If you are looking to save money, you can do it and you need to.  According to SpendMeNot, 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved. Even if you don’t think you have an extra penny to spare.  This doesn’t look like making changes to your fixed expenses like your mortgage or rent.  Those aren’t going to reduce overnight.  What will help you to save money is scaling back on all the other money you spend.

Below are five easy ways to save money without sacrificing

Come up with a dollar amount

If you don’t have a budget in place, you must have one in order to start saving money.  It is essential that you get a budgeting app so you can keep track of expenses.  You will be able to identify areas where you can cut back.  Just make sure you go through more than a few months of expenses.  That is the only way to have a clear idea as to where your money is going.

Close your eyes and think ahead to the next year or two.  What do you want to have money saved for?  Is it an emergency fund?  A much-needed family vacation or a down payment on a home? Also give thought to long-term goals like saving for retirement or starting a college fund for your kids.   Whatever your goals are, try to determine how much money you need to stock away every month.

Embrace free and easily save money

You don’t have to become a hermit and abandon ever doing anything fun again to save money.  Extreme ways of doing anything never really work out in your favor anyway.  Just think of how extreme dieting works.  Not so well.  One of the easiest ways to save money is to seek out all that is free.  From free stuff to free entertainment, it is possible to keep your spending at bay and still have fun. Here are some great ideas:

  • Check out a buy nothing group:  Instead of spending money on toys or other items like furniture, check out the buy nothing groups on Facebook and Nextdoor.  These are items that people are just looking to give away for free.
  • Get food for free:  Big chain restaurants are known for offering BOGO deals and freebies for downloading their app.
  • Find free entertainment in your town: Most cities offer free entertainment in the form of concerts, festivals and other events.
  • Check out your library:  Do you love movies?  Don’t pay to rent them.  Check out your local library for free music, movies, ebooks and more.
  • Try bartering: Get what you need without spending money by swapping goods and services with someone else.

Take care of your debt

16% is the average APR that people have on their credit cards.  If you are carrying debt, that is quite a bit of money you will be paying each month if you don’t pay the balance.  Come up with a plan for paying down your debt with one of these payment methods listed below:

  • The snowball method, where you pay down the smallest balance first.
  • The debt avalanche method, where you stick to paying down the card that has the highest interest rate first.
  • A debt consolidation loan, where you gather all your debt into one single payment.  This only makes sense if you will be working with a lower interest rate.
  • Apply for a balance-transfer credit card, Transfer your balance to a card with a 0% promotional interest rate. The promotional period typically for 12 to 18 months.  If you are thousands in debt, this may not be the right option.

Cancel unnecessary insurance policies to save money

Insurance can seem like a drain on your finances since you probably don’t wind up using it that often.  Things like health insurance are important, though, to have.  You never know when an unexpected medical expense may hit you.  With that being said, there are other forms of insurance that you probably don’t need to be paying for. Here are a few:

  • Rental Car Insurance: You most likely already have car insurance.  That will already cover you in the event of an accident.  So don’t double pay for this insurance.  You do, however, need to have collision coverage.
  • Collision Insurance: This insurance covers accidents that happen while you are driving.  The main reason why you may not need this is based on the age of your car.  If you drive an older vehicle, you have a deductible and the insurance will probably only give you less than what the car is currently worth for the repairs.
  • Pet Insurance: If you have a pet, they are like family.  However, chances are your premiums for pet insurance are more than what you would actually end up paying for your pet’s health care.

Revisit your cell phone provider

The four major carriers are not the only companies that can provide you with cell phone service.  Many of the “discount” plans actually run on the same network as the big guys.  So, the only thing you would be giving up is your high bill.  Depending on the plan you choose, you may have to deal with restrictions on data usage and some may require an unlocked device.