8 Ways to Stretch Your Money (That Actually Help)

Turn down your thermostat. Turn the light off when you leave the room. Order water at dinner. Any time you’ve talked about needing to save money, you’ve probably heard this type of advice.

It’s not that it’s bad — it’s just not enough. It’ll save you a couple of bucks, but that won’t cover a bill at the end of the month.

If you really want to hold on to more of your hard-earned moolah, you’ll need to take some bigger steps. It means changing some habits and starting some new ones. Try these eight tactics and see how much extra cash you have in your bank account at month’s end.

1. Bye-Bye Bank Fees

Unless you look at your bank statement every day, you may not know your bank is taking your money. They’re supposed to keep your money safe — what gives? Most brick-and-mortar banks will charge you a variety of fees: low balance, overdraft, and monthly maintenance fees just to name a few. Those few dollars here and there really add up.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Online banking options, such as Chime, let you set up checking and savings accounts without having to fork over any fees. If you’re comfortable doing all your banking digitally (and never dealing with a teller), give this a shot.

2. Go Cash Only

How easy is it to just swipe your plastic? The days of having to whip out your checkbook and write out your purchase are long gone. It’s super convenient, but it also sets you up for overspending. If you want to save, put your debit or credit card at the back of your wallet and go cash only.

With so many places going cashless during the pandemic, we know this might be a challenge. Do it where you can, though. It’s a lot harder to watch your money leave your hands than it is to swipe a card. You’re more likely to only buy what you really need if you see your wallet getting thinner with every purchase.

3. Make a Deal

You might think all your bills are set in stone. Not true. You have wiggle room with a few — if you play your cards right and do your homework. Look at your cable, cell phone, and internet bills. You could be paying too much, and it’s worth asking for a reduction.

Do some legwork before you call the company, however. Know exactly what you’re paying, what services you receive, and what their competition offers.

When you call, don’t just stop at the first person you talk to. Ask to speak with someone who has the authority to make billing changes. Don’t be afraid to tell them you will change services if they can’t help you. Then do it if you need to.

4. Click Unsubscribe

We’re not talking about magazine subscriptions here. (Though, if you’re paying for a lot of those, whittle them down — that can be a bunch of money!) This time, we mean emails from businesses that flood your inbox. They’re filled with new product announcements or details on sales.

Basically, they’re invitations to send your money right out the door. Go through your email and click “unsubscribe” for the newsletters you get regularly. It eliminates temptation. You won’t spend money on the next big sale if you don’t know about it. Instead, you’ll only be spending money when you really need to.

5. Get Thrifty

Patronizing thrift stores of all kinds can save you money in a couple of ways. Browse their wide-ranging selections, and you might find a whole new wardrobe for a fraction of what you’d spend retail. If it’s your home that needs outfitting, their array of donated household items can fit that bill, too. Thrift stores are very trendy right now, and you can find some amazing hidden gems.

Or maybe you have things of your own that you’re looking to Marie Kondo-ize. When you donate to thrift stores, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, you can get a receipt for the value of your donation. Keep it and write the amount off on your taxes in April. You’ll save money whether items are coming or going.

6.Break a Sweat at Home

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that you can do a lot of things at home. That includes working out. So you can let go of that expensive gym membership. Some can cost as much as $50 a month! Keep in mind, though, that you might need to cancel it in person.

Check out thrift or discount stores and pick up a few weights. Look through marketplace listings to find gently used equipment, like an elliptical or treadmill. You’ll get the same results with a home gym without the monthly fee.

7. Bulk Up

Stop for a second and think about the things you use a lot. Do you run through paper towels or snack on one specific item every day? If so, buying in bulk can help cut your bills substantially. You’ll get much more for your money. Plus, fewer trips to the store could result in fewer impulse buys and gas savings.

If you buy food in bulk, consider shopping with a friend or two and splitting up the purchases. You’ll save money and get more than you would at the regular store, and nothing spoils before you can eat it. This way, you’ll only need to make trips to the grocery store for smaller purchases.

8. Do Those Chores

What does housework have to do with saving money? A bunch, actually. If you have a sink filled with dirty dishes, you’re more likely to eat out. Are all your clothes dirty? You’ll be tempted to go buy something new to wear tomorrow.

Set a housekeeping schedule for yourself and stick to it. That will help ensure you’re getting your chores done regularly. Cleaning up and putting things away regularly also means you’re taking better care of your stuff — which leads to spending less on replacements.

Saving money might seem difficult. You can do it, though, without giving up your favorite activities or things you enjoy. Making a few small changes can give you more financial breathing room. Give these tips a try, and you’ll be keeping more money in your wallet.

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