12 Things You Can Do Today to Save Money
Boosting how much money we put into our Savings account each month can sometimes be difficult. Especially when we are first starting out. It may seem daunting to look for places within our spending to save a few dollars, but here are twelve things you can do today to start saving money:
- Pack your lunch: I started packing my lunch for work everyday about 2 years ago. My lunch usually consists of: almonds, a cheese stick, a salad, a couple of cereal bars or crackers, and a banana. Occasionally there are variations to this, but I do not mind eating roughly the same thing every day, and I make my salad the focal point for any variety. I am a freelance contractor, so I am often driving from job to job. This means I need to leave my lunch in the car, and I do not have access to a microwave. I use this cooler to keep my lunch cold throughout the day.
- Use containers instead of Ziploc bags: I use these Rubbermaid containers to pack my nuts and salad, and the occasional banana bread or other anomaly in my lunch. I also pack a fork for the salad, but I do keep a couple of individually wrapped forks in my car in case I ever forget! If you prefer glass over plastic, here are some Pyrex ones that come highly recommended from fellow lunch-packers.
- Clean your own house: For some, this is a crappy suggestion. Perhaps for you, paying someone to clean your house (especially if you have kids) is how you keep your sanity. I totally get it. If the benefits outweigh the cost, I genuinely think you should keep doing what’s working. If not, maybe consider in-sourcing this task. I use the method of doing a little tidying
every daymost days, to reduce the heavy cleaning I do once a week. I have a rather large house and it takes about 1-2 hours to clean it thoroughly once a week. Sometimes I skip it, and sometimes I vary the degree of cleanliness, but I enjoy loving on my home, some chores are great exercise, and I don’t spend any money to do this.
- Use washable rags for everything: When cleaning my house, I use these microfiber cloths to clean everything. I stopped cleaning with paper towels a few months ago, and between my husband and I, we can make a bulk package of paper towels last several months. Bonus: Use cloth napkins instead of disposable napkins/paper towels for meals.
- Make your meals at home: While cleaning is my purview, cooking is my husband’s, and he batch cooks all of our evening meals at home. We might go out to eat for a special occasion (a birthday, or a retirement meal for a relative), but it is very rare we go out to eat or order-in on a random night. Batch cooking helps for those nights when we are rushed and hungry, or don’t feel like firing up the stove. Preparing meals at home also helps us eat healthy and mindfully, which is a long-term savings win. When I take care of my body, I am in better health, and statistically less likely to have (expensive!) preventable health problems later in life.
- Go meatless: My husband and I have been doing a “Meatless Month” where we are challenging ourselves to get creative with our food choices and incorporate more vegetables into our meals. I love meat, and I thought this would suck, but it has been surprisingly enjoyable. I might write more on this in another post, but the pros of going meatless for the month (or even for one day a week) are:
- Spend less money at the grocery store (meat is expensive)
- Cook time is less because we aren’t waiting for the meat to cook through
- Batch cooking vegetarian meals last much longer (because there are a lot of stir-frys, soups, etc, we can make leftovers last several days!)
- Use overlapping ingredients in recipes (ex: an onion or a few bell peppers can be partially used in one recipe, and then again in another, to reduce waste)
- Delicious and Healthy!
- Do a no-spend month (or week, or day): Occasionally we will challenge ourselves to a No-Spend month. This is when we try to go a whole month without spending money on anything that is not budgeted for, or not a bill. We have yet to make it through a whole month (because life happens!), but this has taught us to refrain from impulse buying. Example: “Oh shoot, we really need to get some more Post-its for the home office! Wait, its a no-spend month. Wonder if I can wait until next month? I suppose I could.” BAM! No money spent. Now, next month I might end up buying these, or maybe in 1 week I realize, I truly need to get some. But the best case scenario, is when I find that old stack of index cards I’ve been carting around since college *in case*. I can cut these up, use them with tape for now, and avoid spending money, and wasting what I already have. Random example, but using what you already have as a substitution for a new purchase is a great way to save money.
- Brew your own coffee at home: I see this often as a tip to save money, and I have also seen the backlash stating “I do not have enough money to buy coffee at Starbucks every day, this is not the reason I am struggling to save!” Fair enough. But if you are buying coffee while out, try to start brewing coffee at home. I use this Toddy Cold Brew system to make a week’s worth of coffee at a time, and just pour and go in the morning. You can also prep your hot coffee maker the night before, so it brews on a timer, or at the push of a button in the morning. This goes for water too. Invest in refillable water bottles, and never buy a bottle of water again.
- Increase your monthly savings rate by 1%: If you are already saving a certain amount each month using your budget, great! No matter the amount, bump it up by 1%. So if its $10/month, make it $10.10/month. If its $100/month, make it $101/month. You will not even notice the difference. If this works for you, continue to increase your monthly savings amount each month.
- Check out your local library: Even if you haven’t been to your library before, walk in and ask for a library card. You’ll get access to free internet, tons of books, apps you can use to check out e-books/audiobooks on the go, music, movies, magazines, and so much more. Check out their website and see if there are any free events or classes in the upcoming month that look cool. Invite a spouse, a friend, or your kids, and make it a date!
- Join a Buy-Nothing group: Search on Facebook for “Buy Nothing (insert your town here)” and see if anything pops up. A Buy-Nothing group is a place where people can post items they are looking to get rid of for free, and you can also post pictures of things you no longer need for free. The goodwill and the generosity makes everyone happy! This is also a cool place to check if you are in search of something during a No-Spend month (see the Post-it example above). * While you’re at it, Like This Fascinating Adventure On Facebook to get easy access to all the articles I publish 🙂 *
- Visit with a friend without spending money: You can host a game night at home, or a potluck, or go out for a walk, or to the library for a free class, or so much more! You don’t have to schedule a dinner or a happy hour, or even buy an obligatory cup of coffee at the coffee shop to see a friend. Don’t let not spending money prevent you from maintaining relationships with awesome people! See if you can find a way to not spend money and instead, focus on the real treat: the person who is with you.
All of these suggestions are things that you can do today, and I hope they help you save money! Over time, not buying coffee, lunch, bottled water, every book I want to read, every item that crosses my mind that I think I need, etc, has certainly made a huge impact on how much I am able to save every month.
If you can widen the gap between how much you make, and how much you spend, you are in great shape! If you turn even one of these suggestions into a new habit, it surely will make a difference.