Use smaller plates
Many studies have shown that we serve ourselves less when we eat off smaller plates. How does this make you thrifty? It just so happens that about 40 percent of food in the America goes to waste, according to endfoodwastenow.org. If you eat off a bigger plate and throw away the food you inevitably don’t eat, you’re wasting money. Buy a set of four small plates for less than $20 online and reap the thrifty benefits for months to come. (Bonus: Eating on smaller plates can help you lose weight too.)
Host a potluck
How much money do you spend eating out every month? More than you’d like to admit, we bet. If eating out is just a way for you and your friends to spend an evening together, invite them over for a potluck instead. Everyone spends a small amount of cash to make their dish, while still enjoying a full meal and making memories with friends. (Check out these potluck recipes for inspiration.)
Subject your closet to the hanger test
We all have clothes we haven’t worn in months. Instead of keeping them “just in case,” prove to yourself just how little you wear the items by doing the hanger test: hang all your clothes facing one way, and when you wear the item and hang it back up, hang it the opposite way. At the end of a month, you can see which clothes you didn’t even touch. Bring them to a consignment shop or secondhand store that buys clothes. Often times you can take the money or get store credit, which works out either way. Finally, you can get rid of these 16 items in your closet.
Choose your shopping sprees wisely
There are plenty of great opportunities to buy more and spend less throughout the year, think: Black Friday, the day after Christmas, and tax-free season (July and August). (Related: These Black Friday deals aren't as good as you think.) Instead of buying whenever you feel the need for some retail therapy, keep a list, and head out the door (or log onto Amazon) when big deals are sure to be happening. Many large chains also have annual or bi-annual clearance sales. Mark them on your calendar and put off the therapy for a little longer.
Create a “Do I need this?” list
Impulse shopping is costly and almost everyone does it: In a poll of 1,000 adult Americans, 75 percent said they had made in impulse purchase; 16 percent said they spent $500 or more on the purchase, and 10 percent spent $1,000 or more. Instead of wasting that money, try this litmus test: Every time there’s something you want to buy, add it to your “Do I need this?” list. At the end of the month, go through the potential purchases to see if you still need or want that item.
Vote luxuries off the island
It’s time to get real about what you need and what you don’t. Sit down with a pen and paper (or your phone and notepad app), and write a list of the expenses you feel are on the line, a.k.a. might not be necessary. This could include cable, monthly nail appointments, and your morning stop at the local coffee shop, and decide what you can cut down on or get rid of. For example, get coffee only on Friday mornings, as a treat for making it through the week. Small but thrifty changes like these will add up fast.
Save on your water bill
Simple: Wash your clothes less. There are many items that don’t need to be washed regularly, like jeans, sweaters, and sweat pants. Instead of tossing them in the laundry because you don’t feel like folding them—trust us, we know this trick all too well—take the extra minute to put them away. You’ll save a little on your water bill, and after a year, you’ll see that the little you saved goes a long way. While you’re at it, you can get away with showering less often too.
Choose your grocery store wisely
An interesting grocery survey recently debunked a popular thrifty myth: That Trader Joe’s is not the least expensive place to buy groceries. In fact, in an analysis of five nationwide grocery chains, it was the last on the list for average monthly savings. So, instead of choosing the grocery store that’s closest to you, or the one everyone says is most affordable, take a look at all your options. For example, Aldi was found to be the most cost effective, with an average of 34 percent in monthly savings. Walmart came in second with 14 percent monthly savings, and Kroger with 5 percent. Say goodbye to that small parking lot and hello to effortless thrifty groceries. (Related: Don’t fall for these 50 supermarket tricks and you can wind up saving big.)
Buy a water bottle
This thrifty idea is twofold: Americans don’t drink enough water, which is essential to your daily health. Instead of saying, “Okay, I’ll drink more water, let me stop to the gas station and pick up a bottle,” just buy your own reusable bottle and save. This way, you avoid spending $3 a bottle, which will add up faster than your weekly night out, and you help keep your health in check, which will save more than you can even estimate in health bills down the line. Check out these clever tricks to stay hydrated.
Become an eBay superstar
One person’s clutter is another person’s perfect birthday gift. Instead of keeping all those old video games and jewelry that you never wear, sell them on eBay. While the process of shipping can be a pain, you’ll make some money and earn street cred on eBay, so you can make even more thrifty purchases.