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Sick of seeing all your hard-earned money go down the drain when you KNOW you should be saving money?
Here are seven totally do-able ways you can save money today to add some more money to your debt payoff, contribute more to the savings account, or just free up a little wiggle room each month.
1.) Try a TV alternative.
My husband and I have been cable free for about three years now, and we haven’t even missed it! We picked up an antenna to watch live, local TV (I didn’t even realize this was a thing!) and aside from the price of the antenna, it’s completely free! We get about 10 channels, which include ABC, Fox, and NBC, so we can still watch a lot of the prime time shows we love. Here’s one from Amazon, or you could just pick one up at Walmart next time you go.
Another service I’ve enjoyed is Vudu through our SmartTV. We’ve used this to rent and stream movies, and we’ve even bought a season pass to a TV show that let us watch the new episodes when they aired. This is a good pay as you go option since you’re only buying the shows or movies you want to watch (instead of paying for hundreds of channels you don’t care about.)
2.) Switch up your lunch routine.
Food has always been my biggest struggle when it comes to the budget. I LOVE to eat out and I’ve found my biggest weakness is during my lunch break at work. $5 to $10 here and there doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, until I see how much that adds up to over the course of a month. (By the way, have you tried highlighter budgeting?) I could easily spend $100 a month on lunches that could have gone to my debt snowball! Here’s a few tips for breaking the lunch-out habit:
- Eat last night’s dinner leftovers for today’s lunch. If you usually don’t have anything leftover, start increasing the recipe by one to two servings.
- Make a big pot of soup or a casserole at the beginning of the week that will be specifically for your lunch meals.
- If you have a big enough break room, store some lunchtime essentials there to make it easier to prepare fresh lunches. If you don’t usually have enough time in the mornings to prep a lunch, it could really help to have a loaf of bread and sandwich essentials in the fridge at work.
3.) Always use coupons when you shop online.
If you’ve ever made a purchase online without doing a quick search for a coupon code, it’s possible you’ve lost out on a chunk of change. Ebates takes the work out of searching for those coupon codes for you when you download their extension on your browser (Google Chrome). With the Ebates button activated, it will automatically apply coupon codes to your cart when you are shopping at one of their participating stores. Pretty cool right?
Always get cash back when shopping online too.
Another thing I love about Ebates is that you can earn cash back on your online purchases just for shopping through their website. This means when you want to buy something online, you can shop at those websites through your Ebates link and receive a percentage back on your purchase. And yes, they pay you in cash (I’ve received checks in the mail many times!)
Another great feature of having their button installed on your browser is if you go directly to the website you’re shopping at without remembering to go to Ebates first, all you have to do is click the button in the top corner of your screen, and Ebates will automatically apply your cash back! If you’re new to Ebates, sign up for free and get a $10 cash bonus!
PS. Like free money? Check out this post for 11 different (and easy!) ways to earn free gift cards.
4.) Find a free or low-cost alternative for your usual entertainment.
If you love to go to the movies every Friday night, find a way to get the same experience for a cheaper price. You could change up the day or time you go since many theaters offer discounts during the week and during earlier parts of the day. You still get to see the movie on the big screen, just maybe on a different night.
If movies aren’t your thing, it’s amazing how much more free entertainment there is out there–you just have to search for it. “Like” your town’s Facebook page for information on free events happening in your area. And my favorite free entertainment is meeting up with friends for a board game night–we always make new memories and have a few inside joke to tell for a while.
5.) Pay cash and save the change.
Switching from a debit card (or worse, credit card) to paying with cash has MANY benefits. You spend less, it’s more convenient (quicker checkouts at restaurants for example), and my favorite benefit: getting back loose change.
I love change because it’s money that I easily forget about–I just throw it in a jar when I get home and don’t think about it. When you realize your jar is getting full, or maybe you’re really hurting for some cash, take it to the bank and cash it in. Even after spending cash for only about a week or so, I’ve had over $5 in loose change when I cashed it in before. If you can save up your change for long enough, you could pay a good chunk on your debt snowball, add some cash to the Christmas fund, or get a good head-start on your next vacation.
6.) Shop around and get second opinions.
Have you ever gone with the first car insurance quote you’ve received just because you didn’t want to enter in all your information again to a different company? Or maybe you’ve went ahead and bought the first dress that fit, just because your feet were tired and you didn’t want to try hunting for another one? Well you are definitely not alone in this. But think about how much money you could be saving on many of your everyday and bigger ticket purchases if you were willing to put in the effort to shop around. Going to different stores or even comparing prices online can save you lots of cash in the long run, especially if you do it with most of the items you purchase.
Another good way to save money is by getting second opinions on anything you can. One example especially is car repairs. What one mechanic claims is an immediate need that your car won’t survive without, another mechanic may realize there is a much simpler (and cheaper) fix to the problem. Don’t be afraid to hurt people’s feelings when it comes to your money. These are companies and businesses are doing whatever they can to make the most profit. Always get a second opinion before making any large purchases or repairs.
7.) Don’t get into a contract if you don’t have to.
As much as I love my antenna TV, the cable companies almost had me! I got an offer in the mail that seemed like a great deal–a low monthly rate, no equipment fees, and even a nice Visa gift card, just for signing up for their TV service. Thankfully I had my husband there to talk me out of picking up the phone. See, he pointed out that in order to get that awesome deal, I would have to sign a contract for a two year agreement, and if I had to break that contract for any reason before the two years was up, I would have to pay a hefty early-termination fee. What seemed like an awesome deal at first now seemed more like a trap–it gave me much of the same feeling being in debt does. I would be trapped in this contract for years, and if I needed to cancel the service for any reason, I wouldn’t be able to without coughing up some cash. I would highly encourage you to not sign a contract for anything, unless it is an absolute must!
Saving money is easy to do when you’re intentional about it. Trying out a new way to watch TV, taking a tasty lunch to work instead of eating out, using coupons and getting cash back when you shop online, paying cash, shopping around and getting second opinions, and not getting into contracts are all easy ways to save money every day.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite easy way to say money? Let us know in the comments below!