It might not seem worth it to go to the trouble to eliminate small expenses from your budget. After all, how much of a hit could your bank account really be taking if you spend a few dollars here or there? A big hit, actually.
Just cutting $5 a day from your daily spending could save you $1,825 a year. Then, if you were to set aside those savings each year for 30 years, you’d have more than $180,000, assuming a 7 percent annual return.
Here are 15 ways you could easily save several dollars a day. The actual amount you can save will depend on your spending habits, but these examples show that it is possible to find an extra $5 in your budget daily.
1. Stop Getting Breakfast on the Go
Brown bagging your lunch can help avoid blowing several dollars a day on fast food or restaurant meals. But a growing number of consumers are seeking convenience for the first meal of the day, said Kendal Perez, a money-saving expert with Coupon Sherpa. Visits to restaurants grew 5 percent from June 2014 to June 2015, according The NPD Group, a research company.
Considering that the average cost of a restaurant breakfast is about $5, according to a CBS News report, you’ll save by eating at home or creating a stockpile of breakfast items at work. Perez recommended storing low-cost items such as bread, peanut butter, granola bars or even frozen breakfast sandwiches at the office so you won’t be tempted to buy a pricey breakfast on your way to work.
2. Adjust Your Tax Withholding
If you usually get a big tax refund, you could easily save more than $5 a day by adjusting your tax withholding. That refund means you’re letting Uncle Sam hang onto too much from your paycheck each month.
File a new W-4 form with your employer to claim more allowances — the more you claim, the less tax that is withheld. IRS.gov has a withholding calculator you can use to figure out how many allowances to claim. If you received the average refund of $2,700, you could get an extra $225 in your paycheck each month — or about $7 a day — by adjusting your withholding.
3. Skip Sodas
If you dine out for lunch or dinner, you can lower the cost of those meals by ordering water instead of soda. At a fast-food joint or restaurant, you’ll pay $1 to $2 (or more) for a soda. If you order a soft drink at both lunch and dinner, you could easily approach the $5 mark.
Cutting out sodas at home as well — and opting for water instead — also could help you save money. A 12-pack of brand-name soda costs about $5. If you currently drink two cans a day and go through five 12-packs a month, you could save another $25 a month by eliminating your soda habit.
4. Use Discounted Gift Cards
You can save money on everyday purchases using discounted gift cards for retailers you frequent. Websites such as CardCash.com, GiftCards.com and Raise.com sell gift cards for hundreds of national retailers for less than face value because they buy them at a discount from consumers who don’t want them.
For example, GOBankingRates recently found a CVS gift card with a face value of $40.85 selling for $34.72 at CardCash.com — an instant savings of more than $6. So, if you stock up on discounted gift cards for drugstores, gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets and other stores, you easily could save $5 a day on your purchases.
5. Take Advantage of Supermarket Sales
One of the best ways to lower your grocery bill is to stock up on items that are nonperishable or can be frozen when they are on sale rather than buying just what you need for the week. “When shoppers buy only their weekly needs, they are forced to pay full price for 50 percent to 80 percent of what goes in their cart,” said Teri Gault, founder and CEO of TheGroceryGame.com.
Once you have a stockpile, you can plan weekly meals around what you have and around perishable items that are on sale at the supermarket. Gault said that TheGroceryGame.com members report average savings of $523 a month for a family of four by stockpiling sale items and using coupons. That amounts to about $17 a day in savings.
6. Find Coupons for Retail Purchases
Clipping coupons can help you save at the supermarket. But you can use coupons to save on plenty of other everyday purchases — and you don’t have to clip them. Mobile apps such as CouponSherpa and RetailMeNot make it easy to find coupon codes for a variety of items and services when you’re out shopping. Simply search for a retailer, and if it is offering a coupon, you can show the barcode on your mobile device at checkout to get a discount.
Perez said there recently were coupons available on the Coupon Sherpa app for $5 savings at Shoe Carnival, $8 off a full-service oil change from Oil Can Henry’s and 20 percent ($8) off a $40 purchase at children’s retailer Carter’s, for example.
7. Look for Free or Low-Cost Entertainment
You might be surprised at how much you’re paying for entertainment. The average household spends $2,482 annually on fees and admission, toys, and other entertainment supplies, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s nearly $7 a day.
There are plenty of ways to cut entertainment costs. Take hikes in nearby parks rather than paying to go to an amusement park. Visit museums on free admission nights. Invite friends over to watch a movie rather than going to the theater or take advantage of free lectures at the public library or a nearby university. Look for activities available in your area that appeal to you and your family.
8. Stop Buying Bottled Water
The average cost of one bottle of water is $1.45, according to Statistic Brain Research Institute. If you or your family members drink several bottles a day, you could easily be blowing $5 a day on water that you could get for a fraction of the cost from the tap. In fact, bottled water costs 240 to 10,000 times more a gallon than tap water, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
9. Avoid ATM Fees
If you’ve made it a habit to withdraw cash from the nearest ATM rather than one in your bank’s network, you’re paying a lot for convenience — about $4.50 in fees each time, according to CNN Money. To avoid getting charged to access your own money if you’re not near your bank’s ATM, withdraw cash fee-free during your next grocery store visit, Perez said.
10. Eliminate Cable TV
With so many free and inexpensive ways to watch TV shows and movies, there’s no need to pay for pricey cable TV. The average TV bill is $123 a month, according to The NPD Group, so cutting the cord can save you about $4 a day.
You can watch dozens of movies and previously aired TV shows for free on Hulu.com and Crackle.com, which also offer their own original series. The major networks, such as ABC, CBS and NBC also let you watch some of their shows for free on their websites. And you can take advantage of your public library to borrow DVDs for free.
11. Walk More, Drive Less
Being willing to walk or take public transportation can save you some serious cash depending on your driving habits and gas prices where your live, said Stephen Rischall co-founder of 1080 Financial Group. The savings could add up to $5 a day, he said.
Or, you could save even more by ditching your car entirely. According to AAA, the annual cost of owning and operating a vehicle is $8,698 — nearly $24 a day.
12. Make Coffee at Home
If you buy a 16-ounce cup of coffee at the coffee shop each day for about $2, it might not seem like you’re spending a lot. But it costs only about 8 cents to brew the same size cup at home, according to USAToday.com’s coffee cost calculator. If you typically buy several cups of Joe or pricier coffee drinks such as cappuccinos or lattes at the coffee shop, then switching to home-brewed coffee could easily save you $5 a day.
13. Cut Credit Card Payments With a Balance Transfer
If you carry a balance on a credit card with a high interest rate, you could lower the amount you pay each month by taking advantage of a 0 percent balance transfer offer. Based on calculations by financial education site MagnifyMoney.com, if you transferred a $10,000 balance from a card with a 20 percent APR to one with a zero percent APR, you would avoid paying nearly $1,900 in interest over the course of a year, or about $5 a day.
You’ll need a credit score of at least 680 to qualify for balance-transfer offers, according to MagnifyMoney.com. To see how much you can save, try the CreditCards.com balance transfer calculator.
14. Refinance Your Mortgage
If the value of your home has risen since you bought it and interest rates have dropped since you locked in your mortgage rate, you might be able to lower your monthly mortgage payment by refinancing. Some 3 million homeowners could save at least $200 a month by refinancing their mortgages at today’s rates, and about 500,000 could save $500 or more each month, Black Knight Financial Services told the M Report. That averages out to about $7 to $17 a day.
Refinance calculators such as those offered by Mortgage Professor and HSH.com can help you determine whether you can benefit from refinancing.
15. Actually Save $5 a Day
To help her clients save money, certified financial planner Ilene Davis said she tells them to stash $5 a day into an empty soda bottle. This practice guarantees that they’re actually saving that amount daily.
If you don’t have the discipline to do this on your own, a free service such as Digit can help. You link your checking account to the service, and then it analyzes your income and spending to determine a small amount that it can move every few days into a savings account for you. Whether you’re saving actively or passively, the money will add up.