It's a stressful time to be a millennial trying to plan for her future. Earlier this year, the Pew Research center Reported that millennials are having to move back in with their parents at a rate that hasn’t been seen since the 1880s. On top of that, the national average for student loan debt is over $30,000, and everything from groceries to Medicare premiums are expected to start costing more in 2017. Further, the unemployment rate in the U.S. currently stands at 4.9 percent, and wage inequality might not be a reality for 136 more years. So unless you're rich AF, it’s not a bad idea to start finding little ways to save money in 2017.
Even if your finances are pretty solid right now, it’s always a good idea to have some money saved up. As you’ve probably experienced for yourself by now, sometimes sh*t just happens — and having extra money can make a difficult situation far less stressful. The thing is, the only way to plan for crappy things like cars breaking down, pets getting sick, and laptops crashing is by learning how to save money. (It’s also just nice to have money saved up so you can buy things like lingerie and good wine, but whatever.)
With all of this in mind, here are 35 little ways to save money in 2017, because being broke sucks.
Psst! Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017 starting Jan. 1. Right now, tweet @bustle about how you plan to make 2017 the best year yet. Use the hashtag #2017IRL, and your tweet could be featured on our app.
Personally, I love birthdays, and I take a ridiculous amount of pleasure in the free birthday gifts sent to me every year by companies I already buy from. (Hello, brallettes and eye creams.) Even if you don't give a sh*t about your birthday, you should consider signing up for as many birthday discounts and freebies as possible — because there are at least 100 sites and stores that will give you free (or cheap) stuff, just for being born.
Budgeting is pretty much the key to saving money, but budgeting is also kind of hard for some of us. Luckily, our phones are basically robots these days, so there's plenty of finance apps out there that can help you track your spending and save money. To get you started, here's a few budget apps that will work for both IOS and Android phones.
If you're anything like me, then you probably give most of your used clothes away for free. This is, of course, a super nice thing to do — so I won't discourage it. That said, if you're hurting for money, you should know that you can actually make a lot of money on your used clothes. Whether that means selling your stuff to secondhand stores like Buffalo Exchange, getting involved in community swap shops, or selling your clothes to one of these 15 websites, don't underestimate how much your old duds could fetch.
If you always have snacks on you, you won't spend as much money eating out. So keep snacks on you, and make sure they're snacks you'll actually want to eat. Here are 42 healthy and portable snacks you can leave in your bag, car, desk, or literally anywhere else they'll fit.
If you don't use Amazon a lot, these features might not be worth it for you. (Also, though, if you don't use Amazon a lot, who are you?) If you're a frequent user of the site, though, then it's worth the initial $99 payout for an Amazon Prime Membership — because free ebooks and two-day shipping are the bomb. As for Amazon Allowance, it saves you money by allowing you to set yourself (or a loved one) up with one-time or recurring spending allowances. Check it out here.
It might seem like the only coins worth keeping are quarters, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, one writer for The Penny Hoarder actually funded a weekend road trip with nothing more than the money in her spare change jar. So if you haven't done this already, craft your very own grown-up piggy bank out of a jar or empty coffee can, and then put all your spare change in it at the end of the day. Hey, every little bit helps!
I haven't had a traditional, full-time job in a couple of years, but I still get that there are days where you just have to leave the office for lunch. However, if you're serious about saving money, then packing your lunch is the way to go. As it turns out, bringing your lunch to work could save up to $1,500 a year. If you're not sure what to bring, here are over a dozen packed lunch ideas to try out.
Even with rising grocery prices, stocking up on groceries and cooking for yourself is cheaper than eating out all the time. So if you eat out often, start cooking more instead. Then, when you do go out to eat, stick to these money-saving tips for eating at restaurants.
In 2015, NASA paid people $5,000 to lay in bed all day (for real) — but that's just one example of how participating in clinical trials can boost your savings account. If being a test subjects makes you uncomfortable, consider signing up for survey sites instead. You can earn up to $250 a month just by taking online surveys while you watch TV.
Influenster will send you everything from lipsticks to pet care supplies for free, and signing up is as easy as connecting your social media accounts. There's more to it than that, though: you'll have to unlock badges by answering questions and making product lists, but if you're willing to put in the time, you could earn tons of free stuff. You can find more details here.
As every mom will tell you, coupons are where it's at. Thanks to smartphones, we don't even have to take the time to cut or tear them out of sales ads anymore, either. With that in mind, here are the best coupon apps to download, STAT.
OK, so there are some things you shouldn't buy at your local dollar store. Personally, I've never found a reasonably sturdy spatula at a dollar store, and I will only buy certain makeup and skincare items from places like Sephora. Other things (like greeting cards, cleaning items, and party supplies) are so much cheaper at dollar stores, though; and they typically work just as well as the stuff you'd buy elsewhere.
Cash-back sites like ShopAtHome are free to join and can earn you up to 70 percent cash back on your purchases. Other sites, like Swagbucks, will give you up to 20 percent cash back when you shop at your favorite stores. If you find you don't really like these two, don't despair. There are plenty more cash-back sites to choose from.
Yes, impulse buys are fun as hell. The thing is, they're just not very budget-friendly. So if you're looking to save money, then 2017 might need to be the year that you start buying holiday gifts in March and bathing suits in January. It might not be quite as fun, but planning your purchases in advance will save you lots of money in the long-run. This is especially true for those more costly purchases (like winter coats) where sacrificing quality for affordability just isn't wise.
I know, I know, gift cards aren't as mysterious as presents and some folks just hate giving gift cards for some reason. If what you really want for your birthday is to not go broke, however, then asking your loved ones to buy you gift cards from you favorite stores isn't a crazy thing to do. I've done it before and I'll do it again. #sorrynotsorry
If you're anything like me, the thought of planning your meals ahead of time might seem intimidating — honestly, I'm just not that together right now. I'm going to work on it, though, because planning your meals ahead of time could save you time and money. Here are a few tips for planning meals to get us both started.
You may not need 25 rolls of toilet paper right now, but buying in bulk is always cheaper long-term. In fact, if you have a Sam's Club or Costco membership, you could potentially save more than $2,000 a year by buying in bulk.
Most stores have rewards programs and/or rewards credit cards that include free sign-ups and zero hidden fees. So if you spend a lot of time and/or money shopping at a certain store, look into what kind of perks they offer their store-card-holders and rewards members.
Not only will growing your own food make you an eco-friendly badass, it could save you money. So if you don't already garden, consider changing that. Here's a great article to check out if you want to start growing food but you don't have much space.
One great way to make sure a portion of your paycheck goes into savings is by sorting your paycheck. Apps like Mint can do this for you, or you can just talk to your human resources department about it. There's also the option of divvying up your paychecks yourself, but I think we can all agree it's just a lot easier not to spend your money when it gets sorted before you even see it.
According to the folks over at The Penny Hoarder, you can save up to 10 percent on energy costs by regulating your thermostat properly — that's about $173 per year. Additionally, OhmConnect will pay you $40 if you pledge to turn your TV and lights off for an hour. If you're a California resident, it gets even better. There are at least eight different ways the state of California will pay you to care about energy conservation.
If you live in a relatively safe area that's not too far from where you work, start walking and/or biking to the office as much as possible. You'll save money on gas, metro cards, Uber, etc. Plus, you'll get some solid exercise in the process.
I'm all about positive thinking, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared for the worst. Starting an emergency fund is one way to do this. If it helps you get started, think of it as a "fun fund" instead of an "impending disaster fund." Then, if you unexpectedly need to move this year, or you have to replace the tires on your vehicle, you won't have to take out a personal loan to handle your business.
If you'd like to avoid the over-priced, absurdly gender-specific razors in your local drug store, join The Dollar Shave Club. Your first month is free, (you'll just pay $1 for shipping) and after that you can expect to spend between three and nine bucks a month for all the razors you need.
If you live in a small town, you can skip right over this one. If, however, you live in a more urban area, taking public transportation can save you money on gas, parking, and car insurance if you rely on public transportation solely. On top of that, taking public transportation is good for the Earth.
The folks over at Treadmill Reviews recently discovered that reusable water bottles can be as unsanitary as a public toilet seat. Having said that, if you wash your water bottle daily, then you should be just fine. So instead of dropping at least $1 every time you want a bottle of water, spend anywhere from $7 to $45 one of these awesome reusable water bottles. Not only will you save money and help the environment in the long-run, you just might start drinking more water.
You've probably heard that paying with cash makes consumers more mindful of their spending habits, and that this increased financial awareness makes it easier to save money. What you might not know is this: studies show that paying with cash is also more satisfying. So if you want to save money and feel better about the money you do spend, use your credit and debit cards sparingly.
Paying $30 for a pair of THINX period panties or $35 for The Diva Cup might seem out of your price range right now — but considering that you'll pay about $7 for one box of tampons, it really is worth your time and money to invest in sustainable period products.
If you enjoy exercise, I have good news. Apps like GymPact will actually pay you stick to your fitness goals. If you have a FitBit, you can sync it up to the Shop Your Way rewards program and earn points as you work out. If you're not a gym person, no worries. You can get paid to work out without hitting the gym.
If your job will accommodate you, vacationing off-season is ideal — no more summer vacations if you want to save money. Not sure where to go? Check out Lonely Planet's best off-season adventures, and then read about how to travel off-season.
If you fly often, or you want to start flying more often, visit airfarewatchdog.com way before your next flight. The site will search all across the vastness of the internet for the cheapest tickets available. Or, just sign up for the site's alerts on travel deals. Using the site skiplagged.com is also a great way to find cheap flights — it uses a clever loophole to find secret layover deals you won't find elsewhere.
The best way to keep yourself stocked up on yummy fruits and veggies without spending half your paycheck on the stuff is by buying all of your produce in season. Shopping at your local farmers' market is a great way to do this. As an added bonus, it's also a mutually beneficial way to support your local farmers.
If you feel like you're literally burning money every time you drive, check out Gas Buddy. The award-winning app offers "real-time fuel prices at over 140,000 stations in the U.S., Canada and Australia." It's also available for both android and iPhone.
Back in 2013, the amount of global food waste was enough to feed one billion hungry people. As if that's not enough of a reason to take food storage seriously, America loses $165 billion dollars to food waste annually. Yikes! To save both food and money, consider investing in products that help cut back on food waste, (like Ziploc Freezer Bags) and stop being weird about leftovers. If you store your food well and season the sh*t out of it, you'll probably find that leftovers can actually be super tasty.
It's always cheaper to drink at home than it is to bar-hop, and unless you're ordering off a fast food value menu, eating out is expensive. So the next time your friends want to get together, offer to host a BYOB Sunday Funday at your place. You'll have just as much fun, and you won't actually have to go anywhere. Win-win.
Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App every day in January for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.
Images: Bustle; Giphy/(35)