10 Easy Ways To Save $250 This Week

Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Lattes, errands, fitness classes…we all know spending cash is easy. But, turns out, it can be just as easy to save money, largely by cutting costs on things you won’t even miss. And, best of all: You don’t have to curb your social life, your spring shopping plans, or your Seamless addiction to do it.

How do we know? Because, after speaking to several financial experts, we decided to put each of their tips to the test — and came out nearly $800 richer. Read on for the 10 tips that could save you a huge chunk of change this week, and beyond. 
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Print out your latest debit and credit card statements and go through them with a highlighter, spotlighting every automatic monthly payment, suggests Manisha Thakor, financial advisor and creator of investment advisory firm MoneyZen Wealth Management. Then, look for anything you don’t use (like a subscription dating site you're still paying for even though you're now in an exclusive relationship with Tinder), or any duplicates (Spotify and Sirius?). And, yes, printing it out makes it much easier to see money leaks you can miss when you're looking on a screen.

Amount saved:
$25 a month. When I looked through my statements, I had a $10 monthly charge for a Skype account I never used, as well as a $15 auto debit for a local wine store’s wine discount club…in a town 1,000 miles away that I lived in a year ago.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
It sounds like a scam, but the website Missingmoney.com isn’t a hoax — it’s run by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators that will lead you to a state government-run website that’ll help you track down any checks that may have gone astray (due to change of address, for example). All you need to do is put your name in the search box and it’ll tell you next steps, since the process for reclaiming cash varies by state.

Amount saved:
$300! Turns out, I had a rogue freelance check that never made it to me after I moved last year. Major score.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
The weather’s getting warmer, which means there are plenty of options for local entertainment on the cheap. Anna Newell Jones, creator of the budgeting blog andthenwesaved.com, is a huge fan of the free hang, and says that insisting on it was crucial in helping her save more than $24,000 in just 15 months. Plus, not only do you save cash, but you’re also likely to break out of your dinner-and-drinks comfort zone and do something a little different.

Amount saved:
$35. One of my BFFs and I often meet for a pricey fitness class on Saturday mornings, but we wanted the workout without the price tag. So, we found a hiking meet-up group and tagged along on a six-mile hike around a local wildlife refuge. We saw nature, met new people, and got our calorie burn on. Not bad.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Newsflash: In the U.S., the average mobile phone plan costs $85, compared to $8 in the U.K. But, there are ways to work around that sticker price, simply by determining how much data you’re actually using. If you’re constantly around Wi-Fi, it makes sense to go as bare-bones as possible, using messaging services like WhatsApp or Kik for texts. A pre-paid plan might also help lower your costs. And, even if you do use data on the regular, chances are you’re not using the maximum allotted amount. Check your phone bill and make sure you’re using every penny you pay for.

Amount saved:
$40 a month. I didn’t want to lose my contract or data plan, but just 10 minutes of looking at my bill made me realize I was paying $20 a month for a discounted overseas rate (great when I was living in Dublin for the summer, not necessary now that I’m back stateside), and 2GB of data were going unused each month.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Experts do them. The Kardashians do them. And, you don’t need to actually cut coupons out of a newspaper to reap the discounts. First, apps like Coupons.com let you browse digital coupons as you shop, and will automatically add any discounts to Passbook to be scanned when you check out. Or, you can try the old-fashioned way: Simply ask if any special coupons or promotions are available that day when you're at the register, suggests financial attorney and debt specialist Leslie Tayne.

Amount saved:
$5. I admit it: I am super lazy when it comes to coupons, but I couldn’t resist trying it for myself. I asked if there were any discounts available on a recent trip to Target, and the clerk scanned a $5 just-because coupon that lowered my bill. Cool!
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Vending-machine runs and 3 p.m. snack attacks can easily chip into your budget and make a big difference over time, say experts. So, make snacktime a thing, nursery school-style, by getting together with your coworkers, pooling cash, and going on a Monday snack run so there’s always something on deck when people get the nibbles.

Amount saved: $15 a week. I used to get a soda ($1.50) and a treat like a cookie ($1.50) nearly every day around 3 p.m. But, just going halvsies with one coworker on a box of Clif Bars and a 12-pack of Diet Coke for the week saved both of us.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
“Your bank wants you as a customer, so they might be willing to take, say, a $10 usage fee off your bill,” says Thakor. If you have any automated service charges and you’ve been a loyal customer, it’s worth talking to them, either in person or on the phone. Many of the larger banks also waive monthly checking fees for customers who use direct deposit, so if you haven't looked into that, now's the time.

Amount saved:
$2 a month. Just by calling and asking about the fees charged to my account, I found that while I didn’t have a monthly fee, I was being charged $2 because I was still receiving paper statements. I cancelled them, went all-digital, and, boom — I've got funds for an extra Diet Coke each month.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Good news: You don’t need to suddenly become the next Bobby Flay to eat well and save money. “For young, single people, it’s often cheaper to buy a decent meal for $10 than to buy a lot of ingredients at the grocery store, where things are often sold in bulk for families,” says Carrie Smith, CPA and founder of the blog carefulcents.com. The trick is to realize how much you should spend a week on food. Smith suggests budgeting 10-15% of your take-home pay. (So, if you take home $50K a year after taxes, that’s $100 to $150 a week for food.) Go ahead, spring for Thai takeout — especially if you'll be able to eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Amount saved:
$50 a week. I’d definitely been spending way too much on meals. Following Smith’s advice, I budgeted out my food expenses in advance, making sure that I brought lunch from home on days when I had dinner plans, and that oversize dinners could work as leftovers.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
It’s the most important meal of the day, it’s a time most people don’t have blocked off on their calendars, and it’s way cheaper than heading to a trendy bistro after work — why not make breakfast your new power hour for socializing?

Amount saved:
$30. I often have at least one dinner with an old friend or coworker every week. Usually, we’ll both order a glass of wine and an entree, and invariably, the total comes to $40 each. When a former colleague and I were trying to pin down a date we were both free, I floated the breakfast idea. We work within blocks of each other, so we met up an hour before we had to head to our respective offices. We had lattes, oatmeal and killer conversation, and we both got to start the day in an awesome mood — all while saving a few bucks.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Every finance expert we spoke with reinforced the idea that there's no shame in asking for discounts, especially if you have something to offer in return. Small, local shops are particularly receptive to customers offering services in exchange for a discount; think about what you’re good at, and make an offer.

Amount saved:
$100. I wanted to sign up for a pricey workshop at my yoga studio, but the $200 fee was a bit too steep for my budget. I asked the instructor if she’d halve the fee if I wrote a blog entry for her website about my experience. She agreed. Score!