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We know that money isn’t everything, and it’s certainly not at the root of all happiness.
However, when your rent’s due, a bunch of unexpected costs hit, and your bank account is facing that regular, prolonged limp to payday, it can feel like the world is on your shoulders taking a gigantic sh*t on your head.
Worrying about money can be seriously stressful — it is the top stressor in the United States, according to the American Psychological Association.
It’s not about trying to do three different jobs in a week just to make ends meet. As anyone who’s tried it will tell you, that’s no way to live life. Instead, take control of your spending and save even just a pocket-full of George Washingtons to help lift some of the monthly concern.
When it comes to saving, mindset is important. Firstly, it’s important to know why you’re saving. If you’ve got clear goals, you’re likely to be a lot more motivated when it comes to stashing the cheddar.
Next, ask your own bank to set you up with a savings account. Having a separate account in which to stash money you don’t touch is great way to see your nest egg flourish into a giant, flappy money chicken.
Whether you want to be a millionaire (so frickin’ bad) or simply want to stop spending your paycheck before you get it, there are some surprisingly easy ways to tuck away a little cash. 94 of them, to be exact.
Because, sometimes, you have to look at those numbers and wince a little bit.
1. Pick a bank that gives back
Look for a bank that makes the most sense for you. Seek out perks like zero ATM fees, high interest on savings accounts, and no fees on overdrafts.
Smaller banks often may offer better interest rates and perks. If your huge, national bank doesn’t offer these perks, call them and ask if they will. If they refuse, skedaddle to your nearest small-scale local operation and give them your business.
We found 10 great ways to deal with money stress.
2. Divide your paycheck
Ask your company’s human resources department to divide each of your paychecks between your savings and checking accounts (and add a pretty please with a cherry on top).
Set a specific percentage to automatically deposit into your savings every month. This way, you’re less inclined to touch it while out at the bar (or on that trip to the craft store, no judgement).
Another bonus: Interest rates are generally higher for savings accounts than they are for checking. You’ll be making a little extra money without even thinking about it.
You don’t even have to spend the Earth on that celebratory payday wine.
3. Set goals with a budget-tracking app
As we mentioned in the intro, goals are important. Money is just a number until it’s for something.
So set goal/s, like these:
- Pay off credit card debt.
- Save for a vacation.
- Build up a down payment for a house of your own.
- Buy a wiener dog.
- Buy your wiener dog every available color of Pom Pom hat under the sun.
Then, come up with an actionable, realistic plan for achieving it (and, of course, stick to the plan).
Try out finance-tracking apps like BUDGT or Mint, which offer a visual barometer of specific goals, as well as an indicator of where your money seems to vanish the most — local pizza place, we’re looking at you.
4. Check on your account
We know, we know. It hurts to look at those numbers, sometimes.
However, it’s important to make like the Sherlock Holmes of your bank account and regularly scour for funny-looking charges. Maybe your utilities companies are overcharging you or a special offer hasn’t been applied as promised.
Staying on top of your current balance and past purchases allows you to spot errors as well as areas of spending that can be cut back.
Do you really need to eat takeout 3 nights a week? (Still looking at you, local pizza place.)
(You can save money by making your own damn pizza.)
5. Use ATMs sparingly
Yes, the feeling of those Benjamins in your hand can be quite something. But it pays to be smart about ATM trips. Try withdrawing a set amount each week and sticking to it, that way you won’t be forced to hit up a non-affiliated bank (and get whacked by ATM fees).
To stay organized, you can divide cash into envelopes with categories like Food, Rent, and Fun. Think of it as your real-life savings app.
When an envelope empties out, it’s time to stop spending in that section (or swap funds from another one). Paying with cash will also feel more “real” than using a plastic card, so you’ll have a more acute sense of spending money.
Here, you can learn how to save both cash and the entire world at the same time.
6. Plan withdrawals
If you find yourself needing to use ATMs more frequently, plan each ATM visit carefully to avoid fees. When it’s time to take out cash, make sure you have time to get to your bank (unless it doesn’t charge ATM fees — maybe if you went for a smaller bank, as we recommended in point 1).
Alternatively, head to a supermarket or convenience store that offers cash back with debit purchases.
If you’re looking to save money and stay fit, you could always make your own gym equipment.
For when you want to stay fresh but pay less.
7. Trawl exclusive deals sites
For deals on everything from haircuts to brow waxing, head to sites like Groupon, Yipit, or Living Social.
If some deals seem too good to be true, check out Yelp reviews of specific restaurants or salons before purchasing in order to prevent the meal or haircut from hell.
We rounded up some game-changing advice on starting up a credit card — check it out here.
8. Get your hair done for free
Search online for local beauty schools.
An appointment with a student in training may mean a majorly discounted (or even free) haircut. Top notch, international salon-level haircut? Probably not. Cheap, neat trim? Hell yeah.
And just because they’re students doesn’t mean they suck. They may even have been listening in class. Make sure you look after your hair afterward.
9. Take care of yourself
Get enough sleep, wash those hands, and do whatever it takes to prevent the sniffles. A little TLC, healthy food, and regular exercise can help prevent expensive medical bills down the road.
If you need tips on self-care, we rounded up 25 of the best.
10. Take short showers — or cold ones
Bear the occasional cold shower! Turning down the heat saves money on both water and the energy it takes to replenish your hot water tank. Besides, cold showers wake you all the way up.
If cold showers are your worst nightmare, try adjusting your hot water heater’s thermostat to 120°F (48.8°C) or less. You’ll still save energy (without the goose bumps).
And yes, there’s a way to take a shower properly — and no, it doesn’t need to be half an hour long for that to happen. Get to know.
11. Cut co-pays
Even with insurance, medication can be expensive.
If you have to pick up a regular prescription for meds, ask your doc for a 3-month supply. Oftentimes doing so is cheaper than purchasing month by month.
If you take regular medication for depression, here’s how it works.
12. Make your own shaving cream
Shave pennies off each shave with a DIY cream/lotion like this one, which uses moisturizing coconut oil, shea butter, and olive oil.
Or just use other (cheaper) items from around the house — conditioner, baby oil, or… wait for it… peanut butter!
We explained how to nail shaving, whatever you use.
13. Indulge in a DIY spa day
Face masks, body scrubs, and hair masks aren’t limited to pricey spas. Make your own spa-like goodies with easy-to-make ingredients including bananas and coffee.
14. Give up expensive habits
Ditch the cigarettes, illicit drugs, and excessive 30-racks of beer.
This stuff is not only a detriment to human health, but it’s the equivalent of pissing money into an endless pit of nothing.
Need convincing? If you smoke 10 cigarettes every day from a cigarette pack that costs $6.28, the average price for a pack of cigarettes in the U.S., you’ll rack up a $1,146 bill within the year. That is so much money on a habit that adds nothing to your life.
15. Hit up corporate discounts
See if your company offers corporate perks and discounts, such as gym memberships, ball games, cell-phone data plans, hotel fares, and concerts.
Who knows, you may well have perks outside of your salary and office snacks (these are also a good way to save money, by the way).
Here’s how to get a career you love, which might also have all the perks you need.
16. Take advantage of free fitness classes
Many gyms and fitness studios offer at least one free class or gym session, while others offer cheap, introductory rates. Don’t be afraid to try new places and new fitness trends!
Then, when you find one really worth investing in, you know it’ll be worth the extra cash.
17. Stream fitness classes online
Stream fitness classes for free or for a small fee. Some monthly subscriptions to fitness video sites are cheaper than one in-person class.
We like YogaToday, Daily Burn, and GaiamTV. Get friends involved to stay accountable. We also provided links to the best YouTube training channels out there.
18. Treat yourself
This one takes some self-restraint, but we actually endorse a form of frivolous spending! Every once in a while, go ahead and buy something you don’t really need (ahem, another bottle of nail polish).
Regularly treating yourself will help you feel less restricted so you don’t go on a spending binge down the road.
It can help you save knowing that you’re in a position to enjoy your money from time to time. The right mindset is key.
That heater doesn’t have to be running the whole time, now, does it?
19. Turn off the water while scrubbing dishes
No-one likes cleaning dishes — especially when you realize it actually uses quite a lot of water and jacks up your bill. Spray a little water on all the dishes in the sink, then turn it off while scrubbing.
Turn the water back on when it’s time to rinse. Hand washing dishes can save you from using loads of gallons every year — it really does add up.
That’s not just good for the environment; it’s also good for your wallet.
Check out our life-beating home-cleaning schedule.
20. Stay warm without the heat
During the harsh winter months, layer up with extra blankets, drink a hot cuppa tea, and get your snuggle on to stay warm instead of jacking up the heat.
Having something as simple as a hot water bottle in bed can mean forgoing high thermostat temps and sky-high winter utility bills.
21. Customize your air freshener
Fancy, fragrant wall flowers, aromatic sprays, and a slew of overpriced candles can do some serious damage on your wallet. Sure, they smell nice. But so does money.
Deodorize a stinky mudroom with a simple mix of baking soda and an essential oil of your preference.
We also like these DIY reed diffusers — perfect for smelling great and chilling you out.
Scents can make you feel great for next to no money.
22. Concoct a cleaning solution
Whip up your very own signature cleaning solution. DIY cleaners can be natural, safe, and — most of the time — less expensive. Not bad for something you didn’t want to be doing in the first place.
With basic ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, olive oil, and fresh herbs, DIY cleaners can get the job done without harsh chemicals and for a fraction of the price of commercial cleaners.
Try one of these 27 recipes for DIY cleaning products.
23. Choose energy-efficient appliances
The math is easy on this one. Less energy used equals less money spent.
If your fridge works perfectly fine, it may not be in your best interest to chuck it, especially if you’re short on funds. However, when you do decide to fork out, it’s worth the extra moolah to purchase an Energy Star model.
You can also pack your fridge and freezer to make the absolute most of it — find out more here.
24. Stay cool without the AC
The most obvious way to cut air conditioning costs is to not use air conditioning at all. Luckily, it’s still possible to keep cool on a stiflingly hot night.
You don’t need a fan or the AC running all night during the summer — here are some cheap and easy ways to keep cool.
25. Turn out the lights
Flick the switch with each change of location. That’s it. Easy as pie. Turning off that hallway light or making a household sweep to shut off lights in unused rooms can save a few pennies here and there.
Though the return isn’t mind-boggling, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to make sure the lights are off before you cross that threshold. And it’s part of a wider front to keep down your energy costs.
One of our writers lived by candlelight for 2 weeks — was it worth it?
26. Cut AC costs
Can’t stand to ditch the AC completely? You can still cut back on costs. Set the thermostat between 74°F (23.2°C) and 78°F (25.5°C) degrees to balance comfort and energy savings.
Keep the air filter clean (and replace it every few months), and be sure to close and lock the windows while the air conditioner is running for maximum chill.
27. Make sure your digs are well-insulated
Winter was coming for most of the 2010s… but you didn’t see any of the Stark clan blasting AC at full volume, did you? That’s because Winterfell was well-insulated. Probably.
When cold months arrive, taking a few easy steps to winterize your apartment or house can also reduce energy costs.
Try plugging drafty doors with towels (or a DIY draft snake), winterizing windows with plastic or caulking, and beefing up insulation to keep your homestead toasty.
This will help you cut back on heating costs all winter long. (Working out can help you stay warm too.)
28. Maintain appliances
Keep appliances clean and try to fix small snafus yourself rather than sending appliances (small or large) to the dump and purchasing new ones or paying loads for a pro to come and do the fixing for you.
Take easy steps — clean food particles and hard water scale before they build up, inspect seals for wear, and so on — to keep appliances doing your dirty work for longer.
If you bought the products new, chances are they’re still in warranty. Make sure you keep any warranty information to one side for those catastrophic breakdowns you can’t handle unless you’re a pro.
29. Turn off the tube
While powering off the TV doesn’t exactly save that much energy, turning away from the tube can save money in an entirely different way.
Less TV time means less exposure to an estimated 100 ads every 4 hours. Each commercial showcasing a quarter-pounder or a root cyclone technology vacuum is designed to sell consumers a product, which is pretty wild stuff considering TV is considered the most effective advertising channel.
To avoid the burning desire to spend on things you never knew you needed, avoid ads as much as possible. Mind you, they now hit your streaming service, phone, and pretty much every vertical or horizontal service in between.
Still, try and be resilient in the face of relentless marketing, and avoid it where you can.
We rounded up research on how much TV counts as too much.
30. Ditch cable
Ya’ll ready for this? Canceling cable can save $500 a year.
Beyond the obvious health benefits of decreasing TV time — including increased sleep and prioritizing your social life — limiting your dependence on cable TV can save a substantial amount of money.
Fear not! There are alternatives including Hulu ($5.99 per month with the first month free) and Netflix ($8.99 per month).
We rounded up the sexiest shows on Netflix, because we love it and you do too.
31. Switch to energy efficient bulbs
You’ve probably seen energy efficient light bulbs on the shelves of the hardware store. They can be more expensive than their traditional counterparts, but they pay off in the long run: LED bulbs and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) require less energy to run.
Crazy as it may sound, replacing 5 bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs can save $75 each year.
32. Reduce phantom power
No, phantom power is not some sort of comic book villain (although it should be).
It’s the discreet flow of energy from cords plugged into outlets when the devices they’re attached to are in standby mode or powered off. Unplug cell phone chargers and electronic devices when you’re not using them.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans have anywhere between 20 and 40 devices (from printers to coffee makers) using phantom loads throughout their homes — and this all adds up to money needlessly spent on energy.
Here’s one device, however, that will have you standing up in appreciation.
33. Use a surge protector
To make it easier to shut down the mighty force that is phantom power (see No. 32), you need a superhero.
And that hero is a surge protector. Buy one and and shut off the switch when it’s not in use, saving your bills from phantom power’s needless wastage.
Hang out with friends, but don’t run out of cash.
34. Find happy hour drink specials
Fiddle with Foursquare to find drink specials at local bars and restaurants.
Dirt-cheap drinks and zero cover charge make the mantra “It’s five o’clock somewhere” all the more appealing.
Alternatively, you could just say no to Happy Hour. We know. It’s just sometimes not feasible — and there’s no shame in that.
35. Whip up your own greeting cards
Birthday cards can be insanely expensive.
From thank you notes to birthday cards, all it takes to make a classy-lookin’ DIY card is some cardstock, a little creativity, and thought about the recipient in question.
In contrast, store-bought cards can cost around $5.99, and chances are they’ll be tossed in just a few days. Besides, an in-joke guaranteed to land is priceless.
We found some charity gifts for when you want to put a little joy back in the world.
36. Have a potluck
The premise is simple: At a potluck dinner, each invitee brings along a dish of food, which everybody then eats. Lots of people = lots of food. And that’s the kind of math we can get behind.
Delegating dishes among guests makes it easier for the host family by saving time, energy, and (of course) money.
Bonus: Eating with friends is good for our health and a key part, as it happens, of the Mediterranean diet.
37. Eat in, outside
Eating in doesn’t have to mean chowing down inside. Bring a picnic to a park, a beach, or even your backyard, and make dinner just a little more special (without having to tip).
We’ve got a guide to compiling the perfect picnic.
38. Bring your own bottle
Hit up BYOB restaurants to hang out with friends, enjoy a good meal, and save a ton on the alcohol mark-up. Call ahead to see if there’s a corkage fee — even so, it’s much cheaper than ordering bottles of claret from a drinks menu.
We compiled the best wine pairings for casual meals so you can still be classy AF on a budget.
39. Make your own gifts
When it comes time for birthdays and holidays, peruse Pinterest for homemade gift ideas, such as DIY candles, face scrubs, baking mixes, and home goods.
To be honest, it really is the thought that counts — so spend less money and make it count. Forgot the damn birthday and rushing at the last minute? No sweat, these DIY food gifts will have you covered.
Because it’s 2020 and we don’t even need to leave our house to have a great day.
40. Go to the movies during the day
Hitting up a matinee can save a few buckaroos per person.
And smuggling in a few healthier snacks can save a ton (both in terms of money and health) compared to overpriced boxes of candy and cartons of popcorn. Those markups are straight-up criminal.
41. Create your own theater
Turn at-home movie watching into your own mini cinema (a minema, if you will). Make popcorn, splurge on soda, and maybe even go all out with a box of Sour Patch Kids.
Turn off the lights and the phones, and save chatting for after the movie for a theater-like experience without the fortune you’d usually spend (you even get to shush anyone who talks).
42. Get a library card
A library card grants access to thousands of books for free, but that’s not all. You can use your library card to borrow movies, magazines, and newspapers. The library is also a great place to get some work done free of charge (aka without the guilt of only buying the smallest latte).
See if you can find one of these books on creativity. Then you can create your own damn entertainment.
43. Share media streaming accounts
Don’t have a Netflix account yourself? Split the already low monthly cost with a roommate, family member, or friend. (Or just… steal their login. Everybody does it.)
Same goes for magazine subscriptions and fitness streaming sites. The instructor doesn’t know you’re in there working out with the person who’s actually paying.
You can get entertainment burnout, though, so watch out. If you end up bingeing too much, just go outside.
44. Swap books, music, and DVDs
Share your favorite reads, movies, and music with friends instead of buying things at the store — or get used version dirt cheap. Search for and sell discounted collections on Craigslist and PaperBackSwap, or check out used book and music stores.
45. Ditch unread subscriptions
If your stack of magazines gets more time in the recycling bin than in your eager paws, then it’s probably time to get rid of unread subscriptions.
Even one ditched subscription will save at least $10 a year. Doesn’t seem like much, but that could get you most of Nic Cage’s back catalog at a used DVD store. Just sayin’.
Here are 9 monthly subscriptions you can afford and add loads to your social life.
46. See what’s happenin’ around town
Check the local newspaper, town website, Facebook groups, or coffee shop boards for free or cheap events.
These could range from farmers’ markets to concerts in the park, but we wager there’s something going on in your neighborhood (you’re welcome to call Ghostbusters if you like).
Why not join a themed race?
47. Be smart at the museum
Call local museums and inquire about monthly free-admittance days.
Some museums advertise 1 day a month for free or for a discounted fee. Other museums offer a pay-what-you-can option year-round. Learn a thing or two without spending a buck or two.
During COVID, you might have to do this digitally — but this means it will almost definitely be free (or at least on a donation basis).
Because the word “SWAG” needn’t be spelled “$WAG” (however much drip that spelling has).
48. Clean out your closet
Yeah, we know, after that intro this was super not exciting in the slightly. But take some time to actually put everything where it’s supposed to go.
Once you’ve organized your clothes so everything has a place, it’s likely you’ll find forgotten items hiding in your closet and rethink that urge for a whole new wardrobe.
You’ll also find clothes you don’t need or wear anymore and can donate them. It’s like a makeover you already had the ingredients for.
We found the five most embarrassing questions about underwear.
49. Check labels
Avoid “dry clean only” clothes that can cost an arm and a leg to maintain. For tough-to-clean items, such as wool, silk, and rayon, hand wash with mild soaps instead of shipping them off to the dry cleaners. It saves you expensive wash cycles or, worse, ruining and replacing clothes. On that note…
(For tough-to-clean stains, we’ve got you covered…)
50. Take care of the clothes you do have
Even if you have to pay a little more to do a separate load of whites, you’ll promote clothing longevity.
Clothes are an expensive investment, and taking good care of your wardrobe can save money over time. Take small steps — sew on lost buttons, patch jeans (totally looks cool anyway), etc. — to keep clothes past their prime.
We found eight brilliant alternatives to dryer sheets so you didn’t have to.
51. Do the “sniff test”
Each time you decide it’s laundry day, evaluate if you really need to wash something. Go ahead, sniff your clothes and assess if that hardly-worn T-shirt really needs a run through the washer and dryer. The key here is that laundering less means your clothes will last longer.
You’ll also save yourself unnecessary loads and potentially use the washing machine less. Your water bill will thank you (the company won’t, they’ll frickin’ hate your guts).
Here’s the million dollar question in all this… does peeing in the shower help? Look no further.
52. Hang some stuff up to dry
Dryers not only expend energy, they can damage clothes and decrease their lifespan. The actual cost of running a dryer isn’t all that steep, but the more immediate effect is maintaining the integrity of each item of clothing.
53. Use cold water
The most expensive part of washing clothes is heating up the water. Using cool water saves money — around 50 cents per load — on heating bills. Hot water does in fact clean better, but save it for seriously soiled clothes rather than the just-slightly-stinky stuff.
Because, sometimes, “do less of it” isn’t an option…
54. Leave your wallet at home or at the office
Going for a walk? Leave your wallet when you head out so you won’t be tempted to grab coffee or go on a mini shopping trip.
(We know it can be tough. Just trust us. Also, if you’re prone to spontaneous sprees, maybe delete any digital contactless cards from your phone — it’s asking for trouble.)
55. Sign up for rewards cards
Getting rewarded for shopping, you say? Sold. Having a rewards card can help you save money on everyday items such as shampoo or toilet paper.
If the emails from drug stores bother you, immediately unsubscribe, but keep their cash-back scheme. To make things even easier, there are apps that consolidate cards so you don’t have to carry them all around. Save money like a bawse.
56. Coupon like a champ
Trawl for online coupon codes. Couponing doesn’t have to mean hours of clipping circulars — you can copy links online and save money really easily.
Also, Chrome Extensions like Honey can automatically find savings and coupons for you.
57. Wait for sales
We all love a good sale, but if you’ve got the patience to wait until major sales for stores you love, it could save you bundles.
Visit retailmenot.com to search for discounts for a favorite item or store. Added tip: Wait until the end of a season to buy clothes when they’re all half off or more.
Or, count down until Black Friday or Cyber Monday and reap the bargains that way, but avoid the in-person stampede — no need to risk life and limb for that toaster you need.
(We prefer , though.)
58. Delete credit card numbers
Remove credit card numbers from online accounts… like right now! We know how convenient it is just to have them there. That is entirely the point. This way, with each new purchase, you’ll have to consciously plug in those numbers and question whether the purchase is really necessary.
Plus, if anyone steals your phone or laptop, it’s that bit more secure.
59. Holiday shop after the holidays
Buy Father’s Day cards the day after Father’s Day, wrapping paper after Christmas and Hanukkah, and Easter paraphernalia after Easter. Most stores heavily reduce prices on seasonal items after the holiday has passed.
60. Abide by the 30-day rule
If you feel like you’re treating yourself to an unnecessary purchase, it probably is unnecessary (sorry). Treating yourself once in a while is fine, but it can become highly problematic for your budget if you’re hemorrhaging money left, right, and center on sh*t you don’t actually need.
Write the item down and wait 30 days. If at the end of that time you decide you still want it, then go for it.
61. Buy generic
Try out generic brands of some of your most commonly purchased items. Oftentimes, it’s hard to notice a difference. A brand name really is just that sometimes.
Certain purchases, such as medications and organic food, are especially smart to buy generic. This means they’re definitely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, respectively. Plus, they’re much, much cheaper.
There are also apps that can help you find generic versions of the medication you need — but be sure to seek consultation with a doctor first to make sure going generic is right for you.
62. Buy in bulk
Buy personal care items, such as deodorant and hand soap, in bulk (so long as you’re confident you’ll actually use it all).
Buying bulk almost always saves money on the unit price. Plus, then you only have to think about buying deodorant, like, once a year (or you could always make your own).
Om nom! without the Oh no!
63. Grow your own food
Produce doesn’t always have to come from the grocery store or even the farmers’ market.
A wide variety of herbs, fruits, and veggies are easy to grow (even indoors!). The math is simple: A packet of seeds can cost less than a dollar, yet it can grow dozens of cukes, tomatoes, or green beans.
Get used to growing your own.
64. Write a list — and stick to it
Strategic placement of foods as well as desirable packaging often has us leaving the store with a few extra bags (and too many extra bucks spent) (you didn’t need that multi-colored cereal).
An effective way to steer clear of impulse buys is to write a shopping list before going to the grocery store and then stick to it.
65. Scrutinize grocery circulars
Check out grocery circulars to see which store has the most of your favorite go-to items on sale. If you don’t get the paper, look up each store’s weekly specials online. Being a vegetable nerd can save you hella cash.
66. Go grocery shopping on a full stomach and alone
Don’t let a rumbly tummy or a picky spouse influence your grocery list.
Head to the supermarket after you’ve eaten. Studies show that shopping with hunger pangs may mean more food in the cart based on temporary cravings rather than what your body needs.
If you can’t stop feeling hungry, stocking up on junk isn’t the answer.
67. Use a basket
Use a basket instead of a cart if you know you need just a few items. It’ll keep you from tossing in more than you need (plus, you’ll get a mini arm workout while you shop — talk about buying in bulk).
68. Don’t buy just because you have a coupon
Yes, yes, we did say coupons are bangin’ just a few points back — but you don’t have to buy something just because you happened across a 10 percent discount.
($0 is the cheapest of all.)
Coupon clipping shouldn’t be a chore. Sit down once a week or once a month, and only clip things you really will use rather than buying something just for the sake of getting a good deal.
You can turn coupon clipping into a useful game, if you want.
69. BYOB — Bring your own bag
Heading to the grocery store with a fabric bag in tow not only cuts down on paper and plastic waste, it can save you money (albeit a very tiny bit).
Stores including Target, CVS, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s offer incentives for reusable bags, like money back (5 to 10 cents) or entry into a prize draw for a gift certificate.
These little discounts will add up over time. Plus, recycling is boss.
70. Buy what’s in season
Unlike the clothes rack, buying produce that’s in season can mean it’s cheaper. You can look for recipes that feature seasonal produce.
Rock up to farmers’ markets during the spring, summer, and fall for locally grown produce that’s often less expensive than supermarket food shipped in from miles and miles away.
71. Choose organic only some of the time
Organic produce is nearly always more expensive than the conventionally grown stuff, but the good news is that some fruits and veggies are A-OK to buy without the organic seal of approval.
Check out the Clean 15. This is the Environmental Working Group’s list of produce that’s safest to eat in nonorganic varieties. Also, when using a slow cooker, you can buy cheaper cuts of meat.
72. Ask for a rain check
If a product you like is on sale but has run out, inquire about a rain check — yep, it’s where the phrase comes from. Once the item is in stock again, you should be able to buy it for the initial sale price, no questions asked.
73. Pass up on checkout line fare
Eyes on the cashier! Don’t even entertain the idea of impulse buys at the checkout line (here’s looking at you, gum, candy, and tabloids).
Tempting treats are designed to be eye candy, but you most likely have no need for a marked-up granola bar. Get one over on those crafting checkout organizers, the cads.
74. Cash in on cans and bottles
Recycle glass and aluminum empties to put a little extra change back in your pocket. In states with bottle bills, each bottle or can redeems 5 to 10 cents.
75. Shop for food in bulk, too
We already mentioned buying sanitary products in bulk, but you can also grab grub by the truckload to make it cost less per unit.
Buy your favorite items — from beans to beets to seeds to grains — in bulk. Just don’t stock up for a fallout shelter — make sure you use up what you have before bulk-buying again. Leave some beans for someone else.
Make sure to check the unit price first to see if the prices are truly less expensive than the pre-packaged versions. If they’re not, maybe don’t drop $100 on beans.
76. Drink more water
You’re already paying the bill — you might as well mainline H2O like a champ. Drinking water may seem like a no-brainer for good health, but it’s a clear-cut winner in the money-saving category.
Soda, juice, and especially alcohol can jack up grocery bills and restaurant checks. Switching to water most of the time can save a good chunk of moolah.
77. Eat frozen veggies
Price stickers on fresh produce may keep you from eating your veggies — but there’s a cheaper alternative that’s just as healthy. Sticking to frozen veggies for some recipes can cut a few dollars here and there.
Just make sure to check unit prices, as some in-season fresh vegetables may be less expensive than the frozen variety (plus, they’re definitely tastier).
78. Double your recipe
Cook multiple meals at a time — double a recipe, or cook a few recipes at once — and then freeze some for later when you’ve got no time for meal prep. This saves you from the suddens expense of take-out food (f*ck you, local pizza place, we still see you).
If once-a-month cooking is too daunting a task, stick to once a week or a couple times per week.
79. Use a slow cooker
A slow cooker can be one of the best kitchen money savers, since it’s so cheap to run. They use just 100 watts of electricity, which means one meal a week racks up less than a dollar on the electricity bill — Great Scott!
One-pot meals in the Crock turn less expensive meats into tasty, tender dishes. The small appliance also produces huge batches of food to freeze for later.
Here are some mouth-watering slow cooker recipes for even the hungriest Crockophiles.
80. Make your own coffee
We know the power of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. But it’s so damn costly. Brew that morning cuppa Joe at home, or take advantage of the office coffee maker to save up to $15 a week.
Making coffee at home or at work is also far more environmentally friendly, since you’ll just be drinking out of your World’s Number One Environmentally Friendly Person mug and not dumping a paper cup with each purchase.
(Most big coffee chains offer a permanent flask these days, but stop it — we’re trying to save you money here!)
81. Save all your pennies
Save up your spare change and spend it on a fun drink that you don’t really need, e.g. that Pumpkin Spice Latte from number 80, or a bottle of kombucha.
You’ll get to treat yourself without putting any strain on your wallet — this is just shrapnel you had lying around.
82. Make your own snack-y foods
Snack bars, quick-cooking oatmeal cups, and individual hummus cups all come with a price — and it’s almost always higher than a homemade version. Spend a little time in the kitchen to make healthier, less-processed versions of packaged snacks.
83. Brown-bag lunch
Packing lunch for work or school is generally the healthier choice.
Plus, it saves on ludicrous food price markups at sit-down restaurants and fast-food joints. Yes, you’ll be the one with the packed lunch. You’ll also have bag$ of ca$h as a result.
Rather than a $10 to $15 lunch from the corner deli, a lunch from home can cost just a few dollars.
84. Understand expiration dates (and prevent food spoilage)
Here’s a little secret: Expiration dates actually refer to the quality and freshness of food, not safety. Food is often safe to eat even beyond “sell by” and “use by” dates, so long as it’s stored right.
Keep food from spoiling — before any stamped date — by setting the fridge thermostat to 40°F (4°C) or below and freezing meats within 2 days of purchasing.
Organizing your fridge correctly can save you loads by preventing spoiled food.
85. Participate in Meatless Mondays
Cutting meat from just one meal a week (it doesn’t have to be on a Monday) can save a few bucks because meat, poultry, and fish are more expensive than other protein sources.
Swap in beans, legumes, eggs, nuts, and seeds for a simple and healthy way (both for humans and the planet) to fatten up the wallet.
86. Take care of dry goods (and freeze them first)
Store grains and spices in airtight containers and keep them in a cool, dark place. Freeze flour, sugar, grains, and baking mixes in the freezer for 2 to 4 weeks to increase shelf life to up to 2 years.
Storing these items with care means they’ll last longer
(And before you ask, just because dry goods are dry doesn’t mean they don’t have an expiration date. Flour has feelings too, you know.)
87. Buy your own ice cream or dessert
YEAH! ICE CREAM!
Instead of dropping extra (cookie) dough on a slice of pie and a cappuccino, save the sweets for home sweet home, rather than ordering them at a restaurant. Then shove them in the freezer. Job done.
Sometimes, you’ve got places to be. Here’s how to get from A to B without C-ing your bank account D-preciate.
88. Walk and bike whenever possible
This one is as simple as strapping on a helmet or lacing up a pair of sneaks.
Not only will a bike or walk commute to the supermarket or to work provide health benefits (see ya, calories), but it’s also more cost-effective (no gasoline required!) and environmentally friendly, too.
The average American commuter drops more than $1,000 on gas each year just driving to and from work. That is SO. MUCH. MONEY. You’re likely dropping half your wages on the opportunity to earn your wages.
No one should be trapped in that cycle alone.
Carpooling with a coworker not only cuts gas costs but also saves on maintenance, meaning you won’t have to worry as much about buying a new car in the near future.
Driving is certainly not your only option for commuting. And, post-COVID, working from home may well be an option for some people — chat to your boss and see what’s possible.
90. Fill up your tires
Properly inflated tires can increase fuel efficiency by nearly three percent — which means less money spent on gas and more in your pocket/bank account/local pizza place (okay, fine, we accept your power).
Check your tires frequently with a tire gauge to make sure they’re adequately pumped up.
91. Don’t leave junk in the car
What you gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk?
Leave it at home. It’s jacking up your gas mileage. The more a car carries, the worse its gas mileage gets. Losing 100 pounds from the trunk cuts a typical car’s fuel economy by about 1 percent, which can save you money over the course of a year.
You don’t have to drive to vacations, either — here’s everything you need to know about traveling green.
92. Limit trips in the car
If you have a car, limit trips out by planning ahead. Combine errands into a once-a-week drugstore/supermarket/hardware store sweep.
Bonus: This is usually a more efficient use of your time. Who wants to hang out in hardware stores? Not us, that’s for sure.
93. Pack light and book online
Avoid crazy baggage fees at the airport by sticking to one carry-on and one personal item if you’re headed on a short trip. You don’t need everything you own with you.
Book flight tickets online with sites like Orbitz and Hotwire so you can compare airline prices and find the best deals.
If you book on cheapair.com, the site even refunds passengers the difference if an already-purchased ticket has dropped in price. At the moment, thanks to a certain pandemic, plane travel is a little… erm… up in the air. So be sure to check whether flights are operating and keep an eye on cancellations.
94. Take advantage of public transportation
Opting for a bus ride rather than driving yourself to work each day could easily save more than $100 per month (factoring in the costs of parking, fuel, and car maintenance).
Exotic? Hell no. A bargain? Yeppedy blam. Plus, it’s greener. But pop quiz, hotshot: Which movie should you avoid watching beforehand?
If a bus isn’t a viable commuting option, try it out as a cheaper (and less stressful) option than driving to a vacation destination or to visit family.
Shoot for off-peak times (after 10 a.m.) and book in advance if possible. And of course, if you’re a city-dweller, the subway is much cheaper than owning a car or frequently taking a cab.
None of these suggestions leave you looking especially baller.
But you know what? You came to this page to save money. Living a more frugal lifestyle is actually a surer way to hang on to quality of life, meaning you don’t have to overwork yourself and can actually build up toward the things you really want from life, or visit the places you want to go.
And, of course, you can still buy from your local pizza place from time to time (hooray!). Just be sensible.
Now, if you could only find a job you deserve…