If saving more money is one of your goals for this year, I’ve come up with this list of simple, actionable ideas to get you started. Here are 17 easy and smart ways to save money in 2017:
Make minimalism more than just a buzzword this year. Embrace the idea that owning less will make your life more manageable and less complicated. Let go of things that are just taking up space in your home, your mind and your life, and make a conscious effort to accumulate less stuff.
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Commit to meal planning
Meal planning is a pretty simple and basic idea, but actually putting it into action requires a little work. Start by writing down all of the meals that you and your family like and frequently have, and then get out the supermarket circular. When you see what’s seasonal and on sale, you’ll be able to plan out which meals to have through the week, and then shop for the ingredients. Having everything on hand will make preparing lunch and dinner much easier, and you’ll save by buying foods that are on sale.
Join a wholesale club
Wholesale clubs like Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club do require the purchase of an annual membership, but many families find that the value is far greater. If you have pantry space at home, join a club and stock up by buying the things you frequently use in bulk. Not only will you save money by buying bulk, but you’ll also save because you won’t have a reason or excuse to go to the store. If you’re anything like me, you’ll head to Target to pick up tooth paste and leave wondering how you just spent $25! Eliminate the “need” excuse that causes you to shop and spend.
While most of us don’t have the time or the energy to be extreme couponers, it only takes a few minutes to find and use them before shopping. Check your supermarket circular for coupons on items that you plan to buy, and always do a quick search for a coupon code before buying anything online.
Many people are cutting the cable cord these days, thanks to affordable streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. If you can bring your cable and internet bill down by switching to a lower package plan, give it a try. You’ll likely find that you don’t miss having all of those channels, and will find new and interesting shows and movies to stream for far less.
Stop shopping for fun
If you find shopping to be a stress reliever or a way to relax and unwind, think twice. I’ll bet you don’t enjoy seeing your bank account go down after each trip to Home Goods or Target. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll stop shopping for fun, and avoid the temptation to window shop.
Buy used and find free
Just about anything that you may need is available for sale used, or is being given away for free by someone who no longer needs it or simply wants it gone. Before you buy something that you need, take a few minutes to check sites like Craigslist and FreeCycle to see if you can find it gently used or for free. Things like toys, baby gear, and kids clothing can be found used for a steal and in great shape.
Find a side hustle
We’re all pretty short on spare time these days, and it’s tough to manage work and family obligations. However, there are so many side hustle opportunities that don’t require too much time or effort. Find one that works for you and use the extra cash to sock away in your savings account.
Want to try freelance writing? It’s my favorite way to earn!
Automate your savings
Put your saving on autopilot by setting up an automatic transfer on a weekly or monthly basis. When your paycheck arrives, pay yourself first, even if you can only afford to save $10. Anything is better than nothing at all, and over time, you’ll be able to build your savings without much thought.
Make your home energy efficient
Make your home as energy efficient as possible. In the winter, seal up the gaps around door frames and windows. Set your thermostat at a comfortable temperature, add on extra layers of clothing, and avoid the temptation to turn up the heat. In the summer, keep the windows open and the air off as long as possible.
Opt for experiences over stuff
Spend money on experiences rather than on stuff. Plan a fun outing for the family, take the kids to a museum, or just head outside for a simple picnic. Kids especially will appreciate the experience and will have memories that will last, rather than another toy that will just end up broken in the back of the closet.
Do a spending freeze
If you have never tried a spending freeze, now would a good time to do so. It’s easy and requires little effort. One of the easiest ways to save is to commit to not spending on anything inessential for a set amount of time, whether it’s days, weeks, or even a month.
You can of course spend on food, but don’t spend on dining out. Stick to that meal plan and cook at home. Pay your bills, pay yourself by putting money in your savings account, but put freeze on your discretionary spending for a little while. You’ll be pleased with the results.
Make and use a budget
Budgeting likely sounds boring to many, but it’s probably the single most useful way to get your finances in order. Sit down with a pen and paper, the old fashioned way, and write down your total monthly income. Then list out every bill that you have to pay, as well as your other basic expenses.
See how much money you end up having left over after bills, and apportion it accordingly. There are plenty of good budgeting tools available today, too, to help you keep a handle on it, like Mint, and the best part? It’s free!
Unsubscribe from retailer emails
The temptation to shop and the desire to get a great deal is strong for many, and it doesn’t help when retailers try to lure us in through our inboxes. Take a few minutes to remove your email address from the mailing lists of those stores that you frequently shop at. You’ll eliminate temptation with just a few clicks, and free up space in your inbox.
Every dollar is a choice
With the exception of bills and basic needs, remember that every dollar you spend is a choice. When you’re looking for ways to save, one of the simplest is to reevaluate where you’re spending money and what you’re spending on. Before you spend, think about the impact that it will have on your finances. Dedicate yourself to making better spending choices this year so that you can save more.