Sabrina
I know that there are a thousand websites out there advocating hundreds of ways to spend substantially less money, but most of those require extremely radical means that are not so easy (such as moving to a smaller house, selling/buying a different car, or skipping meals). Here are some tips I've found useful in my quest to conquer debt and save more money that are actually easy.

Warning: you may find some of these habits to be beneficial to your health as well!


1. Don’t Overtip.
If you’re a poor, like most college students or recent graduates, you can bet that $5 tip took you a long time to earn (or if it’s coming out of your student loan, it will cost you a lot more than $5 by the time you finish paying it down). Tip in proportion to service (did the waiter or waitress really provide exceptional service?), but also in proportion to your budget. That $10 meal you just ate at a diner doesn’t warrant a 20% tip. If you spend about $100 eating out each month, following the 10% rule will save you about $120 per year.

2. Drink Tap Water. If you live in a metropolitan, well-populated area, your tap water is certainly properly regulated and it’s actually better for you. Plastic containers leach into foods and liquids and have carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects. What’s more, tap water contains fluorine, which means you will actually have the added benefit of keeping your teeth healthy, strong and free of decay. At one bottle of water a day ($1.50), that is a savings of about $45 per month, or $540 per year.

3. Complain. Complain about anything and everything that annoys you about the businesses you frequent. Here is one method I find particularly useful: write a complaint letter. Be specific in your complaint, and use a template letter, and change those specifics as the situation changes for each store. I used this method and got about $300 in gift cards in the span of a few months for stores like American Eagle, Banana Republic, and a few restaurants. Potential savings in purchases: anywhere from $200-600 per year.

4. Make your cell phone your only phone. If you’re working during the day, you’ll be using daytime cell phone minutes to a minimum anyway (and daytime charges are where the cell phone companies get you!) If you’re single, there’s no reason for a home phone at all. After all, it’s much more convenient to have your address book, your phone, and your voicemail box always at your side. If you have roommates, you get the added benefit of privacy. Finally, you get a savings of about $240 per year.

5. Carpool to work or school. I did this one summer and it saved me so much money! If you figure you’re spending a modest $30 per week getting to work and back, even with these gas prices, taking turns driving to work, with say - a neighbour - could save you close to $60 per month on gas. Not to mention the added company and reduction in boredom levels. Over the course of a year, that’s about $720 in savings.

6. Ditch the gym membership. If you truly do go to the gym, take up running to replace the need for a treadmill, invest in some weights, and maybe an exercise ball, and some pilates or kickboxing DVDs. All of that should cost you about the same as 3-months at the gym. Total savings = 9 mths x $50 = $450 per year.

7. Use your reward points to reward others. You get on your store cards and credit cards to redeem for generic items such as gift cards/certificates. I tend to wait until the drugstore offers 20x the points storewide before I stock up on necessities (and food!) - this tends to be only once every 3 or 4 months. But in exchange I get about $75 in rewards per $200 spent - I’m not kidding. The trick is to keep yourself from shopping when there are no points being offered. If you figure a more modest rate of return on your shopping investment (say - $50 per $200 spent) and a spending of $1600 per year, that’s about $300 in your pocket after you put the items up on eBay.

8. Quit drinking (also works for smoking). In university, I spent almost every weekend drinking a fair bit. Overall, bar crawls (and the associated food binges) cost me about $30-40 per night out, or about $140 per month. I have since stopped drinking altogether, and find that I suddenly seem to have padding in my bank account all the time! This saves me $140 per month or approximately $1680 per year.

9. Participate in a Book Exchange or buy used. Facebook offers a “Virtual Library” application where you can view or search friends’ books and share or trade your own books with each other. This could cut down dramatically on the cost of buying books brand new. Do this once a month (at a cost of $20 per book), this would save you $240 per year.

10. Take a multivitamin, and other supplements as needed. Most multivitamins will run you about $15-25/month, but the savings in health care services, prescriptions, and unpaid days off work really add up. Plus, the better you are physically, the more mentally alert you'll generally be as well. This will put you in a better position, mentally, to stick to the types of decisions that will earn you, and save you, more money in the long term. Savings: incalculable.
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