Whether we want to or not, most of us have absorbed many common pieces of advice on how to save money. For example, one maxim is that you should pay yourself first. (That means, when your paycheck arrives, take out your savings and investing sums first, instead of paying bills and splurging on various things and then just seeing what's left for investing at the end of the month.) And then there's quitting (or cutting back on) your smoking or latte habit. You get the idea.
But Fooldom is a creative place, and many denizens here have developed some ... quirkier ... habits in their attempt to save money. Here are some examples from our Living Below Your Means discussion board (click here to read the thread's dozens of funny and/or inspiring posts in their entirety -- and to share your own ideas).
Slowlythere: I hate throwing away good food and ingredients so I'll eat expired foods.
WendyBG: I fix things. For example, when the cord in our 45-year-old Venetian blinds wore out, I bought new cord, disassembled them, and restrung them. Good for another 45 years.
Levka98: I wash and re-use Ziploc bags. It saves money and the planet; less waste.
spl241: I'm a huge note-to-self writer and use the back sides of Post-its. [This can't make 3M
ramsfanray: I only have about a week's worth of clothes.
2gifts: We bought one of those electric hair clipper sets at Wal-Mart
MeiraMeira: I primarily shower at my gym. I don't pay the water bill at my apartment, but I do pay to heat it, so why should I?!
Johnmoni: I'll always ask the cashier if there are any other discounts available. For example, Sears
Jennlee222: I've sold my hair on eBay
Oak trees come from ...
Okay, some of these tips are rather extreme. But whether you add a few of them to your routine or a few other money-saving habits, you can really make a difference in your financial future. Imagine, for example, that you manage to save $5 per day, whether it's by cutting out a pack of cigarettes, a coffee-and-doughnut combo, or by taking public transportation instead of driving to work. That can total between $1,250 to $1,825 -- every year. Imagine saving $1,500 per year. In just a decade (and you've likely noticed how quickly time flies), you'll have socked away some $15,000! Invest it in the stock market and if it grows at 10% annually, on average, you'll end up with more than $26,000 in a decade. In 20 years, you'll have nearly $100,000! (And actually, by then inflation may have upped the value of your sacrifices to $9 per day, or more than $3,000 per year.)
A key point to remember when thinking about all these nifty money-saving tricks is that to use them effectively, it's not enough to save the money. You have to invest it. Don't let yourself save it only to end up spending it on something else. You can learn how to make the most of short-term savings (such as an emergency fund) in our Savings Center.
For more money-saving advice, tips on great deals, and general investing guidance, I invite you to take advantage of a free trial of our Motley Fool Green Light newsletter service. You'll like what you see.