1. Automate Your Savings
Start automating your savings so your bank account immediately transfers over a few hundred dollars into savings every time your paycheck arrives. Shoot for saving 10% of the money you make, or at least enough to make your summer vacation dream a reality over the next few months. Treating your savings like a bill every month will help you quickly build a solid cash reserve.
2. Brew Your Own Coffee
Starbucks and coffee shops over-inflate their prices—according to USA Today’s coffee calculator, it will cost you an average of $189 a month to buy three cups of coffee a day. Brewing that same amount at home will cost only $7.20 a month. The cost savings for brewing your own coffee at home versus buying it doesn’t seem that big when taken one coffee at a time, but it’s actually huge in the long run.
3. Utilize a Budgeting App
Successful saving starts with analyzing your spending habits. Free financial managing websites like Mint can help you track your spending in one place to easily maintain a budget. Mint is a personal budget tool that is particularly eye-opening because, after you enter in your bank account and credit card info, the tool organizes all your spending by category into pie graphs. You’ll understand where your money goes each month, from rent to gas to food, and target the best categories where you can decrease excess spending and save more money.
4. Collaborate with Friends
Financial guru Nicole Lapin tells Forbes that saving money can be fun with a support system. Go on a “spending freeze” with friends, coworkers, or your partner. For example, Lapin suggests skipping the cocktail lounge for girls’ night out to stay in with cheap wine and potluck snacks.
5. Start a Side Gig
Night jobs waiting tables and bartending are plentiful, but in the digital era, you can find a plethora of legitimate side gigs online, too. The Penny Hoarder blog breaks down a list of ways you can use your skills or hobbies to make money: designing, tutoring, and developing websites are all easily monetizable skills and hobbies.
6. Shop for Cable Rates
Unless you’re amazingly lucky and stumble into a deal, you’ll only score the cheapest monthly cable rates by shopping around various providers. Special offers and introductory rates expire, so switching to a different pay-TV service after your current contract expires could net you a much cheaper price. Satellite providers are often some of the better options out there, ranking high on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, so check out potential deals on affiliate websites to score a solid plan.
7. Drop to a Lower Data Plan
Dropping to a lower-tier data plan can save you big each month. For example, a drop from the unlimited data to 2GB plan with Verizon could save you $45 each month. Be strict about your cellphone use, and only use the web when you’re connected on Wi-Fi so you don’t incur data overage charges. Certain apps that constantly run on your phone—like Gmail and Facebook—can be major data hogs, but adjusting their data settings on your phone can help.
8. Use a Grocery Rebate App
If you want to save money on groceries, you don’t have to cut coupons from the Sunday newspaper. You can quickly earn cash back on grocery purchases by using rebate apps like Ibotta, Receipt Hog, and Checkout 51 for your groceries. These apps will give you money and/or gift cards when you buy qualifying purchases. It adds an extra step to your shopping process, but the savings could be worth it.
9. Stop Eating Out
Americans spend around $117 billion on fast food every year, so depending on your eating habits, you could save quite a bit every month if you stop eating out. Meal planning is especially critical as you rein in that spending because it keeps you away from tempting restaurants. If you don’t have much time to cook on the weekdays, make food in bulk for the week on Sunday so you are prepared to bring lunch to school or work.
10. Cut Back on Car Use
US workers spend an average of $2,600 a year each on commuting. In addition to gas and car maintenance, think of other associated fees like parking costs—those can really start to add up. Instead of driving, consider taking public transportation, riding a bike, or carpooling. Even if this new method of transit still costs you a little bit of money, it likely won’t be as much as driving solo.
11. Wait Thirty Days before Purchasing
Stick to the thirty-day rule for any purchase over $25. If you see an expensive item you want, wait thirty days to determine if you still want it. Waiting helps you eliminate the desire for an impulse buy, and it also gives you time to research reviews and compare prices to see if the item is worth the price and available somewhere else at a cheaper price tag.
Just keep your summer vacation in mind, and cutting back your spending won’t feel like an inconvenience. Money management and saving is possible with a little effort and these easy tips.