Everyone wants to save money. It can be easier than you think. Here are 17 everyday habits you can change to stretch your hard-earned dollars. From the fridge to utilities to bill paying and even at work, revising even just a few of these habits could add up to significant savings.
Seven food waste habits you can break to save money
- Track your food waste for a month. Then cut back on grocery spending by that amount. Include uneaten portions of food that is thrown out after a meal, as well as fresh food that spoils in the refrigerator or packaged food that expires before you get a chance to eat it.
- Freeze (and plan to use up) leftover meat and vegetables after each meal. At the end of each month, make soup, stew, stir fry, sandwiches, or salad that incorporates those leftovers.
- Reduce your grocery bill by cooking from scratch. Learn to prepare at least a few favorites from scratch. Learn to make teriyaki marinade, spaghetti sauce, vegetable soup, chili and beef stew or other favorite dishes. A good source for popular recipes that work is allrecipes.com.
- Save time when cooking from scratch. Always prepare enough for at least two meals. Freeze one portion for another time.
- Save money with bulk buying. Buy whole cuts of meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, and bulk grains and legumes. The more prepared foods you buy, the more expensive your grocery bill will be. Learn to use a knife and cut up meats and vegetables yourself.
- Plan menus and meals more carefully. Inventory your supplies, plan menus that use what you already have on hand, and buy only what you need.
- Use up everything you already have on hand to make a meal, rather than buying what you want. The more carefully you plan ahead, the easier it is to adopt this habit.
Save money by adopting these frugal living habits
- Think before you buy. Before you plan to buy anything, check first to make sure you don’t already have something you can repurpose for your need, or can borrow or barter with family, friends, or neighbors.
- Adopt seasonal living habits. In winter, put on a heavy sweater and socks or slippers rather than turning up the heat and block any cool air seeping in through doors or windows. In summer, do the opposite: wear cool, loose clothing and install a ceiling fan to help minimize your use of A/C.
- Think frugal every day. Before you open the refrigerator, think about what you need to get. Buy CFL lightbulbs to replace incandescent bulbs. Turn off the TV and go to bed rather than fall asleep with it still turned on. Unplug phones and computers as soon as they are fully charged. Install a programmable thermostat for heating and air conditioning, and be sure to change the furnace air filter (quarterly or monthly). Turn lights and fans off when you leave a room.
- Avoid fees and extra charges. Get cash at your bank to avoid ATM fees. Pay off credit cards every month to avoid interest fees. Know your checking account balance at all times so you don’t bounce checks. Pay all bills on time to avoid late charges.
- Drink tap water rather than bottled water. Buy and use a refillable bottle for water on the go. If your municipal water doesn’t taste great, buy bulk filtered water or consider installing a filter system in your home for drinking water.
How to save money at work
- Maximize retirement savings. If your employer have matches your contributions into a retirement account, be sure you are taking advantage of it.
- Always use up vacation time. If you have excess vacation days, be sure to take them. If you don’t want to go anywhere, plan a staycation in your own city, or use the time to implement some of the above ideas to save money around the house.
Break bad spending habits to save money
- Plan all shopping trips. Whether you are shopping for food, household supplies, or clothes, make a list of the things you need, not the things you want. Buy only what is on the list.
- Plan a sensible wardrobe. Plan the minimum wardrobe you need for any occasion (work, home, errands, parties, etc.). Donate extra clothes you don’t need. Donate the extra hangers, too. Then keep the same number of pieces in your closet at all times. If you don’t have an empty hanger, don’t buy a new piece of clothing.
- Shop your closet. Sometimes simply combining separates in a different way can create a “new” outfit and give you the same satisfaction as if you bought new clothes. When you think about the money you saved, you feel even better.
From eating sensibly to shopping wisely, these habits can reduce expenses and help you save money every day, around the home and at work.