I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways that I can save a little money. A few bucks here and there can really add up—which means I can afford a vacation or a thing I’ve been wanting to buy for a while (or, fine, into my rainy day fund). Whatever your money goals are, saving a bit at a time is easier than you think. It just takes a little sacrifice—let’s call it a mini-sacrifice—and you can save big.
Here are eight mini-sacrifices that will make a big impact on your savings goal.
01. Turn Down the Thermostat by 3 Degrees
Turning down the heat (or the air conditioning) in your home by just 3 degrees will save you 9 percent on your utility bill, according to U.S. News Money. "The average utility bill for a two-bedroom apartment in the Northeast is $125 to $175, which means a simple 3-degree difference could save you $135 to $189 per year." When it’s cold, bundle up with layers, socks, slippers and blankets. Then think about how you can use the money you save for a warm vacation.
02. Slow Down, Speed Racer
Slowing down while driving can actually save you some dough every time you fill up the tank. The US Department of Energy notes that “each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.17 per gallon for gas.” If you’re guilty of speeding down the highway on the way to work (guilty!), leave earlier and slow down by 5 to 10 mph.
03. Turn Off the Tap
This is a rule that my dad had for my siblings when we were little, but he had good reasoning for it beyond conserving the environment. Turning off the water while brushing your teeth or rinsing dishes can save nearly $40 a year per person in the house. Write a little note above the sinks to remind yourself (and everyone else) to turn off the tap.
04. Switch to Water
Switching to drinking only water with every meal and skipping the midday juice or soda can save you nearly $5 to $10 a day. Not only is it better for your wallet, but cutting out sugary beverages in favor of hydrating with water is better for your health as well.
05. Make Your Own Coffee
As delicious as a custom latte made by your favorite barista is, that liquid energy is guzzling up a lot each year. A survey of American workers by Accounting Principals found that the average American spends $20 on coffee a week. Instead of stopping by the café every morning, brew your own cup of joe at home and see the savings add up to $1,040 each year, depending on your coffee habit.
06. Leave Your Credit/Debit Card At Home
Swiping that plastic card makes it so easy to spend. Leaving the credit card at home is a good habit to get into to avoid spending money that you don’t have. Only carry enough cash for what you planned to spend for the day, so you won’t be able to buy those few extra things that you know you don’t need.
07. Take Advantage of Free Entertainment
From movies in the park to music and art festivals and community sports events, there is plenty of free and enjoyable entertainment out there. Instead of spending money on bars, restaurants, and movie theaters every weekend, check your local newspaper or newsletter, Facebook Events, and Meetup groups for open events happening near you. They're surprisingly good resources!
08. Sacrifice the Speedy Shipping
It may be nice to get that online purchase in two days as opposed to waiting a whole week to enjoy it, but it is a little luxury that can cut back on your spending. Unless you absolutely need your purchase by a certain time, give up the expedited shipping, yearly membership for "free" delivery, or adding items to your cart to make the minimum spend. Take advantage of retailers’ offers to ship your order to your nearest store for free, share an online shopping account with family to reduce the membership fee, or calculate whether paying for shipping rather than an additional item might be a better value.
Making sacrifices is never the most fun thing to do, but these small sacrifices to save money are easy enough to be worth your time. Your wallet will thank you when you have a purchase that you’ve earned.