There are few things better than realizing that an easy habit you picked up landed you an extra couple hundred dollars by the end of the month. Maybe it was finally ditching that morning cold brew from the funky coffee place down the street. Maybe it was scouring the below-eye-level shelves for some major deals from the grocery store.
Because you can never have enough tips on being smarter about saving money, we've rounded up a few creative ways to help loosen up your wallet.
1. Save those Lincolns
I try and save every $5 bill I receive. I have an envelope full of fives that I hide away so I forget about it. I'm currently at about $900 in fives!
2. Grab coffee from the office
For the first few months of the year, I promised myself I wouldn't spend more than $1 on coffee. I was spending about $4 a day at local coffee shops, and instead bought street coffee or grabbed a cup of joe from the office. In three months I spent less than $90 -- versus the ~$360 I was spending before. KA-CHING!
3. Be an Amazon pro
Nerd alert -- the app Paribus will keep track of what you've purchased and alert you and automatically to ask for a price adjustment if the price changes. Just got $8 back from Amazon this week!
4. Stock up on meats
I stock up on meats when they're on sale and do a bit of pre-freezer prep work. I'll portion things out -- I can thinly slice chicken breasts for stir fry and then freeze that as a meal -- and often will marinate them at the same time. Then I defrost it the day I want to use it. I've gotten dinners for my family of three down to about $4 per dinner this way, or $1.30 per person per dinner.
5. Check the far aisles
Whenever you go to a store like Target or Walmart, check the end caps, especially those along the outer perimeter of the store. That's where they put deeply discounted items on clearance. It's sort of a catch-all, but it's where you can grab a box gift set of Old Spice bathing and deodorant products for $5.
6. Co-ops are your best friend
Shop at a co-op! I do all my grocery shopping at a co-op once a week and eat lots of organic and otherwise happy food for a ridiculously low price. My partner and I usually spend less than $400 on groceries a month. Bonus: You get to witness the occasional throw-down over food politics.
Also: If you are very, very broke, most of the CSAs and farm shares in New York have tiered plans for different incomes!
7. Keep the change
Carrying around change is a universal hatred, and most of mine used to go absentmindedly into tip jars and in between couch cushions. I now keep an empty jar on my counter in which I dump all my change at the day's end every day. Yes, simple trick, and nothing you haven't heard before, but at the end of two months I end up with an extra ~$100 I would have literally given away.
8. Get money for your old clothes
H&M is currently trying to rehabilitate its image as one of the worst offenders of fast fashion. As such, H&M offers a coupon to customers who bring in a bag of clothing, and it's worth 15 percent off their entire next purchase. They take anything, too. What does that mean? When the consignment store like Beacon's Closet, Plato's Closet or Buffalo Exchange won't take your used clothing, put it in a bag and give it to H&M for that coupon. It can be old T-shirts from Dollar General, for all H&M cares -- they just want to recycle.
Double tip: When you're at H&M using that coupon for 15 percent off your entire purchase, text to sign up for their newsletter to get 20 percent off of one item. They let you use it on the most expensive item too, and in conjunction with the 15 percent off coupon. Then to avoid getting their annoying texts, immediately reply "STOP" to the newsletter to unsubscribe. Then you can use the discount again next time with the same process.
9. Tag along to a friend's gym
I go to Crunch Fitness with my friend, as her guest, for free -- which eliminates paying for a monthly gym membership.
10. Ride for free
Bike to work instead of using subway! A 30-day fare card in New York is $116. I still use the subway sometimes, so I save about $80 per month.
11. Go cash-only
If I don't want to spend frivolously, especially That Week before my next paycheck, I'll go cash-only. I know mentally that I have breathing room in my account, but if I only take out $100 for the week, I'll be smarter every day when going out to get lunch or run for coffee knowing that I want to make those specific, tangible, in-front-of-me dollars stretch. This curbs a lot of impulse spending too.
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