Let’s be real – unless you’re rolling in the dough, you’re probably just like the rest of us and looking for areas in your life to pinch pennies. I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten to payday and practically spend it all way too fast between bills and fun. Whether you’re saving for a big expense or just trying to cut back on spending, I’m sharing a few of my favorite tips on how you can save a few dollars every day that adds up to some extra change in your pocket.
Gas prices are fluctuating week-to-week, but our need to drive and commute are not going down. We all have a need for gas for our cars, and it’s easy to save a few cents per gallon when you fill up! Almost every major gas station offers a rewards program that gives you small gas discounts or the ability to save up for gas discounts based on gallons filled. My favorite gas station is Thornton’s, because you automatically get $.02 off per gallon just by using your rewards account, plus they give you the chance to load a$.06 off per gallon to your card every Monday via email, so I’ve have gotten used to filling up my tank either on Monday afternoons or Tuesdays to snag this deal. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but filling up 10 gallons per week, saving $.06 per gallon, adds up to about $32 a year you save on gas just by using the rewards program, not to mention other gas station freebies you may score with it, like bogo sodas and candy bars.
If you’re like me, you scant function most days without a little morning pep in your step from good ol’ coffee. I don’t particularly enjoy black coffee, so lattes and handcrafted drinks are my go-to, but at roughly $4-$5 each, it can be over $35 PER WEEK you spend! I also am terrible at making coffee at home, so that option hasn’t always thrilled me either. In this case, I have two options I often use to save a few dollars:
1: Buy pre-made lattes and bulk flavored coffee at the grocery store. International Delight makes a variety of boxed, pre-made drink options the are “pour and go” – I particularly love their light mocha! One carton is $2.88 at my grocery store and two containers makes a full week’s worth of coffee, meaning that I save up to $29 per week and $1,500 per year!
2: Try brewed coffee options with cream and flavors. I’ve learned that doing a black coffee with flavor shots and heavy cream can taste just as good as a latte or handcrafted beverage from your favorite coffee shop. At Starbucks, I learned that it’s free to add flavors and cream to brewed coffee, so I love to order an iced cold brew coffee with a splash of heavy cream and sugar free vanilla, and it tastes just like a slightly stronger iced vanilla latte! To compare, a flavored cold brew is $3.65, while an iced vanilla latte is $4.45 (both before tax), which means you save $.80 per drink, $5.60 per week and almost $300 per year!
It’s so easy to just buy lunch every day while at work, but that can mean $50 or more per week in food. Just think how far $50 could go at the grocery store! My best advice for those looking to save money on lunch is to look at your favorite items to eat each week for lunch that you buy, and meal plan those for the week. Make a list of all the groceries needed to make those items, and spend some time on a Sunday cooking and packaging the meals. Most of the expense with fast food is labor and convenience, so by doing it yourself, you could easily save yourself upwards of $1000 per year by prepping and taking your own lunch.
The worst feeling is throwing away food that went bad, and at one point, I found myself doing this often, especially with fruits and vegetables. After a while, it got frustrating, so to cut back on wasted money in the trash, I began to plan my weekly meals around product items that can be used multiple times. I often plan multiple meals that use items such as garlic, onion, and peppers, since I don’t always use the whole item for one meal, then I have don’t have any leftover after the week is through similarly, I plan out my lunches and use some items over multiple days, like a pack of strawberries, instead of just letting myself eat meal-to-meal and forgetting about them. With this, I was buying significantly less groceries each week and found my grocery bill about $50 cheaper per week, adding up to $2600 per year!
If you like having a steady temperature in your house, whether warmer in the winter or cooler in the summer, we often don’t think about programming our thermostats or turning up/down the temperature when we’re not home, so by investing in a better thermostat really is making a huge difference for me now. We installed the Ecobee in our house, which senses when you’re home, or senses if you’re in a different room with a satellite sensor, and will change the temperature of the home based on that. When we’re away, it knows to turn the air conditioning up so that it doesn’t kick on as often, and when we’re home, it will only turn on and cool the home based on the temperature of the occupied areas. For example, if we are in the living room where the thermostat is (and where it is often cooler in the home), but no one is upstairs where the mini sensor registers it’s warmer, it will only cool the home based on the temps downstairs to prevent it from trying to cool the upstairs area where no one is. Additionally, it links to my phone app where I can program it while we’re out of the house or set times programs to cool more at night versus the day or set a cycle while we’re on vacation.