*originally posted on Bravely

Money is a tool. It’s a tool to freedom, to security, to fun! I never thought of money as a tool until I met Kara Perez of Bravely. Kara was kind enough to invite me on a panel she hosted and I learned so much from her own personal story and now take advantage of all the resources and freebies available on Bravely. Bravely is a new community that gives self-identified women the financial tools to bridge the gap between their dreams and their realities. With Bravely, Kara offers small skill-building workshops, large educational events, and on line tools and a community of women who want to grow their financial literacy. Today she’s sharing 7 ways to start saving money immediately. Take notes, ladies!

By Kara Perez

Saving more money is a goal I hear from many people. They want to have more to work with but are mystified at how they can cut back. After all, no one who reads this website is ballin’ out, celebrity style. We’re all making our normal salaries work while trying to balance debt payoff, living a fun life, and yes, saving a little bit.

I consider myself a champion saver. In just over two years I have gone from thousands in student loan debt to a mid five figures net worth. All that’s due to a commitment to saving money every day. I look for every opportunity, big or small, to save my cash.

Depending on your salary and your personality, there are different methods of saving that will work best for you. If you make enough money to automate savings and still have enough to live on, definitely do that. Taking the money out of your account before you can spend it is the easiest way to grow your savings account. You only have to set up the transfer and then let the bank take it from there.

Below is a list of ways you can kickstart your savings habit today. These are small changes that can add up to big savings, and all can be easily implemented into your daily routine.

  • Save All Your Change And All Your $1 Bills

Take them out of your wallet as soon as you accrue them and put them right into a jar. At the end of the month, deposit all the coins and bills you saved into your savings account. Rinse and repeat for as many months as you can to compound the savings.

  • Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies

Vinegar y’all. It’s the frugal answer to everything. White vinegar mixed with water is a powerful cleaning agent you can use to clean toilets, floors or windows. Or run your dishwasher with white vinegar in the detergent slot to clean the dishwasher and rid it of bad smells. Water, white vinegar, and flour make a paste that you can use to clean metal in your home, like copper or brass spouts.

  • Get A Library Card

Use the library for everything from books (duh) to movies and a free co-working space.

Libraries are, in my opinion, a cornerstone of our democracy. Educational resources for free? A safe space to gather with no entry fee? Heck yes. You can use the library for everything from books and magazines (duh) to movies and a free co-working space.

Many libraries often hold events as well, so check the schedule for lectures, free movie screenings, or a place to meet local politicians.

  • Shop Smarter

Online shoppers should sign up for Paribus, which tracks your purchases and requests price reimbursements on your behalf if they find a purchase of yours for cheaper elsewhere. Users usually save between $60-$100 a year.

Additionally, you can shop smarter at the grocery store. By shopping in season produce you can save a lot of money and eat tastier food. Use this link to find foods that are in season.

  • Barter Or Trade.

Services sell your services for things you need. If you have a skill that someone wants- be it a language or knowing how to correctly change a tire, you can use that. Bartering and trading are especially popular among Millennials since so many of us are broke. Save money by instead offering to trade for services or time.

  • Have A No Spend Day

We can so easily spend money that it becomes a mindless habit. A great way to save money and to bring more mindful and deliberate decisions into your life is to declare one day each week a no-spend day.

Plan ahead for this one by carpooling to work, bringing your lunch and coffee from home, and having a night in instead of going out. You’d be surprised at how much you can save by simply refusing to spend one day a week. If you’re someone who ‘runs out to grab one thing’ every day, your spending habits may have snowballed without you even noticing.

  • Clean Out The Pantry

Americans are notorious food wasters. The average household throws out $640 a year in food waste! Isn’t that money you’d rather have in the bank?

Take a week or a month and work through all the food you have in your house. That can of green beans that’s been sitting on the shelf for six months? Time to get eaten. Use a little creativity and make meals you’ve never had before. Things don’t have to look Instagram perfect for them to be healthy and filling. Eating food you’ve already bought is a way to save money and cut down on your food waste.

After you’ve implemented some (or all!) of these money-saving tactics is when the most important part of it all comes into play. You have to actually save the money. Make sure to transfer money out of your checking account into your savings account and keep it for a rainy day. It does no good if you simply cut back in one area to ramp up in another.

For more on Kara and Bravely, follow along on instagram.

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