Most of us can save $5 a day just by paying attention to how we spend money even in this strained economy. Unlike some of the popular approaches by self-proclaimed financial gurus, this is not a radical change in lifestyle. It is more like a consumer mini makeover. What can you do with $5? Not much, but you can do more with $35 at the end of the week and even more with $140 at the end of the month. The key is to be conscious of how you are spending money and make it a goal to reach $5 every day.
Start now because procrastination is the enemy. University of Calgary professor Piers Steel author of The Procrastination Equation, concluded in a peer reviewed study published in the 2012 Psychological Bulletin by the American Psychological Association that among other things, procrastination is making us poorer. It appears that the hardest thing about any new habit may be getting started. Make a pledge to yourself and tell others. Ask your friends to ask you how you are doing occasionally. We all want to look good and avoid looking bad. Use that to your advantage. Take one day at a time and focus on today. If you mess up one day, no worries just keep going.
Here are some simple tips to start:
Use coupons when you shop. The average person can save $5 to $20 per grocery visit, 50% on oil changes, and even more on other basics without being extreme. The 2011 NCH Annual Coupon Facts study reported consumers are using more coupons than ever before, up 6.7% since 2010.
Plan gas purchases. According to Time Business and Money writer Mark Di Vencenzo, gas is the least expensive on Wednesday mornings. Use reward points and gift card discounts toward purchases offered by many grocery chains. Additionally, use free phone apps to find the best local prices.
Order water. Ordering water at a restaurant can save as much as $10 on a meal for a family of four. Avoid expensive lattes except as occasional treats. If you have to have your cup of joe to get going, try keeping your choice of creamers in the office fridge or exchange your latte for regular coffee or a nice hot tea at half the cost.
Compare prices on every thing. Smart phones have made this even easier with apps that will compare prices across the mall and across the Internet. Compare everything, even dental, medical, and medication prices can differ greatly from one provide to another.
Brown bag your lunch. Eat out less by choosing to bring your own lunch. This can easily add up to more than $5 a day. Additionally, making dinner at home can stretch your bottom line and put that extra $5 back in your pocket.
Keep yourself motivated by keeping your savings visible in a savings account or in an envelope. Avoid leaving extra money in your checking account where it will be easier to spend. Use your savings to pay bills on time. One late fee will blow an entire week of savings. Remember to reward yourself for good behavior by setting aside a percentage of your savings for an occasional splurge.