Easy Ways to Save Money

 Building healthy money habits can take time. But like making any new lifestyle change, it's good to start small with things you can do every day. A 2019 report compiled by GOBankingRates based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that on average, Americans spend $164 per day. This was across 15 categories, both essential and otherwise, such as rent, groceries, dining out, clothes, and entertainment. The report found that millennials spent the most overall—$208 every day—compared to the other age groups. Gen Z had the lowest amount, spending an average of $92 per day. While some of the categories were essential, there were areas—such as getting takeout—where there was an opportunity to cut back on spending.

Spending money for your basic needs such as food, gas, and rent are valid and unavoidable–but there are ways to lower your overall spending so can put more money towards retirement, a house, investments, or your emergency fund. Here are activities you can add to your day to help you save more money toward your long-term financial goals.

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1Make your own coffee in the morning.

Got a barista that knows your go-to coffee order every morning? It might be time to pay them less visits. Buying coffee every day is a ritual for many, but it is a costly one. The GOBankingRates report found that the average American spends $1,100 on coffee every year. "A plain Starbucks tall coffee will set you back $1.85," says Marissa Zen, personal finance expert and owner of minimalist living blog Squirrels of a Feather. "Meanwhile, you can make your brew at home for around $0.16 per serving," she adds. 

You don't have to give up your daily coffee, but you do stand to save big by making it yourself. If you're a coffee enthusiast who wants the taste of a cafe, spring for a quality coffee machine. Personal finance blogger Jim Wang calls this the "upgrade and save" strategy—while a quality drip coffee maker or Nespresso machine might cost you more upfront, you will save more in the long run by making coffee you love at home. 

If you already have a coffee maker at home and are not on the market for a new one, a milk frother, like this Zulay Milk Frother ($14.99, amazon.com), can really up your at-home coffee game by giving you the frothy, foamy goodness of a latte or cappuccino at a fraction of the cost. 

2Unplug energy-draining devices to save money on electricity.

Lower your electricity bill and help the planet by identifying the phantom loads in your home—aka all those devices that are idle but are still plugged in. Also known as vampire energy drainers, electronic devices such as phone chargers, computer cords, and coffee pots use up a lot of energy. Making a habit of unplugging devices and appliances when they're not in use can save you money on your energy bill. "You can reduce your electricity bill by up to 20 percent
(around $25 a month for the average household) by using smart power cords and the energy-saving features of your devices, such as the sleep mode on your computer," says Andrew Latham, certified personal finance counselor. 

Another energy-saving habit is to do do your laundry in cold water, and hanging your clothes to dry. "You'll save up to 90 percent of the energy the washing machine uses," says Tanya Peterson, consumer finance expert and vice president of brand at Freedom Financial Network. "A dryer is likely the highest-energy use of any appliance besides your furnace," says Peterson. She says savings could be $150 or more each year depending on the model of your appliances and how much laundry you do. Unplugging your energy-draining devices every day is a financially and environmentally sustainable habit. 

3Track your daily spending.

Keep track of how much money you spend every day. You can use any type of budget or budgeting app that works for you to monitor your daily expenses. This can help you better identify areas you can cut back on.

"Saving money is hard if you don't know where your money is going," says Zen. Make sure you track every dollar that you're spending—"even $0.50 for a parking meter counts," says Zen. Not knowing how much money is going in and out can lead to financial anxiety—tracking your daily spending can help you get a true picture of your money and help you make more smarter money decisions on the go. 

4Wait 30 days before you buy.

Impulse buying is another drain on your money. Try to cut back on any impulse spending you catch yourself doing regularly. Coming up with a realistic budget you can stick to is one of the ways to help curb excessive spending on things you don't really need. 

Zen recommends waiting 30 days to buy an item, no matter how big or small it may be. "The 30-day rule can help you reduce impulsive spending and save more money as you become better at identifying your wants versus your needs," explains Zen. 

5Spend some time organizing every day to get rid of any clutter or find items to sell.

Did you know your clutter is actually costing you money? Peterson says to spend 15 to 30 minutes each day cleaning out any drawers, closets, or cabinets that need some decluttering. It will give you a chance to donate or throw things you no longer use. "Once done, continue devoting the daily time (as need) to selling unneeded items online," says Peterson. She says most people can make at least a couple hundred dollars this way. Peterson adds that decluttering and getting rid of a storage unit you're paying for can also save you between $3 to $10 per day. 

Instead of setting aside some weekend in the future for all the decluttering you need to do, breaking it down and making it a daily habit is a lot less daunting—and is a good way to get yourself to actually do it. You'll save money and know that you use everything you own, and won't spend money on something you might already have at home. 

RELATED: How to Declutter Every Room in Your Home—Fast

6Eat at home.

Try to cook and eat at home more often. This is one of the easiest ways to save, though the habit can be difficult to form at first. Eating more home-cooked meals can help you eat healthier while on a budget

"Limit yourself to one trip a week for groceries," says Jenna Lofton, certified financial advisor and founder of stock trading guide Stock Hitter. Lofton suggests taking advantage of grocery coupons and buying foods in bulk to save more money at the grocery store. 

Once you have your groceries, make a habit of setting time aside each week to prep your meals in advance. "Take a look at the grocery flyer or your local store app to see what's on sale and create a meal plan for the week accordingly, focusing on low-cost meals," says Zen. She says planning her family's meals saves them $400 each month on their grocery bill.

This doesn't mean you have to stop dining out altogether—putting more effort into planning meals at home with occasional meals out at restaurants (such as on the weekends) can still help you save money on food. 

7Every time you get $5, put it in a jar.

This classic saving trick is simple—every time you get a $5 bill (doesn't matter where it's from), put it in a jar. Certified financial planner and CFO of retail shopping guide Biztrict, Alex Williams, swears by it. "The game is extremely simple and helps to save an exceptional amount of money as well," says Williams. He claims you an end up saving as much as $1,000 in a month or two with this trick. 

Whether you get to $1,000 or not, putting aside the $5 bills in a jar can serve as a visual representation of your daily savings. It might seem like an insignificant amount to many, but collecting $5 in a jar can show the value of saving—and motivate you to keep going. 


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