1. Send a portion of what you earn directly every month (or week) into an account that you don’t touch. If you never even see it, and never count it in your spending money, you will be surprised how much you don’t miss it (and how quickly it can add up).
2. If you find a sale item that you’re interested in buying, check the online version of the store before you purchase — often, their sales are better online, and you can get an even bigger discount.
3. Google the coupon codes for online shopping you’re doing, as you never know when you can get an additional 15 percent off at checkout.
4. Always take out the money you’re planning on spending on a night out in cash, at the beginning, and leave your card at home. That way you have a budget set up from the get-go that you can’t break, even if you want to.
5. Budget your ride home in at the beginning of the night. Leave yourself at least enough money for a taxi or car service home, because you never know if you will be out too late for public transportation or you’ll be somewhere you aren’t familiar with. And driving yourself is never an option if you’ve been out drinking. (If you end up not needing to use that money, all the better, but it should be there.)
6. Keep a cute box/bowl/jar right by your front door to put all of your change in, so that it becomes a habit to keep every bit of extra money that would have otherwise gotten lost.
7. Divide your earnings into hourly wages (if you’re not paid hourly) and count out purchases you’re debating in terms of hours of work. Is it still worth it?
8. Don’t be afraid of a little thrifting, especially when it comes to furniture you can easily re-paint or leather products that are just as good years later if they are well-maintained.
9. Before you think of throwing away any old, well-kept clothes, consider bringing them to consignment stores if you’re hurting for cash.
10. Make your own iced coffee at home and bring it with you in a thermos or Nalgene, instead of going to a coffee shop every day.
11. When you eat something really delicious at a restaurant — especially if it’s on the expensive side — go home and look up a recipe to try and make it yourself, so that you don’t always have to go out when you have a craving.
12. Learn how to cook in general, especially using raw ingredients.
13. Make a point to look at your checking account balance at least once every other day (even if you’re afraid it’s going to hurt) to avoid overdraft fees, buying something you an’t afford, or spending money you didn’t realize you didn’t have.
14. Make sure you have protection on your account in case of fraud.
15. Establish a good relationship with your banker. Whether you need a loan, need to renegotiate a rate, or want to get an accidental overdraft fee waved, all of these are miles easier if you have a good relationship with the person doing your banking.
16. Use your own bank’s ATMs, unless you don’t have a choice.
17. Always ask your pharmacist if there is a generic version of your medication, because it will often be a fraction of the cost and just as effective.
18. Organize with your friends if you’re all going to similar places for who is going to share the car/taxi with whom, so that you don’t each end up spending a full fare when you could have just split it a few ways.
19. Use websites that track cheap airfares, and buy your flight before you buy accommodations, never the other way around. It’s always easier to plan a place to stay after you already have your flight secured and cheap.
20. Set yourself a “me” budget of all of the money you can spend per month on shopping, going out, and ordering food. If you want to buy yourself something special, take it out of the budget first thing, so that you don’t overspend on your “me” budget and then end up buying it anyway at the end of the month.
21. During the summer, make sure to use curtains or window coverings that keep the rooms dark and therefore cooler.
22. Leave the windows open and night if the temperature drops, and close them in the morning. Always leave two windows open if possible instead of one, to create a current of air.
23. Do not be afraid of coupons. Do. Not. They will make your whole life easier.
24. Always look up where the outlet stores are near you, and make an effort to go there at least once per season. The kinds of discounts and sales you can find at outlet stores — for brands you love, no less — are second to none.
25. When it comes to holidays, look up some DIY recipes for cakes, cookies, or candies that you can give to people to whom you want to give something, but who are not close enough to spend actual gift money on.
26. Look up the best happy hour deals in your area before you go out, so that even if you have to go to a more expensive place later in the night, you will at least have gotten a good buzz on for very little money before you go.
27. Always talk about money. Don’t be afraid to say “I can’t do this right now” or “Can we do this instead?” There is no reason for anyone to put themselves in financial trouble to keep up the appearance of having enough money or to keep a friend group. Be honest about what you can and can’t do, and offer solutions for going out that allow everyone to participate. There is no shame in being smart.