1. Trim some nonessentials

Girl worker Laundry man gives the client clean clothes at the dry cleaners
ivan_kislitsin / Shutterstock
Do you really need to be spending so much at the dry cleaner's?

Do you really need to make so many trips to the dry cleaner? Or buy a carryout lunch every weekday? Or stop to pick up coffee on your way to work each morning?

Using home dry cleaning kits, brown-bagging it a few times a week and waiting to pour yourself some free coffee at the office are just a few ways you might easily reduce your spending by $10 each week.

To give yourself some motivation, reduce your take-home pay by that amount — so you'll have less money to waste on nonessentials. Set up automatic deposits and have $20 from each biweekly paycheck go into a savings account.

Spend less on trivial stuff and put aside more money for your future. You might even invest the savings in your parents' future, through a new product called AgeUp.

Savings for 2020: $520.

2. Cut your bank fees

Bank customer inserting a bank card into an ATM
Stop spending so much on ATM surcharges and other bank fees.

If your bank charges a maintenance fee for your checking account, you're paying an average $13 per month, according to a report from the CO-OP Credit Unions. The credit union fintech firm also says the average out-of-network ATM fee is $2.71 and that the average overdraft charge is $32.44.

Let's suppose you use other banks' ATMs twice a month and overdraw your account four times a year. The fees for your checking account — including the basic monthly ones — will add up to a bruising $350.80 annually.

But those costs are completely avoidable.

Stop the overdrafts by setting up an alert so you'll know whenever you have a low balance. Dump your current checking account for a free one without maintenance fees, and make a small purchase with your debit card to get cash back at the register the next time you're tempted to use an ATM that's not in your network.

Savings for 2020: $350.80.

3. Get in the habit of planning out your meals

Couple in supermarket reading shopping list on smartphone
goodluz / Shutterstock
Never go to the supermarket without a list.

When you go to the supermarket without a shopping list, you end up overbuying.

Do you really need all four of those avocados or that second pound of ground beef? Probably not, but without a plan you'd never be sure.

Plan out your meals before the start of each week — and before you head out to buy groceries. That way, you can see the big food-spending picture, create a list that works and spend only on the items that you need.

As you stop yourself from tossing away money as you throw out unneeded food that's gone bad, you might easily cut at least $15.77 a week off your household food bill.

Savings for 2020: $820.04.

4. Just call and ask for savings

Young woman, with man at her side, talking on her smartphone with a service provider
WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock
You need to call service providers and ask about ways to save.

Take a close look at all of your routine bills — including your cellphone plan, your electric bill and your car insurance premiums — because you're probably paying too much without realizing it.

Sometimes all you need to do to cut those costs is to grab your phone and make a few calls. (Don't forget, smartphones can still be used to make calls.)

It can be that easy.

A chat with your cellphone provider could result in a cheaper plan costing $10 less per month, a call to your electric company may reveal hidden rebates that will save you $5 monthly, and call to your insurance agent might net you new car insurance discounts that will cut your rate by $120 a year. Or, use a service like Squeeze to compare car insurance rates and find the best deal.

Savings for 2020: $300.

5. Start using a cash-back credit card

Pretty woman at gas station using credit card paying for gas
Marquisphoto / Shutterstock
Use a cash-back credit card on regular purchases, like gasoline.

While credit card debt is something you want to avoid, a credit card can give you money too, on your day-to-day purchases.

Begin the new year by opening a cash-back credit card, and start using it on basic expenses: gasoline, groceries, insurance copays when you visit the doctor, and so on.

If your credit card offers 1% cash back and your spending on the card totals $2,916 throughout the year, $29.16 will go back into your pocket. And remember, cash-back cards often have better returns on certain categories of spending: maybe 4% back at restaurants or 3% at gas stations.

Be sure to pay off your balance in full every month and before the bill is due — because you won't want to lose any of that cash to interest and late fees.

Savings for 2020: At least $29.16.

Total savings possible in 2020: $2,020.

About the Author

Scott Nordlund

Scott Nordlund

Freelance Contributor

Scott is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.

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