Does this sound familiar? Every month you set a goal to save a small portion of your income, only to realize at month’s end that there’s nothing left to save.
Where does it go? After paying for necessities like a house payment, utilities and food, most of us manage to fritter away money on treats, small luxuries and inefficient use of resources.
The good news is that if you can identify these little leaks in your finances, you can quickly save some money. Try turning it into a game by going through this list of 18 ways to save, and seeing how many you can do in a week.
1. Keep the change
Retain the change from each of your cash transactions for one week and store it in a jar or piggy bank. At the end of the week, count the coins to see how you did. Depending on how much cash you spend, you may reach your goal by following this one simple tactic.
2. Reduce transportation costs
Download a mobile app like GasBuddy to locate the best gas prices in your area. You can also try carpooling with co-workers or using public transportation for a week.
Check out: “The 30 U.S. Cities With the Best Public Transit.”
3. Avoid restaurants and coffee shops for 1 week
Brew your own coffee to start the day, and decline colleagues’ invitations to eat lunch at restaurants this week. Pack your lunch instead, and invite co-workers to join you in the park or plaza.
Taken seriously, this effort can make a real difference over time. Check out: “How Slashing My Lunch Costs Saves Me $200,000.”
4. Skip costly entertainment
Don’t pay to see a play or movie. Instead, find free entertainment at local community events. There’s also the library, which is jam-packed with books and DVDs that you can borrow for free.
For more ideas, check out “More Fun for Less Money: 17 Ways to Save on Entertainment.”
5. Find free workouts
Consider canceling your gym membership and instead embrace the great outdoors or group workouts. Check the local recreation or community center for free exercise classes. Or, try finding free fitness programs on television or the internet, or at the library.
6. Carry cash only
Force yourself to save by setting a cash-only budget for the week. Take out a set amount of cash from the ATM at the beginning of the week — then leave debit and credit cards at home. Having to stretch your cash throughout the week will help you focus on spending for essentials only. (And don’t forget to save your change.)
7. Sell some stuff
Head to a local consignment shop that will pay you on the spot for gently used goods.
Can’t find one in your area? Try an online equivalent. For consigning clothing as well as games and toys, there’s Swap.com, for example. The site aims “to be the largest online consignment and thrift store in the world.” For selling all kinds of used electronics, there’s Gazelle.
If you have a lot to sell, consider having a yard sale.
8. Get to work
Pick up a temporary side gig to quickly accumulate funds. Or, let your creative juices flow and sell your products and services to others. For inspiration, check out “107 Ways to Make Extra Money Every Month.”