17 sneaky -- and fairly painless -- ways to save
10. Start a change jar
Chances are your parents or grandparents had one. The concept is simple: When you empty your pockets at the end of the night -- or any time you clean out your purse -- all the change goes into the jar. Not only will you feel about five pounds lighter, but your spare change adds up a lot faster than you think.
Turbo-charge it by adding at least one paper dollar a day to the pile, says O'Neill. That should add up to at least $50 a month, she says. And who wouldn't want to have an extra $600 padding in the savings account for a rainy day?
11. Convert a bad habit into a good one
Give up cigarettes -- or even cut your habit by half -- and put that money in the savings drawer, says O'Neill. If you drop a pack-a-day habit by half, you could easily bank well over $100 by spring.
12. Employ the 'Dollar Bill Savings Plan'
This is a souped-up version of the change jar concept, but this time you're saving dollar bills.
"It works," says Neal Boortz, a nationally syndicated radio host, who first heard the idea from a ski buddy more than 15 years ago and has been touting it ever since.
Here's how it works: When you leave the house in the morning, you don't carry anything smaller than a $5 bill. When you get change, don't spend the singles. The only exception would be tips, says Boortz. At the end of the day, any dollar bills go into your cash stash.
"The lesson is that you can save a lot of money, dollar by dollar by dollar," Boortz says.
Boortz says his daughter always used to laugh at the savings plan -- until he presented her "with a brick of 2,000 $1 bills on her graduation day," he remembers. "She stopped laughing."
13. Coin-operated laundry
Put a jar on top of the washer and put in a quarter -- or two -- every time you throw a load in the washer or dryer. Get your finances in order while you clean.
14. Stop the (movie) madness!
When you return your movies on time, pay yourself the late fee. If you rent a movie or two every week, you'll be surprised how quickly that $1.50 to $4 can add up.
15. Diet for dollars
Trying to lose weight this season? Who isn't? So every time you go without dessert -- or that mid-afternoon candy bar break -- put the cost of your forgone goody into your savings jar. You shed weight and gain some green at the same time.
16. Use the pay phone
Do you make a lot of calls? Pop a quarter in a jar by the phone every time you dial a long-distance number.
Bonus money: Shop your calling plan and find a better deal. Put the difference into the phone jar each month, too.
17. Bank 'extra' paychecks
Get paid weekly or bi-weekly? This tip is for you. Most people set up their budgets to accommodate two to four paychecks every month, depending on their pay schedule. But several times a year, you get an extra paycheck in the month. (Hurray!) So instead of heading to the mall, pretend you never saw it. Put it in a savings account or put it in your rainy-day jar.
Having a fund with a few extra checks has really helped over the years, says Jones, also a mother of four, who's been using the trick for 18 years to pay for everything from unforeseen car repairs to emergency doctor and dental visits.
"Emergencies always come up," she says. "That's guaranteed."