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    Things are hard financially for a lot of us right now, but learning new tricks and tips to save money can go a long way towards helping yourself stay afloat.

    A few ways to start saving money today

    Read over these tips for practical advice on how to make the most of what’s in your wallet.

    1. Track your spending.

    When you’re trying to save money, one of the best steps you can take is to track your spending. Tracking your spending essentially involves keeping a record of every dollar you spend for a certain period of time so that you can get a sense of where your money is going.

    While it’s possible to do this with a spreadsheet, it’s probably easiest to use an app. Fortunately, there are many free apps out there that will help you keep track of your spending.

    Once you track your spending for a few weeks, the next step is to take a close look at your expenditures and to see where you’re spending money unnecessarily. Then, it’s time to do your best to change those habits.

    2. Cancel unused subscription services and memberships.

    If you want to start to save money right away, one of the best things that you can do is to cancel your unused subscription services and memberships. At this point, many of us are members of services like Netflix or Hulu. At the same time, many of us are also guilty of having a gym membership or other membership that we’re not using.

    To do this, take a close look at your credit card statements. Usually, subscription services will be charged to your account automatically and on a monthly basis. Go through your statement and highlight all the monthly subscriptions or memberships that you belong to. Then, be honest with yourself about which ones you’re not using and cancel them ASAP.

    3. Compare service providers.

    Once you’ve canceled your unused subscription services, the next step is to take a look at your bills. In truth, there’s a good chance that you’re overpaying for some of your billed services like utilities or cable and internet.

    While it may take a little bit of time and effort, one of the best things that you can do is shop around for different providers. Doing so will give you the opportunity to cash in on a deal or sale and help you save money on a monthly basis.

    4. Shop secondhand.

    Another way to save money is to shop at thrift stores and other secondhand shops. Sometimes, spending money is unavoidable and you need to buy a new item. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to buy it new from a store and pay full price for the experience.

    Instead, it’s a good idea to consider shopping for gently-used items whenever possible. Often, these items are in comparable condition to their brand-new counterparts and cost a fraction of the price.

    Keep in mind that, luckily, these days thrifting has largely gone digital. Fortunately, you no longer have to spend your time digging through thrift store sale rack to get good deals. There are online thrift stores for everything from clothing to furniture. All it takes is a quick Google search.

    5. Consider meal prepping.

    Next, meal prepping is a great idea when you’re trying to cut down on your spending. For those who are unaware, meal prepping involves cooking big batches of food at one time and then eating it for various meals.

    This helps save money in two ways. On the one hand, cooking in bulk is almost always cheaper per plate than cooking a single meal. On the other, having food on-hand that you can heat and eat easily should make it less tempting to order out on a regular basis.

    One of the biggest complaints about meal prepping is that it can get boring eating the same food over and over again for a week. If you think that might be a problem for you, consider cooking in large batches and then freezing a few portions so you can eat them at a later date.

    6. Try doing a spending freeze.

    Lastly, it may be prudent to try and do a spending freeze as the name suggests, spending freeze occurs when you challenge yourself not to spend any money for a certain period of time. This is more of a personal challenge than a tip, but it can be a great way to cut down on miscellaneous spending, especially if you have a while to go before your next paycheck comes in.

    Doing a spending freeze is all about getting creative with the items you have on hand. It’s about making meals with the items you have in your pantry as opposed to ordering out and doing your best to wait before ordering items online.

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