You’ve planned your budget for the year and clipped your coupons, and now you’re wondering—what’s next when it comes to saving a buck? We know life can get expensive, so we found 17 ways to literally put cash back into your wallet. From ditching the plastic water bottle to packing your own snacks, here’s how to save up to $5 a day, starting now.

photo: via Burst

1. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use. You can use a service like Trim to automatically detect subscription charges and easily saving up to $5 per day by canceling music, audiobook and tv streaming services, beauty boxes, magazine or newspaper subscriptions, water delivery services, etc.

2. Get a reusable water bottle. On average, a bottle of water costs around $1.50 (or more if you don’t buy in bulk!). If you drink three or four a day, that’s over $5 a day. Get an insulated water bottle, and start filling up on your own. Not only will you see immediate savings, but you’ll help prevent plastic bottles from filling landfills and polluting oceans.

3. Look for free or cheap entertainment. There are plenty of ways to save while out and about with the kids. Take advantage of your zoo or museum membership, go to a park, hit up the library, look for free festivals and more.

4. Don’t make expensive meals. Kids love seafood or filet mignon? Yeah, save those recipes for special occasions. Instead, use ingredients that’ll give you more bang for your buck. For example, these dinner ideas each cost $15 or less. For a family of four or more, that’s $5 back in the bank every time you cook.

photo: Color the Moon

5. Pack your own snacks. Whether you’re at the park or at the office, bring snacks from home with you, so you don’t have to dole out dollars for overpriced packaged items (especially when you’re at theme parks or other places that charge a small fortune for food).

6. Make your own bread. Love a good sandwich for your midday meal? You’ll save some serious dough by making your own homemade bread. Check out this recipe for artisan bread you can bake in five minutes.

7. Stay out of Target/Walmart/Costco. It’s a given that the more often you wander the aisles of your favorite bulk store, the more often you’ll end up with stuff you don’t need. Try going once every other week. We guarantee your wallet will see the difference.

8. Go to your own bank’s ATM. If you hit up a cash machine that isn’t your bank, you’ll get hit with a fee (sometimes it’s almost $4!), plus, your own bank charges you too. If you need cash, plan ahead and stop by your own bank.

photo: Uptown Fitness via Pixabay 

9. Look for free workouts. Sign up for the newsletters and subscribe to the Facebook pages of your favorite studios. They often offer promotions for new clients and discounts for bringing a friend.

10. Bike/walk/take the bus to school/work. You’ll save big on gas if you can bike to school (or work). If you don’t live close enough to bike in, carpool with neighbors (or put your kids on the bus) and co-workers so you don’t have to fuel-up your car as often—and you’ll also get to use the carpool lane––a win-win!

11. Make stuff in bulk. Erin Lem, Red Tricycle’s Editorial Director shares the savvy tips she uses to save money in the kitchen: “Make your own chicken or veggie stock—easy when you have an instant pot––and tastier and cheaper than store-bought. Also, make meals in bulk and then freeze leftovers (ie: big plates of enchiladas).”

12. Shop without the kids. If you can, it’s better to shop sans kids, who tend to toss unwanted items into the cart and make us all veer off course to spend money on things we don’t want to buy.

photo: rawpixel via Unsplash

13. Only shop for one week’s worth of food. Finance guru Tony Steuer suggests, “make a weekly menu and purchase only food that you need. The average American household throws away $2,200 of food each year, which besides being wasteful is a lot of money. This works out to just over $6 a day.”

14. Join your local Buy Nothing Facebook Group. Most neighborhoods now have a dedicated “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook. It’s free and easy to join and you can score some serious deals by scrolling through the posts highlighting what other members are giving away. If there’s no Buy Nothing group in your area, arrange a clothing swap with your mom friends to swap mom and kid fashions. Red Tricycle’s Washington, D.C. editor, Ayren Jackson-Cannady, even does a babysitting swap with her friends so they can all take turns going out on a date night without paying for a sitter.

15. Stash your cash. Whenever you pay in cash and get a $5 bill as change, stash it in a safe place. Cash tends to just disappear from our wallets so you won’t miss this money by putting it aside … and it will add up quickly!

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16. Only eat out on discount nights. Lots of restaurants offer Kids Eat Free with an adult entree, or a Taco Tuesday special. Some movie theaters even have discount days!

17. Adjust your tax withholdings. If you claim more on your W-4, you’ll get more back in your paycheck. From there, divert the savings into a high-yield savings account.

––Beth Shea

Special thanks to Erin Lem, Keiko Zoll, Ayren Jackson-Cannady, Karly Wood, Trim and Tony Steuer for sharing their money-saving tips for this story.

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