Simple Money Cheat Sheets

It’s easy to fall into a daily routine, even when that means spending more money than you should. Too often than not, however, your little habits add up, taking a big toll on your wallet.

You’re not alone. In fact, Americans lose track of $1,000 a year, according to a survey from Visa. And, you may be losing sight of even more cash by habitual and unnecessary spending habits.

What to do? Take time to check in on your money. This can help you become more cognizant of your everyday spending patterns. To get started, take a look at 5 ways to cut your spending and save more money:

1. Rein in Dining Out

The thought of cooking may make you groan, but your knee-jerk impulse to hit a restaurant over your own kitchen can cost you thousands.

According to the annual Dining Trends study by Zagat, the average diner eats lunch or dinner at a restaurant 4.9 times per week. With restaurant prices rising faster than grocery costs, this hits the wallet hard. Zagat also found that the average cost of dining out is $36.40 per person. Compare that to about five dollars spent on a home cooked meal, according to The Daily Meal.

At the same time, it’s important not to deprive yourself. Going out to eat can be a great source of entertainment. The key here is to reduce the number of times you eat out per week, month and year. The statistics don’t lie: if Americans reduced their dining out frequency by 50%, they could save $4,000 a year.

2. Curb Impulse Clothes Shopping

Sometimes it is hard to pass up that adorable sweater in the shop window. But how much is impulse shopping costing you?

The average American spends $150 a month on clothing. At the same time, The State of Reuse Report found that Americans throw out 81 pounds of clothing a year, 95% of which can be reused or recycled.

So, next time you want to buy new clothes, try focusing on shopping in your own closet, swapping styles with friends, or patronizing your local thrift shop.

3. Check Your Bank Account Balance

Whether or not you maintain a budget, it’s important to always check your bank account balance. This way, you’ll know how much you’re spending on the regular.

Plus, by watching your balance, you’re less likely to overdraft and be hit with ugly fees. The average overdraft fee at major banks is $35. Certainly you don’t want to face this fee simply because you had no idea your bank account was empty.

If you do see fees, you may also want to consider switching to a bank account with zero fees. Chime, for example, is a fee-free bank account that actually helps you save money. Automatic savings programs built into Chime’s service allow you to pay yourself first by transferring a portion of every paycheck directly into savings. Better yet, you can activate Chime’s round up feature and round up each transaction to the nearest dollar. Your round ups are deposited directly into your Savings Account. And, here’s a pro tip: when your savings account is growing, you’ll be more apt to check your account balance daily.

Another major perk to checking your balance frequently: you’ll become more aware of charges that you can eliminate, like subscriptions. According to McKinsey, over one-third of online shoppers have three or more subscriptions. These include services like Netflix, BirchBox, Dollar Shave Club, and Amazon Subscribe & Save. Oftentimes, subscriptions are priced just low enough that even if you aren’t using them, you forget about the cost. Checking your account, however, may be just the nudge you need to cancel services you don’t use.

4. Get Rid of Your Clutter

According to SpareFoot, personal storage is a $38 billion industry in the United States. In fact, 25% of Americans can’t fit a car in their garage due to clutter, according to Gladiator GarageWorks. Needless to say, our belongings are weighing us down.

To make room for exploding stuff, Americans often spend money on organizing products or even add onto their houses. Instead of spending money, why not earn money by getting rid of your clutter?

When my husband and I went through a minimizing process this winter, we earned money selling things we no longer needed. I didn’t even remember we owned much of the stuff we sold. The purging process was pretty easy. We listed items on websites and apps like LetGo and Facebook Marketplace. Most things sold within a few days and we pocketed $900 in fast cash.

5. Maximize Your Gym Membership

Going to the gym regularly is good for your health. It also makes your gym membership far more valuable.

According to Statistic Brain, the average monthly cost of a gym membership is $58. It may not sound like much, but almost 70% of gym memberships are underutilized or never used. This means you’re likely wasting your money.

So, if you have a gym membership, make sure you actually go to the gym. To remind you of how much you’re paying, figure out how much you pay per day. Then ask your gym how much a day pass costs. Figure out how many days you need to go so that you’re getting your money’s worth. No excuses. If you only go a couple times a month – or not at all – if may be time to cancel your membership and instead try a free workout routine, like those offered by Popsugar Fitness. Now that the weather is nice, you can also try walking 10,000 steps a day, and monitor this on iPhone’s Health app or MyFitnessPal, both free.

Question Your Normal

Breaking long-held habits of any kind is difficult. Yet, being mindful of your money can save you big bucks. With a little discipline, you can change your costly habits and grow your savings. Are you ready to get started?

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This article was originally published on Chime by Chelsea Brennan.

Chime is a new kind of bank account that empowers people to lead healthier financial lives, avoid fees and automate their savings. The Chime app is available for iPhone and Android devices and has been featured as one of the best new Money Management apps on the App Store.

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