While you may already be familiar with some money-saving tactics — such as bringing your lunch to work or buying fewer cups of coffee — there are more creative ways to save money every day that you may not yet be doing. After all, when it comes to your personal finances, every cent does add up, literally.
For instance, I used to fall into the buy-lunch-at-work trap. Even though I’d aim to only spend up to $15 per day, that number would often inch up. Once I added up how much I was spending per week, I realised that money was better off in savings or my emergency fund instead of overpriced lunches that I didn’t even enjoy that much.
The 2020 Better Money Habits Millennial Report found that nearly one in four millennials with savings have at least $100,000, which is up from 16 per cent in 2018 and 8 per cent in 2015. Despite this good news though, they still feel behind financially compared to peers and are juggling substantial debt levels with near and long-term financial priorities.
Despite making some strides financially, 51 per cent of millennials feel behind in their overall financial situation and 33 per cent believe their peers are better off financially. Seventy-three per cent are not optimistic about their financial future.
Yikes! With all that said, here are some under-the-radar expert-approved ways to save more money each day.
1. Automate small amounts of money
You may already pay your bills and add to your savings through automatic transfers, but once you start automating smaller amounts, they will add up to bigger ones. For example, once I eliminated buying lunch at work and daily Starbucks runs, that was approximately $20 a day I was not spending, which meant an extra $100 per week toward my savings just from skipping frivolous lunches and coffees.
“Automate weekly savings for small amounts you won’t miss, even as little as $10 or $20 per week,” Andrea Woroch, a nationally-recognised consumer expert, told us. “These small amounts will build quickly over time and you will learn to live without those extra funds.”
She also recommended putting the money toward an online savings account that offers a higher interest rate than savings account at traditional banks.
2. Create a 48-hour rule and remove stored credit card numbers
The speed and simplicity of online shopping make it easy to fall into the habit of impulse buying clothes and other items. “To prevent impulse purchases, wait 48 hours after identifying something you’d like to purchase,” Chris Whitlow, CEO of workplace financial education company Edukate, told us. “This will separate your need spends from your wants spends.”
Similarly, having your credit card numbers stored online may be efficient, but it’s also dangerous as far as spending money is concerned. “Removing this information can save you from impulse shopping and allows you to cut back on the amount of money you spend,” Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate at finder.com, told us. “Plus, the more time you have to think about a purchase, the more likely you’ll make a better financial decision.”
3. Take public transportation or walk
Yes, it may be convenient to drive, but is it cost-effective? “Stop driving your own car to work every day,” Andrei Vasilescu, CEO of money-saving platform DontPayFull, told us.
“Instead, use public transportation, such as trains, buses, or shared vehicles, or try biking or walking for a few miles every day. This will extensively save your wallet and health at the same time.” Plus, there are a lot of extraneous costs involved with owning a car, from insurance to parking fees.
4. Use financial planning and saving apps
There’s nothing like some accountability to keep you on track when you’re trying to reach a certain goal. “Use financial planning apps,” Matt Reiner, CFA, CFP, and CEO and co-founder of Wela, said. “They provide an almost effortless way to save money each day, as they can connect directly with your accounts to track spending and alert you to problem areas without needing to log your spending each day yourself.”
Some apps such as You Need A Budget also help you create a budget, as well as alert you when you’re spending too much in one category.
5. Go through recurring expenses and eliminate forgotten ones
Byron Ellis, a certified financial planner and founder of Doing Money Right, said he suggests going through your checking and credit card statements from the last six months.
“Grab some paper or make a spreadsheet and list any recurring expenses that you might be able to cut,” he said. “Also list any high expenses that you might be able to reduce.”
It’s also a good time to reevaluate your outgoing bills like electricity, internet, gas etc. to make sure you’re not overpaying with your current provider. The best way to do this is to compare your current costs to other providers in your area.
To make things easier, we’ve partnered with a powerful comparison tool called eConnex to help make this process fast and easy. You can even use your most current electricity bill details to get an accurate comparison. Enter your postcode in the box below to get started.
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6. Log every expense
“Seeing where your money is going every day can make you aware of unnecessary purchases that you may be making,” McDermott said. “Plus, cutting out those extra daily purchases can help you put aside more money for the future.”
One example of an unnecessary purchase is ordering water or soft drink versus an alcoholic beverage when you’re out.Finder.com recently completed a study that showed 64% of adult men have at least one alcoholic drink a week, while 52% of adult women have at least one, too. “Switching that drink to water will guarantee more money in your pockets,” McDermott said.
7. Split shipping fees or meals with friends
Chances are, some of your friends have similar store tastes, so when it comes to shopping, do so together.
“When shopping online, coordinate with your friends that might order from the same site,”Janine Rogan, CPA and financial educator told Business Insider. “This allows you to have a larger order, which might mean free shipping, or at the very least, you can split the delivery costs.”
Speaking of splitting costs, try sharing meals when you go out to eat with friends. “If the portions are big, split your entrée and a dessert afterwards,” financial advisor Thomas Scuccimarra told Business Insider. “Try Groupon and other deals, too.”
If you want to avoid the hassle of making a million notes or writing it all down, you could always use an app like Splitwise.
8. Unplug your gadgets
Woroch recommended unplugging electronics and appliances like TVs, laptops, coffee makers, and cable boxes. “They continue to suck energy even when turned off, which adds to your energy bill,” she said. Power strips make it easy to turn off multiple electronics at once.
9. Meal plan to save on ingredients
Are you guilty of letting too many of your groceries go to waste before you get a chance to eat them?
“While meal planning for the week can help you eliminate excess grocery purchases, the best way to crack down on expired food waste is to look for recipes that use overlapping ingredients,” Woroch said. “I like The Fresh 20, which offers meal plans that use just 20 simple ingredients.”
10. Save every $5 bill
McDermott believes that saving money daily can be done easily. “When you pay with cash and are given a $5 bill, set it aside,” she told us. “Whether you place them in a jar or your savings accounts, dedicate at least six months to saving every $5 bill you receive, and you’ll be amazed by just how much you can save.”
This article has been updated since its original publication.