The easiest way to improve your financial situation is to reduce the amount of money you spend every month. Of course, this is easier said, yet much harder to actually do. There is no secret way to instantly save money, but there are some fairly easy ways to save a little here and there. By the end of the month, all of these little savings will have added up, and you might be surprised to see how much extra money you have.
- Utilize Public Transportation
Taking public transportation saves you time and money, and it also eliminates dealing with other drivers and the resulting road rage that may occur. Since public transportation is available almost everywhere, researching options are easy. If you don’t have access to public transportation, you could carpool with one of your co-workers. Not sure who has a similar route? Ask your employer about Commuter Checks, a government-funded discount commuter program. Also, don’t forget to ask about reimbursement for bus and train passes or a supplement to your salary for commuting.
Another option is to use a ride-for-hire company, such as Uber or Lyft. These companies match people who need a ride with drivers who have cars, free time, and want to earn a little extra money. Remember, the savings are in the rideshare services that companies such as, Uber and Lyft provide because the cost is lowered. If you’re riding solo, it’s best to take a lower cost alternative source of transportation, but if you’re in a group, buckle and enjoy the ride! It’s simple; book a ride using one of their apps and you’ll be on your way to work in no time. Using public transportation or one of these options may save you a lot on gas, especially if your vehicle isn’t very fuel-efficient.
- If You Haven’t Used It In 3-6 Months, Get Rid Of It
If you are serious about slowing your spending, why not try to make some money in the process? Varagesale, Craigslist, and even Facebook have gotten on board with online selling. If you’re not that tech-savvy, you can always have an old-fashioned yard sale or take your items to a pawn shop. You can also donate items you no longer use, but be sure to get a receipt for the donation, so you can report it on your taxes and save a little bit there, as well. In addition to making a little money, this type of purge helps you clear out the clutter and keep your home much cleaner.
- Save on your Utilities
Once you have your own home, you probably understand why your parents were always griping about turning off the lights. Be mindful of how much electricity, water, and gas you use every month. It does add up rather quickly, if you’re not paying attention. Most likely, you have something turned on right now that doesn’t need to be.
Here are a few easy steps you can take to save on your utility bills. Unplug devices when they’re not in use—many electronics continue to use power even when they’re off, and if you have a dozen of those devices plugged in, you’re using up a lot of electricity. You can also set your thermostat to one degree lower in the winter. This can cut your gas or electric bill by about ten percent. When it comes to saving on your water bill, try to take shorter showers and only run your washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load. You can also install low-flow toilets and shower heads.
- Shop Around
Unless you urgently need something, there’s no reason to avoid finding the best price. If you are trying to grow your savings account, be willing to make a few sacrifices, such as convenience. Sure, grabbing laundry soap and toilet paper while you are at the grocery store saves a trip, but those items may cost you significantly more. Companies count on you wanting to save time instead of money by buying everything in one place. Instead of doing this, take a trip to a bulk discount store such as, Costco or Sam’s Club. You can purchase toiletries in large quantities for much cheaper, and as another added bonus, you won’t have to shop for them as often.
If you are only cooking for yourself or a few others, first try your local farmer’s markets and butcher for groceries and purchase by the pound. Look for specials and consider freezing what you don’t immediately need. In addition to saving money and shopping locally, the quality level will be exponentially better.
For electronics, turn to Amazon or eBay. You can often find great deals here that you won’t find in stores. You may also be able to purchase items such as school supplies or home necessities from these sites for less than you would in the store, even when you factor in shipping.
- Look for free Entertainment
One the biggest monthly expenses for most people is entertainment. Whether the activity is taking the family out to dinner, going to the movie theatre, or grabbing drinks with friends, entertainment can be very costly. However, with a little creativity, you can find events that are free, yet fun!
For example, instead of eating out, you can have friends over to cook a meal together. You save the expense of going to a restaurant, and while you do have to buy the ingredients, that cost is substantially lower. Don’t be afraid to share the cost of dinner. By asking everyone to bring something, you can save money, plus have a fun gathering cooking together. Another option is to do an activity that requires no money at all, such as taking a bike ride, painting, and playing board games. Websites, such as, meetup.com are great for linking people with similar interests and participating in free activities in your local community.
In addition, most cities have free entertainment events, and there are websites dedicated to listing them. Some examples include San Francisco’s Fun Cheap SF, TimeOut, Eye Spy LA, Miami’s Miami on the Cheap, and Visit Dallas. You can go to free art exhibitions, street festivals, or any other events that might be listed on these sites. It might take a little effort to research these activities, but the financial savings can be significant.
Make a game out of it; for one week keep track of how much you’ve saved and try to beat it the next. If you are serious about slowing your spending, you’ll start seeing the benefits almost immediately.