Saving money may be more obvious when you reduce the price you pay for something by a big dollar amount all at once. But that's not always possible. It is possible, however, to save small amounts of money repeatedly on purchases you make quite often. Saving a buck here and 50 cents there may not seem very significant, but over time those little savings add up. Here are some of my favorite ways to save little bits of cash over and over.
Gas prices may be (relatively) low right now, but it never hurts to cut that cost even more. I use GasBuddy, a free app available for Android and iOS that uses crowd-sourcing to help you find the cheapest gas near your current location. Users report gas prices in their vicinity to keep the app's info up-to-date and to earn points that they can use to enter drawings for free gas.
Electronics likely account for a good percentage of your home energy usage, which means they may also account for a good percentage of your monthly bill. You can reduce that bill a bit by using an advanced power strip (APS) instead of a conventional power strip. An APS detects when devices are not being used or are turned off, and prevents them from drawing power. Some APSs include some always-on outlets for devices like modems or routers that require constant energy; that way, you can ensure that you won't shut down devices that you need, while reducing overhead on ones you don't. Energy.gov has more information about choosing the right APS for you.
Saving money may be my first love, but Chipotle is a close second. So what could be better than saving money at Chipotle? The restaurant chain is currently offering a buy-one, get-one-free entrée to anyone who plays its online game, called "A Love Story." This simple matching game is designed to highlight the natural ingredients in the restaurant's food—and you don't have to win the game to earn free food. Just enter your cell phone number, and the free coupon will arrive via text.
You've probably heard the saying "a penny saved is a penny earned." It's practically a cliché—but the reason it gets said so much is because it's true: The easiest way to save money is to avoid spending it in the first place. Too often, we spend money on things we don't need, and those things add up more quickly than we realize. You can track your spending with iSpending, an iOS app that lets you see how much you spend in various categories. Need a little more help deciding what you can afford to spend? Consider Level Money, a free app for Android and iOS that helps you plan for essential expenses like your mortgage and bills, while showing you how much you have left over to spend on fun stuff.
Like, you know, Chipotle.