How Much Can You Save in a Year from Changing One Habit?

There are so many article titles used to grab readers’ attention. The titles can often be misleading and the information can often be exaggerated. This is why I wanted to provide some calculations to support some changes you can make and how much money you will realistically save by making those changes.

Paint Your Own Nails

Sorry guys- this isn’t the most relevant for you, but if you share a bank account with your wife, fiancé or girlfriend, then it could impact you! Obviously, nail salon costs vary based on geographic location, so I will use my own experience and an average to come up with the numbers. Let’s say you (or your significant other) get a manicure at the nail salon every 2 weeks. On average, the cost of this manicure is $25. There’s 52 weeks in a year, so make that 26 manicures in a year.

$25 x 26 manicures = $650 per year

Just because you’re nixing the nail salon, doesn’t mean you can never have your nails painted again. Let’s pretend you have 0 nail polishes at home. You’re not going to always want your nails painted the same exact color every day of the year, so you invest in 7 new colors at $7 per bottle. With tax we’ll make that $50 worth of nail polish for the year (and they will last more than a year). Your new savings becomes:

$650 – $50 = $600 per year

I’d say $600 is a pretty good savings for an entire year! If you really love getting your nails done and don’t want to give it up completely, request gift cards to nail salons as gifts for special occasions like your birthday, Christmas, anniversaries, etc.

Make Coffee at Home/Work

There’s so many factors that affect the price of coffee: location, where you’re buying it from, what size, what type, etc. So in order to simplify this enough that I can show you a calculation, I’m going to use my husband’s coffee habits as an example. I drink caffeine on very rare occasions, like once every few months, so that’s why I have to use my husband (he’s a coffee addict). He prefers Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. A medium hot coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts in our town in Westchester County, New York costs $2.32. Let’s say you get 1 coffee per day 5 days a week. 5 days a week with 52 weeks in a year equates to 260 days. This means you spend the following:

$2.32 x 260 days = $603.20 per year on coffee

My husband orders a large coffee from Dunkin’ on the days he is working in New York City, which costs $2.71. If he orders a large coffee instead of a medium those same 5 days a week over the course of a year, he spends the following:

$2.71 x 260 = $704.60 per year on coffee

If he never bought coffee out again, we would save between $600-700 per year; however, I am a firm believer in treating yourself. If he cuts his coffee habit in half and we take the average of a medium and large coffee over the course of a year then we would save the following:

($704.60 + $603.20) / 2 = $653.90

$653.90 / 2 = $326.95 savings per year

Choose a Different Place to Workout

If you have enough self-discipline, working out at home is a great and easy way to save money. No gym membership AND you end up saving on gas if you have to drive to your gym, although your gas savings is probably nominal. I personally struggle with getting myself to workout at home, so it’s hard for me to completely get rid of my gym membership, but I did switch gyms which resulted in a huge savings for me. I originally had a membership at a gym close to my home that offered an abundance of amenities and included fitness classes in the price. The total monthly cost of this membership, though, was $105 per month and I didn’t ever use the fitness classes because they didn’t quite work exactly with my work/gym schedule. We were lucky enough to have a Planet Fitness open about 4 miles further down the road and the cost of a basic membership there (which is all I need) is just $10 per month with an annual charge of $40. My savings from switching memberships was:

Original gym membership: $105 x 12 months = $1,260

Planet Fitness membership: $10 x 12 = $120 + $40 = $160

Total Savings: $1,260 – $160 = $1,100 per year!

If I can work up the motivation and self-discipline required to workout at home, I would be able to save myself another $160 per year.

Drink Filtered Water Rather Than Bottled Water

This is a habit I personally need to break, not just from a cost-savings perspective, but also from an environmental perspective. At this moment, a 24-pack of Poland Spring water is $5.19. We go through about 2 packs per month, so $10.38 per month on bottled water.

$10.38 x 12 = $124.56 per year

We don’t even have to purchase a water filter because our refrigerator has a built in water filter and we have plenty of free water bottles we’ve received from various events. So, by just switching our habit of drinking bottled water to drinking water for that is available already for free, we would save at least $124.56 every year.


These are just 4 examples of ways you can easily save money every year. If you made all 4 of these simple changes, you would save a total of $2,151.51 over the course of one year! You could use this $2,151.51 for so many things: retirement, investing, emergency fund, vacation savings, college fund, loan repayment… the possibilities are endless. The point is, next time you think that changing one small habit won’t make a big difference financially, see how much making that change would impact you over the course of one year and think of all the things you could do with that money. It can be quite motivating!

What’s one change you made to save yourself money? How much did you/will you save over one year? What did you do with that money instead?

17 thoughts on “How Much Can You Save in a Year from Changing One Habit?

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  1. Nice examples! I bring lunch from home more often (also because I workout at my work gym during lunch hour for free – double whammy 🙂
    When there’s nothing to bring, peanut butter and jelly with a handful of peanuts is my backup lunch with ingredients always at home.

    1. NICE! I’m jealous about the free gym at work.

      Bringing lunch can save LOADS of money! It’s smart to keep a backup at work (like PB&J) so that you always have something. I’m fortunate enough to have free lunch at work everyday.

    1. Thanks! Yes, there are so many ways to save money. I like the idea of projecting out an entire year’s worth of savings because I think the bigger picture is more impactful.

  2. Cutting my hair at home saves about $200 a year. I don’t suggest the ladies try that one.

    One tip for working out at home is to dedicate a room, garage, basement corner etc as the gym. If you have to move the coffee table or get the equipment out of the closet you won’t do it.

    1. That’s awesome, Grant! I agree, I definitely would not try to cut my own hair haha. But my father-in-law does his own, as well!

      Such a good tip! It’s true. The more effort it takes, the more likely you are to come up with excuses for not working.

  3. I’m still a sucker for getting my nails done, but I only (ok, maybe only isn’t the right word) go once a month. I really hate painting my own nails and it only ever lasts a couple of days.
    I am good about making coffee at home, working out at home, and drinking tap water…so it’s not all bad 🙂

    1. Sarah, that’s awesome! Obviously, as you read, I’m still working on some of these myself. I’m a firm believer in doing what makes you happy, but I do feel there is a good balance. So, if you are a sucker for being pampered at the nail salon, indulge yourself! You seem to be cutting back in plenty of places, so getting your nails done doesn’t sound like it’s breaking the bank 🙂

  4. I only went to get a pedicure once this year so far (before my baby was born, have to have nice feet for the delivery haha) and last year I think I went twice. I agree with Sarah, when I paint my own nails it doesn’t last very long (nor does it look very nice).

  5. My nails don’t look as nice, but it’s good for me when I’m in a bind and just need it done quickly (and cheaply). I get a manicure/pedicure a handful of times each year, so it feels like a treat for me.. and most of those times are with a gift card. As I said to Sarah, I’m all for doing what makes you happy. And for carrying around a baby for 9 months, a pedicure is the LEAST you deserve haha. Congratulations, by the way!

  6. Wait guys dont get manicures… Ha just kidding. I cant sit still long enough to get a hair cut, I would never be able to sit while they cut your toe nails or whatever a manicure actually is 🙂

    This is a great list of some practical ways to save money. For my wife and I, FOOD is a budget KILLER. Eating out for dinner and lunch was a sacrifice we needed to make in order to pay off our debt faster. Sacrifice now, so that we can enjoy later.

  7. It’s amazing how much you can save here and there.

    We changed our land line and cell services a bit over a year ago, with major savings.

    I really need to look at the budget and see where else we can hang on to some of our money.

    Once again, good stuff, Courtney!

  8. The most relatable habit for me is the water bottle usage. I’m definitely getting a water bottle now as it’s so much easier and cost-effective to get free filtered water than buying bottles everytime I run out.

    P.S. –
    5) Dress according to the temperature at home to avoid turning on the AC and heat when possible 🙂

  9. Great Stuff, Stop buying a daily coffee can also save money. Rather than hitting up Starbucks every day, consider investing in a nice coffee maker, even if the price tag is a bit steep — overtime, it’ll save you in the long run. about $30 a week, or $120 a month.

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  11. I decided to walk everywhere or to go by bike (I live in inner Melbourne, Australia) instead of taking the train/tram. I did it more to be active and to keep fit, but had the side-effect of saving a whole $1500 on a yearly ticket!
    $1500 saved ain’t bad – and I feel better doing it too!

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