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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.