Saving money isn’t always easy. Otherwise, everyone would do it.
But what if you could save money each month without working too hard? What if there were tons of small ways to make a huge impact on your retirement savings, vacation fund, debt or mortgage each year?
The truth is that saving money can be almost effortless. You just have to know where to start. By implementing these saving ideas today, you can save $1,000 or more to use as you please.
1. Skip the Soda Machine
Drink tap water instead of that $1.50 daily soda, and you can save almost $100 in two months. You might even drop a jean size. Not bad. (For more information, see No. 14 about bottled water.)
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2. Brew Your Own Coffee
Your daily drive-thru coffee is probably costing you somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 to $120 each month. Grab some high-quality beans and a nice travel mug. Then, turn on the coffeepot and sip up the savings.
3. Switch Grocery Stores
Instead of shopping at big-name grocers, try a discount chain like Aldi. By requiring customers to bag their own groceries and rent carts for a (refundable) quarter, the store lets you save up to 50 percent on your tab, according to the company. Even if you only save $25 a week, you’ll still have $100 extra in your wallet at month’s end.
4. Buy Generic
If you’d rather stick to your favorite stores, at least consider going generic — especially when it comes to paper towels, cleaners, pantry staples and certain medicines. Buying generic over-the-counter drugs can save you 85 percent per purchase, according to the FDA.
5. Temporarily Freeze Your Spending
We spend a lot of extra money “here and there” on non-essentials. Instead of shelling out $100 for impulse buys, try instituting a spending freeze. How? Don’t buy any non-essential items for a whole week. Strive to raid your pantry or fridge for meal ideas and avoid Target and Costco like the plague during this time. Not spending money is the best way to save it.
6. Change Your Office Hours
According to Reuters, traffic jams cost the average U.S. driver $1,200 a year in wasted fuel and time, with drivers in congested cities like Los Angeles and New York paying double that amount.
Save hundreds by changing your work schedule. If possible, go to work early or late, so you’re off the road at peak times and not burning precious fuel or wasting precious time.
7. Cancel Subscriptions and Memberships
Chances are you’re paying for multiple yearly subscriptions — from $11 magazines to that $99 Amazon Prime membership. Which of these have you not used in a few months? Cancel them. If you miss one, order it again. If not, you made the right choice and probably saved yourself a hundred bucks in the process. There’s a reason you should never put these bills on autopay.
8. Opt Out of Ad Tracking
It’s no secret that retailers track us online. That’s how they know to dangle those $180 boots you’ve been eyeing on every page you visit. Limit how retailers gather info about you by visiting Digital Advertising Alliance and selecting “opt out” in your browser. (Use AppChoices for your mobile devices.) Less temptation means more saving.
9. Borrow Appliances
Need a handheld blender to make some squash soup? Borrow that rarely used appliance from a friend or neighbor instead of buying it. Just be sure to send some yummy leftovers as a thank-you gift.
10. (Barely) Trim Your Budget
This one’s easy. Shave five bucks off every budget item before the month begins. That means your restaurant cash will be $45 instead of $50, and your clothing fund will be $25 instead of $30. It’s barely noticeable, but collectively adds up to $100 fast.
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11. Turn Down the A/C
We all know this one, but how many of us actually do it? There’s no need to run the A/C if you’re out all day. And when you’re sleeping, open the windows if that’s an option, and have a fan blowing on you to reduce the need for running the A/C. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save on your utility bill.
12. Replace Restaurant Outings With Your Crock-Pot
Heading out to eat with the family can cost you three digits in a hurry. Replace two restaurant outings a month with your slow cooker. It’s convenient, requires little effort and makes tons of food for less.
13. Pack Your Lunch
Eating out at lunchtime costs Americans roughly $22 a week, according to a VISA survey.
Believe it or not, packing a lunch takes way less effort than calling in your order, driving to the restaurant, waiting, paying, picking it up and driving back. And you could save almost $90 a month in the process.
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14. Ban Bottled Water
Newsflash: Water is practically free. However, Americans spend $11.8 billion a year on this stuff, according to Statistic Brain. With water bottles costing an average of $1.45 each, it’s possible to save $525 a year if you buy one a day. Try drinking from the tap for a bit and see if you survive.
15. Wear Your Specs
Contact lenses can cost anywhere from $220 to $700 a year, according to consumer site All About Vision. If you’re trying to meet a financial goal, wear your not-so-pretty-but-perfectly-fine glasses for a few months instead. Hey, at least you’ll look smarter.
Before you start saving some Benjamins, decide where your extra money will go. Having a goal will keep you motivated when you want to hit up the coffee drive-thru or buy that sweater you’ll be sick of in a month.
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This article originally appeared on DaveRamsey.com.
About the Author
Star of “The Dave Ramsey Show,” Dave Ramsey has been speaking on and writing about personal finance since 1996. “Smart Money Smart Kids”, which he co-wrote with his daughter Rachel Cruze, was published in April 2014 and topped the New York Times best-seller list — just the latest hit in a string of successes including “Financial Peace,” “More Than Enough,” “The Total Money Makeover,” and “EntreLeadership”.