Some people save money with coupons and a change jar. Yawn.
Fortunately for the rest of us, frugality comes in all shapes and sizes. Try out these nine ideas for cutting back on expenses, and having fun while you do it.
Fast, Free Auto Insurance Quotes
1. Eat With Friends
One way to save money, while also spending time with loved ones, is to host a potluck dinner. Everyone contributes one dish to the meal, which makes for an impressive feast with low dining costs per person. You'll be too busy socializing to even notice that you're saving.
2. Make Your Own Gifts and Greeting Cards
With computers, printers, and Internet at your disposal, it's easy to get great gift ideas (and the step by step instructions for creating them), even if you aren't the creative type. Rather than spending $5 on a greeting card, why not create one from your home computer or by hand?
If you add up birthdays, holidays, and other yearly events, you could save a serious chunk of change by making your own cards. Plus, your friends and family will appreciate your handmade creations.
3. Only Do Full Loads of Laundry
While it may not sound like a big deal, running half-full loads of laundry is costly and wasteful. Wait until you have a full load of clothing prior to running the washing machine.
In addition, running the cycle with cold water rather than with warm or hot water will save you money in energy costs.
4. Become a Trader
Before you shop for new clothing, books, or other household items, see if you can swap with friends or family. Offering to trade items allows you to mix up your wardrobe or your living quarters without blowing all of your cash.
Start trading within your social circles and it can become a win-win situation for everyone. You can save hundreds of dollars that would have been spent on new purchases.
5. Use the "30-Day Rule"
When you're shopping and you notice something that you'd like to purchase, use the "30-day rule": wait 30 days before actually purchasing the item. If, after 30 days, you still want the item, then go back and buy it. Chances are, you'll forget about it.
6. Get a Library Card
Though eBooks and other digital items are convenient, going to the library and reading the "old fashioned" way is more cost effective. Reading can also be a great way to save money in lieu of other, more costly entertainment.
7. Cancel Subscriptions to Daily Deal Email Sites
While it's fun to see what the deal of the day is on Groupon and similar "savings" sites, subscribing to these emails often leads to spending money on items and services that you don't really need. Consider canceling subscriptions to emails that promote daily deals.
Use discount sites and apps only when you're looking for discounts on products and services that you already intend to purchase. Otherwise, you may be tempted to impulse purchase deals that seem "too good to pass up."
8. Reduce the Use of Phantom Power
Phantom power is the flow of energy that comes from power cords that are plugged into outlets when the devices they attach to are in standby mode or powered off. You can reduce this flow by unplugging cell phone chargers and other electronic devices when they aren't in use.
It has been estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency that the average American has between 20 and 40 devices that use phantom power loads in their homes. Make it easier to shut down this phantom power by using a surge protector and turning off the switch when it isn't in use.
9. Have a Savings Competition With Someone
Challenge a friend or family member to a savings competition. Compete to see who can save the most money over the next month (or other allotted time frame of your choosing). Prior to getting started, define what the winner will receive. The prize can be as simple as a home cooked meal.