9 Ways To Stop Wasting Money, Now

You don’t blow your paycheck on designer clothes you can’t afford and you don’t eat out at five-star restaurants five days a week. So where in the world is all your money going?

Sometimes, it’s the seemingly small, everyday costs that come back to haunt you and shrink your bank account, little by little. Hidden fees, mindless purchases, and impulse buys can eat away at your savings more than the occasional splurge. With 2016 a few weeks away, it’s time to start paying attention to the ways you’re overspending on a daily basis. You might be surprised what you find when you take a good, hard look at your spending habits.

Ahead, 9 painless ways you can cut down on mindless spending. Every cent really does count, especially when you’re saving for something you really want.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
You probably already budget for the big things like rent, student loans, and car payments, but what about the nitty-gritty? Things like gum, coffee, or those $15 socks you bought impulsively at the checkout counter. Buying a pack of Trident won’t bankrupt you (unless you’re buying ALL the Trident), but keeping track of your seemingly small purchases every day will give you a good handle on exactly how much you’re actually spending daily, weekly, and monthly.

Use a budgeting app, like Mvelopes or Good Budget, to help you track what you’re spending each day. Figure out your average and challenge yourself to cut a few bucks from that total each day.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
If you’re frequently running out to the store for toilet paper or tissue, you might want to consider buying in bulk. You can get 30 rolls of toilet paper at Costco for about $32.99, versus $6 for just four at your local grocery store. That’s a 50-cent difference per roll, which seems like a small amount, but can add up pretty quickly. If you have the space, consider stocking up on all the basics — paper towels, tampons, Diet Coke, and wine. Just make sure you’re not buying more than you can reasonably consume. You don't want to end up with a huge box of Special K that you can’t eat before it goes stale.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Chances are, there’s a pretty decent library nearby that’s full of free books and movies. Sure, some branches only carry ancient DVDs no one has ever heard of before, but many libraries get new releases the week they come out on DVD. All you need to do to rent them is fill out a form and get a card. It takes about four seconds. Plus, more and more libraries make it easy to rent online and pick up at your local branch.

Even if you’ve cut cable, your subscriptions to Netflix ($8.99), Hulu ($7.99), and HBO Now ($14.99), plus any rentals on Amazon ($3.99 and up) can add up quick ($35 or more per month). Dropping one or more subscriptions and relying on your local library can save you a little bit in the short term, which adds up in the long run.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Packing a peanut butter sandwich every day isn't for everyone. If you insist on buying lunch, take advantage of places that offer loyalty programs or stamp cards that give you a free treat (sometimes, a whole meal) after you make a certain number of purchases. Subway has a rewards program where you accumulate points and eventually score free cookies, drinks, or sandwiches. Jamba Juice has a similar points program. Places like Panera and T.G.I. Friday’s have pretty good perks, too.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
You’re tired, you’re ready to kick back and watch four episodes of Jessica Jones, and the last thing you want to do is hang your work clothes up after a long day. Instead, they pile up on your chair, in the hamper, or in a mess on the floor. When you finally fish out your gray shift dress from the bottom, it’s a rumpled mess that needs to go to the cleaners (which will cost you $10 or more). Most of your clothes can be worn more than once, because you probably don’t sweat much on a daily basis (we’re not talking about those 90-degree August days), so they don’t need to be washed that often. Hang up your jacket and fold your sweater. Jessica Jones will still be there when you finish. And so will the $50 you didn’t spend on dry cleaning.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Don’t be fooled: Many generic products are exactly the same as the name brand, minus some fancy packaging and name recognition: Walgreens ibuprofen is the same as Advil, just a few bucks cheaper. CVS cough drops are about $1.50 (for 36) and Ricola are $5.99 (for 50), which means you're paying about 8 cents more per cough drop if you require the fancy packaging. It seems like a small amount, but it adds up when you consider the many name-brand over-the-counter medications you buy every year.

Note, we don’t recommend buying generic everything. Some products are clearly not the same quality (maybe don't trade Hellman's for Stop & Shop mayo). But when the difference is nonexistent, don’t be a snob about buying name-brand.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
If you take some time to comb through your cell phone, cable, and internet bills, you might be surprised or confused by some of the random charges you find. Clear some room in your schedule, call up customer service, and ask them to walk you through some of the more confusing costs to see if you can get a few of them reversed or discounted. Occasionally, they will have newer deals or rebates they can add to your account, so you might be able to knock a few bucks off each bill.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
If you regularly attend a workout class (Pilates, yoga, etc), check to see if your studio is part of Perkville. If it is, sign up ASAP and you’ll accumulate points every time you take a class. You can get free classes, a free month of classes, discounts on retail items, and more, depending on how many points you accumulate. If you refer a friend, you rack up even more perks.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
With Coupon Sherpa, you can scan an item at the store to see if you can save a few bucks before you check out (and we're not just talking about at the grocery store — there are coupons on the app for everything from the Gap to Home Depot).

If you download SnipSnap, you can scan and save coupons you see in print so you don't have to carry them around (a.k.a lose them in the black hole that is your purse). It might seem annoying to track coupons and scan things in store, but once you start saving, you’ll probably miraculously change your mind about clipping coupons. It’ll be your new favorite thing.
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