Time Warner, for example. Its cable with DVR package costs an average $65 a month, whereas its standard package (sans DVR) is just $40 a month (summer savings: $75). Or, the Starter package, which is just 20 channels, is $20 a month (summer savings: $135). Summer Savings: around $195 (for calling off cable completely)
Suspend cell accounts. If your kids are away at camp this summer (or for another reason someone in your family isn't using their line for up to three months) suspend their cell phone accounts. With a Verizon plan that shares data and minutes, for example, you can save $40 per month per line on a smartphone, $30 per month per line on a regular one. If you have a single phone on your plan and pay for both minutes and data the savings can be double that. One tip: Do the suspending online where you can do it for free. If you ask the customer service rep to do it at Verizon, for instance, it costs $15. Other carriers services may vary, but this is definitely worth checking out. Summer savings: $120 per line — or more
Raise your thermostat and unplug. This is the absolute easiest way to cut costs on your energy bill. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every degree you turn up the thermostat, you’ll shave about 1 percent off your bill. Last year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expected the average U.S. household electric bill for June through August to be $395. If we use last year’s estimate, you can save roughly $4/degree raised.
As for unplugging, group appliances into power strips and unplug them as you can: computer accessories, your microwave and toaster, and your cell phone and tablet chargers. People often don’t realize, but these appliances draw electricity whether they’re on or not. Leaving these plugged in all the time can add up to 4 percent to your monthly bill. Summer savings: Easily $20, probably more
Suspend your gym membership. It’s summer, take your exercise outdoors and suspend — not cancel — your gym membership. The average monthly cost for a gym membership is $55, according to StatisticBrain.com. Summer Savings: $165
Use a refillable water bottle. Staying hydrated is always important, but you don’t need to waste your money on plastic to do so. According to the International Bottled Water Association, Americans spent $11.8 billion on bottled water in 2012. Considering that the average cost per bottle is $1.45 and the average consumer buys 167 bottles a year, you'll spend more than $240 this year on bottled water alone. For a fraction of the cost, buy a couple of reusable water bottles and drink up. Summer savings: $60
Eat your leftovers. According to the National Resources Defense Council, Americans waste $165 billion annually by tossing away unwanted snacks and meals. If you do the math, it comes out to the average person wasting $529 worth of food each year. Remember, the freezer is your friend here. If you don’t think you’ll finish your leftovers in a few days, freeze and save them for a later date. Summer savings: $132 (FYI for a family of four, make that $529)
Skip the nail salon. An average professional manicure costs about $20. On the other hand, a single 0.5-ounce bottle of $8 nail polish yields about 40 two-coat manicures, according to NAILS Magazine on DailyFinance. Meaning: One, two-coat application of polish at home will cost you about 20 cents. Skip the weekly manicure this summer and opt for the DIY approach. (And take a tip from someone who can't keep even a professional manicure from chipping on day two: Clear polish rocks.) Summer savings: $240
Don’t blow(out) your budget. This one might be tough for some women, but your weekly (and sometimes bi-weekly) $35 blowout is blowing your budget. A flat iron is one way to go. But consider trying a Keratin treatment (average price around $300) instead this summer. Keratin treatments redeposit the protein keratin into your strands, which is responsible for making your hair look shiny and smooth. A good keratin treatment will give your hair that fresh, blowout look (from your blow dryer at home), for up to three months. Summer savings: $120
With reporting by Kelly Hultgren and Steven Goldstein
Jean Chatzky is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.