1. Keep only $20 to $40 in your wallet. The less you have in cash, the less you’re likely to spend on impulse purchases. That $4 latte at the coffee shop will look a lot less appealing if it leaves you with only $16 for the rest of the day.
2. Stop spending coins. They make you think you’re not spending much. Instead, use only paper currency to buy everything and put the change from all your daily purchases into a change bucket. (See more below). You can save at least $20 a month with this trick.
3. Hoard loose change. Dump your loose change into a jar at the end of every day. Once every six months or so (or while you can still lift the jar!), bring your change to a local bank that has a coin-counting machine. It’s important to take them to a bank, rather than to one of the commercial coin-counting machines you see in grocery stores, which will deduct 10 percent of your hard-earned change. Ka-ching!
4. Watch the register like a hawk. Cash registers, as well as humans, make errors. So watch the register carefully to make sure it rings up the right price for the right item. You might get overcharged if the register mistakes your cream cheese for Brie or hasn’t been programmed with the current sale prices. Many grocery stores will give the item for free or at a sharp discount if the register (whether operated by a cashier or on a self-checkout line) charges you the wrong amount.
5. Take only what you need from the ATM. On average, consumers withdraw $60 per week from ATMs. And most have no idea where that money goes. Figure out how much cash you really need each week and take only that amount out of the ATM. You won’t overspend because you won’t have extra money in your wallet.
6. Guard your checking account. Sign up for overdraft protection at your bank, just in case. It usually costs nothing and saves you the possible expense of returned-check fees.
7. Use traveler’s checks even when you don’t travel. In your wallet, replace your emergency cash (that you may have used for impulse purchases) with a traveler’s check. You’re less likely to spend it than cash, which means you’ll keep it for when you really need it.
Get the new book Reader’s Digest Quintessential Guide to Saving Money for ingenious tricks to stretch your dollars. You’ll get insider advice to cut household bills, spend less on groceries, find unexpected sales and freebies, and more. Learn more and buy the book here.
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