Save Money, Live Large: Easy Ways to Conserve Your Cash

January 8, 2013  |  
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Stuff is expensive. So where you can cut corners and still live as you like, you should. And in some cases, saving money is so easy, you won’t even notice the difference. Heck, it might even be better than spending the extra ducats.

Here, we offer up some suggestions that will allow you to save some money while hanging on to some of the finer things that you’ve gotten used to. You might even have a little fun while you’re at it.

And let us know about any of your money-saving tips. We’d love to include them in a future story.


Brown Bag It

Go old school and brown bag your lunch at least three times per week. Making a larger quantity at home is less expensive than the daily cost of purchasing your lunch outside, even if you’re buying fast food. (Which you should only do every now and again for health reasons.) Moreover, your home cooking is probably a lot more gourmet than what you can find at the local deli. Fresh ingredients and a meal made-to-order is every foodie’s lunchtime wish.


At-home mani/pedis

I have to admit — nails are not my thing. You’ll often catch me in red polish that I apply on my couch. But tips, acrylic, or any of the other elaborate things that I see out there aren’t really calling me.

That said, I’ve also noticed (during my twice yearly mani/pedi trip) that getting and maintaining a lot of these nail styles at a salon can be very expensive. Nowadays, Sally Hansen, OPI, and other brands offer at-home options for even the wildest nail designs. Take advantage of them! Make an evening of it with some girlfriends. You can still have hand-model-worthy nails at a fraction of the price.


Shop Your Local Thrift Store

Some people get itchy just thinking about thrift stores or consignment shops, but you really should get over it. You can get some really great, designer stuff for less than $20 at a quality thrift shop. I personally got a to-die-for beaded Anna Sui sweatshirt at Beacon’s Closet here in New York in just that price range. I’ve walked out with a bag full of stuff for less than $100. And you’re less likely to be wearing something your co-worker is wearing since thrift stores are selling past season goodies and one-offs.

If you don’t have a good thrift store near you, there’s always Etsy, which is questionable with some things, but actually has a good vintage section for everything including jewelry.


Go Vegetarian for Part of the Week

Do without meat three days per week (all three meals) and you’d be surprised how much money you’ll save. Substitute quinoa, beans, hearty soups and salads, and tofu in your meals and you won’t miss it at all. Plus, you’ll be doing something good for the environment and your waistline.


Travel With a Voucher

Your generic deals sites — Groupon, LivingSocial, etc — are now offering trip deals that can get you accommodations and even entire tours at a big discount. A sample for today: $561 all-inclusive to Cancun. Sites like Vacationist, and Travelzoo specialize only in these travel deals.

Or if you don’t mind a little adventure in your vacation planning, you can try the Priceline and Hotwire options that reveal the hotel you’ll be staying in only after you make the purchase. They also offer last-minute deals and other lower-priced options.



No Extreme Couponing

That said, we would suggest that you avoid going crazy with the coupons. While you can save money on certain items, coupons also encourage you to spend money on things you don’t need simply because you can get a money off. All of a sudden, you’ve got boxes of crackers and ten gallons of new juice flavors in your shopping cart because you can get a 25 cents back.

Also, unless you know you’re going to use it, steer clear of buying perishable items in bulk even with a coupon. If it spoils before you eat it, you’re basically throwing your money in the trash.


Read a Used Book

If you’re a big reader, this is a good way to save some major cash. New books, even paperbacks, can add up if you read a couple per month. Digital books, while less expensive that hard copies, are still more expensive than many of the titles you can get at your local book shop’s used section (or Amazon’s). Unless you take advantage of the special deals that many digital booksellers offer. We got a collection of classic short stories (Anton Chekhov, highly recommended) for 99 cents once.


Get Well With Generic Drugs

Most of the time, when you buy name brand drugs, you’re paying for the name brand. Take a few moments to read the labels. If your high-priced aspirin contains the same ingredients as the generic option, they’ll do the same job. Why pay extra?

Pablo Calvog/

Cut The Chord

More and more, people are taking advantage of Amazon, Hulu, Roku, and Netflix to get their TV viewing on rather than paying pricey monthly cable fees. In some cases, it’s true, you can’t watch some of your favorite programs when they’re broadcast new on the air. But give it a think. If it’s worth the savings to see it a day or two later, cut the chord and spend that money elsewhere.

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