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7 Simple Ways to Save Money Now

Posted on 2/27/2012 10:31 EST

Whether you're saving up for a big purchase or just want to save, these seven easy tips and tricks can help curb your spending and supplement your savings account without so much as lifting a finger. But first, scan your individual or family's daily expenses and see which can be eliminated or trimmed, and commit to doing so. And then try the following strategies for saving still more money painlessly.

Photo by Richard Cocks

Consolidate your spending on one rewards or cashback card.

Earn rewards or get cash back on your regular purchases by using a good rewards credit card. Maximize your rewards (and minimize paperwork) by consolidating your expenses on one card and you'll see dollars returned on everyday purchases like gas or groceries. Even better, pay your bills with your rewards credit card and rack up points without changing your spending habits. But remember, it's still a credit card, and it doesn't make financial sense to spend more just to earn points.

Set up your bank account to save automatically.

Use your checking account to feed your savings account automatically, and thus, painlessly. Many banks offer programs that automatically deposit money into your savings account based on each direct deposit, paycheck, or even purchase. For instance, Bank of America's Keep the Change program rounds up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar amount, then deposits the difference to your savings account. You'll never notice the missing "change," but you'll be happy to see how much money has magically appeared in your savings account.

Get motivated - tie in money-saving with another goal.

If you're looking to save money and attain a behavioral goal at the same time, link the two so that your motivation for each is increased. Trying to kick a habit like smoking or snacking on junk food? Create a financial incentive - set up a reverse "swear jar" for any habit you want to break. Deposit the money saved by foregoing the temptation and watch the pile grow as you change your ways. The visual reminder will make you proud of having saved so much and come so far in reaching two milestones.

Know what's worth buying at warehouse stores and what's not.

Americans waste millions of dollars on unused or spoiled food every year, so next time you're at Costco or Sam's Club figure out what food or grocery items are worth buying in bulk. Unless you have a large family, tubs of spreads and blocks of cheese may not turn out to be good bargains if they go uneaten. Also, resist the urge to buy economy-sized boxes of snacks; yes, they may be cheaper than supermarket prices, but ask yourself if you (and your waistline) really need them.

Eliminate excuses to eat out - use a slow cooker.

It's understandable if you're too tired to cook after a long day, but that doesn't have to be an excuse to order pizza or takeout. Learn how to use your slow cooker (or crock pot) and come home to a fully-cooked homemade meal. Look up recipes, pour in the ingredients, turn on the cooker in the morning, and you'll be greeted by delicious aromas when you walk in the door. The slow cooker has surged in popularity recently for its ease of use, and with plenty of slow cooker recipes within easy reach for every day of the year, it's no wonder why.

Photo by alancleaver_2000

Cut the cost of your daily coffee(s).

Coffee drinks are an everyday expense that most consumers don't think of as a luxury, but they should. Add up the yearly cost and you'll see you could have splurged on a real luxury item. Cutting your coffee costs is simple. You can always make your own coffee, of course, but even diehard coffeehouse addicts can trade their double mocha lattes for plain drip coffee, starting with just one such order a week. Once you realize you save $3-$4 per visit, you may find yourself opting for the classic cup more often. Also, take advantage of any coffee shop loyalty programs or punch cards offered and curb your specialty drink habit this way: buy ten regular coffees, reward yourself with a more expensive drink on the house.

BYOB - Bring Your Own Bottle (of water).

Save money and the environment in one fell swoop. Whether you're out shopping or chauffeuring the kids, bring a refillable bottle of water from home. Chances are you'll get thirsty at some point, so avoid being forced to hand over a dollar or more for what's essentially just tap water and marketing. You can even carry an empty bottle and fill it up at a water fountain, or make your own drink with a slice of lemon or flavoring.

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