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  • Writer's pictureKen Kowach

How to Save $10,000 in a Year: Do These 7 (Easy) Things to Start Saving Now

Updated: Feb 21, 2020

Wouldn't it be sweet to save $10,000 a year? Imagine just knowing how well you could sleep at night if you knew that you were socking away over $800 a month and putting it in the bank for a rainy day...

Most of us have been there. I know I have... ✋ We’ve looked over our finances assuming we even keep track of them… and when we do, we realize where the heck is all my money going?! It seems like we just can’t seem to wrangle in our expenses in order to put away some cash for dire things like emergency savings, retirement savings, or college savings for the kids.

Furthermore, when we think about being able to save, we have to revolutionize our life by selling ourselves into slavery, live in a shack, and survive on bread and water.

wall graffiti art

Well, in this article I’ve got a little of something for what ails you.

"They’re just money-conscious approaches that I personally follow because I don’t want to spend extra money on things that don’t really bring me fulfillment."

Bottom Line Up Front

In order to live within our means, that requires us to be very conscious of our financial situation and closely watch where our money is going. A big proponent of that is maintaining our current lifestyle rather than succumbing to lifestyle creep, and a lot of times, it requires us to administer a method what some call reverse lifestyle creep, in order to get back to basics, live within our means and sock away that valuable cash that we need for our future and our children’s’ future.

Sometimes though, reverse lifestyle creep can be painful. Enter this article.

In this article, I’ll discuss seven creative (and easy) ways to save money that you can implement today and save $10,000 in a year (or more), without impacting your current lifestyle, or minimally impacting your lifestyle, allowing you to start living within your means, and stop the financial bleeding.

And by the way, I practice what I preach. I personally implement all of these.


#1. Pay off credit card debt

Credit cards

Okay. You might not be able to implement this today, but you can start chipping away at it today! The reason I put this first is that… consumer debt will crush you.

Did you know that the average U.S. household carries an average of $8,398 in credit card debt? Don’t feel bad if you have more than this. I simply included the statistic for the picture that I am trying to illustrate.

On that $8,398 of credit card debt, the average interest rate paid on it is 21.28% as of January 2020. That’s insane. But what is crazier is that if the average household did not pay off any of their credit card debt and was only maintaining their current balances, the average cost to a household would come out to $1,787.09 in interest per year.

Another way to look at this is if the average household could pay off all their credit card debt, they could recoup $1,787.09 on average of their annual household income.

🎁Annual Income Recouped: $1,787.09


#2. Drive a small(er) used car with better mpg

toy monster truck

This is one of my favorite ones because I used to own a Toyota Tacoma with not-so-excellent gas mileage.

Last summer, I traded in my Tacoma, which was financed for 72 months that I had bought some four or so years ago. I was paying $369.32 a month. And before you start assuming away, check this out. That was my monthly payment on financing about $24,000 of the truck, with a 1.99% APR. That’s a solid interest rate.

Fast forward to today. I am currently driving a 2016 (bought it with 31,000 miles) Nissan Sentra SR, primo condition. It gets me back and forth to work perfectly, and it is comfortable to drive. I financed this car for only 48 months, my interest was a bit higher at 3.5% 😒 but, because after getting a measly $1,600) on my trade-in of the Tacoma, I only had to finance less than half the amount I did in the Tacoma, my monthly payments are now $266.62.

Here’s the thing. In the 3 years that I owned the Tacoma, I think I used the truck bed at most five or six times. That is a bit embarrassing, and I am sure there are some of you out there that actually use a pickup truck for its intended purpose. But by and far, most of us do not need the functionality that a pickup truck provides…

In addition to my monthly savings, I started saving a TON on gas.

The average male American drives 1400 miles a month. I’m not exactly sure why the average female American only drives 850, but let’s just use 1125 miles a month to split the difference. That’ll come out to 13,500 miles per year. (The USDOT actually says the average is 13,476)

Now, a big reason I chose the Nissan Sentra besides its value, and its generally aesthetically pleasing appearance, was because of the pretty darn good MPG that it provides, especially at the cost of the vehicle.

I personally have averaged 39.0 MPG, according to the dash statistics in the car, since I reset it when I bought the vehicle. My truck was getting at best 18 MPG.

The Tacoma would require the average American 750 gallons per year to travel the average distance of 13,500 annual miles. On the other hand, the Sentra would only require about 346 gallons. Since the average cost of gas in the US is $2.50, that brings the Tacoma to burning through $1,875 a year in gas, and the Sentra with $865, creating an annual savings of $1,010.

I must admit one thing though since I am trying to be truly transparent with my readers.

My six-month insurance premium did change from $226 to $278. I’m not 100% sure why, and if you do know, feel free to comment down below, but I am guessing it’s because the Sentra SR is a sportier vehicle. Unfortunately, here, it has caused me to spend $104 more a year.

Nonetheless, we can add all of this up and find that our annual savings come out to following:

Annual savings from reduced monthly car payments: $1,232.40

Annual savings from the reduced cost of gas: $1,010.00

Annual savings from insurance cost: ($104.00) ← yes, that’s a loss in money 😭

🎁Annual Income Recouped: $2,138.40


#3. Drink water at restaurants

Glass of water

This one might sound ridiculous, but you must hear me out. Prepare yourself for some more statistics.

Most Americans (61% as of Gallup statistic 2016) ate at a restaurant once a week. That’s great. Okay, we’ve set the baseline that most Americans eat out once a week. Now check this out. The average American household is 2.52 people. If the average family eats out once a week and has a soft drink (I’m not going to even dive into the cost of ordering alcohol with a meal), that is an average of 2.52 soft drinks ordered per week or about 131 soft drinks for the family per year.

I couldn’t find a hard statistic on this one, but mostly what I have seen, soft drinks at sit down restaurants cost about $3.00. If you want to debate me on this, make sure you include 7% and 15% on top of your argument number for tax and tip respectively, as I won’t be including it in my calculation.

Let’s do the math since you get where I am going with this.

131 soft drinks per year, costing on average $3.00 per drink would equal $393.

It sounds silly, but why not just make a tiny adjustment to your lifestyle and just start drinking water with your meals at your weekly sit-down family dinners? Save the soft drinks for the grocery store. Plus, water is probably something most of us don’t drink enough of, and it is really good for us.

🎁Annual Income Recouped: $393.00


#4. Cut the cord

watching tv

The average cost for a subscriber of pay-TV in 2018 was $107 a month. That’s insane. Just… ridiculous.

Okay, I promise I am not judging. I had pay-TV for years. Here’s the thing though.

You can get most of your content with the use of a couple of streaming services. You can get a standard subscription to Netflix for $12.99, Hulu with Ads for $5.99, and Disney Plus for $6.99. Or you can get Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN bundled for $12.99.

Let’s just assume you go with Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus. You can watch Disney, Marvel, Netflix Originals, and “The Handmaid’s Tale” to your heart’s content, all for about $25.97, and with tax included that comes out to $27.79 per month.

I know what some of you might be thinking. “But I like to have stuff playing in the background where I don’t have to choose… I just want to have something on.”

You can still go with using the good old fashion antenna, or you can use the streaming service Pluto TV, which I stumbled upon last year, and it is pretty legit. It comes with a ton of channels, that you can just flip to and leave for that background noise you need so badly.

🎁Annual Income Recouped: $950.52


#5. Intermittent fast

buffet of food

Don’t run away yet. Just hear me out till the end!

This one may affect your lifestyle just a little bit… But I am a huge proponent of intermittent fasting. There are tons of studies on why it is actually good for you, and why you shouldn’t be cramming your body with foreign objects (food) like a bodybuilder six to seven times a day.

If you could just give this one a try, you might find that you are lighter on your feet in the mornings, your insulin sensitivity gets back in control and you can go longer than 37 minutes without eating, and best of all, you can eat 365 fewer meals a year.

Now, I am not saying you should push this on your children.

By no means am I pushing nutritional advice on anybody in the first place. All I am saying is, three square meals hasn’t even been around relatively that long… and it kind of has a racist history. But this isn’t about a debate over the validity of those historical claims.

What I can tell you is my anecdotal history. In 2017, I was my heaviest, weighing in at around 235 pounds, plus or minus. Slowly but surely, my weight was creeping higher and higher as I aged. In late 2017, I started to intermittent fast, and have been doing it ever since, and I now weigh around 195 to 200, depending on the holiday. I have maintained within 5 pounds of that weight for the last two-plus years, and I haven’t looked back. Oh, when I got married at the ripe youthful age of 20, I weighed 210 pounds. So, at 34 years old, I weigh less than my youthful newlywed self of 20 years old.

But back to the point, my wife and I both intermittent fast. This article explains that the average cost per meal cooked at home costs $4.00. My wife and I skip out on a combined 730 meals per year, since we only eat twice a day. Statistically, that comes out to $2,920 a year.

🎁Annual Income Recouped: $2,920.00


#6. Stop buying store-bought coffee

fancy coffee

Did you know that the average American spends $1,100 on store-bought coffee per year? That means, for my wife and me, we could be spending $2,200 a year in Starbucks… that’s wild.

We recently invested in a $20 coffee pot machine, and we make enough coffee every morning so that we can both have two cups of coffee. The can of coffee we buy is from Aldi, and every 2 weeks, we buy a new can, which costs about $5, or $130 per year.

Assume that we like to get the occasional cup o’ joe at Starbucks. Let’s just say we do it once a month. At $3 per cup, we would spend $72 a year at Starbucks, and that’s saying a lot because we actually go to Starbucks at most 3-4 times a year. But still, do the conservative math, and that is saving $2200 minus $130 (coffee cans) minus $72 (monthly Starbucks), and that brings you to an annual savings of $1,998.

Don’t take my word for it. Take it from 29-year old Graham Stephan who is already worth $6 million, self-made. He talks about it here in this video.

Sure, you can argue that this is going to change your lifestyle, especially if you have a daily routine of stopping at Starbucks on your way to work. Be honest with yourself though. How big of a change is it really? If you are brewing coffee at home (ours has a timer) that you can wake up to and drink immediately, how much does that really change your life?

🎁Annual Income Recouped: $1,998.00


#7. Keep your cell phone a little longer


Last but not least, please folks, keep your cell phone just a little bit longer… for the sake of all that is good and holy.

In 2020, the average person will keep their cell phone for 30 months. If the average couple keeps their cell phones (which cost an average of at $521 per smartphone) for 30 months, that comes to an average of 1042/30, an average cost of $34.73 per month, or $416 per year for both phones before they’re gotten rid of.

My wife still has her phone from 2017, and it is still going strong. If we can hold on to those phones for just one more year, or 42 months on average, that would come out to a cost of owning those phones of 1042/42 or $24.80 per month, $297.60 per year.

This is assuming you’re not the 2% that paid $1,500 for the flagship phone or the 14% who paid the $1,000 for the last year model.

But I digress… with all that ridiculousness aside, that still brings the average annual savings of $118.40.

This one is certainly a lot less significant, but like the smaller price tag benefit of drinking water at restaurants, it does something else to our psyche. It causes us to be more spend conscious, and really think twice about spending that extra dollar, if we don’t really need to, or even want to.

Additionally, I have found that I value my smartphone, oddly enough. My current one I have had for 2 years, and I plan to have it until it goes the way of the Zune. I treasure it because I focus on how I want to make the most out of it, the same way that my 7-year-old son treasures those sets of underwear that are way too worn out.

🎁Annual Income Recouped: $118.40


Total Annual Income Recouped

And finally, the big reveal. Let’s tally up everything and see how much the potential savings are. As I type this, I haven’t even actually done the math myself. They’re just money-conscious approaches that I personally follow because I don’t want to spend extra money on things that don’t really bring me fulfillment.

🎁🎉🧨✨Total Annual Income Recouped: $10,305.01


Final Word

If you think that what I wrote in this article is a bunch of bologna, that’s fine. I guess you don't really want to save $10,000 in a year.

How about this? What if you just implemented a few of the tips, namely number one on the list? You may not save $10,000 in a year but you could certainly put away a few thousand.


I don’t think that everybody will listen. But the few that heed my words, just have a little bit of trust, and go for it. See what starts happening. You might just find that you finally maxed your annual IRA contributions for the year, or that you finally saved 3-6 months of emergency savings, or that you have extra cash that you need to do some more reading since you aren’t sure what to do with it yet.

Living within your means really isn’t an impossible or even difficult feat. All we really need to do is to arm ourselves with a bit of knowledge, understanding that first step into stopping the financial bleeding.

Remember to seek fulfillment and meaning, which is what I constantly pursue, over happiness. When we think about how much fulfillment and meaning that pickup truck or SUV brings us (read tip number 3 in this amazing article), or how much fulfillment the coffee, or diet cokes, or credit card debt, or scrambled eggs brings me, I realized how much I actually don’t need them, and I can start focusing my wealth on other things that I truly enjoy.

Take these few ideas and try them out. All it takes is that first step to get you going in the right direction. It might not change your life, but it’ll probably be the first step of many in changing your life.


The Woke Hack

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. – Amelia Earhart

Time to Pay it Forward

Comment down below on your thoughts, any ideas of ways you have saved money in similar ways, and how you are finding fulfillment and meaning in your spending, or lack thereof.

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Ken Kowach
Ken Kowach
Feb 08, 2020

Thanks Dave, I'm glad you enjoyed the read, more to follow in the very near future !


Feb 08, 2020

Fantastice read. There is more good info here than I have the time to comment on, but there is so much to take from this. Simple changes we can make that bring about what we really want in the end: MORE MONEY! If you do even half the things discussed here you can net up to $5K back per year. Thanks for posting!

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