Saving more money is one of those broad goals everyone sets for themselves at the start of a new year. But with so many tips and tricks out there, it can be hard to know exactly where to begin, especially when the temptation to buy a new pair of sneakers is always looming in the back of your head. Fear not, budget newbies! The tips below are so doable, even a shopaholic can accomplish them on a daily basis. Get ready to save some major dough.
1. Skip out on your daily skinny vanilla latte. "Sorry, Starbucks, but we're taking a break. It's not you, it's me." This one may be hard, especially if you rely on caffeine to jump-start your day, but a coffee maker is a worthy investment when you realize how much this seemingly innocent cost can add up. And if you simply can't go your separate ways from Starbucks, try out one of its cheaper drink options.
2. Start painting your own nails. Sure, sometimes a salon mani-pedi is just what you need to unwind and treat yourself, but those visits add up. A bottle of nail polish can cost anywhere from $4 to $15 and will last you years, whereas a pedicure can cost as much as $20. The math says it all.
3. Cook your own dinner most nights. You don't have to be a whiz in the kitchen to prepare an enjoyable meal. There are plenty of simple dinner recipes out there that are easy on the wallet. Bonus points if you cook enough to give you leftovers to take to work for lunch the next day!
4. Speaking of lunch, make your own every day. This one's a no-brainer, but the temptation of a fancy $10 salad often cancels it out. Sticking to this tip throughout the year will save you major bucks.
5. Discontinue your cable subscription. Unless you're really utilizing your cable every day, it may be time to consider a more affordable online-streaming option like Netflix or Hulu.
6. Stow away a dollar a day. Invest in an adult-approved piggy bank and stash away a dollar (or your loose change at the very least, if you can't stand to part with your precious Washingtons every day). At the end of the month, you'll have around $30!
7. Buy a reusable water bottle and actually use it. Investing in a high-quality water bottle will save both the environment and your budget. The cost of those plastic water bottles adds up, and Mother Earth will give you a pat on the back for this one.
8. Sip on some drinks at home before hitting the bars. College students had the right idea with their beer-chugging "pregames." Enjoying a few drinks at home ensures that you won't fall victim to buying one too many overpriced drinks once you get to the bar or club.
9. Always remember to turn off your lights and air conditioning. Those little expenses can add up to a whopping utilities bill at the end of the month. Get in the habit of hitting the light switch every time you leave a room in your house or apartment.
10. Consider selling your random knickknacks. Though this is technically a money-making tip, the end result is still having more cash in your wallet. Set up an eBay account and finally get rid of that random dog figurine that's gathering dust in the back of your closet.
11. Seek out discounts. Whether you become a coupon champ at the supermarket or start taking advantage of sites with heavily discounted clothes, it's best to think twice before paying full price for something. Examine all your options before swiping your card. The website RetailMeNot is a great resource for tracking down discounts from some of your favorite stores and websites in real time. It does the legwork for you!
12. Make a shopping list before stepping foot in a store — and don't stray from it. Precisely planning out your meals, down to the exact ingredients you need each week, is crucial for saving some green. Venture down the aisles with a written checklist of items in hand rather than aimlessly browsing your options. The same goes for when you hit the mall for clothes.
13. Speaking of groceries, try to only buy versatile staples. OK, that random exotic vegetable may look cool, but is it really worth $5? Stick to those adaptable and affordable essentials like eggs, canned beans, and pasta.
14. Roll up your sleeves and become a DIY pro. When it comes to DIY projects, the options are endless. You can make your own cleaning products, holiday gifts, and decorations. Before throwing away things like old jeans or books, consider how you can upcycle them.
15. Think twice about your transportation options. This is mostly dependent on where you live. If you reside in a car-reliant city like Los Angeles, consider carpooling to split the cost of gas. In a bustling city like New York, try walking or taking the bus or subway instead of an overpriced cab. And if you're traveling somewhere like the airport, opting for UberPool instead of UberX is always the way to go.
16. Quit smoking. This one's pretty self-explanatory. Your wallet (and your lungs) will thank you.
17. Go for the generic brands at the store. With goods like toothpaste and soap, the generic brand is usually just about the same as the more expensive, well-known brands. We all have that one brand we're loyal to, but is it really worth it to pay an extra $3 for body wash if the off-brand version is just as effective at getting the job done?
18. Take an inventory of your monthly subscriptions and cancel the ones you don't need. Unless you're really reading every single page of that one magazine or constantly listening to music from that one streaming service, it may be time to nix that monthly cost.
19. Buy your home staples in bulk. Purchasing toilet paper, laundry detergent, and paper towels — aka those pesky items we hate lugging home from the grocery store — in bulk will always pay off in the long run.
20. Suggest free activities when hanging out with friends. Those happy hours and dinner dates add up over time. Instead, research fun and free activities like doing outdoor yoga, checking out a museum with free admission, or watching the sunset.
21. Take five before making impulse buys. Ask yourself, "Is this something I want or something I really need?" Your response should reveal if it's a worthy purchase or not, so try your best to answer honestly. And if anything, reach out to your mom or a trusty friend who will give their honest opinion about whether it's something you should really spend money on.