Saving more money is easy: Earn more, and spend less! Unfortunately, if you're like almost everyone, that option is far beyond your control, and that means you'll have to find ways to cut spending and save money — and that's not painless. There are practical options, though, that can help you save a little more with less impact on your day-to-day life; let's call them "almost" painless ways to save money. After all, every little bit counts and all that discipline pays off later.
Thinking of buying a new car? Or new appliances? Take a deep breath and consider waiting. Many people trade their car in as soon as they've paid it off and start shelling money out again. If your car doesn't need major work, keep it for another year. Add up the thousands of dollars you're going to save by not having a car payment, and then add in what you'll save because your insurance didn't go up; that might take the shine of that backup camera you so desperately want.
Online retailers make it so easy to spend money. They save your credit card numbers and address, they offer free shipping, and they send you tempting emails that link directly to your favorite items. If you find yourself too tempted, start canceling your subscriptions, so you no longer feel the urge to click through and start shopping. Take your self-protection one step further the next time you're on a retail website: don't create an account before you check out, but make purchases as a guest. If you have to re-enter all your information each time you return to the site, you'll be less likely to make an impulse buy, and this will keep you off those tempting mailing lists.
Set up an actual piggy bank — a box or zippered plastic bag will also work — and offload all the change you collect in your pockets or rattling around at the bottom of your bag on a regular basis. Don't dive into it for laundry or parking change. Instead, carry it to the bank every week or month and deposit it directly into your savings account. If you don't use cash anymore, there are still options. See if your bank has a program that rounds your purchases up to the nearest dollar and puts that extra amount into a savings account. That way, you're saving money without even being aware of it (and it will be so much easier to balance your accounts).
Your favorite stores and restaurants may have frequent shopper and diner cards that offer you cash back or freebies. Use them! Sign up for your supermarket's shopper club to get coupons and discounts every time you shop. Look online as well for cash-back websites, virtual coupon sites, and discount codes that cut down your totals when shopping.
If you're feeling a financial pinch, have you added up what you're spending at your favorite coffee joint? If you're spending as little as $25 a week on coffee, that's more than $1,000 a year going out of your wallet. Yes, it feels good to treat yourself and see your favorite barista, but is it worth seeing that much money disappear? Don't worry — you have options. Make coffee at home and take it in a travel mug, or fill up once you get to work. Join a loyalty club at your local coffee joint to earn points and freebies, and grab a free refill before you leave. Or, consider picking up your daily java at a fast food place so you can save a few bucks. Don't forget to drop the extra buck or two into your savings account.
While we tend to admire rugged individualists in America, going it on your own is often a recipe for paying higher prices. Think about finding painless ways to save money by looking for opportunities to split costs with friends, family, and neighbors. For example, does everyone in your apartment building need to own a separate vacuum cleaner? What if you went in together on one? You could get a better model than you'd be able to afford on your own while saving cash. Consider sharing a discount store membership with neighbors. Maybe you can't store all your purchases from a bulk warehouse, but what if you split that giant package of paper towels or coffee or ground beef between several people? You could all take advantage of major savings.
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