Whether it’s for a much-needed vacation, a home renovation, or a stronger sense of security, we all want to save money – but we all know it’s a lot easier said than done. While it’s not easy to save money, especially if you’re not making a lot to begin with, it’s still doable. We just need to get creative. Ready grasshoppers?
Below are 11 sneaky-yet-super-easy ways to save money and stash it in that savings account you’ve been neglecting for the past… well, this entire time:
1. Cut your hair
Shorter hair equals less shampoo, conditioner and styling product usage, not to mention less hydro from your blow dryer.
2. Go to the library
Instead of going to the bookstore or buying eBooks, enjoy the latest bestsellers by picking them up at your local library.
3. High five
Anytime you use cash and find five-dollar bills in your purse, stash them away. At the end of the month, put the fives you’ve collected into your savings account. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they add up!
4. Have a fashion swap
Get your BFFs together for quarterly swap meets so you can find good homes for the clothes and accessories you no longer want but are still in good condition.
5. Play Supermarket Sweep
Remember that grocery store game show where the biggest prize was a recliner? The best way to save money on groceries is to make sure you don’t have time to browse: Only leave yourself enough time to pick up exactly what's on your list.
6. Shop for groceries online
If, even in a rush, you find yourself throwing impulse buys in your cart, try shopping for your groceries online. Not only will you save money on impulse buying, but you’ll save gas and oodles of time.
7. Round expenses up and deposits down
I used to think I struggled to save money because I’m a freelancer and it's an unpredictable way to make a living, but the truth is I just wasn’t trying hard enough. Last year I started rounding up expenses and rounding down deposits, taking what’s left and putting it into a savings account. For example, a paycheck of $201.56 would be rounded down to $200, and a bill of $53.54 would be rounded up to $55 – like collecting spare change, but for the digital age. Once you get used to it, it’s a super-convenient way to save money.
Even when you’re not using what’s plugged into your walls, what’s plugged in is still using energy and costing you money. In fact, it accounts for about 5 percent of residential electricity use. Experiment during your next billing cycle and unplug your appliances and electronics when you’re not using them, then compare your bills.
9. Use cash
It goes without saying that you don’t feel like you’re spending as much when you’re using credit – you know, then you get the bill and suddenly find yourself hyperventilating into a bag. Sticking to a weekly cash budget keeps you aware (and subconsciously you end up challenging yourself to spend money as little as possible). It works like a charm.
While turning your fruit and veggie scraps into plant foo is always a good thing, there's also a money-saving side too when you see how much food you actually let go uneaten. Because we've all done it, right? Let that lettuce wilt and rot? By putting wasted food into the compost bin, you'll get better at regulating what you spend at the market and save that cash instead of turning it into soil.
11. Research incentives
Financial writer Lauren Bowling has extensively researched tax credits since buying her home. “Filling out the paperwork is often a pain, which discourages people,” she says, “But when you break down how much you could potentially make in tax incentives, you’re being paid pretty well for your time, and the money often comes in one lump sum, which is perfect for building a nest egg.”
What sneaky strategies do you use to save money?
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Image: 401(K) 2012