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8 Money Saving Tips That Helped Save Me $2,000 (and Counting!)

Whether you call it a spending freeze, budget detox, or shopping ban, restricting your spending to include only necessities can put $$ in your bank account.

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Having a savings goal is a great motivator

Maryann Akinboyewa, a 24-year-old public relations manager for the Penny Hoarder, started a spending freeze that she hopes will allow her to pay off her student loans. Beginning New Year’s Day, she set a strict budget for herself and vowed to stick with it for 12 months. She sets aside enough money to pay for necessities, such as utilities, rent, groceries, and student loans. She reserves a small portion for miscellaneous expenses and allows herself $50 a month to pay for meals out. Whatever is left over gets socked away in savings. “If it’s not in the budget, I don’t spend money on it,” she says. Her commitment to the freeze has paid off. In just three months, she has saved a little over $2,000. Check out these habits of good money savers you should steal.

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Your wardrobe is more versatile than you think

A big part of Akinboyewa’s spending freeze involves a ban on clothes shopping. Depriving herself of retail therapy has forced her to get creative with the clothes in her closet. “I’ve learned to wear my wardrobe in different ways. I have a dress I wear as a skirt by putting a top over it. If you think about it, there are a number of different ways to wear things,” she explains.

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Packing your lunch saves big bucks

Once she started paying closer attention to her spending, Akinboyewa realized that eating out for lunch was costing her about $1,000 annually. “That may not seem like a lot over the course of the year, but that’s money I could have spent elsewhere,” she says. She now makes her lunch at home. Here are some other creative ways to save money you haven’t thought of before.

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Using an app keeps your grocery budget in check

To avoid going over her grocery budget, Akinboyewa uses the Shipt grocery delivery app. “It saves me two hours each week and helps me adhere to my budget. I’m not in the store, so I’m not tempted to pick up extra items. I can also watch the prices add up, so I never go over,” she says.

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Spending time with friends doesn’t have to cost a dime

If you’re the type of person who values experiences (especially free or low-cost ones) over material possessions, adhering to a spending freeze may not be as difficult for you. Prior to her spending freeze, Akinboyewa would meet up with friends for coffee or a manicure. Now she invites them to join her for a walk or an afternoon at the beach. Don’t miss these money mistakes even financial experts have made.

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Taking on a side hustle doesn’t hurt either

Limiting your spending to include necessities is great, but what if you need to save even more than your current salary allows? Freelance writing has helped bolster Akinboyewa’s budget, and she recommends to others who have ambitious savings goals that they find a side gig. She enjoys the work, which allows her to put extra income in savings to help her reach her financial goal.

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Don’t let rainy days derail your savings goals

Unfortunately, a spending freeze doesn’t make you immune from unexpected emergencies or illnesses. An unplanned root canal, pricey car repair, or cross-country flight to attend a relative’s funeral shouldn’t drain your bank account. Akinboyewa knows it’s vital that she makes plans for a rainy day, so she has an emergency savings fund she can tap if needed.

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Accountability is easy with the help of technology

Although she’s never had credit card debt or been prone to frequent overspending, Akinboyewa acknowledges that it’s easy to spend willy-nilly. To stay on track and avoid excessive spending, she records her expenses in a Google sheet. “A lot of people use finance apps, but I like a Google sheet because I have to go in and physically subtract what I’ve spent,” she says. Next, check out these tips for creating a budget and sticking to it.

Crystal Zuzek
Crystal Zuzek is an Austin-based, award-winning health, wellness, and lifestyle freelance writer and editor for hire. The author of Business Basics for Physicians, she has more than 15 years of experience as a journalist. She spent 10 years in the magazine industry, serving as a writer and editor-in-chief for a monthly medical association publication. The experience allowed her to sharpen her research and interviewing skills while mastering the art of communicating with a professional audience. Making the switch to independent contractor in early 2017, she specializes in developing content that is creative, clear, complete, correct, concise, consistent and coherent (the Seven C's). Her focus is on health, wellness, and lifestyle -- subjects about which she is extremely passionate.