How many movies have you seen where the lead character or characters are in some huge predicament and have to come away with $10,000, $100,000, or even $1 million+ in a short period of time?
It seems to be a pretty common theme: the mob is after you, the local orphanage is going under, you need to pay off the A-Team for saving the town, or you stole the money and have to give it back. It makes for a compelling, drama-filled story, no doubt.
Fortunately, most of us will never be in one of those predicaments. Unfortunately, there are many more (not as exciting) predicaments we might find ourselves in that require us to dig up some cash we otherwise would not have had:
- being laid off from a job
- falling behind on a mortgage
- needing to pay off a credit card
- saving for a wedding, a vacation, or a gift
Since prostitution, robbing a bank, counting cards in Vegas, or betting on a sports team isn’t a desired resume builder for most of us, the best way to come up with money quickly is through saving money you are already spending.
Here are 4 fast money saving techniques that I would use should I need to come up with additional money in a pinch. Even if you aren’t in a pinch, these techniques can help an average saver kick their savings into high gear to the tune of $15K+!
1. Slice your Entertainment Budget to $0
This is an easy one. In crucial times, you should first save by cutting something you don’t need. Entertainment is the first thing I would cut. Here are a few things you can do:
- get rid of cable: could easily save you up to $100/month. Who knows, you might never go back.
- cancel your paper: $15/month savings
- cancel your Netflix subscription: $8-16/month savings
- stop going to movies: $25/month savings
- no concerts, sporting events, or shows: $50/month savings
- cancel internet: I know this might be a tough one, but between work, wifi, your phone, and the library, it should be doable: $50/month
Total estimated monthly savings: $250
2. Freeze your Credit Cards (Literally)
I’m not talking about ‘freezing’ from an identity theft standpoint. I’m actually talking about putting your credit cards in a bowl of water and freezing them. That way, you can’t take them out with you anywhere.
Thaw your cards to pay your bills when you normally do and buy your groceries on a weekly basis but then freeze your cards again.
The goal here is to completely eliminate any impulse purchases (as long as you aren’t carrying around a wad of cash), going out to eat, or purchases of things that can hold off until your money saving goal is met.
Sounds funny, but it’s surely effective.
Total estimated monthly savings: $250+
3. Stop Dining Out
Might be tough, but drastic times call for drastic measures.
I’ve calculated that dinner for my wife and I averages around $5-8 when we cook at home.
When we go out, the average jumps to around $40 (7X as much!) when you include tip, tax, and gas to get to and fro.
The average couple spends $2,930/year on food away from home (seemingly on the low end to me), according to the BLS. If all those meals were purchased from the grocery store instead, you could cut those costs to about $425/year, or $35/month.
Total estimated monthly savings: $250
4. Sell your Car
When you REALLY need money, a car is expendable. Or at least your car is. And it will save you ridiculous amounts.
I sold my car, and don’t miss it at all.
From the same BLS survey cited earlier, the average American spends $5,224/year on transportation (although those who actually own a car probably spend twice that since it factors in all who do not).
For long distance commuters, selling a vehicle may not seem possible. But you can always:
- commute with others
- downgrade to a cheaper vehicle
- downsize to one of the most fuel efficient cars or a cheap electric car from your gas guzzler
If you do any of the three, you could save hundreds per month. If you sell, you could save significantly more.
Total estimated monthly savings: $500
Grand Total Monthly Savings: $1,250
Grand Total Annual Savings: $15,000!
How have you Been Able to Save Money Fast, when Needed?
- How have you been able to save money fast? Have you used these techniques or others?
- How would you prioritize what to cut back on first?
- What are some financial predicaments where you’ve had to do this?