Saving money might seem like a daunting task, but there are actually plenty of simple, little ways to save money in 2016. So, if your resolution for the new year was that you'll focus on stashing away some more pennies, you're in luck.
If you're anything like me, the thought of saving money is more than a little daunting. I'm consciously aware of the fact that it doesn't need to be overly complicated — after all, it's as basic as moving a little (or a lot) of money into a safe spot where you won't spend it without a second thought. But, still, for some reason it sounds way too "grown up" for me. I feel like I should still be receiving allowance from my parents — not figuring out how to allocate my hard-earned paycheck.
However, there's really no denying that I'm technically an adult now. And with expenses ranging from student loans to buying my own toothpaste hanging over my head, I suppose it's time that I put on my big girl pants and manage my own finances like a boss. So, while I've never been one to set firm resolutions, I've decided that 2016 is the year I'll channel my energy into saving more money.
Luckily, there are plenty of little changes that can help me accomplish that — things so simple and small, that I likely won't even notice them on a day-to-day basis. Curious? Here are 30 little ways you can stash some more cash in 2016.
1. Do your research
You know what's the best? When the money you save can actually make more money for you. If you haven't yet opened a savings account (or you're considering switching to another financial institution) do some research to find one that has the best perks. Many banks offer signup bonuses and attractive interest rates to new customers.
2. Shop with a list
It's way too easy to take your time wandering through a store, only to toss tons of things you don't actually need into your cart. Before even walking into a store, make a list of all of the things you need to pick up — then only grab those things. It'll help you avoid the overwhelming allure of the dollar section.
3. Sell your stuff
We all have stuff we don't need — whether it's that sweater with the tags still on it stashed in your closet or that spare TV you never actually turn on. Why not make some extra cash by selling those things you never use? Not only will you stash some more money into your savings account, but you'll also declutter your home.
4. Clip coupons
Using coupons doesn't need to be as extreme as what you're used to seeing on TLC — you don't need to storm through the grocery store with eight carts and a binder full of clippings. Before heading to the store, do some searching to see if there are any online coupons out there for the things you have on your list. Saving a few cents here and there might not seem like much — but it definitely all adds up. Coupons.com savings expert Jeanette Pavini also recommends checking for coupon codes before making any online purchases. You might be surprised at the discounts you find.
5. Shop in bulk
Items like paper products, cleaning supplies, and even food are always way cheaper when purchased in bulk. So, if you have the storage space, consider shopping for large quantities of these items. Even if you don't want to shop at a bulk store, you can still stock up on things when they're on sale.
6. Join customer rewards programs
I know what it's like to want to keep your precious email address under lock and key to try to cut down on all of the junk mail you get buried under. But, offering up your email to retailers can actually be a great way to score some coupons and discounts. If you don't want it all cluttering up your personal email address, you can even set up a completely separate address just for those offers.
7. Sign up for store cards
Signing up for store cards is another great way to save some cash. Many retailers even offer debit cards that come with a discount, if you don't want to add yet another credit card to your arsenal. Just make sure to read all of the fine print, so you aren't surprised with any hidden fees or charges.
8. Track your spending
It's hard to save money if you have absolutely no idea where your hard-earned dollars are already going. Use an app, a spreadsheet, or even a paper expense tracker to keep an eye on your spending. It'll become readily apparent what areas you can cut down.
9. Get creative with leftovers
You don't need me to tell you that going out to eat adds up fast. So, while you might be tempted to turn your nose up at those leftovers sitting in your fridge, don't. Instead, get creative and repurpose them into an entirely different meal. You'll avoid wasting food, clean out your refrigerator, and save tons of money.
10. Learn to fix things
When something breaks, your first inclination might be to just toss it out and buy a new one. But, resist the urge to trash things as soon as they have a flaw or issue. Instead, see if there's a way you can repair it. Oftentimes, fixing things is way cheaper than replacing them.
11. Cancel your gym membership
Alright, this one might seem like a stretch if another one of your New Year's resolutions was to improve your fitness routine. But, Pavini explains that many gym memberships go completely unused, meaning you're just throwing your money away. If you're not ready to skip the gym entirely, explore your options to find a cheaper, no-frills gym. In fact, many community colleges offer inexpensive membership access to their facilities.
12. Cut cable
A few months ago, I realized that I was only watching actual TV about once per week. I have a Hulu subscription — yet, I was paying a pretty hefty sum each month for a cable package I was hardly ever using. So, I canceled it. And, honestly, so far I have yet to miss it. If you think you could live without cable yourself, it's a great way to save a pretty decent chunk of money each month.
13. Compare products
You know that moisturizer you spend $25 on? Wouldn't you be irritated if you realized it had the exact same formula as the $8 store brand? This happens way more often that you probably even realize. So, if you feel like your products are cutting into your monthly income a little too much, don't hesitate to compare. It can definitely help you tuck away some dollars here and there.
14. Discount your personal care
Things like regular haircuts, dentist appointments, and eye exams can add up quickly — particularly if your insurance leaves a lot to be desired. Pavini recommends scoping out your area for teaching institutions that offer discounted services. Cosmetology, dental, and optometry students all need to practice on real people before graduating. Don't worry, the students are closely supervised. Plus, it can save you tons.
15. Drop a habit
Do you pick up a cup of coffee every morning on your way into the office? Do you have three cocktails when you go out for dinner, instead of just one? Do you smoke? The new year is the perfect time to drop (or at least cut down on) a habit that not only costs you money, but also probably isn't that great for you anyway.
16. Plan meals
Planning out your meals in advance helps you save some money for a couple of reasons. First, it'll decrease the amount of times you head out to eat. Plus, it'll help you utilize all of the groceries you purchase — cutting down on the food you waste.
17. Buy gas strategically
Pavini also recommends comparison shopping before filling up your tank. An app like GasBuddy will show you the current gas prices around you — allowing you to select the most cost effective options. Or, if you want to skip those frequent and pricey gas stops all together, Pavini shares that scoping out public transportation options can save you a bundle too.
18. Automatically divide your paycheck
Sometimes you just need to force yourself to save. Talk to your HR department, and see if you can have your direct deposit automatically divided between your checking and savings account. If you never see that money, you won't be tempted to spend it.
19. Skip bottled water
Yes, bottled water is convenient. But, it's also incredibly expensive. Purchase a sturdy, refillable bottle, and skip those plastic ones all together. Pavini estimates that this small adjustment can save you around $100 per year.
20. Use cash
The danger with credit (and even debit) cards is that it's easy to feel like you're not actually spending money. So, when it comes to your "fun" money for the week, sit down and determine how much you want to spend that week. Then, get that amount of cash and only use that. It ensures you stick within your restrictions, and also lets you see exactly how much you're actually spending.
21. Utilize credit card rewards
Alright, so constantly using cash isn't always realistic. But, you should still make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck with your credit card. Pavini says that you should reassess your current card, and look for one that offers excellent cash back bonuses or rewards. It's a great way to make some extra money — without having to do anything.
22. Be smart with your utilities
Are you catching onto the theme that small changes can make a big difference? The same goes with your utilities. Turn off the water while you're brushing your teeth and washing dishes. Flip the lights off when you leave the room. There's no use in wasting electricity and water — especially when you're paying for it.
23. Delete your credit card numbers
You can't beat the convenience of online shopping. But, sometimes it's almost too convenient — you click "purchase" before you even realize what you're doing. Head to all of the sites that you like to use for online shopping, and delete your credit card information out of your account. That way, the next time you want to order something, you'll have to manually enter your payment information — forcing you to think about every dollar you're spending.
24. Use a change jar
If you're anything like me, you likely don't stop to consider the value of all of that spare change. But, it can all add up to some serious cash in a hurry. Keep a jar for spare change in a convenient spot in your house. Once it's full, take it to the bank and have it deposited into your savings account. Whether it ends up being $20 or $200, it's better than nothing.
25. Check your tires
Nobody likes spending money on gas. But, if you're driving around with your tires a little deflated, you're essentially throwing money out the window — it decreases your fuel efficiency. Set a reminder to check your tire pressure every month to ensure you're getting the most bang for your buck.
26. Grocery shop on a full stomach
We all know that there's nothing worse than grocery shopping when you're hungry. Not only is it a rare form of torture, but it also means you'll end up throwing tons of snacks and treats you don't need into your cart. So, eat right before you head to the grocery store. Trust me, it's better for everybody.
27. Be selective about laundry
Alright, so I'm not saying that you should turn your underwear inside out. But, there are certain things you can wear more than once without washing. So, be a little selective about what you wash every time you do laundry. You'll save water. Plus, the less you wash your clothes, the longer they hold up.
28. Scope out free events
Want to head out and do something fun, but don't want to spend a fortune? Scope out what free events are offered in your area to mix up your social routine and save some cash.
29. Stash your tax refund
Tax refunds are a beautiful thing. And, that large lump of cash can easily burn a hole in your pocket. Treat yourself to something little, and then resist the urge to spend the rest. Instead, put it all in your savings account. It's not often you'll have that large of a sum at one time, so take advantage while you can. The huge increase in your savings account is a definite motivator and confidence boost.
30. Set a goal
Finally, you'll be way more motivated to save money if you feel like you're actually working towards something. So, begin your entire savings process by setting a goal for yourself. It'll help to keep you driven in those moments when you really want to cave.
Images: ljubaphoto/E+/Getty Images; Giphy (15)