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10 Ways To Keep Some Extra Coins In Your Pocket Every Month

It's tight out in these streets. Here's how to take some stress off your wallet.

Finance

Personally, I don't know any billionaires. Do you? (I know, right?) So, since our monthly—or if we're lucky, bi-weekly—paychecks seem to come and go so freakin' quickly, I'm assuming that it's a fairly safe assumption that we're all trying to figure out how to make our money stretch. And voila—here it is. While there are probably a million times 10 ways for you to save money, I put together 10 hacks that are pretty easy to implement and can definitely help your bank account from going into overdraft.

Are you ready to save some extra dollars for a rainy day—or, at the very least, not go into (further) debt?

1. Set Long-Term Goals

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I'm someone who grew up going to yard sales and thrift stores. It wasn't because we couldn't afford to buy the "new-new ish", it was that my mom enjoyed finding rare items at a good price. The influence definitely rubbed off on me, so I tend to lean towards the same kind of shopping experiences. The challenge is, when you already know that you're getting a great deal, you can find yourself buying so much stuff that you don't really need, which ultimately still means that you could be destroying your budget. Something that helped me to break this habit was to set long-term goals. For instance, rather than getting 15 outfits from a thrift store or 20 tees on Etsy (Etsy has some dope black culture stuff), I would tell myself that I'd rather remodel my living room or save up for a plane ticket to see my godchildren.

Setting long-term goals is a great way to encourage yourself to be a responsible spender while also preventing you from spending money, that you don't really need to, on all sorts of —let's be real, shall we?—randomness.

2. Eat Out Less

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Did you know that the average American spends a whopping $3,000 a year, just on eating out? Geeze. Matter of fact, I've got a friend whose accountant scolds him on the regular. Why? It's because he easily spends double that amount because he never (ever) cooks at home. As someone who enjoys preparing my own meals and also going to restaurants, I can vouch for the fact that when I choose to only eat out 3-4 times a month (max), my expenses drop significantly. So, if you're looking for a way to keep an extra $250 a month in your pocket (because 3,000 divided by 12 is $250), eat at home sometimes. It's cost-effective and actually much healthier for you too (since you know exactly what is going into your food and who is preparing it).

3. Create a Shopping List and Food Calendar

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I'm pretty sure you've heard somewhere that you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry and that would absolutely be correct. When you already want to eat, suddenly everything looks good in just about every aisle. That's one reason why it's always wise to go grocery shopping with an already made out list in tow. Another reason is so you'll actually remember what you need (I can't tell y'all how many times I've bought paper towels over and over…and over again). Along with a list, you know what else can come in handy? A food calendar. If you're not familiar with those, they can help you to plan out your meals for the week, so that you shop based on what the calendar says that you are going to make. This can save you money because, if you like to eat a lot of produce, you won't get more than you actually need; that way, your fresh fruits and veggies won't spoil. As a bonus, a food calendar can save you time while you're in the store (if you're someone who actually hates to grocery shop) too because you'll know exactly what you need, so you can get in and get right out. You can get tips on how to use your Google calendar to implement this lil' hack here.

4. Make Your Place More “Green”

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Are you sick and tired of your utility bills being totally off the chain? When's the last time you "green-erized" your home? That's not actually a word, but I made it up because it fits in this instance. Sealing your windows can reduce the drafts that cause you to change the temperature on your thermostat a lot. Getting a low-flow showerhead can help you to use as much as 60 percent less water (whenever you shower) each month. Make sure that your light bulbs are LED ones; not only are they cheaper than incandescent bulbs but many last for as much as 50,000 hours (there are approximately 8760 hours in any given calendar year, so you do the math). Defrost your refrigerator and freezer before around 1/4 inch of ice builds up so that they'll both run more efficiently. Stop opening your oven while you're cooking; every time you do, that causes the stove to drop 25 degrees which results in the oven needing more time to heat up again.

Unplug whatever you aren't actually using; you're wasting around a dollar of electricity for each day you've got something in an outlet that doesn't actually need it (this includes your cell phone. Let it charge up before going to bed and then disconnect it from the charger). The power grid that you're on is probably running at its peak between the hours of 4-6pm. So, try and make it a practice to turn on your dishwasher before turning in at night. It will put less strain on the grid and can actually cool down your house in the process. During the summer, try and keep your thermostat at around 75 degrees (turning on your ceiling fan can drop the temp about four more degrees) and 69 degrees during the winter season; it will save energy costs between 4-6 percent (besides, setting your thermostat lower doesn't make your home cool down any faster). Make sure your thermostat is electronic too; that can easily save you between 10-30 percent on your energy bills. Replace your HVAC filter every 90 days, without fail. That will keep it from working harder than it needs to.

5. Ditch Your Cable (Watch the Streaming Services Too)

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I'm an ambivert. So yeah, I've got cable in my home (if you're an ambivert or introvert, I'm pretty sure you're able to connect the dots). That doesn't mean that I don't have a conversation with myself, shoot, at least once a month, when I'm like, "Girl, you could save so much money if you let this cable go." My package is around $150 a month, and a part of what comes in that package, I don't even use, so that soft inner voice is spot-on. I'm honestly just lazy when it comes to switching over to loading all of the streaming packages vs. using a remote control. Plus, there are some Black cable stations that I dig. But the thorn in my side has absolutely nothing to do with y'all. $150 times 12 is $1,800. That's a nice chunk of change. So, if you want to put a down payment on a car or something, disconnecting your cable can definitely put you onto the path.

Oh, and watch out for the streaming services too. Yes, Netflix is (currently) between $13-15 a month, Hulu is (currently) between $6-12 a month and UMC is (currently) $50 a year—but if you've got all of these (and more), you're still spending a small mint. Choose wisely.

6. Bundle Your Insurance Polices

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Insurance companies. Y'all, that's a Twitter thread all by itself. But the reality is they are a "necessary evil" and a business—and businesses like to offer deals. Another way to keep a little extra money in your pocket is to bundle your insurance policies. For instance, if you bundle your home and auto insurance packages, you can easily save as much as 16 percent on your overall insurance costs each month. Hmph. I'm thinking that you could probably save even more. It's all about hitting up your insurance company and doing a little negotiating. Most of them are open. If they're not, remember that there are always others who will gladly take your hard earned cash. You can check out some of the best home/car insurance bundles for 2020 here.

7. Always Use Coupons and Promo Codes

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Something that I have downloaded on my browser is Honey. Basically, it's an app that, whenever you shop online, it tries to find any savings that might be relevant to it. Matter of fact, it works so well that PayPal purchased it for four billion dollars last fall. If, for some reason, the thought of an app "reading" all of your sites freaks you out (you might wanna get off of Al Gore's internet, for one), then use a site like RetailMeNot to check out the promo codes on there. Over time, I've saved a mint, using both. Oh, and don't forget about downloading coupons from your phone when you're at the grocery and drug store too. You ain't never too young to clip (and scan) coupons. If you'd like a few coupon hacks and tips, the Krazy Coupon Lady totally has your back. Go here to start perusing.

8. Avoid Using Autofill on Your PC

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On the heels of what I just stated, let me just put it right on out there and say that I absolutely do not do what I am about to recommend. I think it's because I'm not an online shopaholic. But if you happen to be one, something else that can save you some money over time is to remove the autofill feature on your PC. If you use Gmail, click on the Google apps option on the far right, then click on "account" and "payment & subscriptions" and delete any of the credit or debit cards that you've got there. That way, if something that catches your eye, you won't make an impulsive move whenever the autofill info comes up on the payment screen. You'll actually have to get up and find your cards first, which could prevent you from buying the item in the first place.

9. Implement a 48-Hour Rule

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Speaking of removing autofill, how about taking things up a notch and disciplining yourself to not purchase anything online that interests you until you've waited a full 48 hours later? I'm willing to bet that a good 6 times out of 10, you'll come to realize that you don't need or even want it as much as you initially thought that you did. Or, you'll come to the conclusion that you should wait until it makes more financial sense to buy it or until it comes on sale.

10. Put Your “Fun Money” in an Envelope

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The definition of the word "tithe" is one-tenth of something. Just like many Christians tithe to their church, I'm a firm believer that you should also tithe to yourself; literally set aside one-tenth of your income that can go strictly to whatever you want to spend it on. But just to make sure that you don't tip over into your money that's set aside for other things, consider pulling that tenth out of your account and putting the cash into an envelope. There is something about seeing cash and breaking bills that can psychologically make us want to be more cautious with our spending. Plus, once that's gone, it's gone until the next payday, which can also keep you from overspending. Be good to your coins, y'all. They are so much better to you when you are.

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