14 ways to save money that are easier than you'd expect

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  • Saving money can seem like an uphill battle, but there are actually several ways to do it that you'll rarely even think about.
  • Saving money is more about forming good habits than anything else, from where you spend money to how you think about it.
  • Here are 14 ways to save money that are way easier than you'd think.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Saving money can seem like an uphill battle, but there are actually several ways to do it that you'll rarely even think about.

But you don't have to go to great lengths to save money - there are several small changes you can make to your day-to-day life that will have a big impact on your bank account.

Saving money is more about forming good habits than anything else, from where you spend money to how you think about it. Simple fixes like cooking at home more, buying store-brand products, and keeping track of all your expenses can put you on the right track.

Here are 14 ways you can save money that are easier than you expect.

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Buy store-brand products

Buy store-brand products

Making small changes to your spending like buying only store-brand products may not seem like a big enough deal to matter, but a dollar or two here and there when you shop adds up in the long run.

This doesn't mean you need to sacrifice quality — don't buy cheaper paper towels for example, if you know you'll have to use twice as many to clean up a mess.

But many store brand products, especially things like cereal, soda, and other packaged items, are exactly the same as their name brand products, just with different labels. Do some experimenting and see which products you can't tell the difference between. You'll probably be surprised at how many there are (and then you'll be mad that you ever paid extra for a name brand).

Keep a money journal

Keep a money journal

It seems like too simple an idea to even work, but starting a money journal can really help you manage your spending.

Keep a small notebook on you to write down every purchase you make, or keep all of your receipts and write them down as soon as you get home. When you see where your money is going all laid out like that, it becomes far easier to keep yourself from spending on things you don't need.

Sometimes only the guilt of knowing that you'll need to write down an unnecessary purchase can keep you from making it.

Master the 'wait for it' rule

Master the 'wait for it' rule

Many people call it the "30 day rule," though that amount of time isn't always practical. The general idea is: Wait a pre-specified amount of time before making a purchase to be sure you really want the thing that you want.

Thirty days is a good rule of thumb before you make any big purchase, like a stereo, a new TV, or new furniture. A couple of days to a week might be a better rule of thumb for smaller purchases, like collectible items or clothes. You'll probably find that after you wait, a lot of the things you thought you wanted don't seem as attractive to you anymore.

Write a list before you shop

Write a list before you shop

This seems like a basic thing, but the real trick is to write the list and stick to it. No impulse purchases, no exceptions.

Grocery stores are set up in a manner meant to tempt you to buy more things than you planned to. Pledging to stick only to your list can help you to avoid this.

Another way to avoid this? Never go to the grocery store hungry. Studies have proven that not only are you more likely to buy more food, you're more likely to buy more unhealthy food.

Invite friends over instead of going out

Invite friends over instead of going out

A night out on the town is fun, and sometimes it's necessary, but if you find yourself blowing through your budget for social activities every month, it may be time for you and your group to tone it down.

A night in with close friends, some drinks, some snacks, and a movie or game can make for just as fun an evening as one at a club or a bar. A picnic at a local park can be just as relaxing as lunch at a nice restaurant. Both will definitely be far less expensive, and you still get to enjoy the company of your loved ones.

Cook for yourself and eat leftovers

Cook for yourself and eat leftovers

Some people are intimidated by the thought of cooking for themselves, be it due to the time required or a lack of perceived skill.

Cooking really isn't as hard as it seems, though, and there are a ton of quick and easy recipes out there that allow you to make delicious, healthy meals.

Do yourself a favor: Get a slow cooker. Meals you make in a slow cooker usually need little to no attention, and are delicious. They also make large quantities of food. Cooking in bulk is cheaper, and there are tons of ways to jazz up leftovers to make a new meal.

Eat breakfast

Eat breakfast

If you don't already eat breakfast, this probably seems counterintuitive, since you're adding on another meal, but eating breakfast will fill you up in the morning, and can prevent you from buying a big expensive lunch.

Stock up on things like eggs, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit, and soon you'll see a big difference in the amount of money you spend on food.

Use your local library

Use your local library

The library isn't just for students and academics. Libraries are a wonderful public resource that everyone should appreciate more, because everything they offer is free.

They're not just for books, either. Next time you feel the need to rent a movie, pay for a new streaming subscription, or buy a new book, check your local library first — they may already have what you're looking to find, or if they don't, they may be able to contact a nearby library and get it for you.

Shop at the dollar store

Shop at the dollar store

Obviously, shopping at a dollar store for everything isn't advisable. However, some products at dollar stores are indistinguishable from ones you would buy at other places.

Dishware, seasonal decorations, party supplies, and greeting cards there are all things that you can save huge on. They also sometimes sell brand-name products like candy, toothpaste, and soap for a fraction of what they'd cost at grocery stores or pharmacies.

Do your holiday shopping right after the holiday

Do your holiday shopping right after the holiday

After a major holiday, stores need to move their products off the shelves quickly to make room for the next seasonal display. By thinking ahead, you can reap the benefits of perfectly good, clearance-priced items.

Be it Christmas, Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween, or any other holiday, you can save a ton of money by buying next year's décor, gifts, or costumes right after the day is over. You can even do this with some candies, as long as you check the expiration date before you buy. Most non-chocolate items have a shelf life of several years.

Grow your own food

Grow your own food

You don't need to start a whole farm, or even have a backyard — even those in tiny apartments with no space can grow things like basil, mint, chives, or small tomato plants. Growing your own food, even if it's just seasonings and garnishes, can save you a boatload of money grocery shopping in the long haul. Especially since a lot of the time you end up having to buy more produce than you need, and throw half of it away when it goes bad.

Use a money-saving app

Use a money-saving app

One easy way to save money is by downloading a savings app like Albert. Albert takes a pre-specified amount of money from your bank account every week, and puts it in a rainy-day fund for you.

This is the easiest way to save money, because you don't need to think about it at all.

Additionally, if you're willing to invest in the paid version, you can create multiple savings goals. Sometimes the only motivation you need to save is to see your goals and your progress laid out in front of you. Plus, the paid version gives you access to the Albert Geniuses, who are there to advise you on all matters financial.

Use an investing app

Use an investing app

Making investments is important, and the earlier in life you invest, the more money you'll make. The problem for many is that investing seems like such a large commitment — but it doesn't have to be.

Apps like Acorns will take your purchases, round them up to the nearest dollar, and invest the difference in the stock market, in as aggressive a portfolio as you see fit. Your money will grow for you without you even having to think about it.

Get a cash-back rewards credit card

Get a cash-back rewards credit card

It can be easy to see a credit card as a temptation to spend money you don't have, but when used the right way, credit cards can actually make you some extra cash.

Get a cash-back rewards card, something with no annual fees of any kind, and then use it like a debit card. Make all your normal, budgeted purchases on it, and pay them off as soon as you make them. At the end of the billing period, you'll have earned extra money simply by spending as you normally do.

The smartest thing to do with that money? Take it and put it in savings. You'll never miss it, and it'll add up fast.

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