I have a friend who swears that, when she was in college, she saved money by only going to the bathroom at work. Never fear—there is nothing that crazy here. Just simple, creative ways in which to save a few dollars here and there, which, as we all know, will surely add up over time. How many of these could you implement in your life starting today? And how much will you save by the end of the year?
1. Limit your trips to the ATM to one a week. Plan exactly how much cash you need, and only go to the ATM once. You’ll reduce impulse purchases and save on bank fees at the same time. Alternatively…
2. Shop around for a bank or credit union without ATM fees. They do exist.
3. Cut your meat consumption. Meat is expensive and not your only source of iron or protein. Could you limit your meat eating to one or two meals a week?
4. Reassess portion sizes at meal time. Do you find yourself scraping plates of food into the trash? Try dishing out a little less per person and seeing if anyone comes back for seconds. You might find yourself with a ready-made lunch for tomorrow!
5. Drink more water. Every can of soda or glass of juice you imbibe is like drinking spare change—and soda doesn’t even give your body what it needs. Make an effort to drink more water this year.
6. Keep a list of all the foods you throw away. Do it for a couple of weeks; you’ll soon notice if there are patterns.
7. Make a “hurry up and eat” shelf in the kitchen. Make it visible. Sometimes the things that go bad are simply hidden behind everything else.
8. Check the pantry and fridge and make a list before each trip to the supermarket. This way you’ll prevent yourself from buying doubles of items you’ll end up throwing away.
9. Try a cheaper brand for one regular, expensive purchase you make. I always bought Huggies diapers… until friends showed me that some store brands worked just as well. Do you know a friend who uses and loves a cheaper laundry detergent? A cheaper cereal? A cheaper olive oil? Maybe they’ve found something great and it’s time you gave it a try.
10. Take a break from drinking alcohol. Even for a month? You know you can do it—and it’ll help you save a lot.
11. Absolutely make this the year you give up smoking. The average smoker spends thousands a year on cigarettes.
12. Turn off all electronics before you go to bed. Computer, router, everything. Leave nothing on standby.
13. Get into the habit of taking a snack with you every time you leave the house. No more buying food because you or your kids are suddenly so hungry.
14. Drop the thermostat a degree or two and put on a sweater. If you’re worried about being hospitable to guests, you can always bump it back up before they visit.
15. And when summer hits, resist turning on the AC right away. Follow our How To Keep Cool Without an Air Conditioner guide instead.
16. Hem your own clothes. And sew on buttons, too. Both of these tasks are much easier than you think. Find a tutorial online, or ask a sew-a-holic friend to show you how.
17. Hang your clothes instead of drying them. I used to dry two loads a week, but now I dry one, hang one. It’s not that much work, and my clothes last longer, too.
18. Make your own greeting cards and wrapping paper. You can find plenty of DIY ideas for both right here at Apartment Therapy. Even consider reusing old wrapping paper!
19. Heading down the road? Try walking or riding a bike. Cutting out your short driving trips can really make a difference on your car costs.
20. Next time you need something new, try the thrift store first. You might find yourself a bargain. This year my snow coat was a thrift store find—I grabbed a down-filled coat that retails at $180 for $20!
21. Check if the library has free passes to local attractions, and use them next time you go out with friends or family. We’ve been to the museum, the planetarium, and the zoo, all at cut-rates thanks to the library.
22. Borrow that book! Borrow that DVD! The library should eliminate your need to pay for books and DVDs. Make a habit of going there once a week as your local entertainment source.
23. Cut boys’ hair and trim beards at home with a pair of clippers. And learn to trim bangs, too.
24. Talk to your hairdresser about how often you need to shampoo your hair, and learn how much shampoo you need to use. Shampoo and conditioner is expensive, and you might be able to cut your consumption of it by two-thirds.
25. Go to bed earlier. Seems crazy, but a good night’s sleep can help prevent weight gain and ward off sickness, both of which could save a whole bunch of money in the long run.