12 Ways to Save $12 a Day in 2012

We’re just a few days a way from the beginning of 2012, which means millions of people around the world are resolving new attitudes, goals, new fitness routines, and diet plans. With the current state of the economy, many are also brainstorming new budgets and ways to save a little money. If you’re hoping to break even in 2012 — or at least stop breaking the bank — here are 12 ways to save at least $12 a day in 2012.

Bring your lunch four days a week.

If you work 9-5 in an office, there is always immense pressure to join your colleagues for a bite at the local burger joint or to grab some exotic Thai or teriyaki. Every lunch, every day, can add up, as an entree can easily cost $10 — not to mention the addition of soda or tea into the grand total. Of course, joining your coworkers for lunch is a critical part of remaining cordial and is sometimes necessary for taking  part in those awful office politics. Consider going out for lunch only once per week and bringing your own lunch Monday through Thursday. You may even end up meeting others in your office who do just the same, talking shop in the office lunchroom instead of the diner down the street. This tactic alone can easily save you $10-12 per day.

Stop eating out, period.

12 Ways to Save $12 a Day in 2012Bringing your own lunch to work can easily save you $50-60 per week, but if you’re single (like yours truly), it can be even more tempting to grab takeout on the way home from the office after a long day in the cubicle. Spending another hour cooking when you’d rather be watching TV, spending time with friends or other loved ones, sleeping, reading Facebook, or doing, well, anything else makes grabbing food seem like a much better option. However, takeout can be just as expensive as buying lunch at the office every day. Spending an hour every week buying groceries to prepare food can save you hundreds of dollars every month. If you buy groceries to make both your lunch and dinner, you’ll likely spend between 5-10% of your income every month on groceries for the month. This will likely be about $200 for all the food you need for the month, including lunch, dinner, and breakfast, snacks, and late night munchies, too. Compare this to the $100 a week you spend on takeout and you’ll easily save way more than just $12 a day.

Stop driving to work.

For many who work in the city and live in suburban areas, driving to work is one of the only ways to get to your job. However, by combining alternative modes of transportation, you can easily save that early morning stress and angst, the cost of gas to get all the way to the office, the cost of parking (if your employer doesn’t subsidize the parking lot or garage), and the cost of wear and tear on your car. If your city offers park and rides, consider taking the bus, which can easily save several dollars per day. In Seattle, the daily cost of gas from a commute from the suburbs into the city can be about $5, and while many employers won’t pay for parking (Which can cost $10 to $15 a day), they will subsidize a bus pass — saving anywhere from $5 to $20 a day. Also, consider walking or biking to work. The initial investment in a bike or new shoes may not save you money initially, but being able to sell your car or reduce your car insurance rates will eventually save you much more money.

Stop buying overpriced lattes.

Are you one of those people who orders a grande doublepump mochalatte half-caf with two sugars every morning? I’m not even sure that exists, but if you’re ordering a cup of coffee with more words than you have fingers, you’re also paying for it. A latte with milk, syrup, and and extra shot can easily cost more than $5 — and let’s not talk about how much your bad habit costs if you hit the coffee shop more than once per day. Consider ordering a normal cup of coffee — you can even add your own milk or sugar if you prefer. The $4 price difference can quickly add up, especially if you make other changes to your daily spending habits.

Better yet, make your own coffee.

I have a bad habit of hitting the drive-through coffee stand on my way into town while running errands. Even though I just usually order iced coffee, I can’t seem to break the routine of having a barista pour me a cup of coffee. While the cost is minimal — $2 a day, including tip — it would be much more cost effective to brew my own coffee. The savings aren’t as dramatic as other changes, like bringing my own lunch, however, brewing my own coffee can boost my $12 a day savings towards $20 per day, or even more. If you like it iced, consider buying a BPA-free tumbler (found at almost any retailer, including Starbucks) to carry your coffee on-the-go.

Ask your boss if you can work from home.

Your commute may be killing your patience, but it may also be killing your wallet. If the cost of your commute is draining your bank account and severely impacting the benefit of being employed, consider asking your employer if you can telecommute. Even working from home one or two days per week can save the cost of your commute dramatically, especially if you’re spending $5-10 a day in gas, $15 a day in parking, and potentially other costs if you have an even more horrific commute that involves subways, trains, or boats.

Buy generic products.

You’ve likely seen generic products on the shelves next to the brand name versions of toilet paper, vitamins, and other personal and home essentials. These products are often made by the same manufacturer as the brand name, but can cost half as much. Some generic products — like food — do taste different, but many products, such as paper towels, function just the same. Buying generic when the product won’t affect the result is an easy way to save at the cash register and make a big dent in how much you save when you shop every week.

Use your smartphone while shopping.

Getting the best deal on a high-priced product can save you dozens of dollars, but you have to find the best deal first. If you’re at a box store and see a new gadget on sale, you may be inclined to purchase it on the spot. But what if an online sale (even at the same store) has a better deal, or an auction site like eBay has a brand new model at half the price? Use your smartphone to search for the same product to make sure you aren’t spending more than necessary. This tactic has saved me hundreds of dollars in 2011 alone, as I’ve been able to purchase items I’ve needed in both new and used forms without paying sticker prices at the store on impulse purchases.

Turn off all of your electricity-dependent “things” when they’re not in use.

Winter is notorious for high electricity bills. With shorter daylight hours and colder weather, we leave our lights on later and run the heat later. If you’re not home, consider turning everything off. When you get home, only turn on the light you need for the room you are in, and only use the heat you need to be comfortable. I’m a huge fan of using blankets to stay warm as well as opposed to blasting the heat. That said, don’t become hypothermic to save a few dollars on your electric bill. However, attempting to reduce your electric bill — especially during peak months — can save you dozens of dollars every month.

Stop paying for cable.

How much TV do you really watch? Are you a DVR addict? Do you tend to gather at the local bar to watch sports games (or better yet, actually go to the stadium)? Most TV shows are now available almost immediately on replay via Hulu and many movies can be found via Amazon Instant and Netflix. Consider cutting the cable cord and using a service like Boxee or Roku to connect directly to your television and use your Internet connection to watch your favorite TV shows and movies. This can easily save you at least $30 a month, if not more.

Stop paying for your own cellphone plan.

Paying for a mobile plan can be expensive. Current plans can run anywhere between $50 to well over $100 for an individual depending on your carrier. Data plans can quickly add to the cost, and any plan with the word “unlimited” may just as well cost you your first born. An easy easy way to save money every month is to team up with friends and/or family and create a “family” plan that consists of a few plans to pool and share your minutes. If you choose wisely, your calls between each other will then also be free.

You may also want to consider relying more heavily on services like Skype and Google Voice to make calls and changing your plan to the lowest allowable minutes, thereby severely reducing your cost.

In what ways are you planning to save money in 2012? Let us know your ideas in the comments.

Latte Image Via Faithful Provisions

Article Written by

Kelly Clay, author of Blog Without Boundaries, is a freelance writer and lifestyle advisor.

  • http://twitter.com/akashaheart Stephaine Akashaheart Hand

    I switched to a different provider and I am saving 80.00 a month 960.00 a year and I get unlimited everything with a android. I had to  dump my contract provider it was worth paying the 200.00 to get out of the contract

    • Zachary

      Which provider are you with?

      • http://twitter.com/akashaheart Stephaine Akashaheart Hand

        I am with metropcs now i was with verizon by default after they bought my number from alltel 

  • Anne

    We ditched the dish quite a while ago, dont miss it at all..

  • Anonymous

    All great ideas, but how many people will you put out of work and franchisees go bankrupt!!?

    • Anonymous

      How many new jobs will be created ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000384336559 Vitus Feldmann

    I use Google Voice with my cell and it is great. For wireless, the best invention since the wheel. Skype is not my thing. It doesn’t have anything I can’t have with Google voice and a few other, better services.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000384336559 Vitus Feldmann

    I use Google Voice with my cell and it is great. For wireless, the best invention since the wheel. Skype is not my thing. It doesn’t have anything I can’t have with Google voice and a few other, better services.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips.

  • http://qwikr.me Kimberly Reynolds

    Those are all great!  Thanks.  Kim :)

  • http://twitter.com/abettersociety Dave Cawood

    I have to stop the lattes – thanks for the thoughtful article!

  • http://twitter.com/stanz2st Dr. Stan Zajdel

    Great food for thought!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=642248725 Elaine Champion

    This is 100% right, but I need to desperately leave my job at lunch to make it the rest of the day.  I live 30 miles away from my job.  The only places to go are either shopping or food places.  There aren’t even any nice parks or places to chill for an hour except food places.  If I could eat lunch and not be bothered by other people who expect you to discuss work or stop and work while on lunch as your food gets cold and sits unattended I could save this money.  Right now lunch is my one hour escape from the stress level that gives me the strength to survive the rest of the day.

    • http://www.accretewebsolutions.ca/ S Emerson

      I found that also when working in an office.  Even if you went to the designated lunch room they would hunt you down!

    • http://my.opera.com/geekgirlfri/blog/ Melinda P

      I sympathize!  If it’s a sanity-saver, lunch out can definitely be worth the cost.  One possible compromise is to eat lunch at the office quickly, then take a walk outside, if the area and weather are nice, or inside, if the building is big enough or the floor plan is open enough. Walking is good exercise, and exercise helps reduce stress.

  • http://twitter.com/CaptRobLee Robert Lee

    All great ideas. The turning things off is a biggy. Phantom energy loads can really add up!! Good one. 



  • Toastmastergilstrap

    Great ideas that. I have added many for this year already,especially cooking at home,but I freeze in small lunch portions then make ahead and label.

  • Coolio

    Yup. If you have a home phone, just put it on the most basic plan and start using skype and google voice for your phone.

  • Tag64

    Cool always good to know and add to the list :)

  • http://twitter.com/thisisspain Steve Hall

    All good advice for these difficult times. Here is something even more “revolutionary”. Do you REALLY need a car? Wow! Slow down. Have you REALLY worked the figures. I get a taxi once every two weeks to a meeting I can’t otherwise get to. 20 USD. I inevitably get a lift back or at least to a bus route. Apart from that my bus fares are inevitably less than my gas/parking. Rail is ALWAYS less than gas/parking. So no depreciation, repairs, capital cost, insurance etc etc I walk more = fit I spew out less fumes into atmosphere = cleaner environment. Arrive at meetings refreshed – no last minute dashes. 

  • http://doubletheb.com Bill Shelton

    Some of these ideas have already been implemented in our home.  You did bring rise to a few I had overlooked.  Thanks for the info.

  • Anonymous

    Very good list – I will try some of them.

    I love strategies that save money but don´t reduce the quality of lifestyle.

    Best greetings from Austria


  • Anonymous

    We make our own Soy milk. See video on YouTube if you like. 13 Cent/litre with high quality beans incl cleaning and power compared to 1 Euro in the cheapest shop. Use the Bialetti to make your own espresso, cafe latte, etc..

  • http://twitter.com/voice_compass Detlev Artelt

    great ideas

  • Zachary

    Im already doing 8 of these things and have been for a year and a half. It is good that other people are discovering the method I have been using.

  • Rhonda

    Smart ideas – that I will share!

  • http://twitter.com/Chaos_Be Karl Hosse

    Excellent! I like it! Share share share

  • http://twitter.com/REALTOR_Vickie Vickie L Wyman

    Awesome ideas!! Sharing :)

  • CP

    turn your heat down and wear a sweater.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sosolisalisa Lisa Lloyd


  • http://xeeme.com/SallyKWitt/ Sally K Witt

    Excellent tips!!

  • Anonymous

    I like your coffee segment.  I’ve been grinding fresh coffee beans for over 10 years and the amazing thing is that FRESH GROUND coffee, drank within 15 minutes, will eliminate the “bad effects” of coffee, like arthritis and that “grindy feeling” where you feel overly amped.  Also, this gives you the chance to buy Indian Malabar coffee beans, which is the smoothest and lightest feeling coffee bean i have ever found.  You don’t feel “wired” like Denny’s coffee that sits for minutes or hours and is then served.  The “high” is more discreet … day-long energy without feeling like you’re on speed.  I can drink ONE cup of Indian Malabar coffee at 2pm in the afternoon and have the energy of a 10 year old until around midnight or 2am.  At 10pm I feel like it is afternoon, but u can also drink it at 10am or earlier and not worry about drinking warm milk before bed in order to get to sleep at night.

  • Peter Murphy

    Thank you for sharing! These are very helpful- in fact, I may be able to try some myself! 

  • http://twitter.com/MerryMarjie MerryMarjie

    One way to save money on any service is to call and ask for the best pricing. Be honest and forthright, be willing to negotiate or accept a lower tier of service, but most of all, talk to a REAL person.  Tell them you cannot afford to continue the high cost of “X” and most companies will deal with you to keep your business.  It costs a bundle to acquire a new customer so giving an existing customer a break is cost-effective for a company and beneficial to you, perhaps not $12 a day, but every little bit helps.

  • Dan

    I switched my cell phone carrier to StraightTalk from Walmart, I paid $140 for a Samsung Android phone running Froyo.  I pay $45 a month for unlimited text, web and minutes!