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With a suffering economy many of us are tightening our belts and our wallets. However, before you run to the bank to take out a second loan or apply for that second (or third) job, check out these ten simple hacks for saving money in your life.
You may make fun of those extreme couponers on TLC, but those savvy shoppers are on to something when it comes to savings. You don’t need to become a coupon-crazy mother to take advantage of these nifty little slips of paper; rather, making small steps towards more prudent shopping habits can save you big in the short and long-term.
Review coupon books offered by your grocer of choice and check out coupon websites for other great deals in your local area. Sites like coupon.com update you with daily deals on anything from granola bars to shampoo.
2. Get rewards
While there are a lot of gimmicks out there, taking advantage of the rewards offered by various stores and brands is a great way to get some bonus cash. For example, many retail and grocery stores offer reward programs for their customers, and it is typically free to sign up.
Websites like swagbucks.com also rack up rewards for many of your typical online habits. For example, swagbucks gives you points for taking surveys, playing games online, and even searching the web. You can then redeem these points for free gift cards to places like Amazon.com and products at their online store.
3. Cook your own meals
Eating out may be fun, but it is also expensive. Instead of spending an extra $50 to $100 each week on lunch breaks and dinner with friends, pick up a new hobby! Cooking at home is both cheaper and healthier than eating out.
If you thrive on the social aspect of fast food runs and birthday dinners, invite your friends over to try your home cooking. You will save some change and impress your guests with your newfound skills. (Not to mention all the savings you will make from a healthier lifestyle—healthy people pay less medical bills). That’s a win-win if I’ve ever seen one.
4. Use cash instead of cards
While plastic is certainly convenient, it also makes it easy to ignore your spending habits. Before you go to the store, take out a set amount of cash to use (and stick to that budget). This will encourage you to pay attention to your spending and force you stay within the amount you allotted yourself for that trip.
5. Found money
Found money is any money you get (or rediscover) outside of your primary income source. This can include finding twenty bucks in your pants pocket to discovering a utility deposit that went uncollected. You can take advantage of this “found money” by putting it into savings, rather than pocketing it as a freebie and spending it the first chance you get. You can even put out a jar to collect any loose change from your couch or a shopping trip. Over time these small deposits can add up to a decent fund for a rainy day.
6. Spring cleaning
Cleaning out your garage and closet isn’t just a great way to stay organized––it can also earn you a nice chunk of money. You know what they say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Take advantage of your clutter and sell it off. Host a good old fashioned garage sale or get online and make a buck from eBay. You may not become a millionaire, but you can earn some nice pocket change from your old junk.
7. Go green
In today’s economy, going green isn’t just environmentally friendly––it’s budget friendly. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by making just a few simple changes to your lifestyle and consumption habits. For example, changing your light bulbs for more efficient CFL bulbs will save on replacement costs (CFLs last up to ten times longer) and energy costs.
Additionally, other energy savvy habits like investing in energy efficient appliances, turning lights off when leaving a room, and unplugging appliances (such as computers, chargers, and TVs) when powered off can save you a pretty penny in the long run. So why not help the environment? You’ll help yourself too.
8. Waive fees
Sometimes the best way to save money is to ask. Many programs and policies require subscription or registration fees. However, you may be surprised how often these companies will be willing to waive those initial fees upon request. Try it. When it comes to saving money, sometimes we have to be our own cheerleaders. The worst that can happen is they say no!
9. Freeze your stuff
Freezers are a great way to make your food (and other stuff) last longer. One great habit is cooking a large batch of food and freezing the majority to save for later. It can save you time and money by bulk, and all you have to do is reheat that delicious dish when you get hungry for dinner.
Keep in mind that you can also extend the life of batteries, hosiery, and even candles by throwing them in the freezer. Get the most out of your products by turning down the temperature.
10. Resurrect old products
Sometimes our products dry up before we have finished using them. Girls know this better than anyone as makeup can lose its vigor over time. However, instead of dishing out more cash for expensive replacements, resurrect those old products.
For example, adding a drop or two of contact solution to your mascara bottle will restore it from a gunky mess to a sleek liquid again. Same thing goes for nail polish. Mix in polish remover for nail polish that is good as new. You can even save powder makeup that is cracking with a few drops of rubbing alcohol.
Whether you are looking to get out of debt or simply improve your budget strategy, saving money and spending smartly doesn’t have to be complicated. Making small changes such as these are easy to adopt and can make a big difference to your bottom line. Happy saving!