Casting off all your worldly possessions and moving back in with your parents aren’t the only ways to spend less. Making small lifestyle changes and adopting clever cost-cutting strategies can net you a solid chunk of extra cash every month. Try these 10 ways to cut costs in your 20s.
1. Skip the Car or Buy Used
It costs $8,558 per year to drive and maintain the average sedan, according to a 2016 report by AAA. If you live in a city with commuting alternatives, consider saving money by using public transportation or biking. And if wheels are a necessity where you live, buy a used car. Check out Consumer Reports' list of the most reliable used car options that cost less than $25,000.
2. Stay on the Family Cell Phone Plan
You're not being coddled if you stick with your family plan; you're being smart with your money. A family of four that shares a cell phone plan saves $15 to $25 per month per person, depending on the plan and carrier, a recent NerdWallet analysis found. You can still contribute to the bill, as 53% of the adult children on their parents' plans currently do, according to the poll.
3. Share Subscriptions for Streaming Services
Why stop at the family cell phone plan? Netflix and Spotify both have account options that allow multiple users to watch or listen at the same time—and they cost less than buying separate individual accounts. Two adults in the same household can also share an Amazon Prime subscription.
4. Work Out for Free
If your gym membership is taking up a little too much of your budget, cancel it and look for free or cheap ways to work out. You can run or bike outside and listen to yoga podcasts or watch YouTube workout videos from home. You might find that you love doing lunges by yourself in your living room.
5. Create Weekly Meal Plans
When you're having a busy week, it's perhaps too easy to reach for Seamless and other meal delivery apps—and rack up $10 lunch charges on your credit card. Grocery shopping without a plan could also lead you to make impulse buys that just end up in the trash. Save money and eat healthier by planning your meals. Use an app if it helps, and make big meals in a slow cooker so you have plenty of leftovers.
6. Shop Online Using Sales and Promo Codes
Shop for products at the time of year they're most likely to go on sale. Memorial Day is a good time to buy small kitchen appliances, for instance, while it's best to purchase all things tech on Black Friday. If you're planning a purchase, search for a promo code by Googling "[store name] promo code" and entering it at checkout.
7. Shop Secondhand
Thrift stores, garage sales, Craigslist and an ever-growing number of secondhand apps and websites help you find gently used furniture and other big-ticket items for less. Avoid buying new furniture that you'll just have to lug around with you—and possibly damage—if you end up moving around a lot in your 20s.
8. Get Reacquainted with the Library
When you were a kid, the library was a magical place with story time and kind people who helped you look up information about zebras for research papers. Now it can save you serious cash. After all, borrowing books, e-books and audiobooks is free; buying new hardcovers costs around $27 a pop.
9. Stick with your Parents' Health Insurance
You might be able to get lower health insurance premiums by remaining listed as a dependent on your parents' plan, rather than paying for your own or getting coverage through your workplace. The Affordable Care Act allows adult children to stay on their parents' plan until they turn 26, even if they live separately from their parents, get married, or have the option to enroll in health insurance through work.
10. Put off Getting a Pet
Pets may be bundles of love and joy, but they're also expensive. Adopting a dog, for instance, will cost you at least $766 the first year, according to pet adoption website Petfinder. Volunteer at a local shelter or foster a pet until you're ready for a pet of your own. Or use the ASPCA's resources, which include a database of low-cost spay and neuter options, for lowering pet costs if you've already found a furry friend.