16 Mini-Steps You Can Take to Save Money in a Big Way

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The traditional Piggy Bank, as we know it, actually has interesting origins.

In the 15th century, people kept their coins in earthenware pots made from an orange clay called Pygg.  By the 18th century, people began calling the pots, ‘pig jars.’  Eventually, potters began making the pots in the shape of pigs, thus the piggy bank!   And in those days, there was no hole at the bottom of the pot.  The owner had to break it to get the money out.  Hmm…not a bad idea.

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But instead of ‘breaking the bank,’ I’ve designed a list of 16 mini-steps you can take to save money in a BIG way.

1.  Round Up

Every time you balance your checkbook/debit card use, round up to the nearest dollar. For example: You write a check for $21.80.  In the register, record $22.00.  Include all debit card purchases as well, and at the end of the month calculate the amount.  You might be surprised!  Transfer that money to savings at least once every quarter…

2.  Eat Like an Herbivore

Once a week have a meatless meal.  Just think…to feed a family of four, we spend a minimum of $5.00 on meat for one meal.  We can save $20.00 per month just by having beans and rice one night a week.  Wowza!

3.  Mix it Up

We love our pets, but the truth is they cost us a bundle.  Why not mix a little generic dog food in with the good stuff?  Fluffy will never know!  I usually buy a $15.00 bag of the healthy kind and mix a small $5.00 bag of store brand in.  This gives us about 5 days of extra food at a much lower cost.

4.  Economic Errands

This may seem like common sense, but do all your errands at once, while you are already at that end of town!  How many times do we misuse our time and gasoline because we don’t think it through?  Need to run to the opposite end of the city?  Think about what else you might need to do while you are up there.  Making unnecessary trips may cost you a good $5.00 in gas, each and every time.

5.  Cut it Out

This may be a tough one for some of us, but consider getting your professional haircut every other time.  Find a discount stylist that does a good job on a trim, and go to her in between professional cuts.  This can easily save you $20.00 every other month. And you still keep your hair nice and neat.

6.  Buck the Star

I know.  I know.  This almost seems anti-American.  But how does it really feel to spend $4.00 (or more) on one cup of coffee?  Forego Starbucks and learn how to make a similar drink at home! Look up recipes online and find a system that works for you.  Even cutting out 2 specialty coffees per month will save you close to $10.00!

7.  Go Generic

Whenever possible go generic.  For example:  Buy cheap shampoo but spend a little more on the conditioner.  Buy better coffee but be frugal with the creamer.  Buy the laundry detergent you like but go generic on the fabric softener.  The savings will add up quickly and you won’t miss a thing.

8.  Fill the Wine Jug

When you drink your last glass of wine, rinse out the big wine jug, let it dry, and fill it with loose change.  With such a small opening, it is impossible to steal money from it.  And you would be shocked at how much that jug can hold!  Last time my husband and I took a trip for our anniversary, we broke open our jug and it ended up being $200!  Not a wine drinker? Use a large water container.  Just make sure it has a small opening so you can’t get to the money until you are ready to break it open.

9.  Forget the Grown-ups

Make a pact with the adults in your extended family and agree to only buy gifts for the kids. Christmas will be a lot less stressful, and it isn’t as depressing as it sounds!  It is actually freeing not to have to buy for the adults who have everything anyway.  The savings can add up big time, depending on how many adults you usually buy for.  Still want to give something?  Give a personalized ornament, or homemade tin of goodies…

10.  Trade Services

Stop paying for music lessons, yoga classes and babysitting, by trading services.  Offer to do some basic cleaning for someone if they give your daughter a piano lesson once a week.  Offer to paint your neighbor’s living room for fresh vegetables from their garden all summer.  Think creatively and you will come out ahead!  Savings = $50.00+ per month

11.  Circle the Sales

Whether or not you clip coupons, a lot of money can be saved in only a few minutes per week.  You know those free grocery store flyers we get in the mail every Wednesday? Pick one from your favorite store and circle the very best deals with a red pen.  It only takes a minute.  Then build your meals from those sales.  For example:  If roast beef is on a killer sale, I will plan Beef Stew, BBQ Beef sandwiches, and Shredded Beef Tacos that week. Truly, you can save so much just by circling the sales.

12.  Pass on the Pop

Soda drinkers beware…not only are you spending more than you think on the fizz, you would be amazed on how much you could save if you even cut that habit in half! Ordering water at restaurants, taking drinks with you in the car, and budgeting a small amount for occasional soda purchases can save a bundle!  Three cans per week will cost me around $1.50.  One soda at a restaurant is over $2.  Do the math!

13.  Add a Blanket

The year we purchased down comforters on sale for $30, was the year we really began saving on the heating bill.  We were able to turn the heat extremely low at night because those comforters kept us plenty warm.  Give it a try…you will quickly warm up to the idea and save money every month.

14.  Cut the Cable

People spend anywhere from $50 – $150 on cable every month.  And though it is difficult to give up, you really do adjust.  We got rid of ours several years ago and we’ve never regretted it.  We have plenty of options with the 10 or so channels we have. Plus, with video streaming you can add tons of choices for as little as $8 per month.  That is at least a $42 dollar savings x 12 months per year!

15.  Lower Expectations

Gift giving, especially at Christmas, is off the charts!  But once you decide to cut back, the kiddos are generally fine with it.  Simply have a family meeting and explain how things will be and what to expect.  We’ve gone to 3 gifts per child, plus their stockings.  It is more than enough!  What we’ve found is, we are more intentional with their gifts, eliminating the frivolous things that get lost or broken within a short amount of time. Savings per year =  $200-$500

16.  Pare Down

No energy for a garage sale?  Sell stuff online.  Go through the house and garage and post things on Craigslist or other local sales sites.  Especially when you bundle things together like toys, clothes or collectibles, people will buy them!  Use a catchy ad and clear photo and you can make quick, easy dollars.  Not comfortable with Craigslist?  Use social media to let your friends know what you are selling.

There you have it…16 mini-steps to take for BIG savings!

Just think, if you put all of these into practice over the course of 1 year, you could save a bare minimum of $2,500.00!  (And that is a very conservative estimate.)

What could you do with $2,500.00 each year?  Take a trip?  Pay off a car?  Do a remodel? And the best part is, these mini-steps are so small, you won’t even notice them.  I love that!

Start your mini steps today and save money in a BIG way!

~Jennifer



 

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