Ugh, just the phrase "saving money" can make it seem like a herculean task. But it doesn't have to be. There are plenty of ways to drop extra money into your bank account that don't require that much effort or thought on your part. Here are a number of them. You probably are already doing a few (good for you!), but it's always a good reminder to keep you on task!
Automating your bank account so part of your paycheck immediately gets dumped into your savings is an easy way to save without really thinking about it. This way, you'll have to live within your means.
2. Lay off the credit cards
Swiping credit cards may cause you to spend more than you like. If you're not responsible with your money, try to opt to live credit-card-free. Yes, you may be losing out on reward points or cash back, but if you're going into debt because you're not thinking about your purchases, perhaps you need to lay off charging things to credit.
3. Read more
Do you know what Warren Buffett does with most of his time? Read. OK, maybe you won't become a billionaire, but reading personal finance books or self-improvement books can put you on track to having a healthier relationship with money. Saving money will become second nature to you, which will make it easier to save.
4. Go to the library
Reading more doesn't mean spending more cash on books. Start thinking of your local library as your friend and explore all the freebies they have to offer — it's not just books. You can borrow free DVDs, use their Internet for free, and more.
5. Make your own coffee
Invest in a coffee machine or a french press to easily make coffee instead of going to your local Starbucks on your way to work. Instant coffee is a good idea as well if you don't mind the flavor.
6. Make exercising part of your lifestyle
Studies have shown that picking up one healthy habit can lead to positive benefits in other parts of your life. If you add working out to your routine, your relationship with money may benefit from it as well.
7. Hang out with frugal friends
Your friends can be a huge influence on you, so choose wisely who you spend the most time with. That's not to say that you should avoid your spendthrift friends like the plague, but be honest when you can't afford to do something instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses.
8. Start a money-making hobby
You may think that a second income sounds like a lot of work, but hear me out. If you already have a hobby that you spend a lot of time on and enjoy doing, figure out how to make money from it. It can be anything from making homemade laundry soap you can sell on Etsy or writing freelance pieces for a magazine.
9. Get good sleep
Getting a good night's rest can really affect your impulse control. Make sure you're not caving into or fighting off impulse purchases that can really wreck your savings.
10. Get a Brita filter
Instead of buying bottles of water, save the environment and money by investing in a Brita filter pitcher ($41).
11. Use vinegar to clean
Instead of buying cleaning products, use this powerful cleaning agent that you already have in your kitchen — vinegar. Using pantry items to clean is not only cheaper, but less toxic for the home as well.
12. Replace your light bulbs
Upgrading your light bulbs to more efficient ones can save you $50 a year, and all you have to do is just screw them in! Read our review of the best soft-glow energy-efficient lightbulb.
13. Try these fun and free activities
Having fun doesn't always mean a drain on your wallet. We've come up with plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained at home and outside of your home. Go for a hike, fly a kite, or grab a well-loved book to reread. Start equating fun with activities that don't cost much, it's very important to make that connection.
14. Cut cable
More and more households are cutting the cord. Read our step-by-step guide to quitting cable cold turkey. It's an option to consider if you're not a big TV fanatic.
15. Improve your credit score
Working on your credit score will save you money in ways you won't expect. For example, you'll get a lower interest rate on your mortgage and credit cards, better rates on insurance, and some companies like your cell phone provider or cable company may waive big deposits for your clean credit record. Here are some tips on raising your score.
16. Take care of your things
Something that tends to trip up our savings is having to buy new things when the items we own broke or get worn out. You can prevent that by properly taking care of your things and lenghtening their lives. Here are some tips to make groceries last and to preserve your clothes.
17. Reward credit cards
If you're good with your money, taking advantage of reward credit cards would work very well in your favor. Figure out what the biggest things you spend money on are and find the best reward cards for that category. For example, if travel is your thing, check out our top picks for travel credit cards.
18. Download WhatsApp and Viber
Keep in touch with your friends for free with these apps that let you text and talk for free. It's great when your traveling overseas and don't want to rack up a huge phone bill.
19. Get a crockpot
You've heard repeated reminders of making your own meals to save money, but who has the time right? Well, if you invest in a crockpot, cooking will seem like a breeze because all you have to do is throw the ingredients in and let it work its magic. Check out our vast array of slow-cooker recipes.
20. Don't procrastinate
If you have problems with procrastinating, you know that bad habit ends up costing you money. You'll have to pay for late fees, penalties for canceled appointments, and more. Nip your procrastinating problem in the bud with these tips.
21. Double-check things
Being careless can be very costly. For example, you might miss some wrongful charges on receipts or forget your phone in a cab. Always, always double-check everything to make sure it's accurate and to make sure you have everything with you.
22. Get a prepaid phone
This is not a big secret, but one of the biggest ways to save money on your phone bill is to get a prepaid phone instead of signing up for a contract. Read about how one woman saves over $300 a year on no-contract plans.
23. Get fake flowers
Instead of continually buying flowers, get fake flowers that look real to freshen up your home. Gone are the days of supercheesy plastic flowers that look fake — these days there are plenty that look real. Or you can even go a different approach and get flowers made out of cool materials like coffee filters and book pages.
24. Stay with friends and family when traveling
It's no hardship to spend time with friends and family, so kill two birds with one stone by crashing with them on your trips. Better yet, they'll be able to share their local knowledge with you when you explore their cities.
25. Swap clothes with friends
I'm sure you have items in your closet that are collecting dust that you just can't bear to sell or donate. What about outfitting your BFF with them? Swap clothes and accessories you don't use with your pals and see some of your favorite pieces on her! While you're at it, perhaps throw a clothing swap party!
26. Shop at the outlets or factory stores
I have a friend whose motto is to never buy things at full price — that can be yours, too. Wait for sales, which usually come during national holidays, and shop at outlet and factory stores.
27. Get a water-flow regulator for your shower
Install a water-flow regulator in your showerhead to save money and the environment. You can purchase them from around $10 to $20 and save up to 60 percent on your water bill.
28. Moderate your temperature
Everything in moderation, right? That goes for your temperature too if you want to up your savings. Invest in a thermostat to regulate your heating bills. Perhaps even a smart thermostat might be worth the high initial investment as well — see our review of Nest.
29. Ask for a raise
Time to put on your adult pants and ask for the raise you deserve. It can be nervewracking, but it'll pay off in more ways than you think. Not only will you have more money in your savings account, but you'll gain confidence and some smart negotiation skills.
30. Put your tax refund, birthday presents, or bonuses straight to your savings account
Funnel any windfall you get straight to your savings account. You won't even notice the loss, but you'll definitely see the gain in your savings!
31. Cancel subscriptions you don't need anymore
Subscriptions that you were too lazy to cancel can be sucking up your savings. A simple phone call or online request can put a stop to them immediately, and you won't have to deal with them anymore.
32. Get your hair done at a beauty school
Haircuts can get expensive, so take a chance at your local beauty school. You'll be able to get deeply discounted haircuts (or maybe even free!) in exchange for hairdresser newbie to practice her snipping skills. Do your research online to see which one of the beauty schools in your area has the best reputation for haircuts.
33. Unsubscribe to daily deals
Kick your daily deal habit to the curb and buy the ones you really need. Not only are the everyday prompts clogging up your inbox, but you may also be tempted to buy things you don't need. Unsubcribe from their mailing lists, and shop for the daily deals when you need them. Search the site Yipit, which aggregates all the daily deals out there to find the deals you actually need.
34. Make a big batch of food whenever you cook
Maybe you're not into cooking every day, but if you cook once in a while, be sure to make a huge batch of food so you can keep on eating the leftovers. Freeze whatever you have leftover or pack it for lunch.
35. Get friends to pet sit or house sit
Pet and house sitters can be quite pricey, so try to get a pal to do it for you instead. Many people are more than happy to have the company of a pet or stay in a location they may find more convenient or comfortable than their own.
36. Babysit for each other
Swap babysitting services with fellow moms and dads. You'll get a night off without paying a dime in the hands of a parent you trust. Win-win all around.
37. Only drink at happy hour
Make it a point to take advantage of happy hour prices and limit your alcohol consumption to those times. You're not totally cutting it out of your diet and you'll still be able to indulge!
38. Automatically increase your 401k contribution each year
Opt to have your 401k contributions increase automatically so you don't even have to think about it. You may have to request the autoincrease but there are many plans that already have you enrolled.