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Stop squandering! Five easy ways to save money in 2012

Is it one of your New Year’s Resolutions to finally start saving money? Is that one of your resolutions every year? Yeah. Instead of making a big, ambitious plan to completely reinvent the state of your bank account (we all know these don’t work, right? Or is this just me?), why not try making some little changes here and there and see what effect that has? Here are a few small things that you can do, ones that you probably won’t even notice after awhile. Not until you have a surprisingly huge pile of cash in your account, that is! The smallest of changes can have a big impact in the long run, so here are some tiny money-saving tips for 2012.

1. Skip the daily Starbucks and start bringing your coffee from home. We all know this one yet no one does it. But seriously: most people buy a latte at least once, sometimes twice a day, which adds up to around $2650.00 a year. Yes, that’s correct: $2650.00. a. year. But no one does this! Including myself. I’ve tried to do that thing where you put your latte money into a jar to save it but I just end up taking the money right back out of the jar after a month. And by a month I mean a week. But: what if you tried giving that 5 or 10 bucks a day to your boyfriend, roommate, mother, or anyone who will take it and put it into a jar that they then hide and refuse to give to you until the end of the year? Now that could work. Then, voilà, you have over $2000 to play with at the end of the year! 

2. Start throwing dinner parties instead of going out to eat. My frugal friend Kallie came up with this one. It’s cold out anyway, so who wants to venture outside? “Start a dinner party ritual with friends, alternating the host,” says Kallie. “You might think that you will spend more hosting dinner for other people than going out, but I find that as long as you keep costs in mind (and your guests bring the drinks), you can entertain very cheaply in your own home, without sacrificing deliciousness or fun. If you decide on potluck dinners your bank account won’t even notice that you’re having fun. And while playing tipsy charades (an essential part of any dinner party) is frowned upon in restaurants, no one but your loved ones will judge you in the privacy of your own home.” So you save money and have a fun winter’s night in with friends. Perfect. 

3. Eat porridge for breakfast. Another Kallie tip. Porridge is the cheapest breakfast around and it’s a yummy, comforting one in the dead of winter. No, you probably won’t want a bowl of steaming hot porridge in the middle of the summer, but it’s great for most of the year. And, it’s not only super cheap but healthy too! “Endless ways to prepare porridge abound, from dried fruits and nuts, to fresh berries, apples and cinnamon, jam, and natural syrups.”

4. Before you go grocery shopping, sit down and plan out what you are going to eat that week. This may seem like such a chore but it only really takes 20 – 30 minutes and saves you so much stress and money. Make a list of all of the ingredients you need AND a list of what you already have. Plan for your breakfast, snacks and lunches; plan it all. People spend money on the stupidest things when they don’t do this. Or, if this still sounds annoying, make one big pot of chili or a huge lasagna that will last you through most of the week. 

5. Stop using ATM’s and withdrawing from banks other than your own. We spend billions of dollars per year in ATM fees by withdrawing money from a banking machine that’s not with our own bank. STOP IT. That’s $1.50 to $2.00 on every $20.00 withdrawal. Stick with your own bank to save money. Even if you have to walk a bit until you find one. Hey, you’ll get more exercise and work on your other resolution to lose 10 pounds. Two birds, one stone.

~ Lindsay Tapscott

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