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Saving Small Amounts Adds Up Giveaway

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It’s that time again — your chance to win a little money to help pay down debt or put it toward one of your other financial goals. We have changed things up a bit with this one, this time offering one cash prize of $25 while also offering five smaller prizes of $5. There are a lot of different ways to enter including sharing your tips in the comment area on how you save money.

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So, how do I save money?

I would argue that one of the best ways to save money is to take the time to get to know yourself well and be honest in that assessment. While that doesn’t sound like a normal piece of advice when it comes to saving small amounts, I have always found that the better you know yourself, the more opportunities you will have to save money.

While I wish I were perfect and could refrain from all the things that I know I shouldn’t do, the reality is that when it comes to certain things, I lack the willpower I have in other areas. Knowing this allows me to make adjustments so that I can compensate for these weaknesses.

One of my biggest weaknesses is snacking. I don’t know why, but if there is junk food around, I will snack on it. And snack on it. And snack on it some more. The funny thing is that if the junk food isn’t there, I’m OK and can get by fine. This has taught me to keep none of it around.

The problem arises when I see a great deal on one of my favorite snacks. The automatic temptation is to buy the snack in bulk since it’s so much less expensive than buying it individually, but the problem is that if I buy ten at $1.00 each or one a $2.00, I will still eat them all in one day (seriously, my friends and family call me the human vacuum cleaner). So while buying items in bulk when they are on sale is great advice for saving money for most, it’s terrible advice for me when it comes to snacks.

I now know myself well enough to know this and so I no longer buy snacks in bulk. I don’t even buy them on a regular basis just to have one around. I only buy them when I have the desperate craving that will get me to get up from what I’m doing and go to the store to get one. While it costs me more on the individual basis, it saves me more money than buying in bulk and keeps me a lot healthier.

Now, I know this is not an issue that most of you have, but I am pretty sure that you have your own little quirks and imperfections where you know you spend more than you should. I have plenty and I hope I’m not the only one. Denying them won’t solve the issue, but acknowledging them and looking at them realistically can go a long way to help find a solution to the issue. I find that being honest with myself and my imperfections has been a wonderful way to save money in a wide variety of areas of my life.

What are some of the ways that you are able to consistently save small amounts of money?


38 Comments

  • Reply Sarah |

    We save money by having my parents do our Costco shopping while they are doing their own shopping. If we were to go, we would be tempted by all sorts of things in the aisles. By sending my parents with a list, they only buy what we need. They also have good control so don’t usually buy what they don’t need so they are good people to send to Costco!

  • Reply Amy |

    I found that setting up automatic transfers make saving quick, easy and manageable. A little bit each day can go along way!

  • Reply Colleena |

    My boyfriend and I plan on going out to dinner every other weekend instead of every weekend. This means spending only half as much each month and finding other ways to enjoy each others company without breaking the bank.

  • Reply Cindy |

    I continually reprice things…like cable (which we got rid of), cell phones, insurance, my mortgage interest rate, etc. anywhere I can get the same for less I do. I also take advantage of my tax free opportunities in my pay such as 401k contributions, health FSA, dependent care FSA, health savings HSA. And I primarily shop at outlets except for handbags and sunglasses which I buy every couple years and use every day. Coach btw has a lifetime warranty so they will either fix anything you send or give you a 40% off coupon for a new item if they can’t fix the old. I also only buy real jewelry that I wear everyday for years and years – classic pieces. They last forever and I figure in the end I spend the same $ that I would on costume jewelry that breaks or tarnishes easily.

  • Reply mildred lane |

    I save small amounts of money by donating items from cleaning out my closets to charities who will give me a donation slip that I can use when having my income tax filled out each April..

  • Reply shelley |

    couponing. selling things on ebay and craigslist (as well as buying things rather than shopping retail)

  • Reply Jaimie W |

    We bring drinks and snacks with us on car rides so there is no temptation to stop and grab something.

  • Reply Sheila |

    All change goes into a jar. At least once a year we cash it out and have extra money to spend on vacation or a nice activity close to home.

  • Reply Lynda |

    SERIOUSLY limiting store trips and sticking to our list has really kept me on budget. I don’t get sucked into those “bargains” or “I could just use this” items that add alot to my totals. Now with gas being $4.69 on average a gallon in our area, this also saves on the gas budget by limiting trips.

  • Reply Jesort415 |

    We have started saving money by growing some of our own veggies and herbs. The kids loved going outside to get the carrots, tomatos, zucchinni from the garden. Fresh basil with home grown spinach is amazing on our own home-made pizzas too. We are now doing research on what we can grow in the fall/winter.

  • Reply JMK |

    Sorry everyone, but it’s not too early to talk about Christmas…
    Contact your family friends NOW to arrange to discontinue any unecessary Christmas gift exchanges, or at least set low dollar limits. If your shopping isn’t already done, get going! The stores will only get busier and as the days tick by you’ll start to feel pressured to buy anything remotely suitable (at any price) just to cross a name off the list. Christmas is coming, it isn’t a surprise. Picking up a gift a week takes the pressure off and spreads out the spending. Check all your points sources – can you convert any of the points/miles etc you’ve earned into a gift card or item suitable for someone on your list? Order it now to allow plenty of time for it to arrive. If you’re open to regifting/recycling/homemade gifts start planning. If someone has openly admired something you are willing to give up, ask if they’d like it for Christmas. If you are handy in any way start now (canning, baking mixes, music CDs, scrapbooks, woodworking projects, sewing, knitting, photo collages, etc all make fine gifts but take time.) If there is someone who needs your help or time far more than a purchased thing, get busy designing some gift certificates for your services (drives to appointments, help with yard work, etc).
    By the time you’ve stopped the unecessary gift exchanges, and then cashed in your points, made some gifts and passed on some treasured items, you may find you have very little shopping to do.

    Also related to the holidays:
    1. Holiday cards – go electronic wherever possible. I find anyone over 60 still appreciates a physical card to display, but everyone else is fine with a emailed greeting and family photo attached. You can include a lot more information and there are no cards or stamps to buy.
    2. I enjoy paper crafts, so last year’s cards become this year’s gift tags.
    3. When driving to visit family (6hrs+) we always plan to be on the road for only one meal and we pack a picnic. I used to budget for “road food” at every holiday and then just decided it was stupid to plan for an unecessary expense, as if it couldn’t be predicted or avoided. Now we pack sandwiches, veggie sticks, fruit, trailmix and our refillable bottles with water and juice. I start the trip with a travel mug of coffee and try to make it there without getting another along the way. Yes, it’s a weakness, but at least we’ve cut the $30 road food budget down to a $1.50 for a coffee.

  • Reply Donna |

    We avoid the mall unless there’s something we specifically need. Otherwise we end up ‘finding’ things we ‘need’ and didn’t know existed.

  • Reply Jen from Boston |

    I essentially stopped buying books. I LOVE books, but I realized that while I like having books I don’t actually get around to reading them :/ So I stopped buying books whenever I saw one I liked. Now I use the library, and I ask myself, “Is this book really a keeper?” There are certain topics I am very interested in, so I will buy books related to those, but only after a lot of thought. For reference books I ask myself if I will really use it. Otherwise, I put it back on the shelf.

    • Reply Dream Mom |

      I agree 100%. I’ve been doing this for years. I order my books online from my library and they send me an email once they are in. I read them and return them. If there is a book I want as a reference book, I check for the best price and then purchase it.

  • Reply Thin-yi Hlaing |

    I have been buying all my internet purchases through ebates and topcashback websites. It may be gradual but it all adds up. I order textbooks, clothes, even toilet paper, and batteries, you name it, through those portals at various retail online stores.

  • Reply Sissy |

    I keep an eye on advertisements for things I have recently bought. On a Tuesday evening, I bought my son a suit and it was about $198.00 (but I also had $30.00 in store cash – so about $168.00 out of pocket). The VERY next day, this exact same suit went on sale and I also had a 30% off coupon. It ended up costing me less than $100.00 (still had the $30.00 store cash I could use – so only about $65.00 out of pocket) and also got an additional $10.00 in store cash back. So, just in less than 24 hours, I saved over $100.00 just by taking items back to store for price match – well worth the drive, I would say. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply W at Off-Road Finance |

    Like Sara, we use Costco and make a list ahead of time. Costco really works best when you have an additional chest or stand-up freezer. That way we can buy bulk items, only go every 3-4 weeks, and still get great savings. Their meat department in particular is much better than any other grocery store in our area.

  • Reply maureen |

    I save money when I am organized. I find that the best way to not overspend or spontaneously spend is to simply know what what I am face with for the next day, or through the week. We have busy evenings at home and we have been cought without “food in the house” too many times and have ended up at unhealthy, expensive drive thrus which I’m sure have added to the difficulties I’m having now….so I have vowed since the beginning of the school year to always know what we are having for dinner BEFORE dinner, every night…So far its working pretty good…even if we eat late…we are eating well and on budget..the money we save, is going toward debt…to the tune of at least $100.00 a month.

  • Reply Jo |

    I save my coins can be up To $100 month. If I use a store or service I join their loyalty club and get great savingson things I need. My electric hot water is only turned on about two hours a day and gives me enough hot water for the whole day and my electricity are lower than most other peoples as a result. I save time and money on my bus and train fares by buying a weekly ticket as I usually use public transport 7 days a week. I subscribe to the newspaper which is cheaper than buying it in the store. I recently changed my bank account to save fees and rang my elecriticty and phone/internet providers and got discounts rather than move to other providors. I don’t subscribe to pay tv. There’s a lot you can do.

  • Reply Kimberly |

    I save money by paying cash at gas station. Many stations will give significant discount for those who pay cash. Yes it is irritating to get out and pay with cash but it adds up over time and the extra steps are healthy.

    At restaurants I only eat half of my entree and save the rest for lunch the next day= 2 meals instead if one.

    At hotels ask the front desk for “the best possible price”. This is different from “what is the price for…?” many times if you go the extra step to ask again for the bottom line discount you will get a better price.

  • Reply debtgirl |

    I have been doing silly little things thinking they might add up. Even my daughter is like.. what are you doing? But I have to trust that eventually, I will see the fruit of it!

    For instance, I opened a can of Tomato paste (the really cheap one anyway) and so I only needed a tablespoon, so I took 4 tablespoons full, put them on a plate, froze them and then put them in baggies for the next time! ha.

    My kid must think I am crazy. I am!

  • Reply canadian_sadie |

    I save money on little things wherever I can–mainly by shopping sales on grocery items. I never go to the mall, so I’m not often tempted there. And I find that the less often I go there, the less often I want to BE there.

    Saves me oodles…or at least I feel that it does! I snowflake any small savings I make onto my VISA in an attempt to drop my $20K+ balance. I’d love to add another $5!

  • Reply Edward@DTS |

    One of the steps to eliminate our weakness is to understand and acknowledge that we have them. Saving money is not as easy as it sounds. I have done many failed attempts in the past until I finally made some developments. I need to constantly remind myself about my goal and be accustomed to the habit of saving.

  • Reply Ben |

    This is awesome, and it certainly does add up. I have a ‘save the change’ account which puts odd amounts of money after I spend money (so if I spend 0.85 it rounds it up and puts the 0.15 leftover in it) – it really adds up over the course of months or even years.

  • Reply Holly |

    I try to round up in my checkbook, so if I spend 12.68 at target I enter it as $13.00 in my checkbook.

  • Reply Bridget |

    One of the biggest ways my family saves money is by making and eating meals at home. Before budgeting we were spending way too much money on eating out. We have since quit making excuses and started planning out our meals each week. We still eat out, but stay within the budgeted amount for the month.
    Another way I save money is by using dryer balls instead of sheets (the dryer balls last up to 2 years), cutting my paper towel in half or quarters, using cold water to wash my clothes, not using the dryer cycle on my dishwasher (I open the door and let the dishes air dry), and I make my own liquid hand soap (costs pennies to make).
    In winter we save on our energy bill by using a programmable thermostat (we have one on the main level and upstairs, so we can set them to different temps) and I put plastic on the windows to keep the heat in.

  • Reply Sue |

    I save money by keeping a budget where I account for every penny and by staying focused on my goal. For example, I am saving for a house so I do two things to keep me on track, in addition to my budget. 1) I keep focused on my goal by looking online at houses every day, even though I am not ready to buy. That way, I see what my money can buy. 2) Whenever I am tempted to buy something, I ask myself if I’d rather have this item or a house. It’s always the house and I then imagine the great feeling I will have closing on my home.

  • Reply Lisa P. |

    I use coupons religiously and we also grow our own veggies in the summer. I like to buy second hand clothing as well…better for my wallet and the environment.

  • Reply Jerome |

    I plan the meals I will cook one week ahead, based on a list of 50 cheap but healthy recipes I collected and based on the weekly bargains in the various grocery-stores. The money I save I use once a quarter to by a few dividend-payings stocks. I do this since years and my “cheap-food” fund is now over 26 thousand dollars and pays me around 1300 dollars dividend each year. From all the ideas I had the last years to save money, most of them silly, this is the one I like best!

  • Reply Jenny |

    One way I save small amounts of money is to look at consumables that I use all the time, and see if I can use less. I use half the amount of laundry detergent that I used to, saving me 50% on the cost of it. I also only use a small dab of toothpaste instead of a line the whole length of the brush like they show on commercials, and less shampoo as well.

    And if you try something and it doesn’t work with less, just use the full amount next time, and no harm done. Of course don’t try this with essentials, such as prescription medicines.

  • Reply Vesta |

    I pack a lunch for work and leave cash at home so I am not tempted (or able) to spend

  • Reply Rebecca |

    I bring lunch to work everyday. If I didn’t, I’d probably be spending $60-70 a week on eating out.

  • Reply LJ |

    We save money by taking out books from the public library. When the school runs a book fair, we find the title the kiddo wants at the library. I also wait until the new and best sellers are available instead of purchasing hardbacks for $25+. Most people aren’t aware that the library (at least ours) also carries DVDs, and can even sometimes locate requested movies from surrounding areas. It’s a great way to save money on entertainment!

  • Reply Jenny |

    I frequently transfer small leftover sums of money (after the bills are paid) when I receive my paycheck. Applying even $10 or $25 to the home mortgage (or even $1-200 some months) means I can’t get that money back after I hit “confirm transfer” so once the bills are paid I quickly dispose of it and can’t get my hands on it.

    Also, my grocery stores have the products and prices listed online so I shop virtually and guesstimate my cost of shopping before I go. Then I set a hard limit just a few dollars above that to account for a fudge factor. If I know that I can only spend $45 and buy what is on the list I have less chance of getting impulse purchases I will regret later on. The grocery store used to be a big culprit…especially the frozen aisle (pizza, ice cream, restaurant brand name foods) but now I ignore them and stick to the list.

So, what do you think ?