19 Easy Ways To Save Money Each Month
Sometimes it seems impossible to start a savings account, or to grow one if you already have it. You work hard for your money, which goes towards utility bills, insurance, and paying off your credit cards or major purchases. How can you ever get ahead, unless you push yourself to take another job instead of sleeping? These simple tips will help you put aside extra money every month.
1. Pay yourself first.
You’ve probably heard this phrase a lot as a working young adult, but do you understand what it means? Basically, whenever you get paid, transfer money to your savings account first. Even if it’s only ten dollars a paycheck, transfer it! That’s money you’re guaranteed to save. Use the rest to pay bills, and if you’re not quite making ends meet, then cut out some of the non-necessities you might pay for each month, like seeing a movie in a theater or going out for drinks. The more you look at these expenses and cut down on them in the coming months, the more you’ll be able to up how much you “pay” yourself!
2. Find new ways to have fun.
Once you look at how you spend your money, you’ll be able to find new ways to have fun. Rent movies instead of going to the theater. Have friends over for drinks instead of going to a bar. Experiment with brewing different types of coffee instead of spending $5 on a single cup.
3. Take advantage of what’s free.
Cities often have fun, free events to take advantage of. Some cities have free summer concerts so you can hear a band for free instead of paying a cover charge to hear the same band at a club! The zoo and certain museums also have free days or special free after-work events. And don’t forget — the library is always free! Why buy an expensive hardback and only read it once, when you can get it from the library for free? Also, libraries usually have extensive DVD collections so you can rent movies for free!
4. Buy used.
If you do want to own a book or movie, instead of using the library consider purchasing media more affordably at used bookstores, half.com, or use Paperback Swap, where you can send your old books to someone who wants to read them, and get books you want to read sent to you!
5. Have a yard sale.
There might be things you can’t sell on half.com or eBay because shipping costs don’t make it worthwhile. In that case — a yard sale! This is the perfect time of year for it; summer yard sales are a great way to make a couple hundred bucks a pop! It’s an easy way to get rid of stuff you don’t need anymore, while you make some money!
Summer is also a great time to conserve utilities. Those extra hours of daylight mean you don’t have to use lamps and overhead lights as much. You can also keep windows open to get fresh air and a great cross breeze — at least until it gets burning hot. It’s great for the environment and means your utility bill will be a lot lower!
7. Keep a grocery list.
It’s too easy to go into the grocery store without a list and come out with a ton of junk food, and maybe half the ingredients you need for three dinners. Keep a running list of what staples you need to replenish and plan meals for the week before you go to the store. This way you’ll buy exactly what you need and nothing more. Earn a personal bonus if you use coupons, or you plan meals around sale items in the paper! Make enough to have leftovers for lunch, and you’re saving money on two meals every day!
8. Change your services.
It always seems like the best deal to bundle your services, but sometimes you’re stuck with something you don’t use — would you like a landline along with your cable? Paying for something you don’t need is throwing money away every month. Instead, reassess each monthly bill you have. If you have Wi-Fi at home, check and see if you can downgrade your cellphone plan to include less data, since you can use your own internet in the house. That one change can save you a hundred dollars a month!
9. Ask for discounts.
This one can be tough, but it works! Whenever you’re in the checkout line, especially if it’s for a service, like at a car dealership or with a repairman, ask if the clerk can give you a discount. You can get ten or twenty percent off of many things just by asking — if you’re a regular customer! It might seem uncomfortable at first, but it’s probably just as uncomfortable for the clerks, because instead of saying no, they’ll give you something off!
10. Cancel club memberships.
Go through your wallet and see how many membership cards you have. Do you use them? Cancel them if you don’t! Do you have a membership to a big-box store? Add up your receipts and see if the discounts you save when buying products in bulk justify the annual membership fee. Also think about how often you use these products, and if you’ve seen coupons for them at other places. You might be able to save more money when you buy them at smaller stores, in smaller quantities throughout the year! Do you go to the gym enough to justify the cost? If you don’t go too often, consider quitting the gym and working out outside. Go for walks or runs in the neighborhood; run up and down stairs, and save the monthly fee!
11. Know your employee benefits.
Go to Human Resources and ask to see what’s in your benefits package. You might know about health, dental, and vision benefits, but there might be perks you don’t know about until you ask! Some people have found that their employee package includes tickets to the company’s box at sporting events, special prescription discounts, and more!
12. Buy generic.
Speaking of prescriptions — always ask for generic. The drugs are basically the same except for one major difference — the price! Generic drugs are often less than ten dollars, whereas the brand-name version can cost five times more! This goes for food, also. The store brand of most products is just as good as big-name brands, and way cheaper! The store also discount these products often and offer more coupons for them.
13. Practice preventative health.
Regardless of how good your health coverage may be, it never hurts to practice preventive health! Eat right, work out, get enough sleep, and cut down on vices like smoking and drinking. You’ll stay healthier without frequent doctor’s visits where co-pays will cut into your cash. Brush and floss your teeth so you won’t have any surprises at the dentist. Not only are dentist visits not the most fun thing, but dental work can be very expensive, and sometimes only a portion will be covered by insurance. Take measures to be as healthy as possible to avoid these unexpected fees that could wipe out your savings account.
14. Repair instead of re-buy.
If the sole of your shoe is coming off, try to glue it back together before dropping another seventy bucks on shoes. Use duct tape to patch up things around the house. Stitch up rips in shirts and other garments to keep wearing them rather than replacing them. Even if you’re not a star seamstress, simple tears can be sewn without making your garment look like Frankenstein! And if you’re really averse to sewing, look up seamstresses at local dry cleaners — may be cheaper than buying a new garment.
15. Match what you buy.
If you are going to buy something, match what you spend and deposit it in your savings account. This is similar to paying yourself first, but with an added win-win benefit! If you want to spend $5 on a cup of coffee, go right ahead — but put $5 in savings, too! That way you get the coffee you crave, but also put money into savings. Do this with anything you buy; if you can’t afford to buy a $600 TV and put $600 in savings, then you don’t need the TV.
16. Have specialized accounts.
Most people have a checking account and a savings account, but what about other accounts for certain expenses? This is especially helpful if you have trouble paying your rent and car insurance every month. For example, when you get paid, put a certain amount in an account for rent, a certain amount in an account for car insurance, and know you’re taking your phone bill out of your checking account.
17. Make sure your bank doesn’t charge fees.
If you have all these specialized accounts, make sure your bank doesn’t charge fees! Overdraft fees are common, but you shouldn’t have to pay if your account balance goes below a certain amount, or pay for a certain amount of withdrawals or checks written. If your bank charges fees like these, ask around until you find one that doesn’t. Even if the interest rates aren’t as high, you’ll still save money by not having to pay unnecessary fees.
18. Have a waiting period.
Instead of buying something spontaneously, give yourself a waiting period and make sure you still want or need it. You can wait at least 48 hours, but a week works really well. If you’ve forgotten about the item, you don’t need it! With some major purchases, you can even wait a month. That gives you time to earn more money in the meantime. Usually if you can do without something for a month, you don’t really need it.
19. Put your change in a jar.
Everyone says this, right? It doesn’t seem like it adds up to much, but it’s something you just start doing and forget about. Before you know it, you have a huge jug of change! Instead of taking it to a change counting machine in a grocery store, try taking it to your bank. The machines at the store often take a cut of your change, which is an unnecessary expense! Some banks have their own change machines now which don’t charge you if you’re an account holder. Even if your bank doesn’t have a counting machine, you can still deposit your change and make sure all of your money stays yours!