Whether you are saving money for an upcoming trip or working to pay down credit card debt, tightening the belt doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to your favorite luxuries. Here are some ways you can pinch your pennies without forgoing your favorite treats.
- Brew your own beverages. You can save $80 each month by skipping your morning latte in favor of preparing your coffee or tea at home. Choose a flavored creamer you like and set up your coffeemaker the night before to save time in the morning. If you like tea, try loose leaf tea with an infuser. You’ll also cut some calories and save a few dollars by skipping the coffee shop croissant and eating oatmeal and a banana at home. At the office, I’ve found storing my favorite creamer in the company refrigerator and a favorite mug at my desk makes it more likely I will drink the coffee provided instead of making a mid-morning run to Starbucks for my caffeine fix. If your office doesn’t have coffee, you can bring an inexpensive one-cup maker or French press to brew your own.
- Choose public transportation. If your city has a good transit system, you can save quite a bit by adjusting your schedule to take public transportation instead of a taxi or your vehicle. The money spent on parking and fares adds up quickly, so this is a great way to pocket extra cash. Added bonus: the extra walking required to get to and from the public transit stops can improve your overall health without logging time at the gym.
- Pack a healthy lunch. Grabbing lunch from a food stand down the street chips away at your funds, while adding to your waistline. Why not pack a salad or sandwich a few days a week and bring an extra for a friend? Try packing your lunch the night before to save time in the morning rush. When you find yourself short on time, you tend to grab less healthy options. If you’re tired of the lunch menu from home, swap food and recipes with office mates. Exchange your tortilla soup for someone else’s beet salad. Decide in advance to have everyone in your office bring a plate of what they served for dinner the night before – mix, match, and have fun!
- Skip the dry cleaner. Not all of your clothing requires dry cleaning. If the label doesn’t designate the item as “dry-clean only,” you can often wash it on a delicate cycle and hang dry the garment to save a substantial amount of money each month. If you are struggling with wrinkles that won’t come out, try throwing a damp washcloth in the dryer with the garment on low heat for 10 minutes. Or, buy a bottle of Downey Wrinkle Release, my all-time favorite for work and travel. When all else fails, you might have to break out the iron on low heat.
- Try meatless Mondays. You would be surprised how much money you can save by forgoing meat one day a week. It’s also healthier to consume more fruits and vegetables. Serve a salad with avocado and nuts for extra protein, add an egg sandwich or hearty zucchini lasagna —your health and wallet will thank you.
- Think outside the social box. Getting together with friends doesn’t automatically have to break the bank. Instead of meeting at an expensive bistro for brunch, suggest a hike or take your pups to the dog park. In lieu of a trendy, a.k.a. pricey, restaurant for date night, why not shop the farmer’s market and cook at home? Girls’ night can feel fresh when you host a wine-and-cheese tasting at your house, with each friend bringing their favorite dip, dish, or appetizer. The possibilities are endless—just get a little creative!
A few other tricks:
- Perfect your at-home manicure and pedicure
- Use a reusable, BPA-free water bottle instead of buying bottled water
- Check out the local library for audio books, e-books and printed books instead of buying at retail prices – the trip to the library can be relaxing and comforting
- Research programs like Netflix and Hulu instead of traditional cable