20 Easy Ways To Save When You Have NO $$$

A white elephant gift here, a Cyber Monday splurge there. Then, the bar tab from the last-minute holiday happy hour with your work wife. All of a sudden, your bank account balance is taking a major nosedive. Before you panic, know that it's absolutely possible to stop the free fall and even save money during the holidays.

We rounded up the best savings hacks for when you truly feel broke AF. They don't require you to eat a sad desk salad every single day and they do allow you to socialize with your friends. Best of all, they give you the opportunity to shore up your spending habits so you're on an awesome track for 2017.

We'll admit some of the advice is a little out-there, but that's the biggest, weirdest truth about savings: Some tactics seem nuts, but if they work for you, they work. Incorporate some into your own life and enjoy a savings account that's at least a little more flush during the most expensive time of the year.
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Pay Your Bills The Second They Come In
If you're carrying a credit-card balance, this is crucial. You already know it's best to pay more than the minimum on your outstanding balance, but did you know that paying the bill the day it comes in — instead of waiting for the last day — can actually save you cash, since the interest on the balance rises daily?

Lesson: Make sure that bill gets paid, ASAP, ideally by setting up automatic bill pay for the day the bill arrives.
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Stop Paying For Free Services
Want to save money? Now's the time to seriously slash services. One easy way: For the next month, consumer money-saving expert Andrea Woroch suggests avoiding any ATM that charges a service fee. Either use a credit card or offer to Venmo a pal later to cover you if a place only takes cash, she suggests.

Another major way to save: Look at the fees your bank charges you. Only 38% of major banks offer free checking services, but credit unions often do — sure, it's only a few bucks a month, but the savings add up. If your bank is one that charges a fee, it's worth considering a change.
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Cut Off Your Phone Service
This may not make sense if you're locked into a contract, but if your contract is ending imminently or you haven't yet renewed, it may make sense to consider a prepaid plan so that you only pay for the data and services you use, says Woroch.

This is especially smart if you primarily use your phone in Wi-Fi-enabled locations, such as home or work. Prepaid plans tend to start at $30 a month, but obviously the price tag becomes higher with the amount of data you use.
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Go For Gift Cards
Here's a genius way to save on your daily latte fix, says Woroch. Instead of giving it up — especially if you absolutely love it — buy gift cards in advance via GiftCardGranny. Sure, it seems counterintuitive to spend money to save money, but buying cards on the site allows you to save 10 to 20%. If you always know you buy coffee at a certain place or make a weekly Target run, it's a savvy savings strategy.
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Have A Mixology Party
Desperate to socialize, but don't want to drop big money on a bar tab? Look to the bottles of whatever is collecting dust on top of your fridge. People always seem to have a random bottle of liquor they'd never drink on their own, especially around the holidays. Put them to good use by asking friends to bring a bottle to your place. Then, pull up a few cocktail recipes and get creative with DIY drinks.
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Hop On The Phone
Credit-card bills, gym memberships, bank fees — everything is negotiable. If you have an hour, take the time to call and ask about lower rates. The best way to get the rate you want is to prove you've done your research on competitors.

Is the gym across town offering a new-member discount? Let your current gym know that you're seriously thinking of jumping and it may just slash the price.
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Don't Be Afraid To Barter
You may not have the time (or bandwidth) for a full-time side hustle. But if there's something you love — say, a hair appointment with your favorite stylist, a yoga workshop at a local studio, or regular dinners at your favorite restaurant — think of what you have to offer the business. This works best for small business and ones where you know you have a skill you could use.

"I had heard the front-desk person at the gym complaining that the Saturday [indoor cycling] instructor was going out of town," says Jamie, 34. "I had my [teaching] certification and I used the gym a lot. I volunteered my services and they were so happy that I was there and willing to help, I didn't even need to audition or interview. Even better: I only filled in for a month, but got a six-month membership."
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Be Online-Shopping Savvy
Can't be bothered with coupon codes? You owe it to yourself to make this super-simple hack a habit. If you want something, leave it in your online shopping basket overnight and the price will likely go down.

And before you search for an item, clear your browsing history, which can help give you a blank slate when looking for deals — key if you're looking for a bargain on a flight or a big-ticket purchase.
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Use An App
Small savings — even if it's a dollar or two — definitely add up in the long run. Digit automatically moves money from your checking account to your saving account if you spend less than usual, making it seamless to save without thinking about it.
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Have One Free Date Or Hangout A Week
This is a simple strategy, as long as you actually implement it. Luckily, there's tons of free events at this time of year, so it's worth a Google search to find out what's going on near you.

And just because you're doing something for free doesn't mean it can't be a little luxe. Ask around for volunteer opportunities. There may be a local festival that needs a beer tent runner, a local theater that needs ushers, or a museum that needs people to volunteer to clean up in exchange for free admission. Think outside the box and you'll be surprised at how many gratis opportunities are available.
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Pay Yourself
This one is kind of wacky, but personal-finance advisors always advocate paying yourself first. Generally, that means you should take a lump sum of your paycheck for bills and upcoming spending before putting the rest in savings. But Courtney, 30, takes it one step further and puts $5 in an old-fashioned piggy bank whenever she has to do something she doesn't want to.

"I hate parties, but I'll 'pay myself' to go — seeing the money, even if it's MY money, puts me in a savings frame of mind and also makes me less likely to spend money on random stuff," she says.
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Hold Yourself Accountable
It can be tough to save on your own. Find a savings friend who can help talk you down the ledge during tough moments or work through a budget issue. And don't be afraid to share what you don't know.

"I've found that a lot of my friends don't have gobs of money, either, and that they, too, have struggled financially. It's a conversation that most people don't get to have, because they just assume they can tell where people are financially based on how other people's lives look. not based on actual discussion about the reality of each other's situations," says Anna Newell Jones, personal finance expert and author of The Spender's Guide To Debt-Free Living.
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Seamless-ing lunch? Find a friend and share — or save half your lunch and enjoy the rest the next day. Have a housewarming to attend? Find a friend and split the cost of a bottle of wine. Even a large latte can easily be split into two small ones for a fraction of the cost.

Yes, it sounds a little intense. The point: Expenses do come up, but finding ways to minimize them let's you feel like you're indulging and saving while you do it.
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Stock Online Codes
"Many stores offer promotion codes for their online customers and finding a working code can make a consumer feel like they've struck a great deal. Rather than stopping at one successful code, a lot of merchants will allow the input of multiple codes — even though they don't explicitly say so on the site," says Mike Catania, cofounder of Promotion Code.

Two great days to stack are December 12 (Green Monday) and December 18 (Free Shipping Day).
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Stop Thinking About Money
Sounds weird, but the more stressed you get about your cashflow, the more you may be tempted to spend, warns Amanda Clayman, personal finance therapist. Instead of letting your mind race with all the ways you could save money, make a plan to let yourself review your spending and savings goals every morning while you drink your coffee.

The more your thoughts about money are prompted by routine, not stress, the less the thought of cash will make you want to go on a spending spree.
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Just Ask For It
"One time, a friend and I were so broke, but went to our favorite bar and asked what we could order with the $14 cash we'd pooled between us and still have enough left over for a solid tip. The bartender totally helped us out! It helped that they weren't busy and I would never have made this my norm, but I think the bartender appreciated we weren't trying to stiff her on the tip," says Elizabeth, 29.

The lesson: There's nothing shameful about sharing the fact that you have limited funds. Letting a salesperson know your price range and asking for intel on sales can all be ways to easily save on the stuff you want to buy.
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Delete Your Apps...
When an Uber is literally one finger swipe away, it's really hard to trudge to the subway in the pouring rain. By deleting apps like Uber and Seamless from your smartphone and clearing your credit-card history from your browser, you're making it that much harder to make impulse purchases.
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...& Add These
These are your new go-to apps: add these R29 favorites and use them on the regular:

Slice: It’s really annoying when you pay full-price for something only to find it discounted a few days later. Slice tracks your purchases and helps you get a refund when that happens.

Gas Buddy: Find the cheapest gas nearby.

Retail Me Not: The app’s tagline says it all: Thousands of coupons in your pocket.

Happy Any Hour: For NYC-based readers, this app gets you drink deals at a number of bars any time of day — without the usual happy-hour time constraints.
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Never Spend Change
Sounds counterintuitive, but financial experts swear you'll save more by spending dollar bills for everything — even that $1.07 cup of coffee.

The reasoning is you'll amass more cash, to the tune of $30 to $40 a month, if you use this method, especially if the purchase was something you would otherwise purchase with a debit card.
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Buy In Bulk
You don't need 20 rolls of TP — but you probably have a few friends who need five rolls each. Make a plan to buy groceries in bulk with friends who live in easy walking (or driving) distance and divvy up the goods once a month for a super-simple way to save cash on the regular.
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