How do you save money? At heart, it’s a matter of not spending money, but many people want specific examples to help them understand ways that you can easily … well, not spend money. If that’s you, let me share a little secret – I really love lists of money saving tips. It makes my mom laugh because she says I already know and use almost all of them, but I still love to read them and see if I can find something I didn’t know.
Saving money really can be painless. It can even be a little fun with the right approach. It’s possible to save a ton of money with some minor adjustments in your spending habits. The trick is to save your savings. If you spend the money you save, you’re not gaining any ground.
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Find at least 10 tips you can put into action today:
Save your change and your $1 bills. At the end of the day, take all of your change (and $1 bills, if you’re American) and put them in a jar. Once a week, or at least once a month, make a deposit at the bank. Before putting any of this “found money” into savings, though, pay down debt.
Change your lightbulbs. Are you still using incandescent bulbs? Get out of the Stone Age and switch to fluorescent or LED bulbs. Switching 10 bulbs can save $150 each year. Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a lot, but every bit helps. Besides, you probably have more than 10 bulbs. When we switched out in our new house, there were 42 bulbs!
Start by saving $1 and increase it by $1 each week. The first month, you’d save $10 (1+2+3+4). By the last month, you’d save $202 (49+50+51+52). Increase your savings rate by just $1 per week. It doesn’t seem like it’s possible when you start, but it’s amazing how much you can stretch your ability to save. Once you’ve figured out the maximum amount you can save, don’t lower it!
Shop after the holidays. The best deals are available right after the holiday season. This is one of the great benefits of celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas – we do almost all of our shopping during Boxing Week sales.
Drink more water. Water is essentially free. It’s also better for you than anything you’re going to purchase at the store. Even if you have to buy a water filter, it’s less expensive than any bought drink. Get yourself a really good water bottle. I love my Lifefactory Water Bottle from Mighty Nest. If you use the code BOTTLEFIX2016, you can start your first month of the MightyFix for just $5, and a Lifefactory bottle will be your first delivery.
And if you want coffee when you’re out and about, make your own at home and take it with you. Thermos makes the most amazing coffee mug – mine will keep coffee hot for hours. This is the travel mug that I recommend for everyone – it’s stainless steel inside and out so it doesn’t develop weird smells, it’s all one piece so you don’t end up with water seeping inside it, and the stainless version is dishwasher safe. It’s flat out the perfect travel mug, in my opinion.
Take advantage of the deal websites. Groupon is perhaps the best-known website in this category. Get a haircut for $5 and put the $10 you saved in the bank.
Send yourself a bill. The electric company sends you a bill, so does every other entity that demands your money each month. Your savings account deserves the same consideration. Send yourself a bill and pay it! Talk to your bank and see if they can set something like that up – most are very happy to help you out.
Save your savings. Whether you saved $3 with a coupon or received a $2 rebate in the mail, ensure that money finds its way into your savings account or gets put on a bill. It does no good to save the money if you just let it slip right through your fingers!
Save water. Use the shower instead of the tub. A bathtub uses a shocking amount of water. For an added bonus, turn off the shower while you’re lathering up. You might get cold, which will make you go even faster. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and washing the dishes, too. I get a little touchy around here about water being wasted, I’ll admit. I’ve joked that of course we had running water at the cabin – we’d have to run it inside and then we’d have to run it outside.
Drop your cable. How much is it costing you each year? $1,200? Between the free movies at the library, Netflix, Youtube and just the rental section at your local convenience store, you can probably ditch that – or at least drop it down to the smallest package.
Go to the movie theater during the day. Most theaters open around 10 AM, and the ticket prices can be 50% less than in the evening.
Wash in cold water. Hot water will clean your clothes more effectively, but heating the water is expensive. Experts estimate you’ll save $0.50 per load. How many loads do you wash in a year?
Have a vegetarian dinner at least once each week. The meat is the most expensive part of the meal. Go meatless at least once a week and give your taste buds something new. In the Maritimes, that has traditionally been a feast of baked beans and brown bread. You can even make your own home canned baked beans if you have a pressure canner.
Don’t be a brand snob. Not all of them are inferior. Especially when it comes to things like rice, pasta and flour, there is really no reason to be a brand snob.
Exercise restraint in the checkout line. There’s nothing good to purchase there! You don’t need a candy bar or the latest issue of People magazine.
Turn down the heat when you’re at work. Or sleeping! Find the lowest temperature that will prevent your pipes from freezing. If the house is empty during the day, turn the heat down to just above that amount. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60F/15C to 70F/21 C range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. If you can be comfortable at 68F when the family is at home, turn it down to 60F/15C when no one is home. And do the same at night – blankets and warm pajamas are less expensive than heat fuel. To be honest, we keep our house at 64F/17C during the day and 50F/10C at night!
Once you get into the habit of saving, it becomes automatic. You’ll discover new ways to add to your growing account. Soon, you’ll have a savings account you can be proud of, and all it took was a little creativity and focus!