Baby steps can make a big goal look much more achievable. A $5 daily savings goal is a small commitment that can have a big impact over time. Following this practice for a year adds up to $1,825 to fund your emergency savings account, put a down payment on a car, or treat yourself to a vacation.
Saving money works best when you have clear goals that fit into your daily life and habits. We’ve figured out 5 easy ways to save an extra $5 per day without sacrificing the things you enjoy most.
Use Your Leftovers
The average American family wastes more than $2,000 worth of food every year, according to the National Resources Defense Council. That means a typical family is throwing away about $5.47 daily in the form of spoiled or unwanted food.
Reducing food waste (and the wasted money that goes with it) works best when you have a plan. Use these tips to get started:
- Write down dinner ideas at the beginning of every week. Staving off the dreaded “what’s for dinner?” question may even keep you from giving up and ordering takeout.
- Shop with a list. Grocery stores use large shopping carts, inconvenient layouts, and slow music as just a few tricks to keep you in the store longer and encourage you to buy more. Stick to the list, and you’ll come away with the items you really need.
- Brown bag leftovers. You paid for the ingredients, so don’t toss that money in the trash! Eating leftovers for lunch the next day uses up more of the food you purchased and saves you from buying a pricier lunch out.
- Follow your nose. “Sell-by” dates are different from expiration dates, and even those are often conservative. The bottom line is, most food stays good past the labeled expiration date. If food looks, smells and tastes okay when you check it, it’s probably fine to eat.
The classic money-saving tip is alive and well, and even easier to do in the digital age. You no longer need to sit at the kitchen table clipping coupons from a newspaper (although it’s still worth glancing through flyers if you’re planning a big retail purchase). Websites and a variety of apps let you search for promo codes and special offers in a matter of seconds. You may find $5 or more in savings on many of the goods and services you need. Here are a few popular options to hunt for deals:
- Groupon: The #1 retail app on IOS and Android goes beyond discount restaurants and activities. You may find steep discounts on oil changes, pest control and other home repair services, pet care services, and more.
- Coupon Sherpa: This app offers printable coupons and online codes. You can save favorite stores with the app to get notified about new deals. Coupon Sherpa also stores product-specific as well as store-specific offers, making it a good resource to find grocery deals.
- Retail Me Not: This app hunts for cash back rebate offers, coupon codes, and discounted gift cards. As with any of these apps, the trick is not to overspend on a “deal” you wouldn’t otherwise purchase, but smart use can save you money. For example, look for a discounted gift card to a store where you plan to shop, use it like cash, and save the difference.
- Honey: Honey adds a button to your browser so you can automatically search for and apply coupon codes when shopping online.
- Raise: The raise website has coupons for over 4,000 brands. You can combine them with store sales and coupons to save even more.
Don’t Use Competitors’ ATMs
Use an ATM from a competitor to your bank, and you could get hit with multiple fees. The ATM’s bank may charge a fee for processing your transaction, and your own bank adds a fee for using an ATM outside of their network. The combined fee is often around $3-$7, and it can be even higher if you’re using a non-bank ATM.
Instead, when you need cash, find a nearby ATM from your own bank. Another way to get cash more cheaply is to use the cash-back option on a retail, such as a supermarket transaction. Purchase an inexpensive item you needed anyway to get the most value out of your money.
Get Rid of Cable
Lots of people enjoy unwinding in the evening with their favorite show or sports game. But if you’re typically logging into a streaming site like Hulu or Netflix, it may be time to consider whether the cable bill is a worthwhile expense.
My husband and I got rid of cable when we realized that out of 200+ channels, we only regularly watched 3. Why pay for something when we didn’t use 98% of it? Once we got used to accessing new episodes a day or two after they aired, we never looked back.
One “cord-cutter” fan estimates he saves $533 annually, even after factoring in the cost of additional streaming services. Depending on your cable bill and which streaming options you purchase, you may save even more.
(Can’t find your favorite TV shows without cable? Apply this tip to another form of entertainment you’re not using fully. Membership fees can add up, and they’re easy to miss if you’re only charged quarterly or annually.)
Set Up an Auto-Transfer Bank Transfer
For some of us, the issue isn’t that the budget is too tight to spare $5 without changes, but that being disciplined about saving is challenging. Set up a daily, weekly, or monthly auto-transfer so you don’t even need to see the money leave your account. If you like to have a visual reminder, hang a progress chart, or mark your calendar every day you meet your savings goal. Using a symbol like a chart or gold star is better than saving $5 bills in a jar in your apartment since the actual money will be more secure in the bank.