Whether you’re gearing up to buy presents for the holidays, saving for a vacation in the new year, or aiming to make a bigger donation to your favorite charity, here are nine quick ways to put some extra cash back in your pocket. Try these strategies before the holiday bustle and you might just decide to make them part of your year-round savings plan.
1. Write down your expenses.
Actually seeing on paper how those daily $2 coffees (or $5 specialty drinks) add up over time very well could inspire you to start brewing your drinks at home.
2. Sell your stuff.
There probably isn’t a jackpot Picasso or Civil War-era pistol in your attic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find some treasures to rehome. You can use eBay, Craigslist, local listing sites, social media, or a good old-fashioned garage sale to sell the things you don’t use anymore.
Remember to keep your expectations realistic. The goal is to stick a few extra bucks in your pocket, not finance your retirement.
3. Change your data plan.
Call your carrier and ask if there is a way to lower your monthly bill, even if just for a few months. Or, consider renting to own a new smartphone. Here’s how to determine which plan is right for you.
4. Automate payments.
Use your bank’s online feature to set up automatic payments for regular expenses, like rent or your mortgage, car payments, daycare, etc. This simple step can help avoid infuriating and totally avoidable late fees.
5. Use online coupons.
Coupon-clipping works for some, but not most. But when you shop online, searching for coupon codes on sites like RetailMeNot is a snap, and often gets you a deal on shipping or a percentage off your entire order.
6. Tighten your belt on food.
Challenge yourself to eat all meals at home for a couple of weeks. You’ll have to plan ahead, but look at it as an opportunity to save even more money by purchasing pantry staples in bulk, planning meals around what’s on sale, and making creative use of leftovers.
7. Cancel your gym membership.
YouTube and most subscription-based streaming services have a plethora of instructional workout videos covering everything from weight lifting to yoga that don’t cost a penny. If you’re not into that, consider getting outside for your workout as soon as the weather cools down. Or, invest in (used) free weights and a (used) treadmill or stationary bike for the cost of a month or two of a pricey gym membership.
8. Don’t buy gas.
You know that happy, excited feeling everyone gets when gas prices fall? What if you could feel that way all the time? Ride your bike or use public transportation to get around, and you won’t spend a penny on expensive gas while you live every day like it’s Earth Day.
9. Embrace a DIY attitude.
Sure, a mani/pedi is relaxing and Muffin loves her trips to the puppy spa, but if you’re serious about cutting expenses, you’ll take all of these matters into your own — very capable — hands. Routine car maintenance and simple home repairs can be DIY’ed with the help of basic instructions, and you can save a bundle by making cleaning products rather than buying them.