MONEY: Save $500 in 12 weeks - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MONEY: Save $500 in 12 weeks

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There are ways to save up a few hundred dollars in just 12 weeks. There are ways to save up a few hundred dollars in just 12 weeks.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

If you're among the 38% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, that number reported in a 2012 MoneyWatch report, a family vacation may not top your priority list. There are ways, however, to save up a few hundred dollars in just 12 weeks, so you can take advantage of a long weekend or have spending cash for a "staycation."

With the average U.S. vacation costing $1,180 in 2012, it's no surprise that many families opt for a staycation or forego traveling altogether. Even if you're planning to stay close to home, extra money wouldn't hurt and can easily be made with just a few changes.

Ways to save $500 in 12 weeks:

Consider the "necessities." Cable or satellite television is not a must-have, especially not the deluxe, unlimited, larger-than-life plans many customers pay for each month. How much would you save by switching to the basic cable plan, or, even cutting the service altogether? The Digital Economy plan for most cable companies can start at 14.99. More affordable options like Netflix or Hulu stream shows to your computer or TV. Get your movies from Redbox or Blockbuster kiosks for only a few dollars -- or for free from your local library.

The same goes for your cell phone. Consider downgrading your monthly plan on your phone to the amount of data and minutes you actually use. Use our cellphone data plan guide to help you determine how big of a plan you or your family actually need.

Make your meals at home. According to a January report from Bill.com, more than 75% of Americans eat out at least once a week, tallying a bill of $60 on average. Even if your stop involves a drive-thru window and the total is closer to $25, that's $100 saved in just one month. Check out these 15 ways to save on groceries.

That goes for caffeine, too. The average American worker spends just over $14 a week on coffee stops, as reported on Bills.com. Let's be honest, you're probably not going to brew a macchiato with skim milk at home, but if you can choke down your average cup of Joe, you'll save roughly $60 in one month.

Enough with the gas. No, this isn't the picture perfect recommendation to car-pool with the neighbor or co-worker you despise. But rather, consider switching from premium gasoline to regular, if your car allows. If your owner's manual says "premium recommended," you are OK switching to regular. If it says "premium required," however, go with the high-octane gas. And while you are looking at the manual, confirm how frequently your vehicle requires an oil change. Most vehicles can now go 5,000 to 7,000 miles between changes, recommends Bills.com.

Get the best insurance rate. From your car to your wedding band, review the insurance coverage you have on items you own. A phone call is free, so grab your agent's number and ask him to review your coverage plan with you. There are discounts available for having no accidents, car safety features like OnStar and having a new car.

Host a yard sale. Homebusinessceter.com reports the average weekend-long garage sale can bring in $600. While there is a little work involved – clearing out the closets that have become a catch-all, giving up the favorite item you forgot you owned, or removing all the items that have taken your car's place in the garage – it's the fastest way to make one lump sum. You can work with your neighbors to create a neighborhood sale or several garage sales on one street, which will likely bring in more treasure seekers. Check out this yard sale mapping tool to help you determine the best date to host your sale.

Your savings

  • Reduce cable & phone bill: $20 - $100 per month
  • Skip the drive-thru: $100 per month
  • Brew coffee at home: $60 per month
  • Switch gas & extend oil: $20 per month
  • Insurance savings: $10 per month
  • Yard Sale: $300 in a weekend
  • TOTAL SAVINGS IN 12 WEEKS: $930

Because coffee doesn't get everyone going in the morning, and we realize you may already have reduced your cable or cell phone bill, build your own family plan from the other ideas and save just $500 of the potential $930. Do you have ways to save or earn extra cash before summer vacation hits? Share your ideas with us by commenting below.

Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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