You’re probably tired of hearing people — whether it be your parents, friends or personal finance experts — tell you that you need to start saving more money now. What you really need instead are some helpful tips on how you can realistically start growing your savings today. After all, skipping your daily $5 Starbucks coffee will only take you so far.
So, here are 31 easy ways you can save money every day. And in some cases, these tips will even help you earn a bit more cash on the side. If you apply all 31 of these money-saving tips to your life, you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month. Now that’s something you like to hear, right?
1. Pack a Lunch Every Other Day
When most of my weeknight dinners consist of frozen pizzas or protein shakes, you can bet I don’t want to sit in the break room with a depressing sandwich at lunchtime. However, limiting lunches out to every other workday is a simple way to save $5 to $15 per meal — easily $100 over the course of a month.
2. Borrow a Dress or Suit
With friends’ weddings, corporate conferences and maybe even girls’ (or boys’) nights out, it can be easy to find an excuse to buy a dress or suit every month. But unless you plan to wear that garment several more times in the future, it’s not really worth the expense. If you have an event coming up, just borrow a nice outfit from a close friend or rent one for the day — yes, ladies, you can rent dresses.
3. Clean Out Your Closet
You know you have a ton of clothes in the depths of your closet. Maybe they’re not your style or don’t fit anymore. If you have some fairly nice stuff, you can take it all to Buffalo Exchange or similar retailers for cash on the spot. Tip: Washing and hanging everything nicely will increase your chances of making a sale, as will bringing in items that are in season.
4. Let Your Roots Show
Getting your hair professionally colored is ridiculously expensive, especially if you’re a brunette living as a platinum blond. If you dare, perform your own at-home touch-up, or simply wait eight weeks instead of four. Besides, having ombre hair is still pretty cool.
6. Skip the Bars This Weekend
By the time you take a cab, grab a bite to eat, order a few rounds of drinks and take a cab back home, you’re looking at an expensive night out on the town. Pick a Friday or Saturday night to stay in, order take out, have some friends over, and tell them to each bring along their favorite refreshment.
7. Clean Your Own House
Some of us don’t have the luxury of employing household help, but there are plenty of people who spend at least $100 on a house cleaner every month. Try cleaning up after yourself just once — you’ll save a lot of cash and gain a greater appreciation for all your maid does for you.
8. Put a Freeze on Your Gym Membership
A number of personal finance experts always point to the gym membership as the first expense that should be cut. Sorry, I love my gym, as expensive as it is. If you’re in need of extra savings this month, just freeze your membership instead of canceling it. This will allow you to resume your fitness routine in the future without having to pay sign-up fees again.
9. Buy Your Plane Tickets a Month Early
Booking last-minute travel is an easy way to pay an extra $100 or more. If you know you will be traveling this spring, buy your tickets now.
10. Refinance Your Mortgage
Those who financed their homes even just a few years ago can stand to cut a couple of percentage points off their interest rates by refinancing. That translates to big savings on monthly mortgage payments.
11. Go on a Fiscal Fast
Here’s a tip that might sound a little daunting to some: Don’t spend any money for a week. If you think you’ll have a hard time accomplishing this, enlist your friends’ help. Ask them to do a fiscal fast with you, or make it a competition. You will save far more than $100.
12. Take on a Freelance Assignment
Whether you’re a great writer, designer, tailor or have another skill people pay for, lend your services to earn a few quick bucks.
13. Make a List Before Heading to the Grocery Store
I’m guilty of heading to the store hungry and unprepared, wandering each aisle in search of what I “need.” It’s amazing how planning a list of purchases before each weekly shopping trip will prevent me from coming home with an extra bag filled with Kettle chips, Jones soda and frozen CPK pizzas.
14. Quit Smoking Already
You don’t need me to explain the financial benefits of quitting smoking and living healthier, do I?
15. Buy a Water Filter
Bottled water is one of the most wasteful products you can spend money on — get a filter and reuse an aluminum water bottle. This is environmentally conscious, as well.
16. Cancel Your PMI
If you purchased your home with less than a 20 percent down payment, you might have enough equity now to cancel your expensive private mortgage insurance.
17. Have a Yard Sale
I’ll be the first one to admit that putting together a yard sale is a giant pain. But, it’s really worth the trouble once you clear your house of clutter and have extra cash in your pocket.
18. Transfer Your Credit Card Balance
Expensive credit card interest will eat up the money that could be going toward savings. Seek out a credit card company offering a promotional 0% APR balance transfer, and move your existing balance to the new card. The catch: You have to pay off your debt during the introductory period, or you’ll be back at square one.
19. Go Meatless
Have you ever compared the price of a pound of ground beef with the price of a can of beans? There’s a huge difference. You don’t have to live off tofu to save money, but swapping two meat-based meals a week to vegetarian options will save a ton on food costs.
20. Buy Your Jeans at a Discount Retailer
I wholeheartedly admit that I’m a denim snob. You will not see me wearing anything other than Paige, Joe’s or True Religion. You also won’t see me pay anything close to retail price for my designer denim. If you’re just as picky about your jeans, buy them from stores like TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack and Loehmann’s, where denim is usually discounted by at least $100.
21. Use an HSA
If medical expenses are eating up your monthly budget, look into opening a health savings account (HSA). These accounts allow you to deposit pretax money, much like a 401k, to be used to cover out-of-pocket medical costs. Restrictions apply, so find out if you qualify.
22. Start an Amazon Store
Man Vs. Debt community manager, Joan Otto, wrote that she began selling old books and DVDs through an Amazon store and now brings in $180 a month on average.
23. Collect Your Debts
Someone probably owes you money. It’s time for them to pay up.
24. Try Bartering
Yes, bartering. People really do exchange goods and services instead of cash, and they are saving a ton of money on everything from haircuts to child care.
25. Sell Your Unused Gift Cards
An unused gift card is essentially cash just sitting around untouched. Sell gift cards you haven’t used, and put the money in your savings account.
26. Trade in Video Games
Whether you’re an avid gamer or have kids with Xbox controllers surgically attached to their hands, we all know the $60 game that was the hottest thing you could own last month has all but been forgotten in favor of the next. GameStop will buy used games in store, or you can try listing them on Half.com or eBay.
27. Host a Movie Night With Redbox
Date night at the movies is easily $40 if you buy two tickets, popcorn and drinks. Go out a couple of times and throw in one DVD purchase, and you’ve spent about $100 just to watch a few movies. Redbox lets you rent movies for $1.50 per day — enough said.
28. Switch to Generic Prescriptions
Many finance experts recommend buying generic prescriptions instead of name-brand ones. And, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assures you that generic medications work just as well as their name-brand counterparts — and cost 80 to 85 percent less.
29. Go Generic on Food and Cosmetics
You know there’s no real difference between Cheerios and the generic, store-brand version, so why pay an extra $4 per box? The same goes for most drugstore makeup — my favorite brand is NYX, and it’s just as good as MAC at a fraction of the cost. Sure, a few products are hit or miss, but overall, switching to generic or drugstore brands when shopping can save you 20 percent or more.
30. Drop Cable for Hulu or Netflix
How many hours a day do you waste sitting in front of the TV? Better yet, how much money are you wasting paying for premium cable? Hulu and Netflix are only about $8 to $10 a month — depending on your plan — and you’ll become much more productive once you no longer have 1,200 channels to flip through all day.
31. Order Your Glasses Online
There’s no law that says you have to buy your frames from your optometrist’s office. After an eye exam, take your prescription, and shop online for a deeply discounted pair of frames. There won’t be a friendly assistant to ensure they fit just right, but hey — you’re saving serious dough!
Keep Reading: 20 Things You Should Know About Saving Money in Your 20s