If you’ve ever been hit with an out-of-nowhere expense (in our experience, these tend to be most often related to our cars), you know how important it can be to have a nest egg squirreled away for emergencies. Many of us, however, live paycheck to paycheck and can’t quite figure out how to save a dime without significantly reducing our quality of life. Savings don’t have to require major sacrifice, though: Here, 23 ways to collect extra cash that won’t bum you out.
23 Creative Ways To Save Money Fast
In 2016, you don't really need cable—just about anything you could ever want to watch is available online. You can probably save hundreds by cutting the cord: here is a calculator that will help you find out what makes the most sense for you, based on your expenses.
Yes, deleting credit cards from, say, your iTunes account can make for extra headaches. We would argue, however, that this is the point of doing it! If you have to enter your credit card number every time you want to make a purchase of any sort, you are likely to be more mindful about what you're buying. Do you really need to own that new Fetty Wap song? TBD.
It's hard to make a trip to Little Tokyo feel as exciting as a trip to actual Tokyo, but it can be done. Research a certain pocket of town extensively, ask around for recs, and plan a weekend itinerary that will make you feel as though you've embarked on an adventure somewhere untraveled. You can even go crazy and do this is the middle of your work week—why use a sick day when you're actually sick when you can instead spend it on the beach, in the mountains or eating dim sum somewhere?
Set a budget for your weekend that includes every expense, and hit up the ATM for that amount on Friday. Don't allow yourself to spend one nickel over the allotted budget, and remember to keep your debit and credit cards in your wallet until Monday.
This is hard advice to give in the middle of a heat wave, but hear us out. You can save a lot of money by not running your air conditioner, and there are innumerable creative ways to stay cool. One of our favorites is to fill a roasting pan full of ice, place it next to your bed, and blow a fan straight at it. This should at least keep you cool long enough to fall asleep.
It's tough to be mindful about every little thing we use on a daily basis, However, reducing the amount of everything you use daily, from laundry detergent and cleaning materials to coffee grounds and shampoo, can save big money over time.
Hand-washing dishes properly—spraying a little water on them, then turning the faucet off while you scrub until it's time to rinse with cold water—can save hundreds of gallons of water (and therefore, money, if you are responsible for the water bill at your place of residence). If you must use the dishwasher, ensure it's full before you run a load. Another tip? Some cities—like Los Angeles—up your utilities charges if you're using more than one major appliance at a time (the dishwasher and laundry machine, for example), so you can save money if you space out your usage.
Energy "vampires"—appliances that are plugged in when not in use—can add up to 10% to your power bill. Make sure to remove phone chargers, hair-dryers, kitchen appliances, etc. from their outlets when you're not using them.
If you're making under a certain amount each year, you may qualify for a utilities discount. Call your power, water and gas providers for details. Often, this process is (surprisingly) simple.
Most fitness studios offer a free class for first-time visitors, and varying your workout is the best way to keep your endorphin levels at a steady high. Once you've decided you like a class, subscribe to the studio's email list to be kept in the loop on deals—Pop Physique, for example, offers awesome discounts regularly.
Okay, we lied a bit—this tip is going to bum you out. Research has now shown a direct link between alcohol and seven kinds of cancer, and a few trials show that even low to moderate drinkers are at risk. We're not your doctor, so we're not going to tell you to quit booze cold turkey. What we suggest, though, is cutting back on the number of drinks you imbibe per week. Since alcohol can be quite costly, this will save you a boatload of cash while protecting your health.
There are many ways to get some exercise for free in the great outdoors, with hiking ranked as chief among our favorites. Don't forget that a simple walk is great for your health and your pocketbook (as long as you leave your wallet at home). Want to double-down on the benefits of your stroll? Volunteer as a dog walker for a local animal shelter.
Making sure to check in regularly with doctors, like your dentist or ob-gyn, can save you hundreds in medical bills down the line. It may be tempting to skip out and save the co-pay in the short term, but chances are you will end up paying mightily for that decision years from now. Related: Don't forget to floss! Gum health is not to be taken for granted, since sick gums can cause pain, stress and lots of unforeseen costs.
Buying only organic produce may sound smart, but in reality, you're throwing away money. Know which foods the EPA recommends you buy organic, and which you can grab at a fraction of the price from the ordinary produce section.
Individually packaged snacks like protein bars, pre-cut veggies or fruit cups are a waste of money—you're paying for convenience. Set aside some time on Friday nights to make snacks to take to work or on the go—you can even anticipate your midday sweet tooth with these healthy DIY goodies.
On average, buying your lunch every day costs you around $2k per year, which is a significant chunk of change. Packing your lunch will cut this cost drastically—here are some easy-to-make bento box lunches for inspiration!
Many vegetables can be grown indoors with relative ease. For a bit of an investment that will save you money down the line, try the AeroGarden, or something like it, to grow lettuce, tomatoes and herbs at home. To make the best use of all yields, make a deal with a friend or a neighbor to split your bounty—for a small price, of course.
This one might sound a little bootleg, but if you think about it, it can save you a decent amount over time. When dining at a restaurant, ask them for a drink refill (coffee, tea, etc.) to go. You can also ask for extra condiments to go, or grab them yourself from a restaurant's condiment bar.
Ethnic markets tend to sell the same produce you'd find at Whole Foods, but at way smaller price. You can also find amazing spices, as well as trendy condiments that can be marked up in price at other shops.
Crock pots can save money because they're sort of the "kitchen sink" for cooking. You can easily throw vegetables that may be seeing their last days in with whatever protein's in your fridge to make an effortless and tasty meal.
If you're going to splurge on something, whatever that means for you, you'd better make sure you really want it. We've found that waiting a good amount of time to see if you're still thinking about an item is a highly effective means for eliminating unnecessary expenditures. More than half of the time, you're likely to be over whatever it is you were coveting. Another trick? Imagine if someone came up to you and offered you either the item or the cash amount of the item. Whichever one you'd be more tempted to take should tell you all you need to know about whether or not you need that bag, dress or pair of shoes.
If you're in the (bad) habit of buying something trendy, wearing it for a couple of weeks, and then getting tired of it, you should probably aim to practice more mindful spending when it comes to your wardrobe. In the meantime, however, you can recoup some of your costs from an of-the-moment item you no longer want to wear by selling it second-hand while it's still in season. You won't get a ton, but you'll get more than if you wait until next season to sell. For more tips, check out our guide to actually making money by selling your unwanted clothing.
Okay, so you're not going to find a diamond in the rough here that could be worth thousands. However, moving is exhausting, people get lazy and there are always some relative gems to be found by scouring the free offerings on Craigslist. Just be sure to take a friend with you when you go to pick it up—safety first!