The $65 you spent at Target, that $45 manicure, your $150 grocery bill—essential purchase or not, a glance at your budget makes it easy to see how quickly everything adds up. No, we don’t want you to have to nickel and dime to save; it’s more about adopting smart habits that can help you put a hefty $500 a month back in your pocket. Here, how to do it.
1. Audit Your Subscriptions: Save $15
Have you ever activated a free trial of a premium channel, then forgot to cancel? We see you, and we know you’ve been paying $15 a month ever since. Enter Truebill, an app that combs your account for unwanted subscriptions and then helps you cancel them, which can really add up.
2. Go Cash Only: Save $45
Cash is the best tool for controlling your spending. Not only does it limit your chances of indulgence (just this week, we were behind someone in line at the grocery store that joked about her bad impulse control while grabbing a bouquet of flowers and a couple of bars of fancy chocolate—items that added up to $45), it encourages you to put your budget into action. Give yourself a daily allotment, then try putting your credit cards away for the month. Or, if you do have to buy something online, put it on your card, but pay yourself out of your cash allotment and into a designated piggy bank (or, you know, Tupperware). Bottom line: If you don’t have the money, you can’t make the purchase.
3. Set Aside Your $5 Bills: Save $60
Now that you’re paying in cash, you might as well gamify it and set aside every $5 bill that crosses your wallet. The change you get paying for a coffee? The fiver on your dresser? Set it aside, and you could end up with tens of dollars back in your wallet each month. (A woman in Massachusetts did this beginning in 2005 and ended up with a an extra $40,000.) Let’s say you encounter just three $5 bills a week. $60 = saved.
4. Put Your Closet to Work: Save $90
Those accessories or fancy heels that are collecting dust in your closet? You’d be surprised how many opportunities there are to re-sell items online. Take the time to clean out your wardrobe and look into selling new or gently used items through consignment. Even Facebook Marketplace can be a good place to make a quick sale. (We spotted a Madewell tote that was only slightly worn on Ebay listed for $90—and some are priced even higher than that.)
5. Plan a Savings Sprint: Save $300+
Money expert Farnoosh Torabi touts a savings sprint, which requires you to look at your finances once a month and zero in on an area where you feel you’ve been far too frivolous. (Say, too many Lyfts or relying on babysitters too often.) Once you pinpoint the expense, make a bet with yourself that you can cut it completely for a pre-determined length of time (say, one month). The result? Per Torabi, it varies, but you should aim for something that saves you at least $300. (Three $100 dinner bills a month? You get the idea…)