If you think that budgeting and saving money is hard, think again! These days, there are so many easy ways to save a buck or two. Whether you’re using the leading websites to score great deals or merely being more money-conscious, you can easily slash hundreds— if not thousands— of dollars from your yearly expenses by learning a few of the tricks and tips we’ve listed below.
Get savvy with coupons
Coupons are a great way to save money on groceries and daily products. Start clipping them from the insert in your Sunday paper or go to a website like Coupons.com and print them.
Avoid going out to eat
This might be hard to avoid altogether, but it’s been proven time and time again that cooking at home saves you a significant amount of money in the long run.
Switch from incandescent light bulbs to LEDs
The LEDs at the store are definitely more expensive up front, but the reduced energy utilization and longer replacement cycle of LED bulbs make up the difference. LED bulbs last at least twenty times longer and use roughly 20 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. This is a situation where a switch saves both time and money. It doesn’t take any longer to buy LED bulbs, but you’re only going to be replacing them five percent as much as before.
Eat leftovers for lunch
Eating leftovers is a pretty widely known strategy for trimming back on one’s food budget– but it’s not without weak spots. For most people, leftovers from the night before often don’t make for a great lunch the following day, unless it happens to be a meal that you love.
A simple trick to make leftovers work is instead of just eating them the next day, wait two or even three days before eating them. By doing that, the meal usually seems fresh again.
Build your credit
Whether you have good credit, fair credit or bad credit, work on building it up. Not only is credit used to determine your rate on loans, but utility and insurance companies have started using credit scores to regulate your monthly surcharge.
Brew your own coffee
Can’t kick your coffee habit? Instead of spending $3 per cup at the fancy coffee shop, try brewing coffee at home. Doing so will save you thousands of dollars per year—home brewing cuts your cost to about $0.25 per cup.
Did you know that many name brand household products use the same ingredients as generic brands? You can save thousands of dollars by just buying the generic store brand rather than a well-known name brand.
When planning on how to save and how much to save, be realistic. For instance, if you eat out most nights or buy a daily morning coffee, don’t plan to go cold turkey in order to save money because it’s likely you won’t stick to it. Making gradual changes over time to your habits will make it more likely that you’ll stick with them.
Automate your savings
Automating your finances is the best step you can take to save money with ease. You can have your employer funnel your money to two accounts instead of one, have your bank automatically move a small amount into your savings account every month, or set a Goal specifically for saving with your Simple account.
Whichever you choose to do, the idea is that you have money you want to save monthly automatically funneled into a place separate from the rest of your money. Automating your savings makes it effortless to grow your savings and more difficult to spend the money you’ve saved.
Weekly “no-spend day”
While practicing a weekly no-spend day can save you money, its real power lies in its ability to make you conscious about your spending. For instance, if you know no-spend day is tomorrow, you’ll have to think ahead of all of the things you might buy tomorrow– like lunch– so you can take care of them today.
Plan out your meals weekly and shop with a list
If you eat out often and find yourself wandering the grocery store aimlessly, try looking up a few recipes and creating a grocery list. You’ll not only save money making home-prepped meals, but also by not buying expensive food impulsively.
So get out there and remind yourself everyday that sacrifices don’t have to be bad. They can be fun, and this can turn into a new hobby. Send yourself reminders on your email, desktop or phone so you can always stay on track. My favorite technique is using post-its. You can’t not listen to a post-it. It’s impossible!