The little things in> life like that latest chart-topping single or your favorite gossip magazine may make you happy. But they also add up. You can easily spend $1,200 a year on [takeout] coffee, says Ori Schnaps, a co-founder and the general manager of money management site Thrive.
Yet going cold turkey to save cash doesn t have to be the answer. That changes too much of your daily routine -- it s not sustainable, says Aaron Patzer, the founder of money management site Mint.com. Deprive yourself of a splurge, and you re more apt to overindulge later. Instead, aim to reduce costs by 15% to 25% each month until you reach the spending target. That s just enough to make a difference, but not so much that you ll need retail therapy.
Of course, some discretionary luxuries are harder to give up than others. Before you scale back, try spending smarter. Here s six suggestions.
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Savings: Right now, members of Borders free rewards program can save 40% on Malcolm Gladwell s new book, What the Dog Saw, bringing the price from $27.99 to $16.79. You ll be that much closer to earning a $5 reward, provided for every $150 in qualifying purchases.
Don t make iTunes your first and only stop. There are plenty of players in the digital music retailing game, and it s worth your time to shop around, says Andrea Belz, an independent technology consultant based in Pasadena, Calif. Try DownloadShopper.com, which compares prices at the three biggest competitors, iTunes, Wal-Mart and Amazon. Also visit the artist's web site, where you may find free or low-priced tracks for downloading. (For more ways to save, click here
Savings: Miley Cyrus s Party in the U.S.A. goes for $1.29 on iTunes, 94 cents at Wal-Mart and 99 cents at Amazon. You could save 35 cents by shopping around.
Ditch the video store. In-store rentals are your priciest movie-rental option, with a new release going for roughly $5 at chains Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Frequent renters will get more for their buck with a mail-delivery plan from either Blockbuster or Netflix, which start at $8.99 a month for unlimited, one-at-a-time rentals. Infrequent renters and those who return movies quickly might look for a Redbox or Blockbuster Express movie-rental kiosk, where titles cost just $1 per night. That can add up quickly, so crunch the numbers to determine which is the better option. (For more options to save, click here
Savings: Forgo Blockbuster store visits for a subscription to the chain s mail-delivery service, and you ll pay $8.99 a month to have one DVD out at a time. Someone who rents one new movie a week would save $11 (55%) each month. Pay the extra $3 a month for faster in-store returns and free store rentals and you ll still save 40%. (You d also save 55% a month switching from in-store rentals to Netflix.)
Subscribers receive a hefty discount over the per-issue, newsstand price, but you ll save even more by signing up for your favorite magazines online. Sites like Magazines.comFor great coupon code sites, click here Keep in mind that should the magazine fold, your subscription will be transferred to another title from the same publisher.
Savings: At Amazon, a one-year subscription to Maxim is $10 -- an 83% discount off the newsstand price of $60, and 50% less than subscriptions offers in the magazine. Through Oct. 31, Amazon.com will contribute a $5 gift certificate with subscription, knocking the price to $5.
Regular manicures or facials can add up: Mint.com estimates the average person spends $150 a month on personal care, including hair, spa and massage services. But even regular spa goers need not pay full price, says Mary Blackmon, the founder of deal site Spa-Addicts.com. Many locations are offering free service upgrades and add-ons, as well as discounts that can top 50%. Check for promotions online at the spa s own site, and discount sites like Spa-Addicts.com and SpaFinder.com. (You may even be able to find ongoing deals at your favorite place.)
Savings: Eden Day Spa in Boca Raton, Fla., offers 10% off to new customers. That brings the price of a manicure from $21 to $18.90.
Yes, you ll see substantial savings by brewing your own coffee or cutting back on daily trips to Starbucks. But if you can t start the morning without one of the chain s venti soy mochas, consider applying for the Starbucks Card / Duetto Visa. Coffee usually isn t a bonus [reward] category, so it s a rare opportunity, says Curtis Arnold, the founder of credit-card comparison site CardRatings.com. The Duetto card offers 3% back when you use it to reload the connected Starbucks rewards account, as well as 1% back on all other purchases. That rewards account also gets you free syrup and milk options and free refills on brewed coffee.
Savings: Reward card discounts would bring the daily bill for a tall vanilla soy latte to $3.20 instead of $3.90. (That s $14 saved per month, assuming you buy one each weekday.) Use the Duetto card just to reload your Starbucks account and you ll earn $1.90 in rewards, enough for a free latte every 34 days.