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15 Easy Steps To save $1000 Fast

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How to cut grocery costs all year?

In the current situation of worldwide COVID-19, not many of us will have many opportunities to save for Emergency Fund. But in whatever little way we can start, it will always help in the already tougher economy. The economy is getting tough. You don’t know when you will get your next job or next project. The rent is due in 2 weeks and you don’t know how you will pay for it.

Sounds familiar? Fret not. Using the following 15 easy steps will help you save $1000 fast.


Disclaimer- This article shares general health and well-being tips. Some links are affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read our detailed Disclaimers Policy.


In the current times of the global Pandemic and its economic implications, there is no better time than now to save for any emergency. Please do not wait anymore to start saving. Having a reasonable amount saved for your family’s emergency will only reduce the panic that we all are experiencing now.

These are the best actionable tips we implemented successfully to build our first emergency Fund. Our initial target was just $500, not even the suggested $1000 by Dave Ramsey.

But with that first $500 saved up, we gained momentum to continue saving up for our goal of $1000.

A penny saved is a penny earned!

a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin

I do not know how much a penny will help anyone of us, but it’s a good start

Shall we?

15 easy ways to save $1000 fast

Save your tax refunds NOW!

It is one of the quickest ways one can contribute to the Emergency Fund. Rather than planning your next purchase with the refund check, set aside this amount for now.

Depending on your country of residence, this may come as a direct deposit from your government agency responsible for taxation purposes. It is much better than a physical check as it will be easier to save.

Those of us, who did not receive the tax refund, please do not fret. There are other ways you can save fast.

Also, those of you who either overpay taxes or do not make full use of the tax rebates, please look into more smart tax-saving tips to save your hard-earned money. I will write a post about it in the coming ways, but this post is a good start to understand how tax laws in the USA can help you save a decent amount every year.

 

Return the unopened and unused merchandise to the stores, if it is still in the return policy window

How many times have you purchased something, thinking that one day, it will be useful? how about that shiny Instapot or slow cooker that you always wanted to own? It is still waiting for your attention. I do not know about men, but it usually happens for us- women. I have rarely seen my dad or my hubby purchase something in the anticipation of using it.

In the past 8 years only once my hubby purchase a portable window AC he wanted to install in our new (actually older) home. He never really opened the box it came in. It went from the store to his car to our garage and it stayed there for 5 months whole months.

But it happens to me all the time. I am usually good at controlling my impulse shopping, the “just-in-case” purchases but anything to do with Kitchen items, gadgets-is my weak point. I am still looking at that shiny Bella 3 pot Slow cooker, unopened, unused!

So long story short, if you have purchased a big-ticket item recently in the anticipation of using it someday, but did not really use it in the last 2 months, it is more likely that you do not need it urgently. If the store policy permits, do yourself a favor and return the item back to the store.

Note this purchase clearly, so that you will learn from it and avoid repeating similar kinds of non-urgent, non-essential purchases in the future.

Side note- We returned that Window AC promptly and got back the money. It went straight to the Emergency Fund.

 

Do 1-week spending freeze

Spending Freeze somehow gives a negative connotation. Let us call it something less negative like “Fast” for one week. The idea is to completely avoid any non-essential expenses for at least 7 days.

Why 7 days?

Well, simply because anyone can at least try this top for a week without feeling deprived of our “RIGHT” to spend OUR money 🙂

Did you get that sarcasm?

Sorry about that.

But let’s see. 7 days is not too long and not too short a time to see if this spending freeze will actually work for you and hopefully, your family. Now two keywords in this point are AVOID and NON-ESSENTIAL (again, sorry to repeat this word again. I know- we’re all tired of hearing it these days. Thanks to the global social distancing mandate!).

It goes without saying but I will still write for the sake of all readers- Your essential bills including rent, mortgage(s), healthcare, insurance, basic food ingredients, and child care expenses are all excluded from this spending fast.

Most of us will quickly sign up for a week of spending freeze challenge. Some of us will plan and strategize down to the last detail of how it will work out, and what you will do in this one week. Some of us will waste a lot of time convincing others why they want to do a spending freeze, losing their motivation and energy to follow their own plan. Some of us will just get started on it right away without thinking ( that’s what I did) and yet some of us will head towards Pinterest, Google, YouTube in our desperate attempt to learn from others’ nuggets of spending fast wisdom!

But I suggest, avoiding that burnout from hoarding information. In fact, the less information you acquire on how to successfully do a spending freeze, the easier it will be for you.

Why?

Because we are essentially made to live a simpler and calmer life. We are not meant to be glued to Pinterest or what have you for all our waking hours. We, simple humans, learn the best by doing stuff and failing at stuff. So whatever you try to keep yourself away from the spending, is good for you. It is your natural instinct. Go for it! Give yourself permission to SAY NO TO SPENDING

Don’t get me wrong. I love Pinterest, YouTube, and every other media that will give me tips to save money in the long run. But for now, when you are starting with your spending fast, all you need is just enough motivation to get started, stay the course for a week, and not compare yourself with other Instagram/Pinterest-worthy No Spenders!

There is no point going to the stores or online and ordering a bunch of non-essential supplies or foods that were suggested by Pinterest in one of their pins. Think Mason Jar salad supplies! Honestly, if you are not pressed for time, love making your salads fresh every day and eat them out of the standard salad bowl as normal humans do, you do not really need to go buy mason jars right now and make 7 days worth of salads to store in the refrigerator, that may already be overflowing with other food items you already have stored in last 2 ( for some of us-3) weeks.

If you still need some help in planning your one-week spending freeze/ fast, here is a handy checklist we made back in the day. We have been using this checklist every month once a week for the last 5 years. If I show you in pictures, how this checklist gets used, you will laugh and wonder how my brain works! It is not pretty, it is not perfect and what works for me and my household will not always work for you or your household.
But it may help you get started on Day 1 of a week-long spending fast

Easily Save Money on Food Every Month

I will let you figure out the details for obvious reasons that I do not know you or your situation but Busybudgeter wrote a good article on this topic that may help you.

PERSONAL LESSON LEARNT- Since we usually stick with credit card purchases for our essential food and non-food items, we do not really see the physical money saved like a coin jar. So we decided to track our ” would-be-expenses” in that column labeled- $ saved. It is as good, if not better, to know that, come next month, we do not need to pay a higher credit card bill. A few other times, I also tried saving the amount in a separate savings account (labeled Rewards from Spending freeze). Whenever I had to urge to purchase that next kitchen gadget or a new spice jar, I would transfer the equivalent amount to this saving account and pat myself for not spending it during the spending freeze.

 

Repeat the spending freeze for one more week

This is the most important point among all 15 points here.

Why?

If you tried one week of spending fast, you have learned about what works, what doesn’t, what needs to avoid, etc. Use that knowledge to continue with one more week of spending freeze again, preferably immediately or sometime later in another month.

If you have succeeded in saving your time, money, energy from that one week of spending fast, you have already got the momentum to continue it doe one more week.

If you didn’t succeed, had major obstacles in your plan or it was just not a feasible week for you, it makes sense to give it another shot.

What have you got to lose?

It may be possible that in the 2nd week, your motivation goes down and you start to question on this whole idea of a spending freeze. Who am I to ask you to try it? You’ve every RIGHT to spend your hard-earned money the way you like it.

I get it.

You gained something from that past week. Either a tangible saving or an intangible benefit of understanding your purchasing pattern. Everything you learn about yourself will help you and your family in one way or another to save for any future emergency, of any kind.

If you continue the next week or 2 weeks of spending freeze in a month, you will save how fast it is to save a good chunk of money.

 

Shop your pantry for basic ingredients of your weekly meals

Most of us, even on a tight budget, spend most of our allocated budget on food items. All grocery stores give us too many options for basic food ingredients, more than we will truly ever need in our lifetimes.

Remember, how our grandmas and moms used to cook really delicious meals with simple food ingredients? Most of them never spent more than a few bucks on spices, seasonings, flavored water, and flavored XYZs. All they had was a simple collection of basic spices, one type of salt, one type of oil, and basic staples like nuts, beans, and legumes.

Agree, the recent food movement has given us better whole food options. But it has also increased our monthly food budget multi-fold. But Although we have more options to eat than our ancestors, we have more chronic illnesses, more allergies, and higher sensitivity to most food ingredients. This topic deserves a separate blog post entirely, but at the moment, let just say “LESS IS MORE”, when it comes to food ingredients.

One way we cut our fresh food budget is by growing some simple herbs and vegetables at home in the containers. We do not have a big yard or a big balcony in this big city. So I stick with growing basic herbs such as Basil, Parsley, Mint, Coriander, Garlic, Green Chilies, Green Onions on our balcony.

I was not very good at growing plants like seasoned gardeners do, but it gets easier with a little bit of patience.

Most of us are in the habit of buying more food staples and gazillion ingredients than we have ever bought in the past, at least those of us in the USA who have dedicated areas called “Pantry” in our homes.

If you have stored those food ingredients in the past, let us shop that pantry and use up what we can to make our weekly meals from scratch.

Keep a list of frugal pantry items in hand at all times.

Related article- Top 10 Frugal Pantry Staples to save money.

Basic Food Ingredients of a Frugal Household

If you are a minimalist, or a tiny house with a tiny kitchen, or just a person who believes in shopping for what is needed, when it is needed, continue with your lifestyle. You are a rock star! Please leave your tips to reduce monthly spending in the comments below and help your fellow humans. We all have something to learn from you to reduce our carbon footprint.

 

Find better and economical alternatives to your food ingredients

Do you notice how many of your regular food and non-food ingredients have better and economical healthy alternatives? Some examples are- Homemade Yogurt for store-bought one, arrowroot flour in place of all-purpose flour, white vinegar in place of surface cleaner. Even the name brand ingredients have better store brand alternatives. One all-purpose cleaner soap such as Castile Soap from Dr. Bronner’s can be used very effectively for dish-washing, laundry, hand soap, shampoo, body wash, grease cleaner.

You may have to try what works best for you. It’s a fun activity for those of you who like experimenting, especially in the kitchen. You may end up wasting some food initially if you don’t like these substitutes but you may discover something that you and your family appreciate. Once found, do take note of it for the future. You will save a tonne of money and time next time you are in the store.


But if you don’t want to experiment, learn from the other folks who have mastered the art of food substitutions. Gardening cook has written 100+ substitutions for common recipes here. Spruce Eats has recently updated its suggestions for common food ingredient substitutes as well here.

 

Say NO TO take out food- including coffee

I know, after trying some of the above tips, you’re tired. You are doing quite a lot of things differently in this week-long spending fast. You are working outside the home, controlling impulse purchases every day, watching your savings grow one dollar at a time and now I’m asking you to DO MORE and say NO TO take out food.

I must be crazy.

I’m. I accept. More often than I like to admit.

But hear me out before you quit reading this article or just quit this whole spending freeze challenge.

If you don’t want to try this tip this week. It’s ok. Just open your credit card statements or your bank statement and see how much you’ve spent in the last one or two weeks or better in the last one month on the take-out food. Take a mental note of the total amount spent. Also note down, when was it that you spent the most on the take-out menu.

Was it during lunch breaks at work? was it on Friday night? Was it on weekends, when you were out shopping for your weekly grocery runs?

or

was it every night after a long hard day’s work?

If you’re a little bit more energy, try making simple meals at home, preferably in advance if you expect long busy workdays. If making meals at home every day and taking your home-cooked food at work sounds too much of work, start with just one small change. Make your own coffee and take it with you to avoid take-out coffee at least once a day. If you continue doing this for the whole week at least once a day, you will save roughly $13 to $34 a week depending on the type of coffee you buy at Starbucks as per their prices in 2020.

One more reason to quit coffee is, it’s just not good for whole health. Experts have written a great deal about it here. If you are on homeopathy treatment, Coffee will just antidote any remedy.

If you skip just one take-out meal a week from a good restaurant, the average saving is anywhere between $49 to $200 for a family of two. On that one day, if you cook at home with fresh, organic, non-GMO food ingredients, you will not only save money but will also feed yourself a healthy meal. Another pro-tip to make it fun- make it a date night at home with your better half or just a cool cook-at-home gift for yourself.

Take it up a notch further, and make that meal a bulk meal. Cook once, eat twice.

If you like making a meal at home once a week, find a few other recipes that would like to try.

Spend a few hours this weekend, browsing through some simple recipes on Pinterest or All Recipes.

 

Make your meals at home- preferably bulk meals from the pantry ingredients

To stretch point no.7, make all your meals at home from the basic food ingredients that you already have in your home pantry. Making bulk meals a few days a week and freezing them properly to reheat and eat on other days is one sure way to save money, energy, and time.

Many people do once-a-month meal planning and cooking. They are pretty organized and good at bulk cooking. here has a huge list of once-a-month meal planning.

But, to be honest, my family personally is not a fan of pre-cooked frozen meals, even though they are made at home from scratch. I tried doing bulk meals 3-4 times in the past, but no one really liked the flavors of heated pre-cooked, frozen meals.

Except for a few meals, we did not like the flavors of most frozen home-cooked meals. We don’t mind heating leftover cooked Lentil curry, chicken curry, black beans soup, or Sambar. But other meals with frozen spinach, kale, okra, green beans, just did not work for us.

It may be just us- but I had to find another way to save my sanity from cooking every meal every single day in my tiny kitchen.

So the next best thing I could do was- make a huge batch of dinner meals and eat the leftovers the next day for lunch. Or make a huge lunch meal and eat for dinner.

In a normal week with both of us working 9-10 hours a day, I keep my kitchen preparation limited to a few hours every week. I have written a detailed article on my method to the madness. But in short, I make 5 dinners at home for the whole week, doubling them for lunch on our intermittent fasting schedule. Once a week, either on Saturday or Sunday, we prefer fasting for a day. And one day, we stick with a light meal for brunch- like Frittata or South Indian Idli and Sambar.

Meal Plan for Balanced Alkaline Diet

If you are curious about our meal plan, read out the article below

Related article- 7 Frugal Shopping hacks

We don’t have a very rigid meal plan, as I often change my mind for the day’s meals. We also follow intermittent fasting so you will not see the breakfast in our meal plan.

If you do not have a pantry at home or do not store food ingredients at home or simply do not have enough time in the day to go grocery shopping like my friend Well, check out meal kits delivery services. They save you a tonne of preparation time, shopping time, and most importantly avoid food waste.

Postpone non-essential home repairs. Better explore the DIY route for simple home repairs

This one is easier than most of the tips mentioned here. If a home or appliance repair is non-essential, just postpone it for a week.

During this week, explore the best ways to repair what you need it. Can it be replaced with something you already have?

Can you repair it on your own? YouTube has many DIY helpful videos. All you need is access to simple tools. Home Depot or Lowes rent mostly used tools for a relatively cheaper cost.

Does it even need to be replaced or repaired at all?

 

Pay your bills on time, before their due dates to avoid late fees

This sounds like common sense but not many of us are always on top of things. Life gets busy, bill payment reminders are snoozed, or you simply forget to set the reminders to pay your bills on time.

Many companies give one chance to rectify this one-time genuine mistake and refund the late fees. But if it becomes a habit, we incur unnecessary late payment fees.

It happened to me on more than one occasion when I went overseas and forgot to add my husband in the reminders for bill payments.

Bill Payment Tracker

Lesson learned- Set up auto bill payments and add your family member in those reminders, just in case you forget or are away from home to pay your bills on time.

Funny thing- after making this system, I set multiple reminders for me and my husband for the utility payments of our first house, which we sold 4 years ago. But these loyal reminders are still sending me notifications. It’s time to turn them off 🙂

Switch off non-essential services for a month and see if you still miss them

Do you subscribe to print magazines and rarely find the time to take them out from their plastic packaging? Do you subscribe to Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and other entertainment channels? How often do you view them? Do you subscribe to monthly paying apps for games, productivity, shopping, etc.?

Now is the time to take a look at all your monthly subscription services and see how many of them you actually need and /or use regularly? Make a list of these subscriptions on a plain piece of paper and calculate the total for a month. Multiply this amount by 12. If this number exceeds $200 or more and you do not remember the last time you used any service out of your list, you are definitely oversubscribed.

One of the biggest monthly expense many households in America has is Unlimited plans from their cellphone and Internet Service Providers. It is conveniently advertised as the biggest bang for your buck and the most logical decision to subscribe for if you have more than 2 people in the household using the same service. BUT, it’s one big lie!

Cellphone companies make the most money from unlimited plans. They charge you high fees if you go over your limited plans. Ever wondered how many of you actually overused your allotted plan? Do you know how much less or more data you actually end up using an unlimited plan? I agree it takes time and some brain to figure out your actual data need. Hence most of us buy the “supposedly convenient unlimited plan”.

If you want to see if the limited data plan is right for you, check out a helpful article The Simple Dollar has written about cheaper cell phone plans. My personal favorite pay-as-you-go plan is from Ting. I’m on their lower plans and never pay more than $27 in a month.

If any service is not used in more than a month, it’s probably not needed for you.

Try suspending the service or just pause it for a month.

Revisit it next month, and see if you still miss this service.

If you really need this service, find out if there is any better and economical alternative to your paid subscription. If you spend some time now researching, you’ll find a better and economical alternative.

And the best part is, if you end up not subscribing for such a service, you save up a good chunk of money in one fell swoop.

Lesson Learnt- This tip will come in handy when you take a hard look at all your needs and wants, mentioned in the point below.

 

Revisit your needs vs wants tracker. How much did it help you save in past 2 weeks?

When you started this spending freeze for a week, you would have made a basic list of your essential needs and wants. On the first go, you may have noticed that it was easier to make the decision to stop spending.

All the bills, the basic food, the fuel, the insurance, the medications (if any), the education, the child support, etc. is definitely needed.

But as the week progressed, you may have realized that you will need to keep room for some unplanned purchases such as Shampoo, A charging cable for the phone.

Now, after a week of this spending freeze, you may add/delete, or edit some items in your list. That’s ok.

Continue updating and working on the basic needs vs wants tracker. Continue highlighting your savings and expenses in your tracker. Share this with your family members. Make it easier for them to participate in the decision of needs and wants.

Related ArticleHow to budget under 10 minutes.

Like us, it will be your most used and most preferred budgeting tracker in the household. The more you use it, the more you will get better at saving. You will also get better at finding the best deals for you and your family’s essential needs and wants.

It will empower you to say NO to buying More. It will empower you to say YES to wise financial choices.

It will become your best friend on the journey to financial freedom.

Rather than a long, tedious, complicated budget system, this one-pager tracker will give you all the motivation and confidence to chip at your debt one week at a time.

 

Make a list of your lessons learned while saving for an emergency fund

Your initial expected savings during this week of spending fast may be low or high. It does not matter much, as long as you saved more than your regular weeks. It matters if you spent less than your regular weekly spending.

In fact, it does not matter, if this week was a complete failure either.

What matters is, you gave it a shot. You have a basic idea of where your money goes. You now know what your spending triggers are.

You saw the pattern of spending for yourself and your family. You know if you can trust yourself making the right decisions of the needs and wants for yourself and your family.

These are all good learning. All these lessons learned in just one or two weeks of spending fast will build your rational thinking about all purchase decisions. This rational thinking will keep you from taking instant gratifications planned by advertisers for compelling you to spend your hard-earned money. Read this article to know how buyers make most purchasing decisions subconsciously.

Continue to the next point to stay on this track.

 

Stay away from advertisements- especially those on social media, if you have already cut the cable.

We all know the long history of advertisements and how they drive consumerism in the world.

If you have cut the cord and canceled your unnecessary cable subscription, you may reduce the advertising influence significantly. But if you’re on Hulu, they will ask you to pay a little more to stop advertisements. This is much better saving than getting cognitively influenced by constant advertisements.

Still, we are not really away from advertisers if we continue using social media.

Now, every one of us has at least one social media account these days. They are the next best target of advertisers. If we all decide that social media is just making us more anxious and want to quit it for good, there will be at least one person that we know of, either in our families or friend circle, that will never give up on social media.

So, directly and indirectly, we all get influenced by the sneaky and not-so-sneaky ways Social Media influences our purchase decisions. This study talks about 67% of people who are more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter.

 

RINSE and REPEAT.

The key to getting the best benefit of this spending freeze exercise is to continue trying this once every few months.

What worked in one week in a given month for you, may not work for another week in another month. The motivation that got you started on this spending freeze may not be present this month but may come again in another month.

Your experience from multiple spending fasts will different each season. as our purchase decisions are so seasonal. In summer, it may be difficult to cut down on outdoor entertainment, but it will be easier to save shopping at farmer’s markets for seasonal produce.

In winter, you may spend more on heat and hot coffee, but save more on outdoor entertainment.

Every spending fast in every season will be unique, in terms of your learning. But every season, you will get better and smarter. Every time you want to try this spending freeze, you will get more support from family and friends.

It will give your momentum. And if you talk more about it, share more about it, more people will participate in this spending freeze with you.

More people will advocate less consumerism. More people will buy local, more people will say no to buying junk made in other countries and will save enough to buy good quality products from local hardworking businesses.

Remember, this experience is unique to you and your family. What worked for others may not work for you. What worked for you, may not work for others. But you will start a small revolution in your life- one that will challenge common thinking that MORE is good.

You will buy less, consume less, consume better quality, and save our world one less purchase at a time!

What do you guys think about this? I would love to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among the readers of this website. We all are learning from each other. Your comments make this blog helpful and interesting for many of us who find it hard to figure out the complexity of the finance world.

Share your points and tips to help me and others. While doing that, I request you to please help us keep this space clean and safe by following our posting guidelines. Also, I urge you NOT to ever disclose your personal or sensitive information such as name, bank account, and/or phone numbers anywhere on this website. I share my personal opinions, they have not been reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with any reviewed products unless explicitly stated otherwise.


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