Easy Ways to Save Money

Reader Contribution by Lindsey Bugbee
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Saved cash can translate to less stressful living, but how can you conserve funds when you have to spend money on so many things? The answer may not be as complicated as you think. Get creative and cut a few corners with these easy ways to save money, and you’ll find yourself with a healthier bank account. Often, saving money also translates to helping the environment: You can bicycle instead of drive, take reusable bags to the store for a discount and use a metal water bottle instead of buying cases of plastic bottled water. Use one of the suggestions below to jumpstart your plan to spend less money.

Groceries can cost a lot of dollars, especially if you buy convenience foods. However, you can save tons of dough if you’re conscious of how to save money on groceries. You should buy in bulk when possible; use your purchases to make minestrone or a delicious dinner of dried beans and rice sprinkled with a little Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce. Buying in bulk has several benefits in that you save money and the environment because you’re skipping the expensive, bad-for-the-earth packaging. Up the ante by sewing your own lightweight multi-sized bags to pour beans/rice/pasta/flour into. Your aesthetically pleasing homemade bags will save plastic and add kitsch appeal to the pantry — plus, many stores give discounts for bringing your own bags.

You may also be able to save money at the grocery store — and a variety of other places — by using Groupon. Groupon is a free website that offers a different daily discount of 50 percent or more at participating businesses. For example, we’ll consider today’s deal in Manhattan, KS. You can spend $15 to get a $30 certificate at the People’s Grocery Cooperative, no strings attached. Groupon also offers amazing discounts to restaurants, if you need the occasional night off from cooking.

Mint.com is another website that can help you meet your spending goals. Instead of offering discounts, mint.com consolidates all your credit card/bank accounts to let you know how much money you have. It keeps track of purchases and categorizes them so you can see how much you spend and where you spend it. The results can be shocking, but simply knowing where your money goes can help you save in the future. For example, you may have spent $50 this month in coffee shops or $200 on gas. Next month, you can try brewing yummy, fair-trade coffee at home and riding your bike or walking places — then see your budget grow!

Have you joined the huge group of folks selling stuff on eBay? This site offers a good and sometimes exciting way to earn extra money. Look around your house for items that you don’t need. Don’t throw them away — sell them on eBay! I once bought a refurbished iPod Touch for $180 from Apple. Four years later — after daily use and abuse plus an annoying glitch — I sold it on eBay for $90! Why my buyer wanted a glitchy 1st generation iPod is beyond me, but he left me good feedback and apparently still happily uses it. Before selling my iPod, I looked on terapeak.com to see how much the item has sold for on average. Checking out terapeak is always a good idea (it makes for a more predictable outcome), and when your item sells, you will feel good sending your unwanted item to a home where it will be put to good use.

In addition to eBay, you can resell things (mainly media items) on amazon.com. If you are a college student or the parent of a college student, it’s generally a good idea to buy a used book in good condition only to sell it back at the end of the semester. In some cases, it’s possible to sell the book for more than you paid! Though textbooks are expensive, you can rest assured that you’ll make most of the money back at the end of the semester unless — heaven forbid — the publisher comes out with a new edition. You can also use half.com to save money on textbooks. Sometimes these recycled books come with a bonus: useful notes in the margins (but don’t always believe what you read)!

I have only provided a few of several ways to save funds and bring in extra income, and I realize that they won’t work for everyone. For that reason, please feel free to add your own saving methods in the comments section below! Happy saving! 

Photo by Keith Ramsey

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