21 Ways to Save Time and Money Every Day
No matter what time of year it is, we're always resolving to spend both our money, and our time, more wisely. It's a goal we consider worth the effort, one that holds the promise of improved quality of life in more ways than one (hello, hobbies and more room for family, friends, and fun). With a few simple tweaks and smart swaps, plus the addition of some new habits, we're confident you'll save on both. That way, you have more time to, you know, hit the gym (and maybe finally invest in that Vitamix).
- Stop using out-of-network ATMs. In 2014, the average out-of-network ATM fee was $4.35. If recent trends are any indicator, this number will continue to rise, so it’s a good idea to adjust your cash-out habits now. Create a weekly budget, and then plan ahead so that you have enough cash (taken out of your bank) each week.
- Heading out for the night or airport-bound? Instead of taking a taxi or Uber, try Lyft. The mobile phone app has transport and rideshare services in cities throughout the country, and is often significantly cheaper (and more reliable) than traditional taxi services. Traveling by yourself or with just one friend? Try the app’s new service, Lyft Line, which functions as a rideshare option, allowing you to tag onto other people’s rides for even cheaper.
- Pass on expensive dry cleaning services and try Jaime King’s genius at-home laundry secret.
Out and About
- No news here: Movie tickets have become downright pricy. Seeing something in 3D in a major metropolitan area? Expect to pay $12-14 a ticket. Check to see if your local theater offers matinee pricing, student prices with a valid student I.D., or specials any days of the week. Sundance Cinemas in Los Angeles offers $6 movies allday everyTuesday for “students of life”—a.k.a, anyone at all.
- Use the Waze mobile app, which reflects real-time, user-generated updates to driving routes. You'll avoid traffic jams like never before.
- Love online shopping? One of the biggest perks is the prevalence of readily accessible discount codes! Always do a quick Google search for coupons. RealMeNot is a great resource for this.
- Get acquainted with the price adjustment policy at your most-frequented stores. Many will offer price adjustments if an item you bought goes on sale within a set timeframe after purchase. For example, Gap offers a one-time price adjustment if an item is marked down within 14 days of the order date.
Meal-Planning and Food
- Skip the local lunch spot and bring your meal (and snacks!) to work. Spending between eight and twelve daily gets expensive, fast. Since going out for lunch can serve as important social gatherings, if you bring your own lunch, remember to take kitchen breaks or go on walks with co-workers.
- Need to eat out for a special occasion? Consider brunch or lunch, rather than dinner. Brunch specials are commonplace, and many restaurants offer the same dishes during lunch as they do during dinner service, at much lower prices (which means more wiggle room for that glass of wine or dessert!).
- When it comes to dinner, continue this rule and cook at home whenever possible. Most families spend nearly half of their food budget on meals away from home (not to mention, home-cooked meals are generally healthier than restaurant meals).
- Become an amateur barista and make your own coffee. According to a survey of American workers by Accounting Principals, people who regularly buy coffee throughout the week spend on average $1,092 on coffee annually. If you’re addicted to your venti latte, swap the $3 drink for a misto, which costs about a dollar less. If you prefer the stronger brew, order a short latte, which has less milk but the same amount of espresso as a tall.
- Going food shopping? Make, and stick to, a list. According to the National Resources Defense Council, Americans waste $165 billion annually tossing away unwanted food. The math works out to approximately $529 per person each year. Single and finding yourself wasting too much? Read this. When selecting products, opt for generic store brands; the contents are almost always identical and will be significantly cheaper.
- At the store, know when—and when not—to splurge on organic produce. As a general rule, if a fruit or vegetable has a thick skin or peel, you do not need to go organic. Check these handy lists for the foods you definitely should, and those you really don’t need to, buy organic.
- Skip the shower and/or use dry shampoo. This idea has been floating around for some now, but it turns out that the average person does not need to shower every day, much less shampoo their hair every day. In fact, taking hot showers every day may in fact be damaging, as the heat strips skin and hair of healthy oils. Unless you are finishing up a hard workout, opt for a quick refresh with face and body wipes, and try a dry shampoo. Enjoy your long, luxurious showers on the weekend.
- Plan your outfits for the week. Mornings are precious, and for those of us who are less wide-eyed in the a.m., a definite challenge. Cut down on the frustrating closet stand-off (you vs. your wardrobe) by preparing outfits, or at least setting aside items you’re thinking about wearing, before Monday.
- Get your news from an online aggregator. Lots of websites, such as thedailybeast.com, news.google.com, and newser.com compile the biggest stories into one convenient location. Prefer to get your news first thing in the morning? Sign up for theSkimm, a daily e-mail newsletter that gives you a rundown (across subject and party lines) of everything you need to start your day feeling informed.
Around the House
- Sort your laundry from the get-go. Keep two laundry baskets, one for whites, and another for everything else. This will cut your pre-washing sorting time down, and also reduce the risk of finding a dreaded red sock mixed in your whites (hello, pink clothing).
- Become a master of this under-15-minute speed clean. Sure, a deep clean is necessary every few months, but in between, get acquainted a more time-saving plan of attack.
- Freeze meals for easy, after-work defrosting. Find yourself working late and then falling asleep over the stove or oven as you prepare a meal you’re barely awake enough to enjoy? Plan your meals ahead of time, cook on Sundays, and then freeze meals for a week of easy dining.
- Try a Martha Stewart-approved “one pot” approach to cooking. We are VERY into any meals that allow us to cut down on prep, cooking,andcleanup time. The One Pot cookbook from Martha Stewart is a goldmine of low maintenance meals that can all be cooked in, you guessed it, one pot—be it a slowcooker (the queen of the “set it and forget it” endeavor), stock pot, Dutch oven, or baking pan.
- Keep a small, but well-stocked, gifting reserve in your home, complete with some great, versatile gift ideas. Dinner party pop up on your social calendar? Totally forget a co-workers birthday? Skip the frazzled, last-minute hunt by keeping easy-to-gift essentials like bottles of wine, pretty coasters, notebooks, and candles handy, as well as a nice assortment of blank stationery to allow for some personalization.
- Automate your payment of bills. Keeping track of bills and payment deadlines can be stressful, and a time-suck. If possible, set up automated payment—most services offer it!
What are your best secrets for saving time and money? Share in the comments below!