Budgeting Saving

7 Ways to Get Started on Saving Money

Aaron Crowe
Written by Aaron Crowe

If saving money is one of your goals because you see that there’s no point in spending more than you have to on the stuff you buy, then you’re ahead of the game.

While saving money may seem easy, a lot of people have never developed the habit and save little or nothing.

If that’s you, it’s smart to start small. Then, as you watch the savings gradually pile up without too much effort, maybe you’ll find some internal motivation to do more until it becomes second nature. Just remember the most important things: Start saving now, make it a habit and stick to it.

Here are seven ways to start saving money now, which go a little beyond the 11 easy ways we’ve already suggested:

Take the 52-week money saving challenge

It’s a great, painless way to get started: Try the 52-week money-saving challenge, as outlined by Philip Taylor.

Put away $1 in week 1, $2 in week 2, $3 in week 3, etc. By the end of the year, you’ll have saved almost $1,400. It’s not that much, but it might be enough to jumpstart a savings habit.

Stash the cash in a shoebox and put it out of sight where you won’t be tempted to raid it. Bank it every few weeks. For a twist on this idea, or something you can do in addition, put your spare change and $1 bills into a stash every night and watch the money pile up.

Saving money by avoiding bank fees

Do you love your megabank? That’s what we thought. So why not switch to a bank that doesn’t crush you with fees?

Remember a few years ago when Bank of America and other megabanks decided they were going to start hitting their own customers with $5 ATM fees? Millions of people voted with their feet and switched to credit unions and other institutions that make customers feel appreciated.

It’s still a good idea. By avoiding bank fees you can save $20 a month.

Bring your lunch to work

Instead of going out to eat at lunch, brown bag it with a PB&J or some more exciting meal you can make at home to start saving money each week.

Eating out is a good to get away from the desk you’ve been chained to. But, as the New York Times points out, objections to the boredom of a brown bag lunch can be overcome, and there are plenty of other reasons and ways to return to “one of our oldest and sanest traditions.”

Reduce your energy usage

Energy use is a big cost driver, but there are many ways to reduce the burden. You already know to turn off lights and appliances when they aren’t in use (and to ask the people you live with to do the same). Turn off the TV and read a book instead, or get off the couch and walk the dog. But you can do so much more.

For instance, imagine the satisfaction of driving a stake through the heart of your electricity-sucking vampires. Did you know that many electronic gadgets, like your computer, cable box and phone chargers, use standby energy even when you’ve turned them off?

You can save $100 a year by unplugging them every night and plugging them back in every morning, but that’s a huge hassle. But by investing in a smart power strip or two, or other smart gadgets, you can do the same thing with ease. It’s as easy as flipping a switch.

Save on heating and air-conditioning by installing a programmable thermostat. Or better yet, buy a Nest or other smart thermostat. These learn your habits and program themselves to suit your needs, and can be programmed from your phone.

To continue saving money by saving energy, turn your water heater down to 120 to 140 degrees, and maintain your air conditioner.

Drive wisely

There are so many ways to be saving money on your car. Keep a lighter touch on the accelerator. Keep your tires properly inflated. Remove all the junk in the trunk. If you’re a member of Costco (and why aren’t you?), buy your gas there.

Otherwise, find out at gasbuddy.com where the cheapest gas in town is selling. All cars are different, but in general, for every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph, it costs the equivalent of about 24 cents a gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Eat less meat

You’ll not only be doing a good turn for a planet that’s growing thirstier every day, but you’ll be saving money by eating less meat. Did you know it takes about 1,800 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef?) Save $100 a year eating less meat, according to tips from Money Saving Mom.

Learn how to use a credit card responsibly

Put the charge card in the freezer so you really have to think about whether it’s worth adding to your debt or payments.

Don’t pay just the minimum. Pay off the highest-interest accounts first and be a responsible credit card user.

If you try some of these things and stick with them long enough, you’ll probably come up with more methods on saving money. Share them with us in the comments section below.

About the author

Aaron Crowe

Aaron Crowe

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the Bay Area who specializes in personal finance. He has been a writer and editor at newspapers and websites, including AOL’s personal finance site WalletPop.com, WiseBread, Bankrate, LearnVest, AARP and other sites. Follow him on Twitter at @aaroncrowe, or at his website, www.AaronCrowe.net.

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