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The holidays will be here before you know it, and if inflation is squeezing your budget, you may be short on cash. Fortunately, there are relatively painless ways to cut costs.

“Families and individuals get used to assuming certain conveniences in their life, which have a way of adding up fast,” says Kortney Ziegler, founder and CEO of WellMoney, an online money sharing community. “Rethinking assumptions about transportation, how and where you shop and household habits can quickly add up to $500 in savings.”

Here are some of the expenses that can be cut in the next 30 days to save $500 before the holidays. Cost savings will vary by family, and some households may find that making these adjustments will net them significantly more money in the bank.

Skip Takeout Once a Week – $40 Savings

The morning latte is the low-hanging fruit whenever someone is trying to save money.

“Trim your Starbucks habit,” says Joe Buhrmann, senior financial planning consultant at wealth management platform eMoney. And if you already make your coffee at home, consider packing your lunch or skipping the drive thru once a week.

An individual could save $10 per week this way, for $40 savings per month.

Cancel One Subscription Service $10 Savings

Most households have at least one subscription service, and since these are generally paid automatically, it can be easy to overlook how much you’re spending.

“Streaming service subscriptions, in particular, can quickly add up,” says Sean Fox, chief revenue officer with Achieve, a digital personal finance company in San Mateo, California. “Winnow down to what you really watch.”

In addition to streaming services, look for other subscriptions such as Subscribe & Save deliveries from Amazon, e-books from Audible or beauty subscription boxes like Ipsy that may be draining your bank account. Canceling just one could conservatively save you $10 per month.

Shop Around for Lower Insurance Premiums $40 Savings

If you pay your insurance premiums monthly, finding cheaper coverage could save money before the holidays.

“This is a good time to be shopping a lot of your insurance needs,” Buhrmann says. “That could save you hundreds of dollars a year.”

Changing carriers may be the best way to get cheaper rates, but if you like your current insurance company, raising your deductible could be another way to lower premiums. Just be sure you have enough in savings to cover whatever deductible amount you choose.

Switch to Online Bill Pay $6 Savings

Stamps cost 60 cents apiece now, which means it’s time to move to online bill pay if you haven’t already.

“If you’re still mailing checks to companies, that’s $6 a month (for 10 bills),” Buhrmann says. While not much, it equals $72 a year that you should be spending on something else.

Many banks offer free online bill pay to their customers. Or you may be able to set up automatic payments directly with utilities, credit card issuers and other companies.

Combine Errands or Carpool $32 Savings

Gas is expensive so if you can save even two gallons a week, that’s $32 more in your wallet each month, assuming a $4 per gallon price.

Working from home, carpooling, combining errands or having your kids take the bus are all options to drive less, according to Debra Radway, a senior lecturer at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University who teaches financial planning courses through ASU Online.

Switch to Store Brand Groceries $80 Savings

If you insist on purchasing brand name groceries, you may be paying a premium. A recent analysis by the website CNET estimates store brands cost 40% less than their brand name counterparts.

For a single-person household who spends $200 per month on groceries, that could add up to $80 per month. Families and those with larger budgets could save even more.

Another way to save on groceries is to head to discount supermarkets such as Aldi. “Cheaper stores can save you significant amounts of money over the higher end options,” Ziegler says.

Go Meatless Once a Week $40 Savings

The price of meat, fish, poultry and eggs rose 10.5% in September 2022 compared to the prior year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To save money, look for lower-cost ingredients.

“Substitute pasta and sauce or rice dishes for fish or meat meals once per week,” Radway suggests. She estimates that going meatless once each week will save $10 per week, for a total of $40 savings for the month.

Eat From the Pantry $40 Savings

It’s not unusual for families to have pantries and freezers full of food that was either purchased on sale or bought for meals that were never made. One week this month, be creative with your meals and plan your menu around those ingredients.

You may be able to significantly reduce your grocery bill that week or even skip a trip to the store completely.

Substitute Water for Soda $30 Savings

Another suggestion from Radway is to swap out soda and other drinks for water. She estimates $1 a day savings for this although those with a serious soda habit could save more.

Of course, to maximize savings from this strategy, drink filtered or tap water. Simply swapping a bottle of soda for a bottle of water at the store probably won’t save you much.

Stay Home One Weekend $75 Savings

Do your weekend plans typically involve taking a road trip, seeing a movie or going out for dinner? Staying home one weekend and finding free entertainment – Buhrmann suggests a game or puzzle night – can add up to significant savings.

A family of four could expect to spend $68.73 for movie tickets and concession treats, according to an analysis by the website The Hustle. Add in the cost of gas or other incidentals, and you could expect to save $75 by skipping the outing.

Turn Down the Thermostat $17 Savings

This won’t be immediate savings in your pocket, but you should have more money before the holidays if you put on a sweater and turn down your thermostat.

Turning down the temperature in your home by 7-10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours a day could save as much as 10% on heating costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association estimates average heating costs this winter to be $1,208. Assuming a seven-month heating season, that means turning down the thermostat could have the potential to save $17 per month.

Cash in Loyalty Points $50 Savings

It seems as though every major retailer has a loyalty program with points that can be redeemed for valuable rewards. Depending on what you’ve accumulated, it could save you $50 or more this month.

“Always be cognizant of loyalty rewards points,” Buhrmann advises. He notes he was recently able to redeem points from a supermarket program for a free fuel fill-up.

Check with your supermarket, gas station and credit card rewards programs to see if you have enough points to redeem for cash back or a discount on a needed purchase. If you use cash back programs for online shopping – such as Rakuten or Honey – check your balances there as well.

Cancel Your Gym Membership $40 Savings

No list of money-saving suggestions would be complete without the tip to cancel your neglected gym membership, which could net you another $40 this month.

“Do you or could you exercise outside, at home or at a local rec center for significantly less?” Fox asks.

If you don’t have a gym membership – or if you have one and use it – you may have another membership that could be canceled instead. For instance, if you belong to a website like Craftsy or Masterclass and rarely use it, consider canceling that subscription.

Savings Timeline to Save $500

To see how this savings strategy could work in practice, here’s one example of how the savings stack up throughout the month.

  • Skip takeout once – $10
  • Save two gallons of gas – $8
  • Buy store brand groceries – $20
  • Go meatless for one meal – $10
  • Drink tap water – $7
  • Cancel subscription – $10

  • Skip takeout once – $10
  • Save two gallons gas – $8
  • Buy store brand groceries – $20
  • Go meatless for one meal – $10
  • Drink tap water – $7
  • Switch to cheaper insurance – $40

Week Three – $210 savings

  • Skip takeout once – $10
  • Stay home this weekend – $75
  • Save two gallons gas – $8
  • Buy store brand groceries – $20
  • Go meatless for one meal – $10
  • Drink tap water – $7
  • Eat from the pantry – $40
  • Cancel gym or other membership – $40

Week Four – $130 savings

  • Skip takeout once – $10
  • Save two gallons gas – $8
  • Buy store brand groceries – $20
  • Go meatless for one meal – $10
  • Drink water – $9
  • Cash in loyalty points – $50
  • Pay next month’s bills online – $6
  • Savings from turning down thermostat – $17