How To Save Money Without Even Really Trying

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
8:00 am
03/29/16

Illustrated by Alessandra Olanow

Something that all of us can agree on, no matter what the size of our bank balance, is that spending less and saving money is a very good thing. Whether you’re splurging a little too often to keep sane or simply trying to line the pantry shelves with healthy snacks for the kids, the expenses can add up quick and make managing your pocketbook difficult. That’s why we decided to make a list of some tips and tricks to help you save some pennies with next to no effort.

Set Up A Savings Account. Start putting away all extra money—tax returns, small checks, and money left over from bills each month—in a savings account that you don’t touch. This stash of cash is great for helping to pay off debt and for those unexpected illness, injury, and unemployment expenses. There’s even an option to have your bank divide part of your paycheck into your savings, so you don’t have to think about it!

Adjust That Thermostat. An oh-so-simple way to save a few bucks each month is to lower the blast of air or heat a few degrees or turn it off when leaving the house or heading to bed each night. You’ll be surprised how much you can save and might not even notice a difference in temps.

Make Your Own Coffee. Trust us—we know how amazing coffee is when you get it from a barista, but spending $3-5 a day definitely adds up quickly—the average person spends about $1,100 a year! Instead, buy some beans from your favorite shop and start brewing at home. This is not only more frugal, but it’s also more convenient than having to hit up the coffee shop every morning.

Get A Water Filter. Bottled water is great for those times when you’re out and about, but when you’re at home buy a water filter like the Soma, which uses organic, biodegradable filters to purify tap water, so you cut down the costs of buying bottles every week. Bonus: You’ll be helping the planet, too.

Axe The Credit Cards. If you’re one of those people who finds it hard not to spend-spend-spend with your credit card (because it’s free money, right? Wrong!), it’s best to go back to using your regular checking account. This way, you can see what’s really diminishing from your bankroll on a daily basis and stay on top of unnecessary expenses. Plus, interest is a bitch!

Use Vinegar To Clean. Cleaning products are necessary for keeping a tidy home, but all of the sprays, scrubs, and wipes can get expensive. Instead, listen to your grandma (who knew best!) and make your own cleaner with a mix of vinegar, which cuts through grease and disinfects, olive oil, which shines and protects, and lemon, which cleans and makes the house smell great.

Switch To Netflix. How much television do you even watch? If you’re not taking advantage of all 500+ channels on your cable plan, cut the cord and subscribe to a service like Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo, etc. These services offer a ton of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and more for the entire family, for as little as $8 a month.

Shop Smart. We all know how tempting it can be to get the latest and greatest from your favorite designer, but is that really essential? Shop the sale section or if you do want to splurge, make sure to invest in a new piece of clothing that is classic and can give you years of wear. When it comes to the grocery store, make lists, buy in bulk, and try not to shop when you’re hungry, which is a surefire way to overspend.

Babysit For Your Bestie. Those date nights with your love can be pretty costly when it comes to hiring a babysitter on top of dinner. Instead, trade off with your best friend each week and watch each other’s kids. Not only will it save you both cash, but the kids will love getting together regularly to play, too.

Replace Your Lightbulbs. It sounds silly, but the simple change of upgrading to energy efficient lightbulbs can greatly cut down on electric costs per month. The new and improved compact fluorescent lightbulbs use one-quarter of the electricity that regular lightbulbs do and last much longer.

Drink Right. Who doesn’t need a drink after work or a long day with the kids? But ordering them at dinner or your favorite bar throughout the week can tack on some pretty hefty expenses over time. Drinking at home is a much cheaper option for those looking to save some dough, and better, if you consider the pours! For those who just can’t say no to going out, vow to only indulge during happy hour.

Set Limits. It’s true—no matter how hard you try, your closest friends can be a huge influence on your lifestyle. That means that if they’re always shopping, brunching, taking trips, getting spa treatments, etc, you’re going to be more prone to excess spending, as well. Obviously don’t ditch your BFFs, but try to set limits on the number of things you commit to. Plus, this equals more family time, which we all could use more of.

Use Your Apps. Need to plan a birthday party? Fun outing for the family? Quick little getaway? Hair color and cut? Smartphone apps like Groupon and Amazon Local are your new best friends. Here you can score everything from discounted salon treatments, exercise and hobby courses, concert tickets, vacations, and more!

Exercise At Home. Yes, exercise is essential, but finding time to hit the gym with your job, errands, and family is hard enough before you consider the balancing act with your budget. These days, there are so many free and next-to-free workout videos that you can use right in your living room.

Cook Often. We all love dining at restaurants and take-out Chinese as much as the next person, but you can drastically cut down meal costs by cooking regularly at home. And those of you who don’t think you have the time? Meal prepping can take as little as half an hour on a Sunday afternoon, before you start your week.

Keep Organized. One of the worst, money-sucking habits people have is waiting too late to pay bills or deposit checks, neglecting important to-dos, and missing appointments. Besides the stress that comes with putting these things off, you also suffer late fees, penalties, and extra charges in the end. Conquer that hesitation and get on your way to a better, money-saving you!

Clip and Save. Yes, we know clipping coupons may take a little extra time to do, but in reality, a couple of dollars-off here or there can really add up and make a big difference. If there are items you buy on a regular basis, check the brand’s site for deals or search Coupons.com for reliable savings that you can print right at home.

Got any other money-saving tips? Please share them in the comments below.

Leave a Comment

3 comments

Kelley

This is a great idea for an article, there are so many families out there (including my own) struggling to make ends meet now that the kids have arrived. But honestly, I know lots of families with young kids in my community, and none of us have the extra money to go on a real vacation, buy designer clothes, get a coffee out everyday, visit a spa, go out to eat regularly or go to a bar. Most of us are trying to figure out how to pay for childcare and/or preschool and living on one income because we can’t afford the costs of full-time childcare and don’t have retired family nearby. Do you have any tips for those of us who already live frugally while also trying to save for retirement and the kids’ college tuition?

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