Saving is much easier in theory than it is in practice, or at least that’s how I feel when my friend says, “Don’t cook, come get Thai food with me!” (You could also replace “Thai food” with shoes or cheesecake.) But saving is actually much easier once you try it just once.
And, once you start, you won’t be able to stop. Having a stash of savings is always a good idea, whether you plan on using it for an emergency or for that exotic vacation you’ve been dying to take with your friends.
Refinery29 spoke with several financial experts to help saving newbies learn just how easy and worthwhile saving can really be. Anna Davies of Refinery29 did all of these suggestions and a couple more, and she saved $250 in just one week. Here are six easy ways to save that amount or more every week.
1. Opt For Free Outings With Your Friends
Anna Newell Jones, creator of the budgeting blog And Then We Saved, told Refinery29 that sticking to free outings with her friends helped her save $24,000 in 15 months.
Those numbers speak for themselves, but trying to do something different than dinner out or cocktails at that new, pricey bar will also help you step outside of your comfort zone and try new things.
2. Save Part Of Your Raise
If you’ve gotten a pay increase, don’t spend it on extravagant dinners all the time, according to The Huffington Post. Try to put away half of the raise (so, if for each paycheck, your raise gives you $50 extra, then save $25), and you’ll find that it adds up pretty quickly.
3. Cut Out Automatic Payments
Print out your debit and credit card statements and go through them with a highlighter or pen, financial advisor Manisha Thakor told Refinery29. Highlight all of the automatic payments, which might include your water bill or a Spotify subscription.
Odds are, you might see something you don’t use, like an old magazine subscription or a video streaming service that you no longer use. Cancel these automatic payments and see some serious long-term savings.
4. Change Your Phone’s Plan
Most Americans are paying way too much for their cellphone plans, because companies aren’t going to say no to you paying for more than you need to. For example, Refinery29 found that Americans pay an average of $85 for their cellphone plans, while people in the U.K. pay an average of $8 for theirs. I wish I was kidding.
Try cutting down on your data and forego those pricey personal Wi-Fi hotspots. Almost everywhere has Wi-Fi now, so a pricey hotspot is a waste of money.
5. Create Your Own Snack Stash At Work
It’s not unusual to need a snack part of the way through your workday. But it can get pricey if you’re visiting a vending machine daily or driving to a convenience store to purchase snacks. Create your own stash of snacks at your desk and you can save about $15 a week, writes Refinery29.
6. Budget Your Food Money Every Week
Carrie Smith, CPA and founder of the blog Careful Cents, told Refinery29 that buying a $10 meal can often be cheaper for young, single people than buying a ton of ingredients, some of which will be wasted.
Smith suggested spending 10 to 15 percent of your take-home pay on food. Then, divide that amount to figure out how much you should be spending per week, and stick to that amount. Cook when you have to, and eat out when you’re busy, but try not to go over that budgeted amount. Refinery29’s Davies saved $50 a week after budgeting for her food.
For other tips to help your saving skyrocket, see Refinery29’s full list here. That margarita-filled vacation could be just a few months away.