Saving money. Ugh, two words I’ve spent most of my life dreading.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve been a terrible saver. The $5 bill my dad would hand me on Saturdays for finishing my weekly chores was never in my hand long. I would either spend it all on candy, or waste it attempting to get the claw to grab me something from the stuffed animal machine. Incidentally, I’ve never won anything out of those damn things!
Money tends to have a way of burning holes in our pockets. So many of us live exactly at our means. If we are able to save some money, doesn’t it seem like something unexpected and expensive always happens, like the car needs tires or there’s a visit to the emergency room?
Budgeting can be difficult as well, especially when you don’t have any extra wiggle room. Can you relate?
Although it may seem hopeless, I’m here to tell you it’s NOT. There are ways that even the WORST spenders can still manage to build up their savings account. I know this because I’ve done it. In fact, for the last year, the Mister and I have been able to put away a nice little chunk of money each month to use for vacations or large purchases.
To my delight, I’ve discovered that I actually CAN save money. So, I’m going to share a few of the best and easiest money-saving tips that have worked for me.
With a few small tweaks to your routine, you can achieve saving success, too. Try one, two, or all of the following money-saving tips, and I guarantee that you will grow your savings more than you ever thought was possible!
Make Coffee at Home
Did you know that if you buy one $4 coffee every day of the workweek (five days), you will spend $80 a month? The Mister and I tried saving money on coffee by getting the cheaper gas station stuff, but that was still costing us $4 a day between the two of us.
Instead, make your coffee at home, and throw it into a travel mug. We use a French Press and an electric teakettle to make our daily coffee. There are always plenty of travel mugs on hand in our house, so we don’t run out if we accidentally leave one at work.
A 20-ounce bag of our favorite ground coffee, Starbucks Breakfast Blend, costs $10.64 on Amazon. This lasts us about four weeks. Add to that our liquid creamer, which usually costs around $3 a bottle at most grocery stores. We use about three bottles in four weeks, which equals $9 for the month.
As you can see, by making these couple of small changes, our coffee costs went from $80 a month to about $20. That saves us around $60 every single month. Put that into a savings account and it will build up quickly!
Use Amazon Subscribe & Save
I love Amazon so much, and when I discovered Subscribe & Save, oh boy! A whole new world opened up to me. If you order an item on Subscribe & Save, you automatically save 5%. But, if you order FIVE items, your savings increase to 15%.
Write down any items that you purchase regularly. You are looking for items that you always buy the same brand/size/flavor of. Then go to Amazon and see if any of those items are available on the Subscribe & Save program. You can tell because you will see “Subscribe & Save” listed under the item’s price if it’s available. When you come up with five or more items, set them up in the Subscribe & Save program. It’s as easy as pie!
I currently have six items that I order on Subscribe & Save:
As you can see, I chose items that I buy regularly, and that I always get the same brand/type of. That includes coffee, breakfast bars, dry shampoo, deodorant, cat food, and tampons.
The other great thing about Subscribe & Save is that you can set it up to receive the items as often you need them. For example, I get my six items every two months (except the coffee, which is monthly). This seems to be perfect timing so I don’t run out, but I also don’t have a big stockpile building up.
How much will this save you each month? Well, I save 15% off each item and the shipping is free, so that equals about $11.50 in savings every other month, or $5.75 a month. While that may not seem like a lot, think about the fact that I would have to buy all of these items anyway, so I might as well save a little on them. Factor in that it’s actually saving me almost $70 a year, and it seems much more worth the effort.
Also, consider the convenience factor. I don’t have to use my gas or time to purchase these items. They come straight to my door.
The amount you save will vary by what you purchase. Some people save hundreds of dollars using this service!
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.–Epictetus
Have Extra Taxes Taken Out By Your Employer
This was actually suggested to me by my employer, and I applied her advice immediately.
When you fill out your W-2 form that tells your employer how many dependents you have and what you will be claiming on your taxes, there is a space where you can have extra money taken from your check for taxes. This can be whatever amount you want. In the beginning of the year, when you file your taxes, you will get that money back as part of your return.
There are a couple of reasons this method is so effective. First, you don’t see that money. It’s taken out before you even get your check, so it’s out of your hands (meaning you can’t spend it!). It’s almost like putting money into a savings account or giving it to a friend to keep for you, only you can’t ask for it whenever you want. It FORCES you to save.
Second, it adds up very quickly. I have my employer take an extra $40 out of each of my paychecks for taxes. So at the end of the year, I’ll get an extra $1040 on top of my regular return.
How’s THAT for saving money? This tactic adds up to an average savings of $80 a month.
Use Promo Codes When Shopping Online
Promo codes are rad (90’s kid here)! Seriously, I almost never purchase an item online without using a promo code. It’s so easy! Whenever I’m getting ready to check out, I quickly do a Google search for a promo code.
For example, a couple of months ago I purchased tickets to a Nascar race from a website called Tickets At Work. Before I finalized the purchase, I googled “Tickets At Work Promo Codes.” I found a promo code that saved me $5 off each ticket. Killer, right?
It’s not really possible for me to determine an EXACT amount that you will save each month by applying this tip. There are too many variables, such as how much online shopping you do, what items you are purchasing, and availability of promo codes.
What I can tell you is that I regularly save anywhere from $2 to $20 each time I use a promo code. It’s definitely worth your time.
Skip the Drinks at Restaurants
The Mister and I LOVE to eat out, I’m not gonna lie. However, I cringe to think of spending $20+ each time I eat at a fast food restaurant, or even more at a sit down place. However, we have really been able to reduce our food bill by not getting drinks.
Instead of paying for cocktails or soda, just ask for ice water, which is free. When you eat at fast food restaurants, try ditching the combo meals, and instead order from the promotional or dollar menu, skipping the drinks.
If you are worried about missing out on wonderful delicious bubbly soda or your favorite martini, just remember, I’m not saying you can’t have them. I’m just saying don’t buy them at restaurants. They jack up the prices exponentially.
Keep soda or mixers and booze at home, so you don’t feel like you are missing out on anything. The Mister and I just bought a two-liter bottle of soda last night for 77 cents. That’s a WAY better deal than a $2 soda that’s a quarter of the size and watered down with ice!
As far as savings, we eat fast food a couple of times a week. If the average soda is $2, then we save $8 a week by not getting sodas. That’s $32 a month! There’s even MORE savings if you regularly drink alcoholic beverages at restaurants. You can get a six-pack of beer at the grocery store for the same price as ONE beer at most restaurants and bars. WHAAAT?
Of course, your savings will vary depending on your circumstances and habits, but I guarantee you will notice a difference if you cut out drinks.
Try The Broke Broad Savings Plan
I’m sure you’ve heard of the 365-Day Money Challenge or the 52-Week Savings Challenge. If you haven’t, I’ll briefly explain the basic premise.
The 365-Day Money Challenge has you save the same number of pennies as the day you are on in the challenge. So Day 1 you save a penny, Day 2 you save 2 pennies, and so on. In the 52-Week Savings Challenge, it’s the same idea, but with weeks and dollars. You save the same number of dollars as the week you are on. So Week 1, you save $1, Week 2 you save $2, and so on. These are great savings plans to help you create a nice little lump of money throughout the year.
Here’s the deal. I’ve tried the 52-Week Savings Challenge, and I did just fine, until I had a really difficult week financially. Toward the end of the plan you have to save more and more money each week. I just don’t have $40 or $50 every week to put away. So I failed.
The 365-Day Penny Challenge was way too much effort for me. I had to remember to put away money EVERY SINGLE DAY, and it drove me crazy having to store all that change. I gave up on that challenge as well.
So I created a new plan, The Broke Broad Savings Plan. This plan is quite simple, and by the end of the year you will have saved $702!
Here is why this plan works so well:
1: You never have to save more than $26 in one week, and most of the time it’s much less than that.
2: You can choose how much you want to save each week. You don’t have to do the weeks in order. So when you have a bit of extra money, you can knock out the higher weeks, and when you’re struggling a bit financially, you can work on the lower weeks.
3: The goals are all in whole dollar amounts so you don’t have to mess around with change.
Give this plan a try and I bet you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to stick with than a lot of other plans out there. If you follow it for the whole year, you will be saving an average of $58.50 a month.
The Savings Add Up!
I’ve given you six great suggestions to start saving money. But how much will you really save if you follow my advice? Well, obviously it will be different for each person.
By implementing each of these six strategies, I personally save about $236 a month! Your savings will probably be similar, or even greater, depending on your circumstances.
The very best part about all this is that it’s pretty easy to do. None of these tips are too difficult or time consuming. If you are anything like me, you love easy, and you can stick to easy!
Have you tried any of these tips? What kinds of strategies have YOU found that help you save money? I’d LOVE to hear your suggestions!