15 Ways to Save Money (And Still Have Fun)

Stop spending all your extra change!Stop spending all your extra change!According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 40 percent of 18-34-year-olds are living paycheck to paycheck-and it's even higher for women. Uggghhh. Since hoarding cash is about as fun as doing your tax return, we got experts to spill on little ways you can save cash...without screwing with your life.

By Korin Miller

1. Swap With Your Friends
Know that top that you bought months ago that you've worn once and just aren't into for some random reason? Yeah, your friends have those, too. So organize a clothing swap. Here's how it works: Everyone brings a bunch of clothes that they want to get rid of and you all trade. Have your buddies BYOB as well to give it a fun party atmosphere. You can also do it online at sites like SwapStyle.com, DignSwap.com, and RehashClothes.com.

2. Group Shop
If you have a close group of friends who share the same style (and size), consider chipping in to buy one awesome thing together (a slightly out of your budget pair of heels, a killer dress, etc.) each season that you can all share. It's like Rent the Runway on a small scale.

3. Decorate Your Place...for Free
Don't pay for a new chair or rug to spice up your place-check out FreeCycle.org. People give away tons of free furniture and room decorations on the site. All you have to do is pick it up.

4. Give Yourself Some $$$
Even if you're totally cash-strapped, take a teeny bit out of each paycheck that automatically goes into a savings account. Think: $20, $40, or more. It's kind of shocking how little you'll miss it-and you'll be saving in the process.

5. Ditch Your Gym Membership
Some memberships can add up to $1,200/year or more! Instead, try Workoutz.com-the site has lots of cool, free workout videos. You can also check out some great toning exercises here, here, and here.

6. Be Good to Your Stuff
The faster your clothes wear out, the sooner they have to be replaced, so try these tricks: Zip clothes before washing them, so the zipper is less likely to tear other clothes. Store bags on shelves instead of hooks (hanging them can stretch out the leather), and only wash dark clothes every three or four wears unless they get really dirty.

7. Set a Happy Hour Limit
Maybe you can really just afford to do it once a week, so set a goal that you'll actually stick to that limit. Really, really want to go more? Start alternating your drinks with soda water and lime. It's cheaper in the long run and will make you feel way better in the a.m.

8. Buy in Bulk
Get together with your girlfriends and hit up warehouse stores like CostCo or Sam's Club to buy bigger amounts of things at once-it can save you a ton in the long run.

Swap clothes with your girlfriends!Swap clothes with your girlfriends!9. Shell Out for Something Big
...If it'll save you money. Case in point: If you have a serious Starbucks habit, it might just be cheaper in the long run to spend a little more on an espresso machine now and make your iced latte at home.

10. Get a New Cell Plan
Check out BillShrink.com. The site asks you questions about how you use your phone and may suggest a different plan.

11. Call for Discounts
Cell phone and cable companies are having money flow problems now too, and they're often running promotions to bring in new customers and keep the old ones happy. Call your cable co. every three or four months, say you're looking into lower plans, and ask what they can do to keep your business. They can usually spare a great discount or added feature for free.

12. Borrow, Don't Buy
If you need a bike or video camera for the day, try borrowing it via sites like SnapGoods.com, NeighborGoods.net, or ShareSomeSugar.com.

13. Shop Smart
Most stores offer crazy-good discounts at the end of a season, since they're trying to make room for new clothes. And a lot of the clothes work for other seasons, too. For example, a "summer" dress can be easily updated for fall and winter with a cute faux leather jacket and tights.

14. Put Your Phone to Work
There are tons of apps that can save you money: GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest gas in your area (and that can add up); CardStar stores your rewards cards on your phone, so you can use them even if you leave your card at home; and Mint helps you create goal to spend less and then warns you if you're getting close to hitting your limit.

15. Use an Affirmation
Yes, it seems totally cheesy, but putting a reminder in your wallet to save will help sooo much. Think along the lines of a card that says, "Keep saving for that dream [apartment/car/whatever]!" You can slip it in next to your debit or credit card as a reminder next time you're tempted to splurge.

SOURCES: Financial expert Catey Hill, author of Shoo, Jimmy Choo!; financial expert Farnoosh Torabi, author of Psych Yourself Rich; Speaker and life coach Christine Hassler, author of 20 Something Manifesto


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