SAVINGS STRONGER BY THE WEEK
A Starbucks trip here, a trendy gadget or prepackaged dinner there — wasted money adds up. Saving for a rainy day can be surprisingly simple, though. With this compilation of 31 easy-to-incorporate tips from Cheapism, there's a new way to save every single day of the month.
THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK
It is all too easy to stop at the coffee shop before work or as an afternoon break, buy bottled water on the go, and order a drink with a meal out. This adds up to no small cost over time. Consumers spend about 800 times more for bottled water than plain old tap water. The average worker also shells out more than $1,000 annually on coffee, according to a survey by the staffing firm Accounting Principals. Start filling up on tap water in a go-anywhere bottle and making coffee at home.
KEEP THE THERMOSTAT IN CHECK
Every degree you lower a programmable thermostat for at least eight hours a day can shave 1 percent off your heating costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Keep the temperature at a maximum of 68 and bundle up in a sweater or drape an extra blanket on the bed if necessary. In warmer weather, cut the AC and use fans to create a cross breeze. Leave windows open at night, when it's cooler.
CANCEL THE GYM
For consumers who don't go often, the gym can be a colossal waste of money. The average gym membership costs $58 a month and 67 percent of Americans never use theirs, according to data compiled by Statistic Brain. Instead, explore cheap home fitness ideas and take advantage of activities such as walking and running (all you pay is the price of shoes). Sit-ups and push-ups in the living room also don't cost a thing.
USE CASH-BACK PROGRAMS
Make money every time you make an online purchase with cash-back programs. Shoppers can often get up to 8 percent back, which is basically free money in the pocket if the item was a necessary purchase anyway.
GO TO THE LIBRARY
There's no reason not to borrow books from the library (except for those looking to fill a wall-to-wall bookshelf as a decorative statement). Heading to a library for the afternoon is also a fun activity that costs nothing. There are often children's events, lectures, and other free happenings. And there are amazing libraries in every state.
RIDE A BIKE
If it's feasible, riding a bike instead of taking the car to work or on errands helps the budget in many ways. It avoids car maintenance, gas, and possibly even gym membership costs (and reduces carbon emissions). If riding a bike is impractical, public transit may be an option — just sit back, read a library book, and let someone else deal with the traffic.
USE DEAL SITES
Groupon, Woot, LivingSocial — the list of sites that offer discounts on services and goods is long. Deal sites take away the need to spend full price to try something new, and they often feature deals on popular or well-known items and places, as well.
GET PRETTY FOR A PENNY
Save big bucks by beautifying on a budget with items already in the home. Cheapism suggests DIY beauty ideas such as using sugar, baking soda, and olive oil for various beauty treatments.
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS
Turn off the lights when leaving a room or going out for the day and save money over time. Electricity costs average about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Think in terms of hours of use day after day, and this adds up to significant wasted cash.
TURN OFF THE FAUCET
Grandpa was right: It pays to turn off the water when brushing teeth or washing dishes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, just turning off the tap while brushing saves up to 8 gallons of water a day, or more than 200 gallons a month. Do this every day of every month and see a dip in the water bill.
Save $100 on electricity simply by unplugging devices. Appliances that sit on standby, such as computers, TVs, printers, coffee makers, and phone chargers, can easily be unplugged when not in use, which saves more than you might expect.
SWAP INSTEAD OF BUY
Hold clothing swaps, toy swaps, and even trade home goods with friends. This is the cheapest way to get new stuff and get rid of old stuff. For those looking to broaden their selection, Swap Style is one good online source for swapping fashions.
FIND FREE ACTIVITIES
Visit the event tracking site Eventful and read local free magazines to learn about free events happening in your area. Download the Eventbrite app to keep track of fun freebies on your phone.
VISIT FREE MUSEUMS
Many museums around the country have suggested donation fees rather than set prices for admission, meaning they are technically free to visit, despite appearances. Pay whatever you can.
SHARE TO SAVE
In this so-called sharing economy, it's possible for two or more people to go in together on passwords and memberships and share everything from tools to lessons to dog-sitting or baby-sitting services.
PAY LESS FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Buying generic instead of paying for name brands is an easy way to ramp up savings. Many common chain pharmacies, including CVS, Rite Aid, and Walmart, have discount programs for generic prescription drugs.
CUT BACK ON PREPACKAGED GOODS
Convenience in dining comes at a cost that's usually much higher than making the same item at home. For instance, it's surprisingly simple to concoct granola, salad dressing, and chicken stock at home. Spending on precut produce, which is always marked up, is another waste of money. Instead, spend some time every Sunday afternoon prepping veggies and fruits for the week.
STOP PAYING FOR OTHERS TO DO IT FOR YOU
Yard work, pest control, even simple car maintenance — with a little extra effort, these can often be done for less than it costs to pay somebody else to do the work. Yes, time is money, but if money is tight, carve out hours during the week to take care of tasks typically turned over to professionals.
BRING LUNCH TO WORK EVERY DAY
This obvious and easy change can save nearly $2,000 a year on average, according to Accounting Principals. Even brown-bagging it with a simple peanut butter sandwich and an apple just one day a weekadds up to significant savings at the end of the year.
STOCK UP ON STAPLES
Buying pantry staples in bulk can save money in the long run — but be choosy about what to stock up on. Cheapism recommends items such as canned foods, baking supplies, and grains and legumes among the best bulk foods to buy.
MAKE CLEANING SUPPLIES AT HOME
Stop paying top dollar for organic and all-natural cleaners, and just make them at home. Simple formulas using ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar cost a fraction of the price of store-bought brands but clean just as well.
KNOW WHAT TO BUY AT THE DOLLAR STORE
A whole host of items are even cheaper at the dollar store. Yes, the stores may not be packed with the highest quality merchandise, but if you know what to buy at the dollar store, it's worth stocking up every now and then.
WINTER-PROOF FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Freezing fruits and vegetables when they're in season saves money compared with the expensive selection of produce available in winter months, and lets your family enjoy local foods longer. Everything from berries to peppers can be frozen with the right process.
SPEND LESS ON LAUNDRY
Whether doing laundry at home or at a laundromat, the cost can add up. Among Cheapism's money-saving laundry tips: Many people pour more detergent than necessary, a surprising money waster as bottle after bottle gets used up.
SAVE AT THE VETERINARIAN
Bills for Fido and Fluffy can add up fast. Giving a pet the right food, enough exercise, and preventive treatments is just the start of saving money on pet health.
STOP BUYING THINGS YOU DON'T NEED
One of the biggest wastes of money is spending on things you really didn't need to buy in the first place. These might be items that offer little value in the long run or trendy gadgets that will lose popularity fast. Kitchen appliances such as sandwich makers and other specialty tools are some of the biggest offenders.
BE SMARTER ABOUT GROCERY SHOPPING
Shopping smart means being aware that it is all too easy to get sidelined at the grocery store by eye-catching packaging and premade snacks. Shop on a full stomach and tempting treats will be less likely to make their way into the cart. Always shop with a grocery list — and stick to it.
NEVER PAY FULL PRICE FOR SHOES
Too many shoes cost too much, especially considering all the sale options available. Save some money (or afford an extra pair) with Cheapism's list of the best shoe sites for budget shoppers.
Keep an eye on the price of items you need with tracking tools such as CamelCamelCamel. They monitor price swings and send alerts when a price changes on Amazon and other ecommerce sites.
STOP BUYING NEW TOYS
Children don't need all the latest toys and a home doesn't need all the extra clutter. That doesn't mean depriving kids of fun. To save money on toys, buy used, swap with other parents, and even try renting toys that can be returned when kids lose interest.