No matter how many coupons you clip, you could always use a little more cash. But saving money doesn’t have to mean pinching pennies. Sometimes it’s as easy as sending an email to your HR department or making a sandwich. Here are 11 super-easy ways to save up for your next big purchase.
1. GET A FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNT (FSA).
If you know you’re going to be going to the doctor or dentist and paying a copay at least a few times a year, or if you have a monthly prescription, you may be able to save some money with a Flexible Spending Account. Available through employers, the income you contribute to you Flexible Spending Account isn’t taxed, and you can use that untaxed cash on expenses you’d be paying for anyway, like copays, deductibles, some medications, and more.
2. CHECK YOUR TRANSPORTATION BENEFITS.
By law, qualifying employers have to offer their employees the option to pay for their commute using their pre-tax income. You can set aside up to $255 a month before taxes for commute-related expenses like parking or transit passes.
3. GET YOUR GYM MEMBERSHIP REIMBURSED.
Some health insurance plans will reimburse you for your gym membership, either in part or in full.
4. PICK THE RIGHT BANK ACCOUNT.
Finding a bank or credit union that offers relatively high interest rates on its savings accounts will help you save a few more cents each month. While you’re at it, look for an account that refunds ATM transaction fees. At some point, you’re going to need to withdraw money from an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank. With ATM fees as high as $3 or more, those withdrawals can really add up.
5. GET A CREDIT CARD WITH GREAT REWARDS.
If you’re going to put a lot of purchases on your credit card, you might as well get something back. Choose whether there’s something in particular you want to earn—like frequent flyer miles—or if you’d prefer straight cash back, and then look for cards with no limits on what you can earn.
6. HIDE MONEY FROM YOURSELF.
The easiest way to save money? Forget you have it. If your employer has a direct deposit option, divert a portion of your paycheck (however much you can afford, even if it’s only a few bucks) to a savings account that’s separate from your checking account. When you look at the balance of your checking account, you’ll only see the amount of money you want to spend, and can budget accordingly. If you really need it, you still have those extra few bucks in savings, but since you’ll have to go through more steps to get to them, it’s not as easy to spend them on a whim.
7. BREW YOUR OWN COFFEE.
Those $4 lattes really do add up. Buy grounds at your local cafe or grocery store. If you’re too lazy to fire up your coffee maker in the morning, keep a brewing cone for pour-overs at your desk (you can get a plastic one for $3.99).
8. EAT FEWER LUNCHES OUT.
Bringing a PB&J from home is always going to be cheaper than whatever you could buy on your lunch break. Even bringing your lunch once a week more than you do now could save you $40 or more by the end of the month.
9. GO TO THE LIBRARY MORE.
If you’re an avid reader, you’ll save all the money you typically spend on new books and ebooks. Even if you aren’t a big book-buyer, you can take out movies for free, too.
10. LINE DRY YOUR CLOTHES.
Why pay to have a machine dry your clothes, when the air will do it for you? Hang a line or get a rack. It will save you the cost of running the dryer, and as an added bonus, your clothes will last longer.
11. GET A SMART THERMOSTAT.
If you’re paying to heat or cool your home while you’re not there, you’re basically just throwing money away. Some new, high-tech thermostats can learn your habits and sense if anyone is home, then adjust temperatures accordingly. Other, cheaper options will at least let you program and monitor the temperature on your phone, which is a lot more user friendly than tapping at that buttons to set the heat for every single hour of every single day of the week.