5 Pain-Free Saving Habits to Adopt Right Now (and How to Keep Them)
By Chris Morris
- PUBLISHED August 21
- 3 MINUTE READ
We’re a nation of overachievers. When we decide to do something, we want to do it big. While there’s nothing wrong with setting big goals when it comes to saving, drastic lifestyle changes can often backfire.
It’s one thing to vow to stop eating out altogether. But it’s another thing to avoid that temptation a few weeks later when there’s nothing appealing in your fridge. The real trick to saving money is baby steps—small adjustments to your spending habits that aren’t difficult or especially painful. A few minor changes could result in a noticeably heftier savings account.
Need some easy ways to save money? Try these.
Save your change and $1 bills. If you make a few purchases throughout the day, you’re likely to end up with a pocket full of change. And if you start stashing that change away, you can watch it grow. You can put that savings into CDs, high yield savings accounts and money markets that can help you achieve your goals. Want more ways to save money? Then make a rule of putting all of your $1 bills into your savings. Using that method, any item, as far as your wallet is concerned, costs at least $5—and it’s a lot easier to resist a pack of gum that costs $5 versus $1.
Buy gift cards at a discount. Here’s another tip to save money: From time to time, we all get gift cards that we have no use for. Frequently we just let them expire. But savvy savers know about online vendors through which they can buy gift cards at a fraction of the price they would pay in the store—or sell them to earn a little extra cash. Some gift card exchange Websites let you save up to 35% on gift cards for pretty much any retailer imaginable. A recent search saw discounts of 25% on cards from doughnut and coffee shops and 22% off movie tickets.
Cut the cord. It can be scary to consider getting rid of your cable or satellite service. But this can be a creative way to save money. And with costs of $200 or more per month, you’re paying for a lot of channels that you just don’t watch. A good HDTV antenna, which will pick up all local channels, will cost you just $50 or so. And if you’ve got particular basic cable shows you love, they’re often available via streaming subscription services for as little as $8 per month. Can’t miss your favorite premium cable show? An increasing number of channels now have stand-alone subscriptions that don’t require a cable contract.
Get a library card. Libraries often fall off people’s radars as they get older. It’s easier to order a book online or grab it at the drugstore or airport. But if you’re an avid reader, a library card not only gives you the keys to an infinite number of worlds, but it can also be an easy way to save money. As an added bonus, many library systems have annual fundraisers where they sell donated and older books, letting you continue to add to your own collection at home.
Travel wisely. We all get wanderlust every now and then, but getting from point A to point B isn’t cheap. If you like to travel but have to do so on a budget, scour the Internet for airline deals. Many carriers offer last-minute deals on weekend flights, which can help save money on airfares by 50% or more. If you prefer to explore international destinations, search and sign up for email lists that provide a heads-up when airlines briefly and dramatically slash prices. (Recent examples include $255 flights to Bermuda and flights to Paris in the $300s.)
Chris Morris regularly contributes to national outlets including Fortune, CNBC.com, Voice of America, Variety and Common Sense Media, as well as dozens of other major publications.