When it comes to saving more money, there are endless choices you can make that will lead to a healthier bank account. And while the road to spending less and saving more comes in various shapes and sizes and depends on your particular lifestyle, there are a few money-saving habits that just about anybody can take advantage of. Here are eight suggestions that may point you in the right direction. Incorporating even a few of these into your routine can help you save a ton!
1. Reconsider your daily habits
You may need to drink coffee to get going every day, but your morning trip to Starbucks is costing you around $21 a week. Invest in a coffee or espresso machine, and brew your own every morning. Starbucks and many other coffee sellers even sell their beans so you can brew them yourself at home.
Maybe you prefer sparkling water to tap. Consider purchasing a SodaStream. Or perhaps you drive your car a short distance to work when the bus is a viable option. Don't take any of your daily habits for granted; there are often cheaper options available to you in places you don't even think about.
2. Learn to cook
This one's not the simplest of solutions, but it's one of the most effective. According to Department of Labor statistics, the average consumer spent $2,505 in restaurants in 2010. Dining out is one of the biggest and most common money-drains. Gaining skills or even confidence in the kitchen may require time and energy, but the results will be reflected in your monthly bank statement (and maybe even your waistline, too!).
3. Ditch your cable plan
Sorry, cable companies, but there are better options out there. Ten years ago, buying an expensive cable package was the only way to get your TV fix. Luckily, those days are no more, and media options are becoming cheaper and more individualized. Think about the shows you can't live without. Are they offered through Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, or another website? Do you only watch specific channels, like HBO? HBO, for example, offers HBO GO, an on-demand service for all its programming that you can access on your TV or tablet. Do some comparison-shopping for your media consumption needs -- a little effort will go a long way on this one.
4. Buy generic
Make a list of the items that you buy brand-name versions of, and then think about which ones have close generic equivalents. Canned foods, medicines, and beauty products all have cheaper off-brand alternatives. Advil, for example, is merely Ibuprofen, but it's noticeably more expensive than your local grocery-store brand. Make substitutions that will have no effect on your life, but a definite impact on your wallet.
5. Consider DIY projects
We needlessly spend money (sometimes quite a bit) on a lot of around-the-house or home decor items and projects. Look for ways to repurpose things you already have, or ways you can create an item you'd buy at double the cost. Repainting some old stools will be more cost-effective than taking a trip to a furniture store and buying brand-new ones. Need some decorative picture frames? Check out a thrift store near you and buy used ones you can decorate. Think of DIY as an opportunity to save some cash while also feeding your creativity and giving your home a unique touch.
6. Use this trick
Whenever you receive a five-dollar bill (or any other denomination you choose) in change after a purchase, set it aside. Every month, deposit the bills into your savings account. You'll be surprised how much you save, and you won't feel burdened by the savings. It's a simple trick that will help you more than it hurts.
7. Use coupons
Fitness classes, beauty treatments, electronics and groceries can all be purchased for cheap by using coupons. If you're a yogi and are willing to uproot yourself from your typical gym, studios often offer introductory month rates for their classes. You can hop month-to-month at studios for incredibly low rates. Coupons often allow you to try new stores and venues, too, which gets you out of your comfort zone and exploring new -- sometimes cheaper -- options. It's a win-win.
8. Know what you're spending on
One of the best things you can do to improve your financial well-being is to be aware of how much you're spending and what you're spending it on. Websites such as Mint.com break down your spending habits into easy-to-understand categories, helping you recognize where your money is ending up. It allows you to budget and be aware of your habits -- including where there's room for improvement. It's a great first step in your mission to spend less and save smarter.