10 Easy Ways to Save Money Every Week
1. Don't Buy Books or DVD's New -- Go to the Library
That new memoir that you're thinking of purchasing online could easily be picked up at your local library. Think about it...do you really need it after you've finished reading it? If you can do without actually owning it forever (which probably means it will just sit on your bookshelf, once you've read it), then go ahead and pick it up at your local library. Lots of libraries also have a DVD section, where you can rent movies you'd like to watch for only a couple dollars. Redbox is also good for DVD rentals--just make sure you take it back immediately the following day, or you'll be hit with late charges. By renting books and DVD's, you'll be saving yourself some cash that would have gotten eaten up if you bought it online, paid for shipping, etc.... or even if you bought it new from the store.
2. Wear Only What's In Your Closet
I know it's tempting, but do you really need that new dress or top? Or can it perhaps wait until your birthday or Christmas? If you have enough clothes to wear that fit you and are not falling apart, consider limiting yourself to wearing only the clothes in your closet, and abstaining from purchasing new clothes just for the sake of buying something. See how long you can go without buying any new clothes. If you absolutely must purchase something, make sure you never pay full price for it -- get it at a thrift store or discount outlet.
3. Pack your Lunch and Eat More Meals at Home
I know I personally want to be better about this in this New Year. Making meals at home really isn't that hard if you do a little meal prep, and you can eat the leftovers the following day, or pack them in a thermos in your lunch. Packing a lunch really only takes 5 minutes and can also save you about $5-$10 a day, depending on how much you usually spend on lunch out. That money really adds up throughout the course of the week!
Free Museum Days: Fun & Educational!
Check out this awesome website to find the free days for museums in your city!
My husband and I love the LACMA (LA County Museum of Art), the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), The Getty, and the Norton Simon Museum. Going to a museum is a great activity for the whole family! It's also great if you're going on a date or just want to have a fun day out with friends!
4. Plan Days Out / Dates that Are Free
Going out with the family for a day of fun shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. If you have a family, packing a picnic lunch and hanging out at the park makes for a nice, relaxing day of fun. Another idea: take the family to a museum on one of the free days. Something as simple as going on a hike can be a nice date with your boyfriend or girlfriend; spending time in nature can be a big relief from the stress and anxiety of everyday life!
5. Always Get Water at Restaurants, and Don't Get Dessert
If you do go out to a restaurant, which will definitely happen at least occasionally, opt for water instead of soda or tea. You'll save yourself a couple dollars on the bill, and if you're taking a family of 5, you'll save about $10 total, which is no small amount considering how fast each dollar adds up! Don't get dessert either--the dessert options are often pricey compared to buying a whole gallon of ice cream for about $3 (instead of just one slice of cake/pie for the same price or more, for example). Skipping out on special drinks and desserts for a time is a small sacrifice to make to save some money for your family, and you can put those funds toward bills or getting out of debt instead of these luxuries, at least until you are in a better spot financially. Plus, water is much better for your body than cola or tea, anyway, as these drinks are often dehydrating and/or contain lots of sugar.
6. Make Coffee at Home
This is a tough one for me, but I'm also trying to be better about this one! Buying "foo foo" drinks at places like Starbucks and Coffee Bean can be fun, but expensive! At about $3 a pop, they really add up! Brewing your own coffee at home every morning is a good habit to get into, as a can of coffee beans costs about $7 or $8 and lasts for at least a couple of weeks. You get much more bang for your buck that way! My husband brews coffee for himself every morning, since he gets up way earlier than I do. Then, when I wake up, I make a couple of cups for myself as well. I do confess that I still like to stop at Starbucks or Coffee Bean sometimes throughout the week, but I'm definitely trying to break this habit! The drinks really aren't good for me, as they're packed with sugar, and I don't like the affect is has on my bank account, either! Thankfully, I did get a couple of gift cards to each of these places for Christmas, so I am using those whenever I need a little "pick-me-up", aka whenever my son is asleep in the car seat and I feel like getting a special treat! But after the gift cards are gone, I am planning on cutting back to save that hard-earned cash! There are plenty of recipes online for iced coffee and even "frappacino"-like beverages, and I'm planning on trying out some of those as well! There's even a new coffee-flavored "Shakeology" that just came out, and I'm dying to try it! I'm sure it's 100 times healthier than your average cup-o'-joe!
7. Save Gift Cards and Use Only When Needed
Many of us get gift cards for presents at our birthdays or Christmas. While it's tempting to just blow through this money and buy whatever looks like fun at the time, it's wise to take a more prudent approach. For example, my son received a gift card to Carter's/Osh Kosh for his 2nd birthday. His birthday is in November, so he got a few items of clothing then, and more at Christmas, so really he didn't need a whole lot after all that (especially since he's the first grandchild on both sides of the family!) So, seeing the fact that he didn't need much, I decided to save the gift card until he really needs something. I ended up buying him some socks, a shirt that was on clearance, and a pair of jeans, but still had a substantial amount left over. Now, I could have easily found cute items in the store to purchase for him. There are LOTS to choose from at Carter's (everything is cute!) I could have gotten him a new Valentine's Day outfit, an outfit for St. Patrick's Day, more pajamas, etc.... I could have had fun just going crazy. However, that would not be the responsible thing to do, and the way I figure, he's only going to wear holiday items for one day, so I can easily dress him up in red on V-Day and green on St. Patty's without having to splurge for outfits he's only going to wear for one day. Or, I could even get a neutral shirt from his closet and make him a special outfit by hand (and for free!) if I really wanted to (which I might do!) Think how much more special that would be, and this way I'm saving the card for when I really need to purchase him something, i.e. when he grows out of his other clothes and needs to go a size up! Most of the time, gift cards don't expire for a really long time (if at all!) So save them for when you really need them!
8. Recycle Cans and Bottles
When I go to take my recycling, I usually get about $5 or $6-- after saving up my bottles and cans for a couple weeks. I know it doesn't seem like a lot of money, but the extra cash is worth it to me, because I can run in to the store and use it toward my grocery purchase, or save it in a jar and make a game of seeing how much money I can set aside just from recycling! Plus, it's good for the environment! If you go early in the morning and you're there when the recycling center opens, you can beat the rush and get your cash faster.
9. Save Birthday/Christmas Money
I don't know about you, but my grandma still sends money for my birthday occasionally. She's so good about sending cards! She also often sends cash for my son on his birthday or Christmas. I've decided to start saving the money she sends my son, instead of spending it. I could easily buy him more toys or clothes with the cash, but he doesn't really need it. I think it's much wiser to save the money for him, and also to set aside a certain amount each week for his future. Someday he'll be able to put those funds toward college, trade school, buying a house--whatever he needs to make his future brighter! And I know he's not going to be wondering why I didn't buy him another lego set or a cute outfit with the money instead.
10. Cancel the Cable-- Use Netflix or Hulu Instead
Consider cancelling cable and using a service like Netflix or Hulu, which are more affordable. Cable can cost around $50 a month, and if you're like me and you're not home a whole lot anyway, that's really a lot of money down the drain each month! Also, if you have a DVD player, you can rent DVD's at the local library, as I mentioned previously, or watch the ones you already own. If your household is like mine, we have so many movies we have purchased but only watched once, and some I still haven't even seen before (mostly that my husband has purchased at the thrift store or in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart!) Watching these films can be just as entertaining, and there are new TV shows and movies popping up on Netflix all the time. A Netflix subscription costs less than $10 a month so it really is worth the investment! You can also watch a lot of TV shows on the internet by going to the websites of the different networks. They often stream whole episodes for free! Plus, there's always YouTube, which can provide hours of free entertainment (not that you ought to spend hours in front of the screen, but still!)