28 Ways To Save Money Every Day This February

Well, we’ve made it. It’s February, and the first month of 2017 was a doozy. Not only have we already survived some of the year’s worst weather and witnessed an interesting start to the first 100 days of the Trump administration, we’ve also conquered an entire month of our New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, statistics show that about 41.6% of those resolutions probably have not made it this far.

But hey, resolutions are overrated. After all, isn’t a new month as good a reason as any to set some new goals? And if you’ve fallen off the wagon in terms of, say, your lofty plans to save money in 2017, we’ve got just the tips you need to start fresh. From the obvious (eat dinner in!) to the intriguing (go to the doctor?) we’ve compiled one money-saving tip for every day of February. We know that sounds like a lot, but it’s not like it’s a Leap Year or anything.

Read on to save big — and if you missed our January edition of 365 Days of Saving, then you’ve got double the daily dose of saving strategies for this month.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
I told you we would start with the obvious. And while the old “just don’t eat out” advice is super straightforward, it can also seem super impossible. But consider the multi-faceted benefits of this plan: By eating at home, you save money by cooking and by avoiding any and all $15 cocktails. Plus, instead of hitting up that overpriced restaurant again, you can shake up your social routine by inviting your friends over for a game night; it’s what all the cool kids are doing, didn’t you know? And anyway, cooking at home doesn’t have to be boring — or difficult. We’ve got just the recipes (and cooking hacks) you need.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
You may have heard that millennial women spend more money on coffee than they put into their retirement accounts each year. And whether your coffee vs. retirement numbers are smart or scary, there’s no question that you’ll save by brewing your own. For extra points, get a coffee maker with a reusable filter to save money and the planet. Think you can’t quite achieve barista-level java genius? Think again.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
If you are a weekly-manicure person — well, first of all, I’m jealous. But second of all, regardless of how often you hit up your friendly local manicure ladies and lads, chances are it’s not cheap — that is, if you’re supporting a business with ethical employment and environmental practices. But even the best salons tend to charge less for a simple polish change than a full-on buff-and-file situation. And admit it: Aren’t you more likely to create a mani-disaster by trying to paint with your non-dominant hand than just trying to file with it? Do your nail-shaping at home, and leave the paint to the professionals — for less.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Chili is stupid cheap, people. And if you invite all your friends over to help you provide said chili, all for a chance at competition-winning glory? Congratulations: You’ve just thrown a party for next to nothing. Bonus: Ask each non-cooker to bring a six pack of beer. BONUS bonus: Cook (some of) the beer in the chili.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
If you have car insurance, there’s a good chance you started using it when you were, oh, I dunno, about 16 years old? If you haven’t looked around for a better deal since then, now’s the time. Value Penguin reports that car insurance options in a given location can vary by thousands of dollars per year. Bonus: If you’re renting a car while traveling, your credit card company might even cover the insurance.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Airlines aren’t the only things that have crazy sales this time of year. When February rolls around, every puffer coat, down vest, and fluffy-hooded item of your winter-wonderland dreams is likely to be marked down a pretty penny. Although buying one of these items may feel less satisfying than snapping up a new outfit from the spring inventory that’s filling store racks, if you know you’ll be in the market for better boots next December, there’s no reason to wait until the prices hike up again. And let’s be honest: It’s still only February. We’re not out of the (snowy) woods yet.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
You can now learn your credit score for free, and it’s just plain smart to do it. For one thing, if yours is less-than-great, it could motivate you to shake up your savings plan (although you’re already reading this story, so great job!). And a low credit score can actually lead you to pay higher interest rates on credit cards — or, eventually, a mortgage. Finally, if you need some good old anger-motivation to find out your score, just know that women’s lower average incomes lead us to have lower overall credit scores than men. Thanks, patriarchy.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
It lets you get credit card awards perks while using your credit card like a debit card — a.k.a. not actually going into debt at all. Mic drop.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
It’s really never too early to start your spring cleaning, especially when tech is involved. The longer you put off deleting those unused apps and downloading those updates, the more likely your phone is to start working with a lag time. And longer waits to do those normal Phone Things means more time spent watching spinning icons means more precious phone juice (the technical term) gone to waste. Plus, updating your phone is always a good idea — if only for security reasons.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
While you’re deleting the apps you don’t use, what about the ones you use a little too much? Deleting Uber may be a political statement these days, but it’s also probably going to help your bank account a bit. (And yes, Lyft’s got to go, too.) You know those nights when you’re out, and it’s late, and the subway ride home is going to be half an hour but an Uber might only take 10 minutes? We know public transportation is boring. Sorry. Bring a book — or just wait for showtime.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
There's a fair amount of debate about whether young-ish, healthy-ish people even need an annual physical exam, but many docs maintain it's the best form of preventive care. And since many health care insurance plans include a free well-woman exam, it's definitely worth making an appointment; catching any potential health problems early could save you trouble (and major fees) down the line.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Despite price-hike drama, a basic Netflix subscription is still pretty darn cheap: You can get the basic one-screen subscription for $7.99 per month. Going to the movies, however, is another story. And although I pride myself on my dedication to “before 6 p.m.” matinee prices (thanks, Tennessee!) I realize that in many major cities, a “matinee” means you actually have to go before noon — and it’s still likely to be $9 a pop. Bottom line: Getting in some quality couch time is good for your wallet. Wouldn’t you rather be watching all of these movies instead of A Dog’s Purpose anyway?
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
To paraphrase Mary Poppins: In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun — provided you turn that job into a fierce battle for the win. I mean, remember how successful your chili cook-off was? Now you just need to recruit your most competitive coworker buddy and get them to bet you can't make it through the week without your daily latte — or deli breakfast sandwich, or lunchtime taco bowl, or whatever your go-to purchase is. The key is that this person is ideally sitting near you all day and thus holding you to your promise — and you're holding them to theirs. First one to fold has to make the other one's baked good of choice next week.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
If you were one of those lucky kids whose grandparents used to give you savings bonds instead of socks for your birthday, you've already gotten the lecture on how great compound interest is. And since savings bonds now carry a low fixed interest rate instead of a variable one, they're not quite the great gift they used to be (sorry, Gramps). But the good news is that EE bonds purchased between 1997 and 2005 earn variable interest for up to 30 years — which means those puppies are worth way more now than when you got them. Ready to cash in?
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Ah, brunch. One of the most joyous — and most expensive — of meals. What with the roughly 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. time slot, forking over cash for endless mimosas and Bloody Marys, and all that debating between eggs and French toast and then deciding on both — brunch can be tough on your stomach, your schedule, and your bank account. So why not host at home? We've got all the cheap-and-easy brunch recipes you need, and you get bonus points for making it a potluck. Plus, this way, you can just roll back into bed when it's all over.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
If you travel and use a credit card, guess what? You could benefit from a travel credit card. Yes, these cards often have high interest rates, but if you're a frequent flier, the payoff could be major. Just make sure you do your research and find the best perks-to-pitfalls ratio for your travel needs. We've got 15 card options that just might fit the bill.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
I have done this, and it works wonders. For one thing, it forces you to actually pay attention to how much you’re spending on the daily — instead of swiping that plastic in blissful ignorance. Plus, it’s a humbling, embarrassing, undeniably useful shopping experience to fill your grocery cart and wait through the entire line only to realize your $20 bill just won’t cut it, because math. Here’s to a month of using cash and re-learning math!
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Wait, you aren’t doing this all the time already? Sure, room service is great and all, but with so many fancy-ass Airbnbs out there, it can be hard to remember a time when your only choices in travel accommodations were hotel, motel, and chintz-covered B&B. Sure, Airbnb has plenty of options that are likely outside of your price range, but it's also got a ton of affordable spots. And renting an entire apartment (or a chic carriage house) means you can use it for sleeping, cooking, dinner parties, and the old Netflix-and-chill (see slide 12). There's no place like home away from home.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
If you use Venmo, you likely set it up to pay into your checking account; after all, you withdraw from that account when paying pals on the app. But why not set up Venmo to deposit into your savings account instead? Since most of us don't check our savings balances as often as our checking accounts, this will likely lead to a pleasant surprise when you discover that the round of drinks you bought your friends with cash has been repaid into your long-term savings. Think of it as the app equivalent of finding a $20 bill in your laundry hamper just when you needed it.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
A free checking account is not always...free. While some are free to set up, you may wind up saddled with a monthly maintenance fee — and/or a fee when your balance goes below a certain amount. Ask plenty of questions up front to ensure "free" means "free." Nerdwallet offers a nifty tool to help round up your options for free checking based on location, minimum balance, and monthly direct deposit.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Clothing swaps are possibly the only reason I own clothes right now. Because simply refraining from shopping for new clothes is all well and good as a money-saving move, but it’s also likely to land you in a bitter stare-down with the contents of your closet. (“What are you still doing here, pants I hate?! Oh, right, I can’t afford pants I don’t hate right now.”) The solution: Have your friends over, everybody brings a bag (or five) of clothes they don’t wear anymore, the whole gang goes swap-wild, and you take the leftovers to Goodwill. This is also a great trick for breaking out of a fashion rut; you may be surprised what new styles you’re willing to try out if you don’t have to spend money on the test run.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
It’s the same idea as “get new clothes without buying new clothes” — get a “new” mattress without dropping thousands — or even just hundreds — of dollars. Plenty of mattress makers insist that turning a mattress over can significantly increase the product’s longevity; some even recommend an every-three-months flip. That’s a lot of lugging, but if you haven’t flipped yet, it’s certainly worth a shot.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
You don’t happen to have an iPhone 5 and 4S and 3W or whatever just...lying around in your desk drawers, do you? Get thee to the internet, friend. There are plenty of online options that let you sell your old phone, iPod, or even laptop for cash — or at least store credit.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
What, you didn’t know you could join a market research study where you send in your junk mail in exchange for money? Well, now you know. Send in all the crap mail cluttering your entryway, and you'll earn points that you can redeem for a Visa debit card. If only they would also accept our accumulated masses of takeout soy sauce packets in exchange for cash.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
A cautionary tale: My grandma always sends me an adorable animated e-card for my birthday (I know, Gran has high-tech skills). At some point after reading one of these, I clicked the “send a thank-you card in return” option, figuring it was the least I could do after so many years of singing cartoon birthday birds brightening my inbox every July. The e-card company offered me a free month-long trial if I entered my credit card info. Sure! I could cancel anytime! I paid for an unused subscription to singing-bird cards for an entire year. This is not even as tragic a tale as that of my dad’s auto-enroll e-fax service that my mom accidentally kept paying for eight years after he passed away. Moral of the story: If you’re getting emails from them, there’s a chance you gave them your credit card info at some point. Don’t take that chance.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
This has to be the most fun and satisfying money-saving tip of all. Because why buy a new shampoo when you have 11 tiny half-used shampoo bottles under your bathroom sink? Bonus points for getting out of your comfort zone and actually wearing those Sephora perfume samples — yes, even that one that smells like “sweet gourmands,” whatever that is.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
The way to get the best bang for your bra (or something like that) is to wash it by hand. Bras are already likely to max out at about three years of use, and all that careening around in the washing machine doing hot-water wrestling with your towels is certainly leaving those poor bras exhausted and ready to retire. A sink and a little detergent will go a long way to postpone your next bra purchase.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
We began with the obvious, and so, to the obvious we return. Saving one dollar a day is not a lot. Saving $28 is...kind of a lot! That’s three Chipotle burritos. That’s 10 single-ride MetroCards (although, why you’d buy 10 single rides is beyond me). However you’re planning to use that $28, it’s worth stashing away a bill a day to get there. Better yet: Stick it straight into your savings, just like you did with that $31 from January.