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If you’re like most people, money leaves your billfold quicker than you’d like. A $20 bill here, a dollar there. An extra soda at work, a splurge at the grocery store. Before you can say "missing presidents," they’re all gone. If you’re nodding in agreement, try out these small changes to your money habits. It could mean a lot more green in your wallet at the end of the month.
1. Don’t be a Groupon groupie.
Yes, you can get great deals using these coupon-type sites—if you stick to your budget and don’t buy on a whim. And that’s the catch. How many times have you read through your email alerts, only to be tempted to purchase something you didn’t need? If that’s a weak spot for you, unsubscribe from the list. You can search their websites if you’re looking for a deal on a particular item.
2. Remember cash is king.
This change alone could save you big bucks. The physical act of forking over those dollar bills hurts more than swiping a debit card. You see the money leave your hands and you realize you’re not playing Monopoly anymore. And when you go to buy big items, cash gives you bargaining power.
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3. Turn off the tube.
Even with streaming services, television ads are still the most effective way to reach a mass audience. Whether or not you realize it, your spending habits are influenced by what you see on TV. So turn it off if you’re not actually watching it. If you use a DVR to record shows, all the better. Say hello to the fast-forward button and goodbye to commercials.
4. Love your library.
Your local library doesn’t specialize in dusty old books anymore. You can check out best sellers, movies, audiobooks, video games, tablets and even telescopes! Yes, you’ll need to exercise self-discipline by waiting for new releases. Given the huge amounts of money you’re saving, though, you won’t mind showing a little patience.
5. Delete your digits.
Get rid of your debit card information after you purchase an item online. Yes, storing the info saves time later on, but it makes buying stuff a little too easy. That extra time it takes to find your card and enter the information can save you from an impulse buy.
6. Know when to shop.
Most grocery stores start their weekly discounts on Wednesday, so that’s a great time to go (check your grocery store for theirs). Shop after you’ve eaten and never when you’re hungry. And shop alone—the kids and the spouse will load up the cart and throw off the budget.
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7. Catch more Z’s.
A good night’s sleep can actually save you money. Going to bed earlier means less late-night snacking. Think lower grocery bill. Getting those eight hours also keeps you from making sleep-deprived decisions. And it allows your body to recover from the day’s stresses, helping you avoid illness—and the doctor’s bill you’ll have to pay!
8. Take the long way.
If your normal walking routine at work takes you by vending machines, find another route. You can save money, get a little exercise, and treat your body better. All of which add up to a happier you.
Extra money in your pocket isn’t for rich people—it’s for smart people. You can keep more cash in your wallet by paying attention to what you buy and why. Awareness of your spending patterns—whether at the snack machine or grocery store—can make the difference between watching a movie set in France and actually going there yourself.
Need a way to organize all the cash you’re saving? Use the envelope system!