Easy Money
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43 Ways to Save Without Sacrificing in the New Year

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Easy Money
hynci/istockphoto

EASY MONEY

Did you see those end-of-year bank statements — or more importantly, the credit card tallies? Make 2019 the year you finally wise up. There are countless simple, tried-and-true ways to “trick yourself” into saving money — read on for a few of our favorites. And yes, you’ll thank us after you start finding yourself a little more flush in the new year.

Be Mindful
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BE MINDFUL

The biggest challenge is changing your mindset. Look at this new way of living as a way to improve your life, not a policing effort to deprive yourself of life’s great rewards. Attitude can make all the difference.

Pack A Lunch
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PACK A LUNCH

Sometimes, the simplest things make the biggest impact. Taking lunch from home — unless you’re a chef preparing lobster for yourself every day — will save you at least a few dollars a day. It’s amazing how many people drop anywhere from $5 to $15 a day for a midday meal that’s forgotten by the time they’re on the commute home.

Brew Your Own
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BREW YOUR OWN

In my family, a large pot of coffee brewed at home yields enough left over to fill a plastic container that equals at least four cups. Tote it to work, hit the microwave — and you’ll save at least $1.50 per cup from the company cafeteria.

Beetroot Latte
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LIMIT THE LATTES

Of course, the designer coffee habit is just that — and a fancy brew can easily to $5 at a coffee shop. No one’s suggesting you never stop for another cappuccino— but go back to having it be a treat and not your everyday routine and the savings will add up quickly.

Magazines
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MINIMIZE THE MAGAZINES

How many subscriptions do you receive? Do you get every fashion magazine there is? Do you read every one, every month — or is there a pile sitting unread? Be truthful. Continue those you love — and let the other subscriptions lapse. You can always read them at the library, anyway.

Library
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BECOME A LIBRARY RAT

In addition to having a wealth of movies and music to borrow, local libraries often screens free films, so you get the experience of “going to the movies” without the box-office sticker shock. A night at the library could save your family of four at least $40.

Public Libraries
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LEARN AT THE LIBRARY

It’s not just all about entertainment at the libraries — there are often educational lectures by local experts and authors, as well as craft, cooking and exercise classes, too. These tend to be free or have nominal materials fees, making them especially attractive.

Host A Movie Night
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HOST A MOVIE NIGHT

Have the family stay in with homemade popcorn and a movie on DVD — or Netflix — and you’ll still come out ahead. Broaden the scope making it a monthly night with friends, a neighborhood film club that follows a theme, actor, or genre.

Walk It Off
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WALK IT OFF

Team up with family, friends and neighbors for a walk or jog at the local park or school track — no equipment or gym fee needed.

Investigate Pay-as-you-go Classes
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INVESTIGATE PAY-AS-YOU-GO CLASSES

It happens time and again. You have the best intentions, signing up for a yearlong, fancy gym membership that never, or rarely, gets used. Until you’re truly committed, a $10-per-session yoga class or open-workout session might be the better bet.

They're a Bulk Store in Reverse.png
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BUY IN BULK

The hardest part about buying in bulk is carrying all those rolls of paper towels home. Seriously, always look at the cost per ounce, item, etc., and take advantage of sales. Know your prices — and be ready to shop less often for certain goods.

Get Cash Back
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GET CASH BACK

It’s nearly impossible to miss all the cash-back offers on credit cards, apps and more — you are going to spend the money anyway, so get every advantage you can. Just be sure to keep track and never purchase something you don’t really need just to score the “prize.”

Roll Your Coin
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ROLL YOUR COIN

Empty your wallet every night but also take the time to roll up all those coins. You will bypass the percentage taken out by coin machines — and on your next bank trip, can cash them in for the full amount. This won’t make you a millionaire — but you will be able to buy something nice every so often with that “found” money.

Tips for Saving on Groceries
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GO GENERIC

This one’s an old one — and yes, you have to know what you can scrimp on and what you can’t. But generic brands do save you money — and in the end, will you really miss that spread of premium butter or spritz of luxe hairspray?

Wrapping Paper
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BE A POST-HOLIDAY SHOPPER

Do you do all of your Christmas shopping on Dec. 26 of the year before? We like people like you! Seriously, though, for things that hold up — paper table goods, wrapping paper, ribbons, linens and more — you can score major discounts after the holiday passes.

Cash
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DOLLAR-STORE GREETINGS

There’s an undeniable charm about sending out “real” greeting cards, though some (think letterpress or artist-made versions) can set you back upwards of $5. Sure, some people are truly worth it — but check out the dollar store for a surprisingly large — and topical — selection that sometimes even goes two-for-$1 for everyday needs.

Do A Daycation
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DO A DAYCATION

Sure, a weekend away has definite allure — but treat your own town or county as a travel destination. Check out a never-before-visited attraction (is there a pay-what-you-wish policy on a certain day/night?) or new restaurant (look for coupons in local media) — and you may find that just experiencing something new is rewarding — and much cheaper than a weekend away.

Walk Fast
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WALK A BIT MORE

If you hop on a subway or bus for convenience, why not skip it every so often? Those extra blocks may save you a couple of dollars while also adding to your time outdoors — and exercise time. It can also be a fun way to explore a new place.

Continue Gardening with Raised Beds
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TRY GARDENING

Gardening is not only a hobby that provides lessons (patience, solving problems). It also gives you quiet time outdoors — and if you’re successful, bushels of fresh vegetables or beautiful flowers for your own home or to share.

Battling Lawn Equipment
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BECOME YOUR OWN LANDSCAPER

It’s easy to write out a check each month and have the landscapers come to mow your lawn — but pull out your neglected mower and do it yourself every so often to instill real “pride of place.”

Cook As A Family
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Host Your Own Car Wash
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HOST YOUR OWN CAR WASH

The biggest investment in washing your own car is time. Inexpensive materials (soap) and tools (hose, sponge) and a playful attitude can turn your driveway into a place to save money.

Get Organized
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GET ORGANIZED

If you end up paying late fees because you misplaced your bills — either sign up for automatic payments or create a designated bill-paying “station” so you have all you need to stay on top of your finances.

A Hobby Class
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CULTIVATE A HOBBY

Who has time for hobbies? Well, it’s better than spending money “window-shopping” the mall on yet another afternoon. Renew a favorite pastime, from crocheting to scrapbooking, and you’ll find an initial investment will pay off in the long run with a new sense of accomplishment — and possibly a new side gig.

Host A Game Night
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HOST A GAME NIGHT

Have the cousins — or the neighbors over — and spend an evening the old-fashioned way, with a rousing board game that captivates all ages. It may sound cheesy — but once you’re in the swing of it, you’ll realize that simple pleasures make for good times — and great memories.

1928 DeSoto Theater
1928 DeSoto Theater by Allen Forrest (CC BY-NC-ND)

GO AMATEUR

Investigate the wealth of free or low-cost entertainment options offered by local schools or community theater groups. It’s the chance to support the arts at the grassroots level — and sometimes you may end up seeing a future star — or if it’s more amateur than you expected, at least get a good story out of it.

Bypass The Gadgets
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BYPASS THE GADGETS

You don’t need the fanciest panini press (a foil-covered brick works just as well, as TV chefs have demonstrated) — or other fancy gadgets. You can grate your cheese on a simple grater, make orange juice with a hand-held juicer — and more. Sure, it’s fun to have the latest — but it’s even more fun to have that money.

Lottery Tickets
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GET THE LOTTERY HABIT IN CHECK

No one can deny that buying a lottery ticket offers the chance to dream — but if you’re spending too much on tickets every week, it may be time to cut back. Put that money in a jar — and you’ve a sure win right there.

Nail It
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NAIL IT

Manicures and pedicures sure may make you feel pampered. But when it’s simply a routine and not a special occasion, why not do your own every so often to save $10, $20 … a lot.

Purifyou Glass Water Bottle
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BOTTLE YOUR OWN

Bottled water is ubiquitous — and can certainly be bought on sale — but invest once in a reusable bottle and you’ll come out far ahead after only a few uses. And you can even feel smug, as you’re also helping the environment.

Do The Work
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DO THE WORK

Grocery stores know we all feel pressed for time, which makes products such as cheese cubes, cut fruit, and shredded vegetables so appealing. But you’re paying for that convenience. Do the work at home — it’s part of the process — and the savings will add up.

Animal Care
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BE PET-SMART

Will your dog know how much you spend on his or her latest toy? So much of what’s made for pets is marketed to appeal to their human companions — so be smart — and buy what’s practical and not the fanciest, cutest, or most trendy item.

Shop Consignment
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SHOP CONSIGNMENT

A Guess leather jacket in a consignment shop carried an original tag showing it was well over $200. The asking price? Less than $30. True story — and while it was a very small size, such finds are indeed out there. Thrift and consignment shops offer an alternative to new goods; put in the searching time, and the rewards will come.

Knick-Knacks
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AVOID CLUTTER

You see the cutest vase, cat figurine, framed poster … smart shopping is all about the bigger picture. How many knick-knacks or decorative goods do you need? You want your surroundings to be serene — and how can you, if a glance reminds you how much you spend?

Not Bringing a Gift
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GIFT WRAP GOOFS

It’s tempting to wrap presents in the fanciest paper, complete with elaborate bows — or to shop for glittering bags that can add another $5 to $10 to the price of any gift. Decide what’s important — what the wrapping looks like or what’s inside.

Leftovers
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SKIP THE PLASTIC

What ever happened to bowls covered in aluminum foil to hold leftovers? Countless plastic containers are used and tossed. It’s not only bad for the environment but for your bottom line. Do a few more dishes — and count the pennies.

Become A Coupon Fanatic
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BECOME A COUPON FANATIC

No … we don’t want you to become the next contestant on an extreme-couponing show —but using coupons can pay off, big time. Spend a few moments looking through the local paper — or adding digital coupons to your supermarket card. After all, with coupons sometimes going up to $5 (for pricier goods such as cough syrups or vitamins), the savings are there for the taking.

Sign Up For Store Cards
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SIGN UP FOR STORE CARDS

It’s pretty painless to get a store loyalty card but in most cases, the rewards come fast and easily. The weekly grocery savings can add up to $20-$30 with very little effort.

You're Given the Senior Discount, on Sight
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TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SENIOR DISCOUNTS

No one wants to admit they’ve hit their golden years … but a few dollars off a movie ticket, a free donut every so often — why not? There are perks and they do add up to more money in your pocket, so embrace those senior savings.

Education
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LEARN FOR LESS

Check out low-cost educational opportunities, from adult-education classes to auditing courses at local colleges. Oftentimes, you can save a lot while learning a new language or expanding your interests for personal or professional gain.

Cranberry St. Germain Cocktail
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SKIP THE TOP SHELF

If you’re throwing a party, especially one where you may be serving a “signature cocktail,” don’t waste your money on top-of-the-line liquor. Sure, if you’re serving true connoisseurs, they might notice — but most people won’t say, “Oh, that’s not a premium vodka” in the drink you just made them.

Maintain Your Car
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MAINTAIN YOUR CAR

Keeping your car in shape pays off. Follow routine maintenance– and you’ll be glad you did. No one wants to see the engine light go on. Ever.

Value What Matters
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VALUE WHAT MATTERS

Think about spending quality time with friends and family or enjoying nature. Every outing doesn’t have to be major. Sometimes the best times are spent sitting around talking, not necessarily at the fanciest restaurant or latest show … don’t they say, “the best things in life are free?” Think of that next time you see a sunset or listen to the rain fall … free!