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With the current state of the economy, we’re all looking for ways to save a few extra bucks here and there, even though we may not be ready to drastically change our lifestyle in order to save money. There are many aspects of our financial life that we don’t have too much control over or that aren’t easily changed. We can’t make the food we purchase in the supermarket any cheaper, nor can we stop driving our cars even though the price to fill up leaves us with a bit of sticker shock (though I can happily say that prices are becoming a bit more palatable than they were just a few short months ago!). We also can’t drastically change the amount of our paychecks that go towards basic living expenses like housing and taxes. However, we are still left with an opportunity to make minor changes in our weekly spending habits that can add up to rather hefty savings over time.
So, if you’re looking to keep some more money in your possession, here are 8 money-saving tips that you can implement that won’t have any major impact on your daily life. They won’t add up to huge savings on their own, but combined, they will begin to add up more than you’ll even realize.
8 easy ways to save money without dramatically changing your lifestyle:
1. Use cash. When you only use the cash in your wallet to pay for purchases, you become much more aware of what you are spending and it is easier to stick to a budget. Determine how much money you need for a week for regular purchases and stick to that amount. It is easy to lose track of what we spend when we charge items to a credit card or have the money taken directly from our accounts with a debit card, because we don’t have the experience of actually parting with the cash, which keeps us more aware and helps us to think twice before spending.
2. Only go to the ATM once a week and frequent your own bank. It is better to get into the habit of taking money out just once a week and learning how to budget that money on a weekly basis to avoid extra trips to the ATM and ultimately extra bank fees associated with ATM withdrawals. It is best to use the ATM at your own bank to avoid any fees at all when withdrawing money.
3. Make your own coffee. You can save between $2 and $5 a day, depending on what your coffee drink of choice is, by making coffee before leaving for work in the morning and taking it with you in a travel mug. Forgoing the daily stop to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts won’t be missed shortly after you give up the habit, as long as you have a suitable alternative. Some coffee makers allow you to set up the coffee the night before and will go on with a timer so the coffee will be hot and steamy when you’re ready to go – and the aroma will be a welcoming wakeup smell. An added bonus of adopting this habit is that you will be more eco-friendly by not using disposable cups on a daily basis.
4. Avoid the vending machine. Snacks and drinks in vending machines have a large markup and are also generally unhealthy for you, so you can save money daily by passing them by. Bring a healthy snack or two and drink with you from home and you’ll have something to turn to when hunger strikes and you won’t feel deprived.
5. Brown bag it once in awhile. You don’t have to make a drastic change in your lunch plans in order to reap rewards. To start, choose just one day a week when you have some decent leftovers in the fridge and bring them to work rather than going out for lunch. Giving up only one lunch out weekly will save you about $5 – $10 a week. Doesn’t seem like much? Over the course of one year, that’s $260 – $520. Not bad!
6. Visit the library. Not only is the library a great source for free books, but you can also borrow music CDs and DVDs there as well. If you usually watch just one movie a week and can find something worth watching at the library, that’s a savings of approximately $4 – $5 a week. Make your own microwave popcorn and enjoy a fun night in!
7. Invite friends over. Rather than meeting for dinner and/or drinks out, invite your friends over for a fun night in and have everyone bring something. The main goal in going out with friends is to enjoy time spent together and you’ll still be doing that. If there is a group of people that you see on a regular basis, make arrangements to switch off meeting at different people’s homes to change it up a bit.
8. Share magazines with friends. Rather than purchasing or subscribing to multiple magazines, which can get rather costly, get together with like-minded friends and share your magazines. If you each get only one subscription, you can trade off issues when you’re done. The added incentive to this savings tip, is that it gets you to read the magazines when they’re still fairly new, rather than having them sit in a pile collecting dust. Don’t have any friends to swap magazines with? Go to the library instead or spend some free time in a bookstore perusing magazines of interest (most of the time you don’t read all the articles anyway, right?)
As you can see, none of these money-saving tips will make a major impact on the way you live your life. They don’t require much planning or changing of habits, but once implemented, they will begin to help you save a little more and spend a little less. And in these days of economic uncertainty, every little bit helps!