20 Easy Ways to Save $20 a Day
Cutting corners daily can feel overwhelming. But with these 20 money-saving (and earning) tips, you can ease your financial stress $20 at a time.
Define your budget
Saving $20 a day can be as basic as sitting down and crafting a realistic budget. “Our society has done a poor job at teaching people how to save as well as construct a real budget and stick to it,” says Tom Graneau, author of Pennies to Power. He asserts that our money problems can be traced to a lack of discipline rather than a lack of funds. Graneau recommends putting away 15 to 20 percent of each paycheck, making it unlikely you’ll have that extra $20 lying around to spend on something frivolous.
Consign your clothes
When you’ve grown bored with a once-beloved item of clothing, consider it’s condition before tossing it in the discard pile. A local consignment shop or online consignment space, like Luxury Garage Sale (LGS), could be the perfect place to score some extra cash. “Selling clothes through consignment is a great way to earn money,” says LGS co-founder Brielle Buchberg. “And, let’s be real, we all want more money to buy new clothes. Consigning gives you the perfect opportunity to then buy new items to add to your collection.” Don’t miss these quick ways to get extra cash.
Make investments do the saving for you
Technology can be both a blessing and a curse—but in the case of improving your financial literacy, it can be a true life- and money-saver. Consider an app called Stash for sacking away $20 on a day when you have it lying around. Stash is all about making investing and saving accessible to the average person. Users can choose from hundreds of investment options—from causes near and dear to the heart to companies of interest. It’s a great way to save for whatever goal you have, be it short or long term.
Make your own coffee
This sounds way too simple but your daily Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts runs seriously add up—especially if you like the fancy stuff. Once you factor in a cup of joe, perhaps an overpriced pastry, and a second coffee run later in the day, the cost really starts to add up. Become a DIY barista and make your own concoctions like this Creamy Caramel Mocha from Taste of Home.
Say bye to boutique fitness classes
According to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association, 18.2 million Americans belong to at least one fitness studio, and those memberships or class series don’t come cheap. You don’t have to give up your love of exercise completely: Fitness apps like ClassPass now offer live classes that you can take from the privacy of your own home for a fraction of the cost of studio memberships. And with this new technology, you can still get that group camaraderie.
Get paid for your opinion
As a consumer, your thoughts are incredibly valuable to marketing companies. So much so that you can often find paid survey opportunities when you reveal your purchasing habits and how you decide to buy items. Seeking out these money-making gigs isn’t difficult. Local focus groups can often be found on Craigslist; websites like Find Focus Groups will vet the opportunities before you even apply so that you know the opportunity is legit. Check out these habits of good money savers.
Purchase pantry items online
Stock up on non-perishable groceries online, where you can source good deals and are less likely to add things to your cart that are entirely unnecessary. “When shopping online we all pay much more attention to deals and there is almost no impulse buy,” says Peter Koch of Seller at Heart, a website devoted to helping people find their financial freedom. He does advise against purchasing fruit and vegetables through grocery delivery programs as you can’t pick them out yourself and won’t receive the best of the crop.
Learn price history and comparisons
“One of the best ways to save money is to empower yourself with money-saving knowledge while making shopping decisions,” says David Mercer, founder of the entrepreneurial site SME Pals. To save, he recommends learning your price histories and comparisons so that you can decide if the product is currently priced better or worse than it has been in the past and compare it to the price of other items in the same category. “It might sound complicated, but it’s really quick and simple,” he says. “Simply use a free price tracker/price comparison combo.” Here are shopping tricks you’ll wish you knew all along.
Cut the (cable) chord
If you’re hanging on to your cable, it’s understandable—you get everything in a tidy package. But becoming a chord cutter has its perks, and they can come in the form of major money savings. If you really want to keep your cable, at least take a look at whether you need the package you have. Also, thanks to all the new competition for your TV dollars, you may find that your cable company is willing to negotiate a better contract.
Mark two no-spend weeks on the calendar
Depending on your consumer habits, this could be a real exercise in frugality. “Other than gas in your car and groceries in your fridge, try at least two no-spend weeks each month where you don’t pay for any extras (like that new tech gadget you don’t need),” advises Jill Caponera, a Consumer Savings Expert with PromoCodes.com. “You’d be surprised how much extra money you’ll save when you’re not constantly spending it.” Here are 16 mind-blowing truths about money.
Make each day take your lunch to work day
“It’s no surprise that eating out adds up, but how much exactly? The average meal out costs $12.75, and the average American eats out 4.2 times per week, according to Debt.org,” says Caponera. “That cost totals more than $200 per month on lunches alone. With the average brown bag lunch cost being just around $4, that’s a monthly savings of over $130.”
Become a rideshare driver
Driving for a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft may not always be lucrative as a full-time gig, but because you can choose when and where you accept customers, there are ways to strategize your involvement and turn this money-saver side hustle into a lucrative gig. For example, if you choose customers who are going in the same direction as your daily commute to and from the office, it’s a great way to offset the cost of gas and even pocket some money.
Experience your city… for free
Boredom can lead to unnecessary spending—yet finding inexpensive entertainment can feel impossible. There are likely dozens of fun and free events either in your city or a nearby destination that can save you dough while offering up a unique experience you might never otherwise consider. Search keywords like “free events” and the name of your city or town to get the skinny on what’s happening nearby.
Become a coupon pro
Coupons get a bad rep, as our minds immediately go to the person holding up the line at the grocery store. While we salute those folks and their dedication to savings, grocery stores have a lovely array of coupons that can be digitally added straight to your store club card account and the savings truly adds up. You wouldn’t pass up a gift card if someone offered it, so why shake your head at a dollar off your favorite yogurt or 50 cents off of bread?
Let someone else find coupons and promo codes for you
For shopping online, the RetailMeNot Genie serves as a free browser extension that will automatically find and apply coupon codes and cash back offers at checkout, so you don’t have to do the searching. The widget tests every deal from RetailMeNot and grants you the biggest discount. By combining available coupons and cash-back offers, you save more than by using promo codes alone. Shoppers save an average of $15 on their purchases with Genie—that’s $5 under our target but we’ll take it!
Don’t be afraid to borrow
If you’re a good neighbor, you likely have trustworthy relationships with the folks on your block. Before you go out and purchase, say, a power-washer or a leaf blower, send out an email to your neighbors to see if they have the item available to borrow. This can even be something small like birthday candles (which stay lit for all of 60 seconds before being blown out and thrown in a junk drawer). The savings add up and you’re reducing waste at the same time. It’s a win-win.
Keep your budgeting style old school
Money-saving apps are great, but they aren’t for everyone. Caponera suggests using the good old “envelope system” if you prefer to keep your cash in plain sight. “Set aside a specific amount of money in individual envelopes to cover different categories of your budget,” she says. “If you’ve budgeted $400 a month for groceries, take that amount out of your bank account at the beginning of the month and put the cash in a labeled envelope. This will help you to keep your spending in check and not dip into extra money that could be saved for the future.”
When you treat yourself, create a savings “match”
This idea is truly genius. According to America Saves, a campaign run by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, you should match the cost of what they describe as any “nonessential indulgence” in savings. This means that if you really want that giant cookie from the coffee shop, you should match its cost in your savings account (or a labeled envelope in cash). “Think of it this way, if you can’t afford to save the matching amount, you can’t afford the treat either,” says the CFA.
Sell some stuff
Whether you bought into the Beanie Baby craze of the ’90s or have some other collection that simply isn’t bringing you joy anymore, it’s time to let it go. Find an app, like Let Go, to help you list and sell items that you no longer need, or get some neighbors together for a joint garage sale. When multiple families join forces for a sale, it tends to attract more buyers looking for a great deal.
Skip the takeout
This always feels easier said than done, but if you can plan lunches and dinners or the week, your bank account will come out ahead. Take a look at grocery ads for weekly sales and take into account what could make for a cost-effective but healthy dinner (bonus points if it makes enough to have leftovers for lunch). Next, find out 11 more easy ways to save money without feeling the pinch.